The stories we tell ourselves…
Let’s get back to the merit that emotionally intelligent relationships wield, or perhaps the difficulties we face when we lack emotional intelligence not only in our relationships with our partner, but with ourselves.
We all have a story, sometimes our stories are based on complete fabrication, and sometimes they’re not. Looking back on my last post, “The movie in your head”, I referenced three different scenarios between couples:
- The wife whose husband cheated on her sees him innocently talking to another woman at a dinner party, and plays the narrative over that he will stray again.
- The man who grew up with the alcoholic mother, and his nagging narrative that his wife will become an alcoholic.
- And lastly, the woman who feared becoming crazy.
Each of these examples illustrates a story that each carries with them; each born from a past occurrence that caused them pain, and now lingers with them because of the fear that it could happen again. This is understandable. But ultimately, in each case, the respective reactions are based on their pasts, and not so much with what is actually going on in that specific moment.
If each couple was emotionally intelligent, most of these outbursts could be avoided, because their respective pasts would be known to their partners, and would then be handled with care. Sharing our past fears, embarrassments and experiences requires vulnerability and openness that each couple should try to create between them.
However, no matter how well one knows their partner, problems often arise when we don’t know ourselves. There are times when we don’t approve of the choices we’ve made, or we cannot recognize where the negative thoughts and feelings come from, and even times when we experience feelings of self-hatred. Very often, between couples, the problem arises NOT because we are unaware of their story, or their past, BUT because we are not aware of the stories in our OWN minds.
Remember that often in life we react to the STORIES. Not necessarily what is actually happening. It’s important to know your story. What are YOU reacting to?
Some of us may think (probably more on a subconscious level), “I don’t deserve love, therefore I can endure the abuse that I suffer in this relationship.” Or maybe somebody’s mother died when they were very young, so they believe love is fleeting, that they can love somebody, but it doesn’t last forever. It comes. It goes. They’re here for a little bit, but they won’t be here for the long haul. With these possible stories in our heads, we may end up pushing away love because we believe it’s not going to last forever. We put our partners in these difficult and sometimes awful situations and positions that they couldn’t possibly survive, just to prove ourselves right.
We will do everything we can to support the story (the movie) playing in our head. We will find and cast the appropriate co-stars who will aptly fit the part we believe to be true, and we will construct the ending we need to support our beliefs and insecurities that we have. This is not conscious, but we do this, or we make it real— we have to prove our point to make our little movie into a major motion picture.
Here’s a movie plot line you’ve seen over-and-over again: She believes that love is fleeting. So she will pursue people who will ultimately leave, and if they’re not going to leave, she is going to push them away. Let me now apply this plot line to a real life scenario: A man is married to a woman who believes the above “plot line” to be true. When a person is in an emotionally intelligent relationship, where the man would consciously say, “I understand that she has a fear of abandonment. I know that she lost her mother when she was five, and her stepmother wasn’t loving,” or whatever it was. “And as much as she pushes me away, I’m going to push myself back in, and then I’ll pull her in.”
Unfortunately, most people don’t have this understanding of themselves. They cannot share it, and they don’t understand where their husbands, or wives are coming from and they take it personally.
These plot lines, or more aptly, false narratives are a big contributor to lack of communication. And we make our lives more complicated by thinking that our partners can read our minds. We all do this, at some point or another, which is ridiculous and naïve, because often we don’t— again, we don’t even know what WE’RE thinking, or where the idea comes from, let alone what THEY are thinking.
- Do you expect your partner to read your mind?
- What happens when they “guess” wrong?
- Do you know what’s going on in your mind?
TO BE CONTINUED…
Who Me, “Normal”? No, Thank You…
February 16, 2023
The Magic of Curiosity
February 9, 2023
To Coddle or Not to Coddle? (And Why It Matters)
January 26, 2023