Whether it is relationships with friends, acquaintances or spousal for example; they all have the potential for healing and consequently growth to occur.
Opportunities are presented for one to integrate and process those parts that lay dormant; that are waiting to be realised. We are also given the chance to heal or let go of those parts that are negative or dysfunctional.
Happiness, Suffering And Pain
This also means that relationships have the power to create not only incredible happiness; but also unbelievable amounts of suffering and pain.
The reason relationships have the potential for both happiness and pain is because they are triggering and reminding us of our past. A past that likely had numerous traumatic encounters, needs that were ignored and neglected and moments of rejection and abandonment.
This is something that is unavoidable; our caregivers were only human after all. However the degree to which these things happened, the intensity and how they were interpreted during ones younger years is what will define present day challenges.
Repression And Dissociation
These childhood experiences that were stressful and overwhelming had to be dealt with somehow to ensure survival. With the brains ability to question not being developed at this stage; the ego mind had to protect and deal with them, with repression and dissociation often being the defences of choice.
During the years when we are completely dependent on our caregivers, we idealise them and make them into god like figures. To see them in any other way would create high levels of stress and uncertainty around ones survival. This causes the child to blame themselves for any inadequacy the parent might have or wrongdoing that has been carried out.
This could be called a defence mechanism, as it helps to ensure survival. However, if it’s not looked at or questioned later on in life, there can be the tendency to carry on blaming oneself for everything that happens; taking on an inordinate amount of responsibility.
Through repression and dissociation and after many years have passed, these old traumatic experiences will start to re-emerge. These will likely appear externally as the same or similar behaviours, environments and relationships and internally as the same feelings, thoughts and sensations that were experienced during those years.
When we experience happiness in a relationship we are potentially reliving those lost moments of our childhood or being treated in ways that are the complete opposite of how we were treated during our childhood.
People We Despise
Part of what creates pain in relationships is behaviours that create tension, frustration and anger. These can cause one to despise the other person or people. What one comes to despise in another is often what they have come to identify with themselves and repressed; it is then completely out of their awareness,
However it is often a behaviour that is experienced a lot and something that causes a strong reaction. Perhaps this was a behaviour that they were exposed to during their younger years on numerous occasions. And through the self blame, have come to identify with the behaviour; making it personal, which then continues to draw in experiences that mirror the past.
People We Admire
What makes up the feeling of happiness in relationships is often admiration towards the people in our life. This is often experienced when we have projected those parts, yet to be realised, onto another. These are parts that exist within us, traits and abilities that have been neglected and denied. These aspects are waiting to be embraced and acknowledged.
Perhaps it wasn’t safe for us to express them during those years. It might have also been the result of criticism from our caregivers, leading us to believe we don’t have what it takes to be those things our self.
On the larger scale admiration can also become a form worship and obsession. Something that is common in today’s culture with celebrities, musicians and sports stars.
How Long Will It Last?
When it comes to the early stages of the happiness, admiration and even idealisation that is experienced in a relationship; it’s only a matter of time before cracks will start to appear and a more balanced perspective is revealed. As to how long this will be, depends upon many different factors.
How the relationship develops and how conscious and aware one is, will naturally influence how long it lasts for.
Seeing In Absolutes
The mind works in absolutes and likes to see everything in black or white; seeing someone as perfect is a normal consequence of the mind and an unmonitored mind will not suspect this.
Different processes will be utilized, to block out anything that goes against the minds tendency of only seeing in absolutes; which can help to keep the illusion of perfection alive. These can cause one to deny, dismiss and edit anything that goes against it.
It is said that chemicals are released in the brain during the early stages of an intimate relationship, of which the effects are the equivalent of being stoned.
Once Its Over
Once this stage or phase has come to pass and balance is restored, one will likely start to see behaviours and characteristics that create pain.
What has been repressed and pushed out of conscious awareness will appear once more, with the hope of being acknowledged; so that it can be processed and integration can be achieved.
