From the time we are born, we are exposed to a variety of relationships. These set our relationship patterns early in life. Have you ever wondered why you instantly bond with some people, while others you feel a negative reaction?
Your relationship patterns will, to some extent, show up in almost all of your relationships from the casual street corner encounter to the four decade marriage. But because these patterns are, to a large extent unconscious, it might be tricky to self identify them.
Often it takes a third party, a trusted friend, or even a therapist, to help you see what seems so ingrained. It’s also helpful to pay attention to when you are emotionally triggered; when something sets you off and you find yourself reacting perhaps more vehemently than the situation should warrant. Whenever you feel that automatic, almost beyond your control reaction, pay careful attention. This triggering event and its reaction is an access point. Follow the thread. Does the reaction have an almost déjà vu quality to it? Can you back track and notice other incidents that brought this same reaction up in you? Can you trace it back to something in your childhood? If so, then what?
For most of us, we need to recognize our childhood traumas, reframe, and release them. It’s not enough to merely release the trauma and the strategy you created around it. The pattern needs to be replaced with a better, more flexible strategy and awareness.
Your present relationships are perfect opportunities to recreate your future by not following your past. Say, for example, your childhood survival strategy was to run for the hills whenever conflict arose. Today, you’re in a relationship that you value but – uh oh! – an argument begins. Everything in your neurology might be telling you to leave, hide, and get the heck out of the situation.
But take a deep breath. Is there another option? Every time you choose differently, every time you respond rather than react, you loosen the grip that your old survival strategies have on you.
Remember, your old strategies may not work for you the same way they did in the past. You have to bear in mind that as you grow older, your relationships also change. There may be some variables that are not significant in your relationships when you were a child, that makes a huge difference in the present.