Conflicts – Know The Real Enemies
Conflicts with your intimate partner will most likely upset you. The pain can be at times very intense. When this pain is expressed unconstructively it leaves partners injured and powerless. Partners often fall into a cycle of attack/defend or blame/avoid. When the pattern lasts for too long without any resolution partners starts to lose hope. Despair leads to resentment, then contempt, and these feelings signal that the relationship needs intensive care.
Like in every health issue, the best treatment is prevention. Prevention begins with good understanding of the psychological processes that underlie conflicts. I refer here to subconscious and deeply ingrained beliefs. I often call them ‘psychological bugs’ because they operate on our psyche like viruses on our body. They attack when we are not ready and they weaken our immune system. They are the real enemy of your relationship.
Let’s bring them to light!
Awareness has an enormous healing power. With self-awareness you can loosen the grip of these ‘psychological bugs’.
“This is the end!”
This bug loves to attack you particularly in the early stages of a relationship. The commitment is not yet clear, the foundations are not that strong and the hopes are in the sky. The relationship is fragile. This thought can be very scary and confronting. Unfortunately it may cause you to behave in exactly the way that will lead you to your worse scenario. Know this bug well if you don’t want it to fail you.
“I am being victimised again”
This bug is actually aimed at protecting you, but the problem is that it tilts you towards mistrust. It makes you interpret the benign behaviours of your partner as attempts to treat you unkindly. It may also make you overreact with rage to a low scale mistreatment. You might be particularly sensitive to this bug if you carry memories of powerlessness, betrayal, exploitation, bullying or violence. This bug will make it hard for you to build trust in a new relationship. Your partner might feel blamed unfairly and withdraw.
“I can’t be wrong”
This bug stems from the fear of making mistakes. If you make mistake you are going to pay a heavy price – lose love. This bug is a symptom of underlying shame, of the belief “I am not good enough”. People with this bug are often confronted if you prove them wrong. Telling them they are wrong is perceived as a proof they are unworthy of love. This bug is the enemy of learning and growing. If this bug runs your life, you get defensive in the face of any feedback. People around you might feel frustrated because you are not open to listening to them.
“I am not loved”
This bug is very subtle and the hardest to identify. It makes you interpret the avoiding behaviours of your partner as lack of care towards you. My observation is that in most cases, partners fail to show their care because of their own personal issues: lacking awareness of the need of the partner, not sure how to show it, preoccupied with their own issues and more.
“I am being controlled”
This bug operates the defence mechanism of avoidance in relationship. During conflicts you tend to withdraw and go quiet. When your partner tries to talk you may interpret it as a risk to your individuality and freedom. You don’t enter an open discussion or negotiation but for you it becomes a battle for your power.
“Love is harmony and unity”
This bug represents the fairy-tale concept we all carry in our subconscious mind about Love. Love is all positive. Unpleasant feelings are bad for love. Conflicts disrupt the unity and the harmony we are supposed to feel. This bug will set you up to feel deeply disappointed in the face of conflict. Conflict destroys the dream.
Can you notice what is common in all these enemies of your relationship?
They stem from your fragile ‘little’ self – the part in you which was conditioned in the early stage of your development, when you were dependant on another human being to take care of you and make you feel secure. To understand and accept this part in you is probably the most important skill for being a successful partner. This self-empathy liberates and empowers you. Just imagine what happens when this little self stop running the show.
About the author:
Guy (Hagai) Avisar is a psychologist with more than 30 years of experience helping people with relationship issues.