The Healing Power Of Relationships
Whether it is through being around people who make us feel good or through people who have the opposite effect, they are both giving us valuable feedback.
The people who press our buttons or who we despise are showing what we are still holding onto. The memories and effects that they produce are still stuck in our mind and body. Patterns and situations are then created that reflect the past and situations are continually interpreted as if they were the same.
This shows the importance and value of having relationships that allow one to be open and honest; where one can feel safe and supported. People who have this kind of relationship or who have experienced it will undoubtedly feel a deep sense of gratitude.
It might be the kind of relationship that is only possible with a therapist at first and through the work of processing and working on ones history; starts to spread into other relationships.
Being around people who can mirror and support us is extremely important. This assists in our healing process and in the realisation that it can be different. We can also internalize there ways or behaving and responding to us, thereby transforming our own self image and changing our inner models.
However, even in a conscious relationship there will be moments and occasions where reactive behaviours appear. We are only human after all and are not perfect. We all have defences that are in place to keep us safe. And they will stay there until our awareness and perception around them changes.
When it comes to describing a Dysfunctional Environment, it might help us to also look at what a functional environment might look like.
A functional environment then; would be an area that is conducive to growth. Somewhere that not only supports and encourages an individual to be themselves, but also allows them to.
Here, one can express who they are and feel safe doing so. Positive feelings and thoughts are also more likely to occur in this environment.
The dysfunctional environment on the other hand would be somewhere that doesn’t allow for the above to happen. Where the individual doesn’t feel supported or acknowledged in anyway, let alone in a way that honours who they are. This might be an environment that forces one to constantly compromise their values and themselves.
The word door mat comes to mind here; with boundaries being nonexistent in this environment. Feeling and thinking negatively is also something that might seem to just happen; coming on like a parasite, without reason or warning. Despair is also another common consequence from being in this type of environment.
Conscious And Unconscious Environments
With both of these examples we can see that one is an environment that could be classed as conscious and the other is an environment that is the complete opposite.
By this I mean that the dysfunctional environment is an environment where behaviour and the effects of that behaviour go unnoticed. The people in the environment have little, to, no awareness of their actions or to the damage, which is being carried out physically, emotionally or mentally.
Perhaps if one were to comment or mention how they felt to the person or persons in the environment, they might be dismissed or ignored. This of course all depends on how dysfunctional the environment is.
The Frog Metaphor
This is a story that is helpful in explaining the insidious nature of the dysfunctional environment.
It is about a frog that is put in a pan and is cooked so gradually that it doesn’t know or notice the difference in temperature. And after this slow rise, the frog dies. It was oblivious to what was happening and its imminent death. It became comfortable and numb to what it was experiencing.
So How Does This Relate To Dysfunctional Environments?
Within this environment one will notice at first that it is draining to them. However unless one takes the steps to break away or steps out of the environment so that it can be seen from another perspective, they might start to feel comfortable within this environment. With their original state of mind and aliveness; fast becoming a distant memory.
Now this could be because of a gradual drip feed approach or the slow cooking approach mentioned above. It might also be because it is an environment that feels comfortable and safe to them; as absurd as this sounds. It is reminding them of their history and what hasn’t been looked at.
Is This How It Is?
One might have never been in a functional environment. This makes it difficult in seeing contrast and in being able to compare it to other environments in their life. One might believe that this is how life is and that there is no such thing as a ‘functional environment’ or that it’s not possible for them.
We all have our own history, some parts that are likely to bring us feelings of happiness and other parts that might cause feelings of anger or resentment. This is history that won’t just disappear; it has to be faced in some way. That could be by directly facing something or by the assistance of a therapist for example.
Pulled To Our Past
We will naturally be drawn into environments that are mind unconsciously associates as being what is safe to us. These environments won’t always be places that empower or honour who we are. They will be environments that mirror the behaviours, feelings and thoughts of our childhood.
This is because of the nature of the mind and how it gets attached and creates attachments. What was experienced as a child becomes what is familiar and safe to the ego mind; regardless of if it is functional or not. If these associations are functional and beneficial, then what will subsequently happen is one will usually end up in environments that are at least moderately healthy and functional.
