So, ok … folks:) let’s talk about this relationship idea that says, “My partner SHOULD be supportive and understanding when I’m in a down place ….”.
As one client said;
“It’s one thing to take care of our own moods, but then there’s being in a relationship with someone who is affected by our moods and “throws it back at us”. If I’m in a bad mood – s/he will be also and will make me suffer further because of it”.
There’s a lot being said in this statement; especially in the idea of someone being, “affected by our moods and … who then “throws it back at us”.
In my opinion, this is a good description of exactly what happens…. When we run a low frequency story, our mood drops and then our partner “catches” our down vibe (sorta like catching a virus) and reflects it back to us in the way they relate to us. This is how “mood catching” works which is why I emphasize the importance of becoming more interested in our own reaction than in worrying about how we’re being treated. I understand that when I’m thinking about how “unfairly” (do I know that for sure?) I’ve been treated, I will simultaneously react (or behave) in a way that sends an unspoken “invitation” to come play in my drama.
How can they resist? Especially when they just happen to have a complimentary story that is triggered through my reaction …. we just end up furthering each others plot-line.
An analogy that comes to mind to describe it is …
My significant other says or does something that fits the theme that I’m unconsciously (always) on the lookout to justify. (“I’m not important …” or, “Nothing ever works for me”, for instance ….) Immediately, a thought from that hotbed of mental noise jumps out of the ethers straight onto my plate. When I am in unconscious mode I automatically pick up my fork and shovel it in … there’s no thought to question or challenge the idea. It just shows up and I eat it whole, without blinking twice. Having eaten it, I then go into automatic react mode. Before I know it I’ve swallowed the idea, (or belief) hook line and sinker and then proceeded to react in a way that creates a drama that ends up verifying both of our dramas. What usually follows is interpersonal unhappiness.
Here’s a recent example from my life ….
I fed the dogs some vegi-links that had been in the refrigerator too long (according to me, anyway) … Later in the morning… my husband, looking for something to take for his lunch on the job, asked, “Where’s my vegi-links?”
“oops…I said, “I gave them to the dogs….”
Well … he reacted immediately …
“That was MY food … you had no right to give them My food … Don’t you ever go giving the dogs MY food again … ” and so on… continuing in that vein for some minutes, using highly irate and loud tones.
In the old days, this would have been a wonderful invitation to engage in battle. I could have turned his reaction into justification for my own life theme and launched into an old story about how unfairly he was treating me. I might have played the victim … poor mistreated damsel-in-distress … “I was just feeding the dogs and he started yelling at me and I didn’t deserve to be talked to like that … he has no respect for me ….” and on and on…. and we could have gone on for hours (I’m not exaggerating … this sort of insanity happens ALL the TIME in relationship – over just these sorts of insignificant occurrences!)
This time, however, I observed the mental thoughts-in-response internally, without reacting outwardly. I heard the negative thoughts as they “landed on my mental plate” without falling for them. Suddenly I realized that Daniel was simply raising his voice because he obviously believed he needed to speak to me in a rather loud voice in order to get me to hear how important this matter was to him…. It made me smile when I recognized that he was right. He DID need to make his point loud and clear in order for me to get the message … otherwise there’s a good chance I would have thought it was fine and gone on giving his lunch items to the dogs! 🙂
Because I did not jump into the fray … Daniel soon dropped his voice back into a normal tone and, smiling somewhat sheepishly said, “Yeah… you have to be careful about coming between a man and his food!” We both chuckled and moved on – no damage done…. BUT, if I needed more evidence that he doesn’t treat me right… I could carry this event in my memory until the next time I needed to remind him and myself about how mistreated I am. Now … who would that be hurting? 🙂
More on this general topic tomorrow….