Intimate relationships are tricky ground. We want to be close but it is all too easy to completely lose oneself in the world of an other. How can we tell the difference between true intimacy and an unhealthy merging with our significant other? Ask yourself these questions to begin to clarify what’s going on in your relationship.
- Do you feel responsible for others’ feelings yet have difficulty identifying your own
- Do you have a hard time expressing your own feelings
- Do you fear and fret about how others may respond to your feelings
- Do you minimize problems and deny the truth about others’ behavior
- Is it hard for you to begin or sustain close relationships
- Do you tend to put other people’s wants and needs first
- Do you overvalue the opinion of others
- Do your feelings of worth come from outside yourself
- Are you loyal to people who repeatedly use and abuse you
These patterns that we all seem to grapple with to some degree keep us far removed from our birthright of personal power and deep connection with our self. Typically this pattern of self betrayal begins in childhood. Perhaps the child was harshly controlled, very often ignored or praised only when performing according to the parents’ dictates. Somehow a sense of unconditional love and acceptance was missing which often results, in adulthood, as an all pervasive sense of insecurity. For example, a girl who was ignored by her working mother except when she cleaned the house and combed mother’s hair was taught love is conditional, based on what she did for mom. This is, in effect, a role reversal with the child taking care of the mom. This dynamic becomes part of the identity of the girl and often shows up in adulthood as the tendency to become involved with partners who are self absorbed and are “takers”. This woman will give and serve her partner while, oftentimes, remaining unaware of her own needs, desires and preferences. Her only goal in the relationship is to make her partner happy. She is, in effect, merely an extension of her partner with no identity of her own
How does one begin the process of liberation from this quagmire of relentless self denial and endless people pleasing? The long lost authentic self can be excavated through hypnosis. A seed of the genuine heart and mind is always retained, even after severe childhood abuse. By delving deep into the subconscious, beneath the logical, rational, everyday mind, the inner child is found again. Perhaps deeply wounded and afraid yet still vital and essential to the journey forward. The lost child is the key. This inner part of the adult self still knows what she wants, needs and prefers. She knows what feels nourishing and what feels hurtful. She has opinions and she wants to express her innate creative spark.
I create a 100% safe haven for this wounded child to reveal herself. Using deep breathing and guided imagery, along with the sounds of water flowing in the background, I invite a natural deepening process to unfold using hypnosis to relax the body and clear the mind. Once an openness has been created by setting aside daily concerns about the past and future a profound sense of well being arises which provides a welcoming psychic space for the inner child to speak.
Typically this part of the self has much to say and remembers clearly the potent events of long ago that left indelible imprints in her psyche. Sometimes I help the client go back in time and imagine events with a happier outcome. Wishful thinking? Yes and so much more. Imagining being rescued from physical abuse by a warm, loving grandmother or some other benevolent adult, actually begins to rewire the brain and create new neural pathways. The goal is to create a profound sense of self protection and nurturing in which the client begins to feel safe enough to feel and share feelings and priorities in real life with her significant others. This self assertion builds upon itself with each truth spoken leading to further momentum to express the true self. A sense of delight accompanies this outward display of individuality. Confidence grows, over time, as the adult develops the emotional muscles of daring to feel and express the truth of the personal self.
Once the authentic voice has been restored, codependency begins to subside as the reference point shifts to an internal authority rather than an excessive focus on the feedback of others. Relationships become more dynamic as, suddenly, there are two distinct individuals relating. Two different viewpoints are allowed to emerge. As this individuation manifests further new skills are needed to navigate this uncharted territory of honest communication.
There are various communication models available these days to guide the newly autonomous. Non violent communication skills must be learned as they are not taught while growing up in dysfunctional families. How I wish communication skills were taught in elementary school! Learning to own our thoughts and emotions and then relating them in a way that is truthful and yet does not blame the other person is a precise art. Luckily, over time and with practice, this artform begins to feel natural and comfortable.
New forms of relating emerge as we explore what’s happening inside ourselves, firstly, and then become willing to listen to and understand the other person’s point of view. A new world of authentic connection marked by honest communication begins to reveal itself as we come into our SELF.