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Lost Love & the Drive Towards Wholeness

You have likely heard that people marry their parents.  You may have also heard yourself say that you won't make that mistake.   The thing is, no one consciously chooses to marry their parents. 

You are unconsciously motivated to finish developmental growth cycles that were left incomplete or blocked with your parents.  This unconscious drive towards wholeness shows up under the guise of attraction. 

You are attracted to those who, also unconsciously, set up conditions in which you will be forced to face this unfinished business of your formative years.  At a basic level you are working to feel whole and grounded with one or more of these basic needs which correspond to developmental stages: safety & belonging, support, autonomy & interdependence, authenticity & power, and being seen & accepted. 

It would be an easy healing path if the one you are attracted to didn't also come with their own unconscious patterns to complete.

The tricky part is that when you are just friends or just dating someone, these things don't necessarily show up.  Your psyche is waiting for a committed and stable situation to show these blocked or incomplete developmental growth cycles.  This is likely the major reason why you hear people say, "As soon as we got married, everything changed."

As soon as the commitment is made, both partners psyche's say, "Okay, let's get to work, we have cycles to complete."  The drive towards wholeness takes over.

Unfortunately, this usually isn't a conscious decision and so painful unconscious coping strategies are part of the mix.  Your partner says something like, "Stop pestering me, I don't want to talk about it!" 

If he were conscious of the developmental growth cycle he needs to complete (autonomy & interdependence), he might say something like, "You know I don't have confidence that I can make choices that are right for me and still have you.  I want to change this and be more direct and authentic about my choices.  I wonder if right now as we plan this vacation, you could remind me that you really want to hear what works for me even if it doesn't agree with your ideas?"

You and your partner have spent years coming up with coping strategies to deal with the hurt, grief, and anger of being blocked in the drive towards wholeness.  There are myriad and subtle ways you have learned to defend, attack, avoid, and shut down.  When you are in the thick of it with your partner, it seems there is no end to the ways you disconnect with these coping strategies.

But it only takes one moment of compassionate witnessing to begin to break the spell of your coping strategies and ask what you really want to create.  If even for a moment you can stop yourself in the midst of criticizing your partner or defending yourself or shutting down, and instead ask yourself, "What am I trying to create right now?"  or   "What am I longing for right now?", you can be free.

Each time you feel yourself contract, you are likely engaging a coping strategy.  These coping strategies do not help you move towards wholeness.  They are meant only to keep you together until conditions are right for you to continue your developmental growth pattern.

When you compassionately witness yourself in that moment of contraction; pause, breath deeply, let yourself relax and expand.  From this place of expansion, you can make a decision based on what's really needed in the moment. 

Take a moment now to reflect on the last few days.  Remember moments when you felt a little off in your interaction with someone else or you walked away from an interaction feeling unsatisfied.  Or perhaps you criticized someone else for what they were or weren't doing.  Ask yourself how you might have been attacking, defending, avoiding or shutting down.  Then consider what you would have liked to create in that interaction.

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3 Responses

  1. Dec 30, 2011
    glenn franz

    I really like this thought, "But it only takes one moment of compassionate witnessing to begin to break the spell..." It is a good mantra to help me kick into practicing NVC.

  2. Jan 03, 2012

    we not only marry our parents, i think we date them, and i see myself going into it, the pattern is pretty clear. the difference is, at my age, and through my spiritual practice, i can observe myself using habitual responses, i can witness myself becoming reactive and defensive. when i allow these feelings to arise, i can be curious about it all, i can share this with my partner, and ask for empathy. i am blessed to have a partner that is willing to do this work with me,
    and brings a big open heart to our interactions. so maybe i found someone who is not so much like my father, someone whom actually listens, pauses, and considers my feelings in a loving and kind manner. so maybe that is more like my mother, and i'm ok with that. maybe that is what i am longing for, loving connection, real, authentic, heart felt communication. thanks for reminding me.:)

  3. Jan 03, 2012

    Good to hear from you Glenn. I have found that little phrases can go a long way for me too.

    Thanks for writing Tsarra. I am glad you have this support and happy to contribute in this little way.

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