Too Damaged to Love Again?

Thought

Have you ever wondered how early childhood pain or trauma affect ones capacity to love? And to those who have been seriously hurt, is it possible to be so damaged emotionally that you actually can’t love again?

The skills necessary for achieving an intimate relationship are both the ability to be self-aware enough to be in touch with your own feelings and than be able to relate to the feelings and experiences of the intimate partner. Lacking these skills leaves one with a diminished ability to both give love and receive it.

We live in a fast-paced culture and the result is we want everything to come as a quick delivery. Love takes time to develop; it is not a process that can be accelerated. Loving someone deeply requires taking the time to truly know them. It takes honesty, it requires some risks and it takes a tremendous amount of trust. Yet many people think they can just fast forward the process like some steamy scene in a romance movie and begin a real relationship with sex instead of communication. It is doomed to fail because microwave love misses out on real intimacy…

Could it be that we hurry through love, rush relationships, speed up sex, and race through life in general because we are all too wounded to be willing to take the risk of loving someone deeply? Or could it be that our culture has just lost the ability to love because we have become too narcissistic and self-centred? Hurrying through life keeps us so busy that it steals the important solitude that we need to be healthy and whole, both psychologically and spiritually. In other words it keeps us from fully feeling our emotions of loneliness and emptiness. Maybe that’s why some people stay so busy and never take a minute to slow down, because if they did it would mean getting honest about what’s missing in their life and that would be too painful, so it’s off to another busy activity to avoid getting real…

You get to choose the level of intimacy in your relationships. Do you have the courage to open your heart and really love, or are you too damaged, wounded or narcissistic to love again?

(From Too damaged to love again?)

Credits: Photo from Pininterest

Unpack your baggage…

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Dragging old baggage around with you can taint the most promising relationship. Living with someone who is carrying excess baggage can feel a little like walking on egg shells; never knowing what will trigger the next blow out. Since it is impossible for your partner to ever be perfect enough to not trigger your baggage, it is wise to unpack.

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A few tips for unpacking your baggage are provided below:

1. Accept and release your anger. Accept that it is healthy to feel anger about negative experiences and losses. Accept that you feel angry for a reason, acknowledge that you have a right to feel how you feel. Then choose to deal constructively with your anger and find a way to release that feeling, rather than allowing it to turn to bitterness.

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2. Rid yourself of reminders. Give back, give away, sell or discard the physical reminders of old hurts. If you are hanging onto stuff that brings you pain each time you use or see it, it may be time to clean house. It can be helpful as a symbolic way to say I am choosing to let go of the past, or to free myself from its grasp.

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3. Break the pattern. Carrying old baggage can mean that your partner gets painted with the same brush as your ex. If they say or do anything that even reminds you of something from the past, all that build up hurt and anger falls on them like a ton of bricks. Choose to be in the present and to deal with your current relationship and remember that your partner is not your ex or your parents or whoever else hurt you in the past.

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4. Forgive yourself. It is important to accept responsibility for the hurtful things that you did or said in past relationships and to learn from mistakes that you made. Remember that you are only responsible for things that you can control. Choose to learn from your past and forgive yourself, rather than beating yourself up. Accept that, in whatever situation you found yourself, you did the best you could at the time.

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5. Forgive others. Forgiving those who have hurt you frees you from carrying their baggage with you. You do not forgive them because they deserve to be forgiven or to give them peace of mind; you forgive them because you deserve to be free of them and you deserve peace of mind. Forgiveness can be difficult and sometimes takes years, but it really is the most effective way to unpack your baggage.

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Get help if needed. If you strongly feel that your past is interfering with your present and stopping you from having the future that you want, it may be wise to seek help from a professional. Sometimes your partner can help you unpack and sometimes you just need a little extra help.

From Unpack Your Baggage for a Great Relationship
by Susan Derry

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Credits:

Become friends with people…

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I would also add people of different gender to this quote – an important point that Celia Lashlie highlighted so well in her book ‘He’ll be OK: Growing gorgeous boys into good men’:

“I often encountered the negative view that boys’ schools produce men who are unable to relate to women and who, because of their arrogance about being male – encouraged by the school – carry negative perceptions about the place of women in today’s society…. At the very least it has been suggested the boys leaving such schools are emotionally bereft and incapable of establishing and maintaining effective personal relationships with women…

It was uncommon for the fathers of some students, men who had themselves been educated at boys’ schools, to reflect that they’d been unable to understand or communicate effectively with members of the opposite sex when they left school. Some of them went on to conceded that the workings of the female brain remained a mystery to this day and I have no doubt they’re not alone in holding that view….

Their adolescent sons didn’t, however, appear to share their experience of not being able to communicate effectively with adolescent girls. Partly due no doubt to the greater degree of social freedom available to girls today, the boys appeared to understand their female counterparts much better than their fathers had.

Almost all boys I spoke to had close female friends within their immediate peer group – often referred to as ‘chick-mates’ – and many spoke of the value of the conversations they had with these girl friends about the ‘real’ stuff, the stuff they could not or would not talk about with their male peers…”

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How do you grow?

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What Are your Assumptions?

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Life is full of “unknowns”, so we all speculate and assume what we don’t know. We make decisions despite that and to the best of our guesses.

The same applies to our relationships with other people. We all hold certain assumptions towards other people (partner, close friends, or distant acquaintances). We give these, too, their share of wild “guesses”.

If we’re the suspicious type, we’re likely to have assumptions of negative intentions. We doubt what others are up to despite their disclosure. We’re uncertain about what they hide behind a probable facade they wear & distrust the truth of what they share or declare. We assume otherwise just to beware…

The assumptions that we have today are beliefs and expectations about reality which we developed at some point in the past.

While some of these assumptions can be constructive or harmless, other assumptions have the ability to destroy the relationship and trigger the whole chain of tragic events.

A mere assumption that his wife had an affair leads Alex, the main character in The Banishment, to force his wife to make an abortion in a hope to re-build their relationship and save their marriage once this unborn baby is out of the way. As the result of that mere assumption he loses everything: his baby, his wife, his family. Pure lack of communication takes a deadly turn…

It can be difficult to recognize assumptions because they tend to be buried deep in our subconscious minds where they become ingrained with our personal worldview.

Take as an example Othello –  a highly respected Venetian state servant, a Moor with an exotic cultural past.  As Peter Winsley points out, Othello is a truly admirable man whose achievements and successes are due to his own abilities and efforts rather than blood-line and inheritance. Why this admirable military leader, successful man with a bright strategic mind falls pray to Iago’s insinuations?

Iago’s detects and exploits Othello’s insecurities, causing him to falsely suspect people around him. He intuits that Othello feels insecure due to his racial identity, especially given that he has married a beautiful white woman, and manipulates Othello into self-destructive behaviours. He plays on Othello’s self-doubts, subconscious assumption and fear that he is not good enough for Desdemona because of his racial identity and that if someone “better” comes along, Desdemona would prefer that person over him.

It takes just a few seeds of self-doubt to grow and overwhelm Othello’s trust in himself, in others, and in the world…

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As Charles Gosset points out, it is easy to “assume” that our assumptions are just the way things are for us and that there’s nothing we can do to change them. However we all have the power and ability to challenge and change our negative assumptions once we first learn how to spot these slippery tricksters.

What are your assumptions? 

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Image 1: from https://coachingur3ps.wordpress.com
Image 2: From http://quotes.lifehack.org
Image 3: The banishment
Image 4: Othello
Image 5: From http://greaternw.org/