At birth we are potential witha set of genetic instructions.
Our experiences and other environmental factors determine the expression of our genes. It is primarily through relationship — interactive experiences — that our personality is developed. Yet many educated and intelligent people still subscribe to the idea that psychopaths and aberrant behaviors are born, rather than created.
It is ironic that this primitive idea is still thriving along side a growing body of scientific knowledge to the contrary. In spite of our cultural predisposition to evidence-based theories, the bad seed theory persists.
Bad seed thinking is rooted in fear, confusion, and self-doubt, as evidenced in its historical manifestations: witch burning, evil spells, and exorcisms.
There are no bad seeds; there are only seeds of potential that we must sow and tend to carefully to ensure their healthy development. Behavior can be maladaptive, and psychological development is often stifled, disrupted, or corrupted altogether; however, our original okay-ness remains in-tact, even if buried too deeply to manifest.
When Eric Berne introduced the concept of I’m OK, You’re OK in the 1960’s, it was enthusiastically received, and his book Games People Playremained on the New York Times best-seller list for two years. Today, only sixty years later the idea that we are allinherently OK evokes confusion, sarcasm, and incredulity.
Human potential to be good or bad exists at birth, and from there we interact, relate, and grow into who we are.
External events, biology, and relational experience create our basic personality and throughout our adult lives we will continue to make personal choices that support or delay our autonomous development.
It’s easy to blame our genetics, other people’s kids, teachers, politicians, and immigrants, rather than take personal responsibility. When we feel bad about ourselves, or our children, we often become defensive and blaming. Adopting the I’m OK, You’re OK position promotes equality and mental wellness.
We all learnedhow to feel NOT OK through our interactions with others, and we can unlearn the feeling as well. Once people feel accepting of themselves they do not have a vested interest in seeing others as NOT OK.
Okay-ness begins with parents because we are the ones who determine the culture within the family. An atmosphere of control, superiority and inferiority, shaming, blaming, bullying, rescuing, injustice, submission, and scapegoating fosters competition. Parents who model kindness, empathy, personal responsibility, generosity, respect, understanding, and equality promote cooperation.
Creating an early childhood environment of cooperation will foster feelings of equality, while competition pits one person against another and sets up for winners and losers.
Considering current social conflict and global tension, we need only look as far as our own front doors for the solution. Culture grows out of the family because we develop feelings of okay-ness, or not, within our family of origin
Current narcissistic tendencies within the larger culture reveal how people’s unconscious feelings of inadequacy can be covered with conscious attitudes of superiority: money, fancy clothes and cars, or status, in general, help to bolster feelings of primacy.
Personal growth, peace, and mental wellness are stunted when individuals feel inferior or superior to others. When we are in a NOT OK place we do not solve problems, resolve conflict, express our creativity, or act empathically.
We go into the world with the beliefs and behaviors learned in childhood and become part of the culture and the creation of culture. Presidents, news reporters, despots, scientists, murderers, philanthropists, engineers, and artists, are all children of parents: we create our own reality.
People onlychange from a position of okay-ness; when we feel bad about ourselves we do not feel inspired to engage in the process of introspection and personal change. We think we are OK and others are the problem. Or, we think that we are not OK, and we will never measure up.
Accepting that we are all born as okay people is foundational to personal, as well as global, peace.