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.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 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.