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Release Yourself from Unconscious Contracts


For better or worse, from the time we are tiny infants our conditioning sets the tone for our lives. Some conditioning creates a healthy life and other conditioning leads to unhealthy ways of relating to ourselves and others. Unhealthy conditioning may be such a part of us that it is like swimming in murky polluted water. We may not even know it is bad for us, since it is all we know. When we are transferred to a different pool of water, we may unconsciously seek the same type of pollution to swim in due to our lack of awareness about our conditioning. As adults, it is up to us to examine whether we are still operating on old unconscious contracts that are not healthy for our current relationships. To do this a first place to start is to review the childhood contracts we had with our parents, who likely carried unconscious contracts themselves from previous generations.

Little girl dancing in the park

We all come in to this life having a natural sense of healthy boundaries. We innately feel the space around us that allows us to take our rightful place in the world. This space helps us define where we end and where others begin, so we can interact respectfully with other human beings.

When we come into our families, though, sometimes we are taught about boundaries from parents, who themselves were not taught to have a good sense of their own natural boundaries. Part of us knows that something isn’t quite right when how they treat us differs from what we naturally feel. But, in our nascent awareness, we say to ourselves, “Well my parents must know better than me. After all, they are the adults who are supposed to know how the world works.” As a result we may begin to override our inner knowing that we have as children and adopt their ways operating in the world.

Examples of unconscious contract include:

  • Reversing the parent child roles. When we are raised by weak parents, who haven’t taken up their rightful place in the world or they feel like children themselves, they may elevate us to the status of the adult, who needs to take care of them. This can lead to us to becoming narcissistic, where we have an over inflated sense of ourselves and step on others boundaries as we take up more than our rightful place in the world. It can also lead to us becoming co-dependent, feeling anxious and fearful about taking more responsibility than we are capable of handling as a child.

  • Parents using children as substitute spouses. When parents don’t have a healthy relationship between one another, sometimes they place their children in the role of being their confidant, best friend, protector, etc. This can create in children enmeshment, an entanglement of our boundary with our parents that hampers our growth and autonomy. When a parent shares with their children intimacies or adult matters, it can place too much responsibility on their children, which can lead to later relationship difficulties as adults.

  • Expecting children to keep the peace at all costs, even in crazy making situations. Sometimes in families, one parent will be verbally abusive or attempt to have other family members believe inappropriate behavior didn’t happen or is OK. If the other parent doesn’t call the behavior for what it is or fails to protect children from abuse, it can make children feel like they no longer have an adult protector or that their own reality is not to be trusted. This cognitive dissonance can cause children to bury the incidents and adopt a skewed reality or decide to adopt the crazy making behavior themselves. Either way children choose to respond, it can hamper development of healthy adult relationships.

By becoming aware of these unhealthy unconscious contracts and tearing them up, we release ourselves from outmoded conditioning. We then have an opportunity to rewrite a healthier contract, which can dramatically shift our personal narrative and how we relate in the world.  

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