Since we know there are no mistakes, no coincidences, (see Guiding Principles ) we can assume that that includes the relationships we find ourselves in. Truthfully, we handpick the people in our lives to be exactly the way they are because the way they are reinforces what we have come to expect from relationship!
Here’s how it works: As children we make automatic assumptions about what we can expect from relationship – about what men are like and what women are like, about how we will be treated, etc. We view the world around us through these assumptions or core beliefs; they become like a lens that colors what we see in the same way that wearing a pair of sunglasses affects the way we see the world.
Unconsciously we walk around looking at the world through these often distorted beliefs and we find ourselves attracted to and attracting to us the people that feel most familiar, even in a not so positive way, who end up validating for us our early life assumptions/core beliefs.
Here’s an example from my own life: As a child, I loved my dad very much. He was a practicing alcoholic who either played with us so hard it hurt or he ignored us altogether. He was often irritable (hung over) or downright disapproving. When I heard his car pulling into the driveway at night, I remember feeling my heart-pound and great angst in the pit of my stomach because I never knew “which dad” would walk through the door.
Later, in my adolescence, I’d go to parties, like most teenagers, looking to meet boys. I soon noticed that I was not much interested in the “nice” boys – Instead I’d look around until I found the guy who was standing aloof – the one with the scowl on his face, a beer in his hand and a cigarette dangling from his lips. I would see that “bad boy” and my heart would pound and my gut would twist up just as it did when I was a kid around my dad – and do you know what I thought that meant?
You guessed it! I thought I was in love! In reality I’d simply found the one guy in the room who was most like my dad; I’d found what was familiar. It took me years to realize that those old familiar feelings signaled not love, but a guy more likely in need of treatment!
Become familiar with your core beliefs. Write down what you learned about relationship from watching your parents interact and then look for how those very beliefs have been played out in your own life!