top of page

"I am as I am treated"

The belief "I am as I am treated" is a common form of thinking children take on while forming beliefs about themselves that influence life much later. Often something that should have happened with an important person, didn't happen. Or something that should not have happened with an important person, did.

For example, a child grows up with a parent who cannot or will not display affection, warmth, or love and the child may believe, "I am not lovable. I am not worth loving. If I were really lovable this person would hug me, kiss me, and connect with me" ...I am as I am treated.

Or say a child gets yelled at, abandoned, or ignored when expressing emotional upset or distress. The child may believe, "How I feel does not matter. My feelings make me bad. I do not matter" ...I am as I am treated.

There are many examples. And various consequences.

Of course the problem is that these beliefs are not true. Are there really unlovable children? Or children that simply do not matter? Is every single injured child the consequence of a truly terrible parent?

The answer to all of these is, of course, no.

No matter. By adulthood, many of us have formed brilliant strategies to protect us from feeling the stirring of our most painful beliefs (remember, not true, but FELT as true). Rather than criticize the strategy, it's best to (as IFS therapy would say) look for it's positive intention.

Do you think you might people-please, or keep people at a distance, drink or smoke every night, try and eat perfectly, or eat a lot of food for no good reason at all?

The degree in which past relationships actually influence many of my client's relationship to food and their bodies, and their body care habits can come to a real surprise to them!

I often think, "What a strange thing, that something important always gets missed during childhood and we carry our wounds into adulthood, and this is way it is." Sometimes I find this very frustrating.

James Hillman drew on Plato's Myth of Er, and vision of the "acorn theory," that we each have an encoded natural pattern (a unique daimon) we are meant to live out during our time on earth and that part of this encoding *includes* our deepest wounds, not as a deterrent, but as a source of leverage to grow into who we really are, to embody our essence and character...the mud/lotus kind of thing. I tend to gravitate toward this style of thinking. At the very least, it's more creative.

So yes, all of us grow into adulthood with our "stuff," our injuries, our skewed ideas and beliefs. And off we go looking for redemption or comfort in all the wrong places.

Especially in the beginning.

Then, in the right environment, we start waking up a bit as we run into the same walls, and in our own time consciousness expands. We might be lucky enough to realize the wall actually contains a doorway and something else can happen. Perhaps we begin the process of reclaiming those essential qualities we thought were lost but never were. We might take responsibility for natural blueprint that was only ours to embody.

Is this not one of the great journeys of Life?



"I am as I am treated" is a phrase from James Hollis' fabulous book: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life

95 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page