It may sound simple but change requires a lot of hard work.
If we grew up in environments that compromised our emotional growth, we often unconsciously seek out people, usually in intimate relationships but also in friendships, who will re-enact with us that unhealthy dynamic in an attempt to "make it right."
For example, if I could never please my mother and I believed it was my responsibility (and what child wouldn't?), I will find a partner who will continue to find fault with me. I will then keep trying to figure out how to make him/her happy and then experience intense triggered feelings of dread or despair when those attempts fail, which they ultimately will in a reenacted relationship. In a healthy relationship, if I disappoint my partner, I may feel sad, but the feeling will pass and I trust he will get over it.
If my childhood attempts to rouse my depressed mother failed, I may unconsciously be drawn to people who make me feel ignored and less-than. So when partner doesn't return my texts quickly enough and I experience feelings of panic or abandonment, those are triggered feelings. In a healthy relationship, you will be able to hold onto the fact that your partner hasn't stopped loving you or forgotten about you — he or she is simply busy and will respond to you as soon as they can.
You can identify a triggered feeling because it is ALWAYS way out of proportion and can often make you feel like you're crazy. But you are anything but — your mind is remembering (unbeknownst to you) and reacting as if your survival depended on an engaged, connected parent who was responsive to your needs and there were none to be found.
The amazing thing about triggered feelings is that once you get to the bottom of them, you realize that there is nothing wrong with you! Once you are able to understand that it wasn't your responsibility as a child to keep your father happy by pretending nothing is wrong, or to try to cheer up your depressed mother by focusing on her needs and subsuming your own, and that furthermore, their distance or unhappiness or own fears of abandonment had nothing to do with you, then you no longer need to "make it right" by entering into these no-win intimate relationships.
This sounds so simple, but it in fact requires hard work, often encompassing mourning, developing self-compassion, and ultimately making new meaning of our past and current relationships. The good part is that once you put in the word, the possibilites of moving on from your past are endless.
More personal development coach advice on YourTango:
- Bad Body Image? 15 Ways To Improve Your Self-Esteem
- 3 Simple Steps To Improve Your Self-Confidence
- Love: Tips & Expert Advice