Is your past the reason for your conflicts?
Did you know that the root of many conflicts which you may have in the present lies somewhere in the past?
Unless you are able to deal with the past issue and move on with your life, you will keep getting into more and more conflict, eventually ending up with a feeling of victimization.
We either end up playing the ‘victim’ or creating the drama of a ‘villain’. This somehow keeps confirming to our core believes which we have built over a period of time. It’s a vicious cycle and if you are caught in it then it’s time you get the heck out with some practice of forgiveness.
Let me explain this a little more. I had a friend of mine who was going through a troubled marriage. Everyday used to start and end with unending arguments and they had started to become distant with each other. The situation had precipitated to such an extent that a split was the only option they felt would help resolve this forever. Each party claimed to be the ‘victim’ and called the other ‘villain’ of the piece. Such positions never really help in a conflict. It’s important that we understand the underlying causes for our reactions in the present.
An evening coffee meetup gave me the opportunity to try and help my friend through this phase and identify what was causing frequent ’emotional explosions’ in her transaction with him.
“I don’t think our marriage is going to last, looks like we are heading for a split” she said as tears swelled in her eyes. I could see that she had over a period of time been suppressing her emotions and was looking to a person to pour that out so that she might feel lighter. For me, I was not really concerned about the current outburst which is a result of suppression. I was more concerned in digging deeper to let her come out with the ‘repressed’ emotions. The difference being that the second type is the one from a long past, which is formed and lying deep underneath and is at the core of all responses of the present.
“Tell me more, I urged”. You know, he doesn’t love me anymore and has been paying attention to other ladies. He no longer seems to be attracted to me. I think he has had enough of me. I knew she was playing the ‘victim’ here and wanted to know more as to what led her to believe this was happening to her.
I had known her husband for over 15 years and saw that he was caring, helpful and a great support for the family. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusion based on what she was telling me. I however didn’t want to give her an instant solution or strategy to work around this, lest she feel that I am biased and am no different from her husband.
Tell me more I prodded. “You know he is so obsessed with his daughter that it’s always about her, he has no time for me anymore” she said gritting her teeth as she banged the coffee cup on the table. It befuddled me, as even I wondered, what would make a mom so angry that her daughter is getting so much attention from dad?
“It’s like I don’t have space in his mind anymore. I think he is distancing himself from me and doing this deliberately”.
I thought it was a great opportunity to mine deep. “You use the word deliberately. From where did you get this idea?” I asked.
“Oh! I know this game. My Dad always used to do this to me. He used to distance me and give attention to my sis whenever he wanted to communicate his anger towards me and teach me a lesson. I was at the receiving end of such treatment and I can sense it if someone does it to me” she said.
“Was your Dad always distant from you? And are you saying he didn’t love you enough as he did your sis?” I asked.
“I thought that was his way of letting me know that I was not as good as my sis was. I could never live up to his expectations, no matter what” she started to sob and I let that happen for her to get lighter in the head and probably become a little open to think more clearly when I offered an alternative way of thinking.
“So you have not been able to forgive your dad for making you feel this way?” I asked.
She was trying to probably tell me that when someone doesn’t pay enough attention to her, its their way of communicating to her that she was not good enough or unwanted. Unfortunately for her, she has been living with this feeling for a long time and this repressed anger started to manifest itself when she saw her husband showering his attention on their daughter. She was actually visualizing her sis in her daughter and comparing her husband with her father. She was playing the perfect ‘victim’ and was projecting that in every transaction.
Her husband was unfortunately becoming the reason for her to be reminded of her past and their relationship was taking the brunt of all the repressed emotions. The problem was that the two souls didn’t know what was happening and were ending up blaming each other for the situation.
You will notice that we are not taught how to think through situations and reflect on the root causes. Instead we are taught to react, judge, lay blame and take revenge.
Come to think of it, most of us are leading our life like ‘Avengers’. We want to avenge for the past crimes committed on us by our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues and whosoever. We have unknowingly developed the victim mindset and now want to fight and harm others as much as we were harmed in the past.
“Is that the only thing about your husband that bothers you?” I asked. “What do you like in him, leaving this one dimension aside?”
“He always gives me my space, surprises me with gifts, helps me in chores – right from washing dishes to cooking great food when I don’t feel the energy to do anything. In a way I am lucky that he always chips in when I need”. Her reply surprised her as well as she paused after what she rattled about her husband just then.
Have you been evaluating your husband using the prism of your past baggage of your relationship with your Dad? I asked. It took some time for that question to sink in, for she paused and remained silent for a considerably long time. I get your point she said after a while. I am able to see that I cannot stand anyone giving more attention to others in front of me. It keeps reminding me of all the love and affection I missed getting from my dad. I always yearned for that. I can see that before we had our daughter, I was getting all the attention from him. Now it was different and I am starting to feel threatened. I think I have been harsh on him. “Don’t you think your daughter deserves the care and attention which you always looked for from you Dad?” I nudged.
This one interaction went off smoothly and though it took time and repeated reminders, my friends were able to iron out their differences and save themselves from damaging conflicts.
Have you ever thought about the fact that it is our repressed emotions which are at the core of conflict?
Isn’t it therefore important to go to the root of it and relate how it is affecting your present?
Can you think of some conflicts which you had and have manifested from your repressed past?
Don’t you think one needs to deal with the inner conflict before trying to solve the outer?
ARE YOU LEADING A LIFE OF AN AVENGER?