5 Common Mistakes in Relationships

January 25, 2023  |   Blog   |     |   Comments Off on 5 Common Mistakes in Relationships

More and more I discover the importance of self care and self awareness. And that relationships are the factories for creating the impetus for this skill set in order to develop the wise adult part of ourselves. Terry Real writes passionately and clearly about this in his new book Us – Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship. The forward is written in a very personal way by Bruce Springsteen. The book is well worth a good read if you are interested in more connection with a loved one.


Over the next few weeks I will blog about his ideas beginning with 5 Common Loosing Strategies. These are :

1. Unbridled Self Expression

2. Needing to be Right

3. Controlling your Partner

4. Retaliation

5. Withdrawal

In my practise right now, I am seeing a lot of unbridled self expression. The pandemic has cooped us up and threatened us like no other phenomena in recent history. In the therapy room people let loose with feelings and experiences they have kept to themselves. Much of this is therapy in action.

Eventually many young feelings and needs must be contained and soothed from within by the the Inner Parent and Wise Adult. Committed relationships bring up flaws that every person has from imperfect childhoods. Many believe these wounded parts are to be shared and healed by our partner. And in some circumstances that’s true – just not from the Inconsolable Wounded Child part. The Wise Adult needs to reassure the child part that she/ he will be looked after from within. Then the wise adult can negotiate with the partner for needs and wants that are about present day. In this brilliant way we can overcome our childhood hurts and create new brain cells that cope with present day challenges and opportunities for true intimacy.

Unbridled self expression was described recently by a client as “a fire hose of feelings” all focused on her partner. The intensity can be exhilarating for the fire hose and demoralizing for the receiver of said hosing. Challenging unbridled self expression is a risk that needs to be taken by the therapist to assist in adult and couple development. This challenge is often met with resistance, rage, resentment pure fury. The client in this instance is being challenged at his/her very core of adaptation. This strategy and the underlying belief system “I did not get enough attention as a child therefore You have to provide it now OR I was falsely empowered so I should get whatever I want whenever I want it” is rooted in early childhood development. The idea that all feelings are equally valuable, authentic and should be shared spontaneously to increase closeness is false. This rarely engenders generosity or transparency in the other.

A good relationship embodies :

1. The wise adult guided by the prefrontal cortex. We must be relaxed, calm and alert to manifest this part. An inner sense of safety is essential for the prefrontal cortex to engage.

2. The wounded vulnerable child part needs to be soothed and looked after by the wise adult and good parent. Tending to this part is an inside job wherever possible. A boundary is created when the good parent notices the feelings, needs and wants of our young self. An inner dialogue that is compassionate and understanding helps the inner orphan feel safe.

Below your conscious awareness your autonomic nervous system is questioning whether you are safe. The answer will determine whether your prefrontal cortex is in charge. Since all relationships have an element of danger even at the best of times, the capacity to stay in the present moment in the wise part of the brain will determine your relationship success.

Negative feelings and thoughts represent incomplete scenarios from the past. They can easily cover up the experience of the present moment and create  a negative future. Unless we change our thoughts and feelings to allow ambiguity we recreate a future based on negative past. Meditation clears the brain, allows more oxygen, opens us up. We can take the risks that are needed for a differentiated life.




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