However if these are associations that are not so healthy or functional; one is likely to find that they are ending up in the same environments. Environments that are disempowering and don’t reflect what they consciously want or what their heart calls for. Where their energy is being taken and no energy is being returned.
The Childhood Environment
Above I have mentioned about our later environments mirroring the behaviours feelings and thoughts of our childhood environment if they have not been processed.
Common themes of those years will continue to appear and play out in our present day environments. These might be themes that our unique to us; challenges that just seem to appear over and over again.
A Recent Study
I recently read about a group of rat pups that were genetically predisposed to be more fearful than other strains of rats. If these rats were left with their biological mothers, they were likely to be fearful and stressed. However after placing these rat pups with other rat mothers that were not fearful; they grew up without fear.
The Power Of The Environment
Now these might be rats that were talking about here, but what this shows is the power of the environment in shaping how we see ourselves and in who we become.
There is always talk of nature vs. nurture and on the effect genetics have on life, however through the study of epigenetic’s genes have been found to require a trigger to be activated and that trigger is the environment. It is the environment that is making the difference.
Choosing Our Environments
Choosing our environments and therefore the people we have in our life and spend our time with is incredibly important to our own wellbeing and in achieving our dreams.
The natural tendency of our mind will be to return to what feels comfortable and to what is familiar.
Who We Are
What happened in or childhood or what has happened in our past doesn’t have to define our life or who we are. That is something we can do in each moment of our life.
Ones purpose could be described as a combination of factors. With ones dreams, goals, intensions and behaviour all combining to express and fulfil this often elusive thing known as ‘purpose’. Some people say it is something we find and others see it as something that we create.
No matter what ones perspective is; we all have dreams, some big, some small and however significant or insignificant they may seem to another, each one of them is important to us. Although there might be dreams that have been abandoned or buried for many years, they still exist within us; gnawing away, until they are heard and acted upon.
And what makes up these dreams or what fuels these dreams is our own need to express our inner calling or purpose; which can lead to an empowered and meaningful life. We all have gifts or value to offer the world, something that is unique to us and that no one else in the world has to offer.
However, often one of the biggest challenges’ one can face is in finding or creating their gifts or dreams. The individual that knows what they want and where they are going is the exception rather than the rule in today’s world.
Why Is This?
From the time of our birth and even until the time of our passing it is clear to see that there will always be the external views on what one should do. This can be experienced in many forms. This can be through; well meaning advice, different forms of criticism and numerous other ways.
This can create many challenges for an individual. On one side there is likely to be the need to please others; to do what makes other people happy and on the other there is the calling to follow our own truth; what really matters to us and fills us with passion and happiness.
Finding Our Purpose
In the midst of these two dichotomies’ there is the question of finding what these gifts and dreams actually are.
The years of our life that have the biggest influence on who we are and even on the development of our brain; are spent with our caregivers. We then spend multiple years in compulsory education and during this time there is also the influence of extended family, friends, authority figures and the media; to name but a few examples.
Each one of these is selling us their views or outlook on what we should be doing with our time and who we should be. Each stage has the potential to alienate one further from their own truth.
During the many years that are spent in education, we accumulate lots of information and ideas from others. The general modus operandi of mainstream education is regurgitation. The importance of memory cannot be emphasised enough here. There if generally very little focus of bringing out what is within an individual and developing ones innate talents or gifts.
What defines one as clever or not is set by others; which of course has potentially dangerous consequences; Consequences that can affect a person for life. If what they are good at does not fit the cultural norm, there sense of self and self worth can be badly damaged.
The same consequences can occur within family life, with caregivers often having their own ideas of what being clever is and what one should do.
What all these factors can create is a disconnection from our own expression and our own self. The more separated from ourselves we become; the harder it is to get back in touch with ourselves. If we have all these ideas about what we ‘should’ be doing, finding what we really want to be doing, is certainly going to be a challenge.
