Small Bumps & Bigger Blocks:

Why do we do what we do? Where do our behaviors and thoughts come from?

 

What’s happening here?

The way we start to deal with frustrations, misunderstandings and disappointments in adult relationships reflect our own personal back-story.

None of us were born into a bubble. For better or worse we were born into some sort of constellation of others, which I will refer to as ‘family’. I am including all family members, your parent or parents, sibling/s, aunts, uncles and grandparents, in fact any others who impacted, shaped and influenced your early years. But why would I mention childhood families when we’re speculating about difficulties in our adult relationships?

Well, to put it simply, our families of origin become our ‘blueprint’ of how we come to view and shape our adult relationships. As we grow up what we see, hear and feel around us shapes the way we come to understand relationships, so lets look at this in a bit more detail.

 

Emotions and childhood families:

If we were the lucky ones, we grew up in families that understood that different feelings and emotions are all part of simply being alive and in close relationship to others. Tensions, misunderstandings, anger and frustration are as much a part of healthy family life as closeness, attachment, laughter and fun. It is by growing up in ‘healthy enough’ families, that we come to understand how to approach and process feelings and emotions accordingly, neither being frightened and avoidant, nor overwhelmed and submerged. We come to recognize that there are many different sorts of thoughts and feelings, some confusing, anxiety provoking, and just generally messy, some bright, energizing and uplifting, but these are all essentially passing responses and physical states. We perceive and name what our bodies and minds are ‘feeling’, but these are subjective, fluid states. None is to be feared, none will stay forever, all will pass, everything will be re-experienced, all be it at different times and in different contexts.

The important bit here is that it’s not that we shouldn’t feel anger, sadness or upset, on the contrary, we should. What matters is our ability to calmly process our various states and these skills are slowly gained throughout childhood.

As children, if we have experienced the adults around us move towards, into and through ‘sticky moments’ as thoughtfully, reflexively and calmly as possible we simply absorb the skills needed as children. When we experience the adults around us handle difficult emotions with a sense of curiosity about what went wrong, with an understanding that EACH played a part in the situation, and that BOTH hold a shared interest in coming through with as little collateral, or long term damage, as possible, we learned some vitally important information. What we experienced was adults becoming upset and expressing emotions and words with strength and feeling but not sliding towards rage, aggression, silencing, and blame.

If what we experienced growing up were angry long silences, threats or walking out, we might naturally surmise that some feeling states could directly cause intolerable upset and should be avoided or feared. So what might happen when, as an adult, this person meets these states within their relationships? You can see there may be a ‘natural’ inclination to either become aggressive quickly through fear of being overwhelmed, or we may constantly avoid all possible confrontation leading to imbalance and dissatisfaction on our relationships.

 

So where to now?

If any of the above makes you inwardly wince, or brings back memories you’d rather forget, recognizing that there are better or different ways to operate in relationships is a big step forward. There is plenty to read on couples and relationships, and of course, there is always the invitation to talk and behave differently.

If this feels too challenging to know where to start, why not see what might be useful in a conversation with me?

I look forward to you getting in touch.

 

Karen

North London

T: 07909 910 624

E: karen@karenaramtherapy.co.uk