Are you a Puppet on Your Emotional Strings?
Cycles and patterns have been on my mind lately. Cycles of behavior, of thought, of emotions, the dances we do with ourselves and with others. The idea that unless we are intimately familiar with our inner selves we are destined to repeat the same cycles over and over again. And even when we are familiar, sometimes we still repeat them, because we haven’t truly learned what they feel like in order to recognize them and then choose a different behavior.
Many of our patterns are engrained from our upbringing. Many are adopted for survival. Many of the cycles, if not identified, worked through, and monitored can show up as unhealthy behavior like codependency, being controlling, living in a victim mentality, etc. In fact, most maladaptive behaviors can be linked to unconscious coping and defenses.
Here are a few examples, pulled from my work with clients, of patterns and how they might be internalized when we’re young:
-We learn that we are shown the most love and attention when we are being useful, or taking care of others (mostly our parents), so that translates into a cycle of saving or of taking care of others in order to feel valuable and loved, sometimes at the expense of our own needs. It might be hard to receive or to accept that you are loved for simply being.
-We learn that a parent needs a lot of attention to feel validated, which leaves us little room to have space and attention for our own validation (which children need a lot of). If we take up space ourselves the parent shows jealousy or disapproval, so in order to receive love we learn to shrink and to not make it about us, but rather about them. This eventually translates into not knowing or being able to communicate what is even happening for us internally: our emotions, our wants, needs, desires.
-We learn that we have the power and probably the responsibility to make others feel better. Possibly because our parent(s) put a lot of pressure on us to be their emotional savior. Maybe they were in a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable so they turned to us to become their emotional spouse, maybe their parents never taught them how to emotionally regulate or practice…