I recently spoke with a client who has a new relationship, with a woman he adores. His sweetheart (“Gloria”) has some negative patterns, and the client (“Tommy”) recently erupted with anger in public when he discovered that she had not fulfilled an obligation. And in private, she is not performing her chores around the house, wanting to be waited upon. This makes Tommy furious.
My words to him:
- You have to separate out two very different things. A: Gloria’s behavior. B: your reactions.
TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
2) Ask: what is going on? What is going on is that Gloria does not keep her word. Goes unconscious. Why? There are probably emotional issues (it’s FUN to be a kid and be waited on!) but there seem to be physical issues as well: Gloria has low blood sugar, and when she doesn’t eat, she loses mental efficiency and emotional balance.
And with Tommy? He gets angry because he is fearful. Fearful of what? That if he puts his foot down, Gloria will leave him. And that would be devastating. Why? Because he doesn’t trust himself to provide for his emotional needs. From the “Ancient Child” perspective, his child does not trust his adult.
3) How do you get leverage? Tommy can only directly affect himself. If he cannot control his own emotions, it is a fool’s errand to think he can help Gloria with hers. The ONLY thing for Tommy to do is take care of Tommy. This means not needing Gloria. Paradoxically, this increases the chances of his relationship with Gloria working successfully, because the “neediness” is gone. No fear means no anger.
Now, for “Gloria” the first step is to get clear agreement about what her tasks are. Start with a ‘talking stick’ perhaps, and then write out a contract. If low blood sugar is the problem, then Gloria must drink a protein smoothie every morning (for instance) and again at 3pm, to provide smooth blood sugar levels. And THEN if things keep going wrong, we know it is a different problem (perhaps–check with the doctor, of course). I’m betting that the problem is emotional. Without knowing more, I’d bet Gloria does not exercise, and treats her body like a garbage bag. That is a common result of abuse and neglect in childhood. But removing the “presenting problem” (low blood sugar) removes the excuse so you can dig deeper.
But that’s just off the top of my head about Gloria. Tommy, as I said, needs to deal with Tommy. That’s ALL he can deal with directly. So here are some thoughts. They have not jelled into a full program as yet, but are pertinent to the idea that is is our twisted values, beliefs and fears that stop us from evolving.
- Anger is fear. In this case, fear of loss of relationship, or fear of being “walked on” or “let down” in some critical arena. Like finances, for instance. That is SERIOUS, and triggers more divorces than cheating.
- You must know that you only need you. You can WANT other people, but since you ultimately die alone, if you “need” others the terror is unceasing, and colors everything in your life. Deal with this, and you are free to enjoy your life, and love fully without fear of loss.
- From the “Ancient Child” perspective, what you must do is convince the “child” within you that your “adult” loves him, and can be trusted to protect–or die trying. PERIOD. No ifs, ands or buts. If you hear ANY waffling in your mind when you make this statement, you have performed a diagnostic: those are the demons you must face down.
- If you learn the lesson, you can release the negative emotions. In other words, the only reason the negative emotions persist is that some part of you thinks they are protecting you. “I need to be angry, fearful, or I won’t protect myself.” That is true if you are asleep. The truth is that you perform an action separate from any emotion ordinarily associated with it. Sex without love or pleasure? Sure, people do it every day. Killing without anger? Sure. Professional soldiers must either do this, or damage themselves. If you are afraid of dogs, and in therapy uncover a forgotten memory of being bitten, the instant you are CONVINCED that you have the adult ability to protect yourself from dogs, you no longer need the fear, and it is far easier (not automatic) to release it.
- When we feel a powerful emotion, we associate that emotion with whatever is proximal. So if we feel love, we can become convinced that the person we are with is responsible for the feeling. This is childhood wiring, and if you never question it, on that level you remain a child. The sense that we NEED others makes us desperate and fearful and manipulative and controlling. Which kills the very love we seek. Paradox.
- The way out of this is to start by loving yourself enough to fill your own void. To commit to your own happiness…and then extending that love to others.
- Compassion and empathy for others does NOT mean taking shit from them. Being in a sexual relationship with someone you allow to remain a ‘child’ emotionally is…well, I think you get the point.
Love yourself. Swear to protect your heart. Then extend your humanity to others until you can see yourself shining out of their eyes.
When you accept this syntax, you can deal with their issues as information rather than personal attacks. You don’t slide down the “stress tunnel”. And from there, you are as efficient and effective as you are capable of being.
And that child inside you will be safe, and loved, no matter what happens externally. And that is all you really need.