The areas of life that don’t work are never the problem. They are the symptom of something deeper.
If you have a relationship or any area of life that isn’t working, there will always be an underlying, internal mechanism that is either creating the problem or destroying your ability to resolve it. Unfortunately, we don't notice that this mechanism exists.
All we notice are the circumstances. He did this and she did that. This happened and that happened. These events are very real, but they are not the problem. They are the symptom.
The real problem is a nerve that is being triggered and the action we take to avoid it. When this nerve gets triggered, we feel threatened. We get tunnel vision and lose our ability to see clearly. We fight, resist, hang on, and withdraw. We destroy love and magnify the problem.
Here is how it works
When you were born, you were pure love, but you were born into a world that suppresses this state. Then you got hurt. You experienced rejection, invalidation, and painful losses of love.
As a little child, the only way you could explain these painful losses of love was to blame yourself. "Clearly I'm the problem." In a moment of hurt, you decided that you were worthless, not good enough, not worth loving, a failure, or some other form of feeling "not okay."
It wasn't the truth that you were this way, but in the eyes of a little child, it became your truth. You then took this a step further and fought the very belief that you created. "Worthless is a horrible way to be."
You fought the belief and you fought all the hurt that came with it. From that moment on, the primary, subconscious focus of your life would be to avoid this hurt. It's the automatic avoidance of this hurt that gets us in trouble.
Any circumstance that triggers this hurt is perceived subconsciously as a major threat to our survival. To avoid this threat, we put all our focus on trying to make life be a certain way. We will do almost anything to avoid this hurt.
This narrow focus creates a state of fear, upset, and tunnel vision. It destroys love and sabotages our lives. Any relationship and any area of life that isn’t working will be the result of this underlying condition.
Tunnel vision sabotages us in two specific ways. First, it destroys our ability to find solutions and to see what works. The answer to a problem could be right beside us, but we won't be able to see it because the answer is outside the tunnel vision.
Second, it forces us to act destructively. Since we feel threatened, we have to either attack the threat or run from it. Subconsciously, our only choice is to fight, resist, hang on, or withdraw. This destroys the experience of love and makes everything worse.
How we sabotage our relationships
In relationships, these nerves tend to collide. In most situations, this creates a destructive cycle of conflict. Here is an example that demonstrates this:
Let’s say that you and I have a relationship. No matter how wonderful you may be, you will never be wonderful enough to keep my hurt from being triggered. When it does get triggered, I won’t notice that I have a nerve that is being struck. I will only notice what triggered it. YOU!
Subconsciously, I will perceive you as a threat. In an automatic attempt to avoid this threat, I get defensive and put up my walls of protection. I become judgmental and critical towards you. This then triggers your hurt.
In an automatic attempt to protect yourself from me, you put up your walls of protection. You then become judgmental and critical toward me. Then my hurt gets triggered even more and I become more critical of you. Then you become more critical of me. Then I become more critical toward you.
Without knowing, we create a cycle of conflict, a cycle of hurting, attacking, and withdrawing from each other. This cycle then goes on and on without either person ever noticing his or her role in the conflict.
The problem may seem to be what the other person is doing, but this isn't the problem, it's the symptom. The real problem is the cycle of conflict and the nerves that are being triggered.
Fortunately, the process of ending the cycle of conflict is relatively easy and it only takes one person.
It only takes one person because the cycle of conflict is like a tennis volley. Two people are required to keep the volley going. As soon as someone refuses to return the serve, the volley is over. When someone refuses to give non-acceptance, the cycle of conflict can no longer exist.
The cycle of conflict is the most common underlying condition, but there are more. Hanging on is another. The more someone hangs on, the more that person pushes the other person away. In another situation, someone may be in a destructive relationship, but the tunnel vision keeps the person from leaving.
No matter what the underlying condition is, it will be fueled by the automatic, subconscious avoidance of a very specific hurt. Finding and healing this hurt, or core issue, is one of the most important things you can ever do. Until you do this, you will be forced to repeat the past and the problem areas of your life will continue.
The moment you heal this hurt, the tunnel vision disappears along with the destructive behavior. You restore your ability to see clearly and can see what needs to be done. Solutions appear and the problem area begins to clear up.
If you have a relationship or any area of life that isn't working, you can do something about it. Most problem areas get resolved quickly, some take a little time, but they can all be resolved.