Being the Big One

Sometimes when we are little and things go wrong, we think we have to take charge and fix things. We feel it’s up to us to make it better. We think we have to be the big one and we’ll show the adults how to do it. Or we feel like no one else is seeing what a mess things are, or how unsafe things are, so we try to make it better.

It might be that the parents aren’t loving, so we decide we’ll be the loving one. It might be that we have to protect someone (siblings, one of the parents). It might be that the parents aren’t responsible so we decide we’ll be the responsible one. It might be that one of the parents isn’t strong so we decide we’ll be the strong one. It might be that they fight all the time, so it’s up to me to keep the peace. It may be that people are unhappy so we decide it’s our job to make them happy. It may be that they are sick or disabled and they can’t take care of things, so we’ll take care of them. All of this we do out of love (both to give and receive).

Some parents encourage the children to take care of them. They don’t feel able to handle it all so they engage the children in the role of care taker. Or they don’t get along with their spouse and they engage the child in a partner role. Sometimes being the big one is a result of a missing parent or it is a disaster (accident or loss of a job). It may be that the parents are fighting and there is chaos and the child wants to make it right. Regardless of how it happens, it creates problems. Children are supposed to be taken care of; adults are the responsible ones and their role is to be the responsible one.

When the child takes on the role of a parent, it creates a system that is out of order. The parents are the big ones but the child acts as if he or she is the big one. It creates a pattern in the child of interference; it is not our position to be the big one. We take on the burden of fixing other’s problems. We adapt an attitude of meddling in other’s business. We don’t give other’s the space to do it their way (and their way isn’t good enough). And it can lead to arrogance because we see ourselves as the big ones. We can develop a pattern of needing to do it ourselves (it’s all up to me), not trusting others to do things, or not thinking they’ll do it as well as us, perhaps that they are stupid or incapable. If we are always assuming we have to fix things, or show others how to do things, we will pick others who want or need that and then wonder why we are surrounded by incapable people. We are then stuck in an old cycle. This pattern can lead to excess worry and always being on guard. There is an ongoing attempt to change what is, and so we don’t accept reality, we fight it. We are therefore, engaged in a pattern of fight and it will be difficult for us to feel peace and calm.

If we experienced this pattern as a child, chances are, we still adapt this attitude as an adult. People in helping roles often had this dynamic in some way in their system, and they end up carrying others’ problems. A sign that you are in the Big One pattern is when you feel you need to do something to take control of a situation, you feel impatient, and you exercise, work, clean, eat, or control others. It is also common for the big one to be judging and criticizing (perhaps only internally) while feeling that the other is incompetent.

To heal this pattern, connect with your inner child when it was created; dialogue with him or her and really get a feeling for how scary it was for her. Let your adult comfort the child who was so scared. Let her know that it she is the little one and help her get to the place where she can be the little one. Help her stand with equanimity in the reality of how scary it was without having to go to the big one place. This happens when her feelings are acknowledged and she feels heard and she feels the adult there supporting her—it might take some time. Have the child leave the mess to the parents to fix (it is their mess, their problem or burden; it is up to them to deal with it; or whatever fits here for you).

When you are in a relationship, be aware of how you interact with the other. Do you feel it is “up to you” to create connection? Do you feel that “if you can only love them enough” they’ll love you back? Do you try to fix things so others don’t feel pain? Does other’s pain make you uncomfortable? Do you feel that you have to do it all because those around you are incapable—they create a mess or they don’t do it right? Do you feel that you have to be in charge to make things work? Imagine looking at your parents and saying (as the little one with your adult), “I accept this all as it is” and feel that acceptance. Find equanimity in the chaos of your childhood. Give others the space to do things in their way. Don’t interfere.

Give the problems back to your parents to solve. Let go and let others figure it out. If you don’t, you take away their dignity and create an energetic imbalance in the system that will impact the next generation—they will either have the same pattern and live with the burden of fixing problems that are not theirs to fix, or they take on a more dependent role, wanting others to fix things or they will always rebel from authority who tried to control them. Bert Hellinger teaches about this issue beautifully in Rising in Love.

If you can’t feel acceptance of the way things are/were, or if you can’t let go and let others find their own solutions, or if you keep getting into relationships with people who are incapable, or where you are trying to fix things or be the right person so that they’ll finally love you, there is something to CLEAR. Below is a list of blocking beliefs which may give you ideas of the blocking beliefs created with this pattern that you’ll want to clear.

References: Bert Hellinger, Rising in Love, Germany, Hellinger Publications, 2010

Being the Big One Blocking beliefs

  • I need to be the big one.
  • I need to take care of things/them.
  • It’s how I have value.
  • It makes me feel needed.
  • It’s up to me.
  • No one will help.
  • I need to fix it.
  • I have to solve the problems. They’re not capable.
  • They can’t handle it.
  • I can’t accept things the way they are.
  • They aren’t smart enough.
  • They can’t do it.
  • They don’t see what’s going on; what’s wrong.
  • They don’t get it.
  • They won’t do anything.
  • They don’t have a clue.
  • I’m more aware than them.
  • They’re not doing it right.
  • I can do it better.
  • They’re too mean.
  • I can’t relax.
  • I can’t have fun.
  • My job is to be the loving/caring/strong/capable/responsible/happy one.
  • I have to protect them.
  • No one will clean up the mess; I have to do it.
  • I’m afraid I can’t; I’m too little.
  • I have to make sure they’re ok.
  • I have to manage them.
  • I have to reach them.
  • I won’t have worth if I’m not in this role.
  • It’s not enough to be me; to be a kid.
  • I have to do something.
  • I’ve failed if I can’t fix it/make it better.
  • I have to prove they are wrong (bad parents) to get what I need.

Julie Roberts

Julie lives in Pennsylvania one hour west of Philadelphia. She consults with groups, individuals and children to help them move into their full potential. She specializes in personal and professional change so individuals overcome obstacles to productivity. She utilizes energy psychology, muscle testing, counseling, and Family Constellation work to help individuals clear the blocks in their life. She conducts workshops that improve leadership skills, teaches CLEAR®, and guides individuals through a healing change process. She has taught CLEAR in Russia and Nigeria and she is certified by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP).