When Parents Don’t Give You What You Want: Thank Them for the Gift

My father never called me “sugar” or “sweetie” or “honey.” I might have been his youngest daughter, but I never felt like “daddy’s little girl.”

Don’t get me wrong. He was a wonderful father. He provided for me in ways that made me feel incredibly blessed. As a successful executive, he spent all of his financial prosperity on my mom, my siblings, myself and our education. We had a beautiful home, belonged to the country club, took multiple vacations every year. I attended private school, got my own car at 17, and graduated from a very expensive private college with $0 debt. He successfully launched me into adulthood with a wholesome, moral and debt free foundation.

He was generous beyond measure and he had the integrity of a saint. He spent thousands and thousands of dollars on our family ski activities and vacations, yet suffered for years with broken ski boots that he kept fastened with duct tape. My mom could ask him to do any favor or errand and he would do it immediately, even if he was asleep on the couch on a Sunday evening.

He ALWAYS did the right thing. When I was an irresponsible, young adult who fled the USA for the excitement of living and working in London, he filed my annual US tax returns and paid my tax liability without even telling me. He was very intelligent and often had his nose in a book. He deeply valued education and his religious faith, both of which he showered upon myself and my 2 siblings.

And yet, despite ALL this, I grew up feeling not enough and unworthy. It sounds completely crazy as I reflect back upon my privileged, innocent, honorable and happy childhood. I realize the enormous risk I run to my readers perceiving me as a total spoiled brat. But I can’t deny it. He never called me “sugar” and because of that, I felt unworthy.   I felt like I was the opposite of special. Ordinary.

So I spent most of my childhood summoning his adoring attention to prove my specialness. I was a straight A student, a star soccer player, and model child (at least that he knew of). My craving to feel adorable extended into adulthood and drove me to continue my high achieving ways.   I graduated college with honors and accepted a prestigious job offer. I spent the next 8 years in a career that would make him proud and I thought make me feel special, unique, worthy and precious.   It didn’t.

At the age of 16, I discovered another outlet to feel special, adorable, precious and worthy. It was my first boyfriend. In his adoring eyes, I felt flooded with a sense of specialness, preciousness and beauty I had been craving all my life. What a high that was! That began a 25 year “addiction” of sorts. Without realizing it, I became completely dependent upon my romantic partner’s attention to feel special, unique, and worthy.   Maybe I was never Daddy’s little girl, but if I was the apple of his eye, I could feel secure.

But when those outlets stop flooding you with a sense of worthiness like my banking career did or they disappear altogether as in a divorce, you get to stand naked in the discovery of a truth that will serve you powerfully for the rest of your days. Those wake up calls are gifts. I was trying to fill a void in an un-fill-able way. I was looking to someone else or something else to facilitate my feeling worthy, adorable, precious, unique, special. My greatest takeaway in life (and possibly from my father) is that the only dependable way to fill your desire to feel worthy is through self love.

I am so sorry Dad for inwardly feeling anger towards you and feeling that you fell short in your fatherly duties. The truth is, I want to THANK you for not calling me “sugar.” I want to THANK you for giving me the opportunity to find the precious, adorable girl within me. I want to thank you for pushing me to become dependent on my own self love. If you had given me what I craved as a child … if you had treated me as “daddy’s little girl” I would have grown up completely dependent upon you to feel worthy and enough.

So what does this have to do with your travel business? Everything! How you do anything is how you do everything. Whatever you wanted but didn’t get from that parent, you are probably trying to get from your travel business without realizing. I spent much of my life trying to get validation of my specialness. I carried this right into my entrepreneurial journey. In fact, my hunger to feel unique and worthy was one of the reasons I went into entrepreneurship because my banking career that had once filled this void stopped filling it.

Take an honest look at your childhood relationship with your parents.Which relationship was less satisfying or caused more strife … the one with your mother or the one with your father? What did he or she NOT give you that you wanted desperately? Today, thank him or her for that. It’s directed you and a primary reason for why you are where you are.

If you are having a huge a-ha moment, congratulations! Your next task is to learn how to give yourself what you wanted but didn’t get (so you don’t go looking for it in un-fill-able ways like your business or someone in your life). In other words, find it within. For me, that was developing a dependence upon my inner spirit to feel adorable, precious, special, unique and worthy. For someone else, that might be developing a dependence upon his/her inner spirit to feel secure, safe, and financially prosperous. In other words, developing a knowing and total expectation that your inner spirit “has your back” financially.

Be realistic in your expectations on developing this new, inner muscle. It won’t happen overnight. And that’s OK. But choose to focus on developing a new relationship with your inner spirit, day by day and soon you will see beautiful and miraculous transformations in your business and in your life.

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