Many layers have been placed upon us, which can create years of frustration, anger and hopelessness after such conditioning. Feelings and thoughts of being off course or cut off in life can also occur.
How Did This Happen?
What I mean here is; why do we live in a world where people are often eager to tell another what they should be doing? Where does this control or tyranny actually come from?
From my perspective, I believe that regardless of whether we are talking about family, friends or organisations and groups of people such as the media, there is a pattern here.
These are behaviours and ways of acting that are passed on from one generation to the other and unless they are questioned, they will continue.
A Matter Of Survival
The key word here is survival and this is what I believe is influencing and causing this behaviour.
If one was told what they should be doing and who they should be from the very beginning of their life, there will be an association of survival created. This goes right back to our time of being dependent on our caregivers for our own survival.
To question or to go against their wishes and demands would mean death. This would create intense feelings of rejection and abandonment.
Some caregivers will be more supporting than others and will be more in tune with assisting and encouraging their child to follow their own dreams. Many caregivers will be completely out of touch with their child’s needs and will impose their own wants onto the child. This is usually the result of not fulfilling their own needs and dreams.
A typical example is of the child that is used as an extension of the caregivers. And areas of life where they didn’t achieve what they wanted can end up being what the child is encouraged and forced to fulfil.
And such a young age the child will be happy to follow these demands. It is a way for the child to receive the acceptance they require and to avoid or at least minimise the chance of being rejected.
The desire or calling to follow their own dreams is not a priority or even developed at such a young age, all that matters is their own survival. The hearts calling is not essential for the body’s survival and this is why it is often overlooked.
Acceptance Or Rejection?
So is it really a case of following our own truth and being rejected or compromising our own happiness and gaining acceptance from others? These dualities are two options that can seem like the only options.
There will be people who can’t accept our choices in life and people who can. Whether they are following their own truth will also play a part in this. If they have become trapped by the ideas and projections of others and feel unable to follow their dreams, they will likely find it hard to support another in following theirs.
And although these people often come across as unpleasant; they ultimately want to be heard and listened to. However their behaviour often creates the opposite of what they really want – attention.
When it comes to the awareness of our purpose and the gifts and goals that assist in living a life of purpose, it is something that is unlikely to happen overnight. Being aware of what brings us happiness and meaning can take time, especially when there is often fear involved when it comes to being accepted and through the years of conditioning.
Through Connecting to friends and family, who we trust and who accept us; we can find out what we talk about with passion and meaning or what we are good at. There might also be areas of our life that we enjoy and have achieved a level of competence, but fail to recognise and take for granted or even downplay and dismiss.
It might also be something that we have often thought about and yet have not developed or taken the required steps; as a result of different external and internal factors. It is often said that by trying out different things, we will soon find out what we like doing.
Our purpose can also be classed as a process and one that is not free from change; with what we enjoyed at one point in our life not having the same affect later on. There might also be certain skills and abilities that can be applied to many different areas and career paths.
The term ‘Instant Gratification’ is widely known and widely used in today’s society. Having something tomorrow or having to wait any longer than now, is often far too long in today’s culture.
Instant gratification can be observed throughout all ages and in numerous situations, it is not limited to a certain type of individual or situation. And whether we are talking about acquiring a new car or the urge to have something to eat, instant gratification is in action.
When it comes to explaining how this was created, the only thing I can give is my own opinion, based on my own experiences and observations. I do not claim to have all the answers or that this is the truth.
Many years ago this was talked about by Sigmund Freud, with the pleasure and reality principles. And to describe these terms loosely, the reality principle is having the ability to postpone and delay gratification, with the pleasure principle describing the need for instant gratification and an inability to delay gratification.
Good Or Bad?
So is instant gratification good or bad? I don’t believe that it’s a question of it being a good or a bad thing. What I think it comes down do is the application. There will naturally be times when we need something fast. However, there will also be moments when we will have to wait.
