There are people who have relationships that are generally: supportive, secure, loving and what could be described as functional. And there are others who are in relationships that are: unhealthy, dysfunctional, disempowering and even abusive.
Now, for people in the first description, this is often what is normal to them. And based on the outsiders perspective they could be portrayed as lucky and fortunate. And all kinds of things can be used to justify why they have these types of relationships.
It could be due to how attractive they are, or how intelligent they are or something similar. These points of view often come from what is visible to the human eye and what has been defined, often through societal conditioning, as what leads to a healthy relationship.
And for the person who has relationships that are similar to the second description; they are also what will feel normal to them. These are the people are often labelled as unlucky and unfortunate.
For these people it can often be put down to circumstances and how they have no choice. It may be that it’s the other people who are the problem. Society will often name these people as victims and having no choice in what is occurring.
If one were to drive to place where there are traffic lights and on the first occasion that this happened they were on red and then on the subsequent occasions they were on red again; it may appear that the lights were against one. And that there was no order to when they would be on or off.
One might then believe that one is either lucky or unlucky as to whether the light was on red. This means that some people would be lucky to get green and others would be unlucky to get red. As the ego mind takes things personally; it could seem that the lights had some kind of hidden agenda.
But if one were to observe the patterns that the light has; it would be quite clear that each of the traffic lights has a set period of time when it will go onto a certain colour. It is not personal; it is simply doing what is has been programmed to do.
The Ego Mind
And without wanting to influence the meaning that one has taken from this analogy; this relates to the ego minds way of working. Because on one side there are clear patterns in relationships and on the other it is easy to take what happens in ones relationships personally.
These patterns are there because they have been associated, though years of programming, as what is familiar and therefore safe to the ego mind. And as a result of this, the ego mind will likely take the patterns personally. This means that if one is identified with the mind, one will feel that this is who they are. To the ego mind, whatever is classed as familiar, will be what one sees as their identity.
So the only reason these relationship patterns are there is not because this is who one is or that its ones nature; it is simply because they have become what is classed as familiar. And in order to change the patterns that one has, one has to change the minds associations of what is safe.
The patterns that one has in their relationships can range from many different roles being played. This could be:
· To feel continually victimised
· Being taken advantage of
· To having to constantly compromise
· Having ones needs ignored and denied
· Routinely feeling rejected and abandoned
· Being controlled and having no choice
· Feeling invisible and that one doesn’t exist
· Having to put up with mental, emotional and/or physical abuse
· Fearing intimacy and closeness
· Feeling powerless
If ones relationships are looked at individually and are perceived as who one is, it will be difficult to notice presence of patterns. By stepping back and looking at ones time line of relationships, a better understanding of what patterns are in place will begin to appear.
This may be something one can do through remembering what happened in their mind or writing down the experiences that one has had within the different relationships throughout their life. It is then likely that specific feelings and thoughts will appear again and again.
Once one is aware of what these patterns are, actions can then be taken to change these patterns of behaviour and the internal processes that go along with it.
The ego mind will not take this lying down though; there will be conflict that arises. Because through the mind associating these patterns and familiar and safe; they are then what feels normal.
And although consciously we may want to change these patterns, to the ego mind it will feel uncomfortable to go against these patterns. On the surface this may sound ridiculous, but then the ego minds primary motivation is survival. And if ones ego mind has associated these dysfunctional patterns as what will lead to that; then it is inevitable that it will resist all attempts to change them; no matter how destructive they are.
And the longer these patterns have been around for, the harder it is to change them. These patterns are probably the only way that one has experienced life and this means that it seems like nothing more than a dream to have relationships that are fulfilling,
The way that one perceives relationships and the behaviour that one has in relationships, largely comes from how they were treated as a child. As a child, one is helpless, needy and completely reliant on caregivers.
And how the primary caregiver responds to these needs will go a long way in setting ones relationship patterns for the rest of their life. Was one: acknowledged, soothed, cared for, mirrored and regulated on a basis that was generally consistent? Or was one: rejected, abandoned, smothered or ignored on a fairly consistent manner?
These early experiences will often define what one expects from relationships in latter life. This will be from all types of relationships that one will encounter. And no matter where one goes on this planet; these expectations will go with them.
And as I mentioned above, because they were ones first experiences, they end up as what our ego mind associated as familiar.
One can only trapped by these patterns if they are unaware of them. Here one will carry on acting in the same way and the same story will continue.
With awareness, ones relationships can change for the better. Many years ago I heard Tracy Holloway say ‘Awareness is not enough’. And this of course depends on how one is affected by it.
Often we become aware and we can still act, think and feel the same and this is due to the nature of the mind: with the unconscious mind being what needs to change and not just the conscious.
This is why therapies that target the unconscious mind can be so effective in creating change.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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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.