I tend to vacillate on whether I have a complete “blame your parents” approach to life or not.
In my heart, I do believe that our childhood experiences with our parents, mixed in with our own personalities, along with our reactions to siblings and peers and the structure of our lives-send us off on a path with a certain set of beliefs and patterns that have a huge effect on our future relationships. (Thank G-d for therapy)
When we’re children, our brains are like tiny, little video cameras. The love patterns we experience between and from our parents create our very own love guide that literally becomes a future pattern in our brains.
The love that we witness and receive as children is the exact kind of love we learn to accept and think we deserve. (Aha…now we know where the “daddy issues” and the “cold mommy” issues stem from. Attachment disorders, and intimacy issues… lions, tigers and bears ‘oh my’. The list goes on and on).
An interesting fact I read up on is that everything we’ve ever experienced is stored right in our unconscious memory. Experts say that as adults, we will replicate the exact relationships that were modeled in our own childhoods. (Now it makes total sense why we are all so messed up, right?)
The next answer to your question is– yes, even those dysfunctional relationships that we had, we are likely to duplicate. (Lucky us)
In some ways it’s like a habit – Freud termed it “repetition compulsion“. (I like to think of it as a dog chasing its tail)
I know so many women and men that keep getting into the same relationship patterns over and over, with different people. They claim they keep finding the “same type” when in reality I think they are just re-creating the same interaction that they had when they were younger.
Many of us develop these patterns over the years, whether positive or negative, and that blueprint becomes deeply ingrained in us. (Alas, now we know where the phrase you can’t teach an ol’ dog new tricks came from)
We each create a skewed world for ourselves and discover what works and what doesn’t.
In times of stress, worry, anger, or any other emotional high, we repeat what is familiar and what feels safe.
As an example, someone who struggles with insecurities and jealousy will find that when his/her partner does not return a call or text immediately, their mind begins to wander with very bad thoughts that keep getting worse and worse. I like to refer to this as the “downward spiral effect”.
Ugh, nothing worse than when that paranoia starts to creep in like a fog over London. We have all felt it at some time or another. Haven’t we?
All of a sudden, your thoughts begin to build up slowly, one by one they start to pick up the pace, your stomach begins to drop like you’re on some g-d awful roller coaster ride—heart begins to race, mood starts to change, breathing gets shallow and kaboom- you’ve officially entered into the relationship abyss. And boy let me tell you, it’s kinda dark down there!!! Definitely not a prime vacation spot.
False accusations get thrown and unintended harm to the relationship then begins.
I mean seriously, how many times have you sent a text message to someone and they don’t respond for the longest time. If you’re secure with the relationship and yourself—you’re like “hey, that person must be busy”.
If you’re a highly jealous and insecure person you might instead think, “Omg, I’m being ignored and that person is up to no good”. (Which by the way sometimes they are, just saying, sorry.) I guess it’s all from the experiences of your past.
To react differently would feel almost foreign. When you’ve done something the same way for years and years you most likely will continue to do so. People don’t change. You know that, right? However, they can evolve.
Ok, so here’s the big question. How do we get out of this repetitious cycle of hell????
I actually needed to do research to find the answer. What I found was not simple. But you knew that.
Research says that therapy is one of the best ways to overcome the cycle, but a person has to acknowledge that they have these issues first in order to seek out treatment.
The first step is in knowing you need assistance. The problem is that some people just don’t want to do the work in order to heal their wounds. A real pity, huh?
It is important to control your thoughts.
Instead of being defensive, open your mind to the possibility that it isn’t always “someone else’s fault”. In cognitive behavioral therapy there is something called the ABC model. This ABC model can be described as, “I think, so I feel, so I do. In other words, our thoughts become our emotions, which become our actions.
Once we recognize that we have power over our thoughts, we can begin to consciously control what comes next.
In the end, as adults, we can’t blame all of our mishegas (Yiddish for crazy) on our childhood wounds. Some yes, but not all.
Changing our thoughts can change our feelings and ultimately change our actions.
So, when you find yourself facing the same situation over and over and over again, ask yourself what all the situations have in common.
The answer might be you!
Until next week,
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