Lila here~ I thought it would be helpful to
share a little exercise developed by Harville Hendrix. It’s a great way to figure out what your imago
Your imago is the composite of all the
important positive and negative traits of your primary caregivers when you were
a child. He or she will appear to be the
perfect match for you when you first meet; you’ll feel like you’ve known each
other forever, sexual sparks will fly even as you feel very comfortable with
them. Over time, they’ll be able to push
all the buttons leading to “I’m unlovable” and “I’m no good”. They seem so familiar at first because they
share primary traits with your parents (or whoever raised you). You’ll recognize the positive traits at
first, then after awhile you’ll tease out the negative traits as well.
It’s helpful to understand your imago,
whether or not you’re currently in a relationship. If you are in a relationship, you might be
able to create new dynamics that are supportive and nurturing. If you aren’t in a relationship, you’ll have
a better idea of what you’re really looking for and why. This will hopefully prevent you from going
through more heartbreak as “the One” becomes your worst nightmare.
Take a piece of paper and draw a circle on
it. Leave some space at the bottom of
the page to write a few sentences. Draw
a line across the center of the circle.
On the top half of the circle, write all the positive traits you can
think of about your parents and anyone who influenced you as a child. Circle the traits that had the most impact on
you growing up. As you do this, think
back to what they were like when you were a child, not what they’re like now.
On the bottom half of the circle, list the
negative traits of these key people from your childhood. It’s not necessary to write their names with
the traits, just write out everything that pops into your head. Again, circle the traits you thing affected
you the most.
This list represents your imago. Does it seem familiar?
Underneath the circle, write and complete
this sentence: “What I wanted most as a child and didn’t get was…”
Next, write and complete this sentence: “As
a child, I had these negative feelings over and over again: ….”
Completing these two sentences will help you
understand the needs you try to get your imago to fill for you, and the ways
you sabotage yourself in relationships with limited (negative) thoughts. You can use a coach or a therapist to help
you turn the negative thoughts to positive ones and to help you get your needs
met on your own.
(exercise taken from Getting the Love You
Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.)