Problems occur when the ability to wait for something has not been developed or realised. And life becomes a constant drive or obsession to have everything instantly. This of course brings about many other problems, mainly because this is not always possible.
The areas of life that are more significant and meaningful, for example; achieving goals, having fulfilling relationships or achieving physical fitness. All of these things take time and this is why delaying gratification is so important. It is important for not only achieving what is often worthwhile, but also for our long term happiness and fulfilment.
So How Was It Created?
So how is something like this created? Where do its roots begin? Is this something that has just ‘happened’? I believe in order to understand instant gratification we have to look at childhood development.
I believe it is through going back to this stage that we will come to understand or at least try to understand what is causing this.
When we are children and during our early childhood, we have needs and because of our lack of independence, these are needs that have to be met by are parents/caregivers. These needs have a direct effect on our survival. They include food, protection and love. And due to the nature of these needs, they have to be fulfilled straight away or as soon as possible.
And this shouldn’t be a problem; with these being needs that can be fulfilled by our parents/caregivers and usually straight away or in a very short time.
When these needs are taken care of in a healthy and consistent manner, a child will likely develop into functional human being. An individual that has their basic needs met and has a sense of trust when it comes down to having them continually met. They won’t consciously think about these needs, as their unconscious mind has all the experience and associations of getting these needs fulfilled from very early on as a child.
It’s like asking a fish what it feels like to live in water; it doesn’t know, as that’s all it knows. And the same applies to this situation.
When these needs are not met or are met in an irregular manner, it creates uncertainty within the child. Having needs that might be met at times and ignored at other moments, will inevitably create a child that is fearful and doesn’t know where it stands. Not knowing what will happen or who it can trust. It will feel extremely vulnerable.
Important bonds and healthy attachments, which are required to insure a child’s wellbeing and psychological health, will be compromised at best and at worst non-existent.
The consequence of this is that the child grows up to feel neglected. That their needs are not important or that their needs can’t be fulfilled. This creates an unhealthy attachment and desperation around getting their needs met.
These needs are insatiable, they are constantly calling out to be fulfilled and listened to.
So if these needs were not met, as an adult there will be a feeling of urgency and desperation around getting something. Because when this person was a child they didn’t get what they wanted or rarely got what they wanted, so when it comes to present day desires they have to have it now or it will remind them of these memories.
This is a childhood where they were neglected and ignored. And to go one moment without having what they want triggers the old feelings of the powerlessness they felt as a child.
Another important question is: what drives us to want all these things? It is said that everything we desire is for the feeling we think it will give us. If an individual has these basic needs that were not met, they are then going do desire a lot of external stimuli and acquisition to compensate for this inner feeling of lack and emptiness.
The ego mind will use escapism to avoid these painful feelings, as a way to assuage ones inner pain, albeit temporarily. The constant need for more things will allow the ego to keep a lid on these inner processes.
It Won’t Last
However like any form of escape or ego defence mechanism, it has its moments and benefits, but they don’t last. Once something has been acquired in the shortest time possible, it doesn’t take long before a new desire appears.
The ego mind needs constant stimulus and escapes to keep itself busy, so that it can avoid facing these repressed and painful memories and will do everything it can to run away from the so called ‘Darker’ side of ourselves.
The law Of Diminishing Returns
The problem with these escapes is that the more of them we have, the more we end up needing and this is because their effect is always diminishing. Ultimately, more and more stimulus is required.
Taking Care Of Our Needs
It is clear to see how important it is to take care of our needs and to realise that although we can’t have something straight way, it doesn’t mean we can’t have it at all.
The child within us, the inner child, might constantly desire and want to have everything straight away. And this might be necessary, however in the moments when it’s not possible, we have to bide our time and exercise patience.
Oliver JR Cooper
Teacher, Author, Transformational Writer & Consultant - With Over 2,000,000 Article Views Online.
That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.
A Dialogue With The Heart - Part One
A Dialogue With The Heart - Part Two
A Dialogue With The Spirit
Why Does He Behave That Way? Why Do I Behave This Way?