Exploring Mechanisms You Developed to Survive Your Family – Accommodation


Do you know people who can not enjoy any success they have in their career? Does it not make any sense to you when you see them unable to bask in the light of their achievements? It may make sense if you understand their family life growing up. Here is one example: a parent who lived through the children's accomplishments, and needed for them to be perfect in everything they did. And so, good grades were never good enough. What would a 90 percent on a test ensure? Endless criticism, a clutching of the chest in disbelief, and bitter complains.

And what would the child's response be to all of this? The belief that if she were not perfect, she'd ruin her parents' life. What behaves would it cause in such children? They'd become driven, feeling that no matter how much they realized, it was never enough. Where would that lead? To the inability to enjoy any achievement, to never be able to relax, have fun, and do any activity for the pleasure of it because to do so would make them feel guilty. Unconsciously, they assume that their parent will feel devastated if they're not always seeking to achieve more. And more and more.


Does any people you know, friends possibly, have trouble getting close to someone they're quite attracted to? Looking at from the outside in, it may not make a lot of sense, but looked at from the inside, it probably does. What if a friend had a parent who was extremely needy, who absolutely had to be in full possession of your friend's love and attention? Your friend's closeness to this parent was essential for the parent's well-being, so much so that they or she would resent your friend's normal involvement with others. Sulking, acting depressed and moody when your friend was happy or close to anyone else (including teachers, grandparents, or friends) were well within the repertoire of this parent's behavior whenever your friend was spending time with others.

Finding fault with anyone your friend valued was another sign that the parent felt wounded by the child. What was the effect of all of this on your friend? An obligation to change his or her personality just to maintain a relationship to the parent: staying tied to the apron strings, complimenting the parent all the time, showing extra affection, spending less time with friends. All are possible copying mechanisms developed by your friend to accommodate this parent's possessive need for him or her. "Loyalty" will become a high priority moral value in your friend's mind and it will have a powerful influence through his or her life.

And the effect of this particular accommodation on future relationships Will be detrimental at best, dysfunctional at worst. Your friend will either feel uncomfortable pursuing friends for fear of being disloyal to his parent, or he'll worry that anyone he's seriously involved with will require undue loyalty and devotion from him.

This is how accommodation can start and it is also the start of some people's self-defeating motivations. In the case study below, we'll see how one man's accommodation affected his ability to succeed in business and in relationships.


Did you ever have a terribly painful blind date – one that, thankfully, only rented a short time? Now think about your childhood situation. You're stuck with your parents and siblings for years and years, no matter what. Now think of the accumulated resentment building up after years of accommodating behaviors that you know lifted you away from some of your normal qualities and goals. To tie this resentment, you may have become an accommodator. Another route you could have taken was rebellion. What does look like and how does it show up in your life? Let's see.