In an earlier article, I introduced the subject of “daddy issues,” that is, problems faced by sons who either have troubled relationships with their fathers or whose fathers were largely absent during their childhood, either physically or emotionally. In Absent Fathers, Lost Sons: The Search for Masculine Identity, Jungian psychoanalyst Guy Corbeau writes, “Research shows that sons who do not receive adequate fathering often face confusion about their sexual identity in their teens; have unsteady self-esteem; and repress aggressivity (and need for self-affirmation), ambition, and inquisitiveness.”
Since we cannot go back in time and change our fathers or our childhood experiences with them, how then do we provide that “father energy” for ourselves now? How do we learn to father ourselves? What are the guidelines for reparenting ourselves? How do we supplant the negative inner parental voices with a positive one? “The challenge for men with missing fathers,” writes Corbeau, “is to themselves become the fathers they lacked.”
Here are some steps to working on creating your own positive father energy. The first step is to reclaim your inner child:
- First make a connection with your wounded inner child, the son who felt rejected by his father, and develop a clear image of who you were before the blows of rejection fell, your likes and dislikes, interests, passions, talents—your shining.
- Reinvigorate that inner child by doing something you used to like to do, a form of play or creativity (games, hobbies, activities, interests, etc.) and make a regular practice of it.
- Explore the reasons why you cut off that vulnerable, innocent, and playful side of yourself. Think about the messages you received from your real father—or the lack of them. Focus on ways in which those hurts are still holding you back or causing certain thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors.
- Imagine your own ideal, fantasy father with whom you can have an inner dialogue. Ask yourself, “If I had grown up with my ideal, fantasy Dad, who would he have been and what would he have taught me? What would he have instilled in me?” Make sure your fantasy dad shares your sexuality and sexual orientation. For him to properly affirm who you are, you need to be confident that he understands you and your experiences, physical, mental, emotional, and sexual, and has shared many of them himself.
- Take steps to enhance your self-love. Use daily affirmations, change negative habits and mindsets, become aware of your fundamental emotional, psychological, and physical needs. Converse with your new inner dad, who only wants you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
While the steps given here appear in brief, outline form, the work involved in each one of them can be quite activating, often triggering episodes of anxiety or depression. Try to work this process with a trained mental health professional. Together you will discover that your inner Daddy can be even more powerful than you’d imagined.
If you are ready to explore these or any other issues with a caring, experienced therapist, please call or email David Bowman to arrange for a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Your mental health is worth it. Call (323) 561-2361.
Photo credit: Katherine Chase UNSPLASH