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The Greatest Haunting Of All

The Greatest Haunting Of All

depth psychology Pensacola

depth psychology Pensacola


Ever re-read a quote and find yourself utterly gob smacked?

That happened to me this morning as I was pouring myself a cup of coffee and scrolling through my Kindle, waiting for my fiancé Ben to agree that it was time to get up. Sipping that sweet caffeinated nectar of the gods, my eyes fell upon this truth bomb from Carl Jung that I’d clearly forgotten about:



Take a moment to let that truly sink in.

Out of all the possible struggles a child can face in life as they come to figure out who they are, what their place is in this world, and how in the hell to begin putting all that together, the GREATEST BURDEN OF ALL is what?? THE UNLIVED LIFE OF A PARENT.

As author and depth psychologist, James Hollis explains:

“What [a parent has] not faced in their lives remains a glass ceiling, a constriction that either the child serves or has to spend a lot of effort breaking through.”


Simply put, many of the reasons that YOU do things that you don’t want to and that you don’t do the things that you really do want to, may stem from the hauntings of the stories, laws, customs, and sanctions that came from your well meaning parents and those that fed into how they came to live their own lives (e.g., your parents’ teachers, religious instructors, and culture etc.).



“One of the ways in which this haunting occurs in each of us is in the reactive patterns from mother and father. …We are just as much at the mercy of what they do NOT do, what is forbidden, or what is frightening to them. In the face of the unlived life of any parent or role model, we too are driven to repetition, are governed by a drive to escape that limitation in overcompensation, or fall victim to our unconscious treatment plans that generate a life of addictions, distractions, or compulsive agendas to break free.”


So even IF your parents were unbelievably awesome and super progressive in their thinking and desire to allow you total freedom to be and do whatever seemed most authentic to your soul, you would still find yourself bumping up against your parents’ core beliefs and struggles for themselves. “Do as I say, not as I do” simply doesn’t work when it comes to the subconscious.

Children marinate in the energy of their parents. We “learn” their phobias and struggles and either repeat them or fight to be free of them, which sadly can often be just as destructive.



Ask yourself, “Where did/ are my parents living unfulfilled?” 

  • What stressed them out? Concerned them?
  • Where did they hold back for themselves? For you?
  • What were they not allowed to do growing up?
  • What keeps them from having what they would really like in life?
  • Where do you feel the weight of their hopes, expectations, or even disappoints in themselves or you?
  • Where are you afraid of hurting, disappointing, or being rejected by them?
  • What feelings were not allowed to be expressed?
  • What topics weren’t openly discussed?
  • Where did/ are they living vicariously through you?

Hollis beautifully sums up the widespread nature and travesty of this haunting:

“In the end, we are haunted by the examples of the past, the denied permission to live a free journey… We are haunted by bad theology, bad psychology, and bad social models into thinking we are defined by our history, by our race or by our cultural heritage. We are haunted by the unexamined the lives of our ancestors and caregivers. We are haunted by the widespread impression that history is the future. We are haunted by the limited imagination of our complexes. And even more, we are haunted by the small lives we live in the face of our immense possibilities.



So dear one, what ghosts did those around you hand off to you? And what are you handing off to your own children?

Why are you continuing to live as though you are denied permission to create your own happiness?

To live up to your your immense possibility?

Where can you begin to clean house today?


About the Author:

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Tamara Powell, LMHC is a licensed therapist, university psychology instructor, and transformation coach who believes life should be lived as a journey that is “anything but ordinary.”

Her work is specialized to help individuals break free from toxic cycles of distress, dysfunction, and dissatisfaction with life that are created when trying to live according to someone else’s rules. Only by living what she calls radical autonomy, can one obtain soul nourishing relationships and a sense of true life purpose and inner peace.

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