First 30 Days Blog

01 nov

Your Journey to Self and Finding True Love

happier_confidenceToo often in my practice I hear clients tell me that they are sick of finding themselves over and over in the same types of unfulfilling romantic relationships. These clients are seekers for something new. Regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious or spiritual background, these seekers share a remarkably similar story. It goes something like this: They meet someone they find to be powerfully irresistible, acknowledge an “electric” attraction and become seduced into a mirrored interaction of their last failed or unfulfilling romantic experience. Often the new persons who attract these seekers bear little or no physical resemblance to previous unsatisfying lovers. The inevitable question arises again: “Why then, am I right back where I started?”

To shed some light on this frustrating and often heartbreaking back-where-I-started experience, it will help to define two psychological concepts.

1) “The primal wound,” a term originated by Psychosynthesis practitioners John Firman and Ann Gila in their book, The Primal Wound (1997), refers to the experience of being treated as an object instead of a unique and wondrous human being. For example, cut off from the deeper origins and expression of our own unique experiences and consequently to our own authentic senses of self, we feel abandoned and become the object of others’ needs and wants. We are unable to access and express our own. Subsequently we learn to treat ourselves and others as objects as well. This state often leaves us feeling chronically disconnected from our own lovable-ness. It’s important to note that most primal wounding seems simply to be passed on unconsciously through the limited relationship a child develops with wounded caregivers, who are struggling with their own issues of trauma or pain.

2) The theory of Imago Relationship Therapy—and the term, “Imago”—made popular by Dr. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. in his book Getting the Love You Want (1988) and their workbook, refers to the representation of our early childhood caregivers highlighted by their most cherished—but also most disappointed (wounded)—attributes or characteristics. As we grow into adulthood, our Imago becomes the object of our most powerful romantic desires and influences our relationship choices. Our Imago expresses our unconscious attempt to heal our wounds from childhood and to become “whole.”

Many of us have a difficult time accepting the fact that we are searching for romantic partners who resemble our caretakers. Often we find difficulty accepting the notion that we are unconsciously looking specifically for partners who possess our early caregivers’ negative traits, and most notably, traits that forced our caregivers to feel like objects, which expresses their primal wounding. For example, a father whose workaholic tendencies stem from his own upbringing in poverty and the resulting anxieties he has of not being able to provide sufficiently for his family and may be perpetually absent from the home. He may therefore never be around to play with, connect with, or truly “see” his daughter. In order to become somewhat “visible” to her father, she too may become a workaholic or in fact assume any role or become any object that elicits even the smallest amount of attention he has to give. As she grows up, she in turn both draws into herself and is drawn to a partner who is unavailable in some fundamental capacity (emotionally, sexually, physically, and so on). She finds herself attracted to someone who is often unaware being or wanting to be emotionally available. So, a relationship with that partner typically becomes frustrating and painful. Ultimately, it becomes a repeat of the very (primal) wounding experience this daughter (unconsciously) set out to heal.

As we live our lives, though, the Imago helps us understand the ways we learned to receive love and attention as we grew up. As children we learned to assume roles that taught us how to navigate the challenges of feeling loved within our family. These roles may have limited us as we matured into our adult relationships. For example, those who assume the role of “superstar” believe it to be the only way to get a parent’s love and attention. This role carries with it specific perfectionistic needs and a subsequent rigidity that shuts off access to other parts of one’s authentic self, which is the exact vital ingredient necessary to finding and consciously creating true love.

Or perhaps we try to emulate the behaviors of our parents in how they navigate their own relationship together. Mothers, who put their own needs last behind those of every other family member, send a specific message about how to behave in order to receive love. As a child matures and imitates this type of mother, she feels the frustration of her unexpressed desire to put herself first. Instead she grows resentful or conflicted in her relations with others. But, there are tips you can use to understand how to break these patterns that drive you to frustration.

Tips for Breaking Relationship Patterns That Have Ceased to Serve You

*A signal of being-in-the-presence of your Imago is a sensation of an intense and instant charge, or deep sense of familiarity with someone you are just meeting for the first time. Such a reaction, while certainly compelling, should give you pause. Depending on the specific characteristics of your Imago, you may want to run as fast as possible away from this person or consciously choose to check out the person before opening your emotional floodgates to his/her appeal.

* If you’re aware of your patterns of finding yourself in unsatisfying or abusive relationships, you can pursue Imago therapy with therapists certified by Imago Relationships International. These therapists work either with couples or individuals and run couples workshops. With awareness you can alter the self-defeating, unconscious, conditioned relationship patterns you know were forged in your childhood and perhaps finally pursue authentic, romantic relationships.

*Know that when you break these patterns, you’ll ultimately find the love you seek because your journey will be honestly connected with your Self. You’ll understand what your true struggles and limiting beliefs are and your healing will begin. Your sense of self-acceptance and self-love will open you up to a relationship founded on honest principles when you invite your perfect image of true love to emerge and grow.

Posted by Seana Carmean on November 1st, 2009 in Relationships | 0 comments Read related posts in

  • Add Comment

Share Your Thoughts

You must be logged in to post a comment.