Did you know that we have most of the information needed to solve the problems of the world? What we are lacking is the level of emotional maturity necessary to identify and to implement the best solutions to these problems. Rather than implement what is best in a given situation, we tend to do what feels comfortable or familiar to us. The art of rationalization and explanation have facilitated this process.
How often have you made a decision, taken a stand or snapped at someone because he or she set off a switch in you? These triggers are often subtle, oblique and inscrutable. Where can we find their roots? You may wonder how it is that a pattern of ineffectual choices and behaviors can characterize your functioning even though you know better.
Actually, this pattern unfolds very naturally. The word “unconscious” is bantered about in a variety of settings where interpersonal dynamics play a part, that is, almost everywhere! While there are many descriptions of this part of our minds, for our purposes I would like to compare it to a repository, an emotional memory repository, of all of the feelings that you have experienced over the course of your life. There are happy feelings, sad feelings, angry feelings, frightening ones, insecure ones and thousands in between. It truly is a bouillabaisse of feelings, most of which are unknown, though accessible, to us!
As an infant and young child you were exposed to a particular kind of family environment with its own patterns of dealing with emotions, both positive and negative, of resolving conflicts and of exploring the broader world. Your sense of the world formed with this as its foundation and was further developed through friendships, extended family, and other outside influences including your school and community. Your view of the world, your place in it, the people who inhabit it and your relationships with them were a long time in their formation.
The media has had a profound effect on the way people see the world, form their expectations and determine criteria for success in life. It also provides vivid, unrealistic and often distorted examples of how relationships can or should function. A wealth of suggestions abound for well-being and growth from self-help resources in bookstores, online sites, workshops and from well-meaning friends, relatives and co-workers. In spite of this the repetitions persist. Men and women alike often feel hopeless over the probability of satisfying relationships and depression persists to a great extent in our society today.
Your repetition is not etched in stone, although it may feel intractable. The key to its resolution lies in your ability emotionally to relearn how to respond to situations across the spectrum of life and to reset your patterns.
You can learn how to shift from reactive ones to those rooted in a synthesis of what you know to be the best option, of an awareness of what you feel like doing, and of a sense of what is the optimal choice. You do not have to finish where it all began! Your personal “room with a view” can provide you with insight, learning and responsible, productive alternatives.