Most of my lovely couples come to me in relational angst when their bag of long standing coping “tools” has run aground and they have nothing left with which to communicate their feelings and needs in a healthy way.
Many couples just cope, rather than experience deeply fulfilling and nourishing relationships, because they feel, it’s “ better not to rock the boat...”, “it’s easier this way....” “I can’t bear the thought of losing my husband/wife, so I’ll doing anything.....” “well we have kids and so we must stay together...”
Too many arguments or the lack of them, create all sorts of symptomatic behaviour of two inner children trying to get their needs met, that somehow escaped them in childhood.
Have you ever noticed yourself or others, when you are in conflict, how childish the words and body language is?
“You always do that....!”“You don’t love me.....!”“I hate you.....!”“You never let me do anything I want to do....!”
Tasmanian devil body language, slamming doors, shutting down, throwing yourself on the bed, running out of the house, throwing things, bolting the door, pushing your partner away. The list goes on. Any of these familiar?
It seems the deeper the conflict the more your inner child will show itself in all it’s stunted glory because what you need the most, is being threatened not to be available.
From the moment we are parted from our mother’s umbilical cord and experience separateness, the inner demons are born. Some spiritual folk say the Light (love) is born alongside the dark (fear). The brain stem or “old brain” as the Imago Relational experts call it, is watching out for signs of impending death, hence the power of this part of the brain and it’s flight / fight protective response.
As a baby, the feeling of our parents/caretakers being near is of utmost importance. We are safe when they are around. If they are absent, the fear of death is alerted within the psyche and over the years can develop into severe psychological disturbances
Thankfully most of us are not severely disturbed but I do feel we all suffer from some degree of emotional lack of care at some stage in our lives and that shows up like a clear blue day in our intimate relationships for the distinct purpose of healing it and growing beyond it.
The saying goes that you truly connect to your deepest knowing when you suffer and I, for one, know this to be true. I have met people and thankfully for them they haven’t had any great upheavals in their lives thus far, but on another level appear disconnected from the Self.
I wonder then that emotional maturity is connected, in part, to how deeply you have suffered in your life time and more importantly what you have learned from your experiences.
Throughout life all we need is love, approval and safety to develop in a healthy way. That’s it, end of. However many of us have not had equals or large measures of all of the above and so wherever lack is felt at whatever stage of growth, we will relive it when we fall in love. How do I know? Because I see it every time I work with couples.
It’s like the mini explosions of the love within, cracks open all the mucky bits that float to the surface for healing and releasing with the assistance, but often not easily, with our significant other.
Emotionally fit people have exercised their emotional muscles. They are able to understand themselves and how they feel in every situation and have learned the art of communicating in a healthy non-threatening but boundaried way.
Intellectual fitness doesn’t mean people are emotionally fit as well. You need to spend time on both. I know many intellectually fit people, who have amazing jobs/careers, but have disastrous love lives!
Some things to spot in emotionally immature people that may not bring you a happy relationship:
1) Age, particularly with men, DOES have something to do with emotional fitness. I have dated much younger men in the past 25 years and longed for an emotional hunk but got an emotional fledgling. No fault of their own, just age and life. Ladies, I urge you. Have a good time but beware. Statistically men are less emotionally mature than women, so chasing after little inner boys when you want a mature conscious relationship, may end in tears after the honeymoon stage transitions.
2) Out of control emotions. Emotionally strong people, can look at what’s coming up inside them and be able to articulate it without kicking off. Does your relationship suffer regular rows, nasty words, blame, judgement, criticism or even physical abuse? None of us are perfect and this one sweeps up an whole chunk of the global population because, let’s face it we all judge and criticise every day. Protesteth not! But we can always find the room to work on it. What we judge is in us!
3) Unable to show/discuss feelings – many women will say “oh lord this is so my man!” . It’s interesting thought because many people who remain calm, stoic and won’t be rattled are not necessarily emotionally fit. They speak of being the sensible peacekeepers in times of conflict but will not show up emotionally and explain how they feel. This can be deemed as passive control. Behaviours range from, hiding away in rooms, books, at the pub or on the golf course and avoid talking at all costs. Emotional avoidance doesn’t exercise the muscle, it keeps it limp and weak!
4) The perceived easy life – as described before, suffering generally connects you to the Self. I dated a guy ten years ago, who on the outside, came from a good stable background, but he had experienced little suffering in his 26 years. Not that I wished that on him but when I showed up as Mrs Emotional Pants, he couldn’t seem to really get how I was feeling when things got tricky. He hadn’t been there and so had no recollection of feeling those emotions.
You could label such behaviours as Aspergers Syndrome – which in essence is an inability to socially interact. Wikipedia describe it as a genetic disorder which I believe to be a load of baloney, because as Bruce Lipton would correct, these conditions are developed as a direct result of our environment i.e our upbringing.
Exercising the emotional muscles within your relationships can be done in a variety of ways:
1) SELF development – you don’t need me to tell you where to go nowadays but the self development industry has evolved through people seeking love, safety and approval within themselves. Naturally with introspective processes comes the ability to mature emotionally as you choose to explore every feeling and emotion to their fullest. “Everything is energy” is the growing mantra. What you become, so you attract. Self development is the ability to turn around on your life path and look at yourself warts and all and to begin to clear out those bits that hold you back. As you heal from the past, so you emotionally grow.
2) Argue – yes that’s right! Arguing exercises the emotional muscles, particularly for those who find it hard to talk. Practise airing your views and feelings. Encourage each other to go for it. To make it more palatable, encourage each other to hold stage and vocalise thoughts and feelings while the other keeps quiet. Want that for each other. Truths rarely come out with people who say “oh we never argue.” No wonder at it that these people often suffer physical ails like migraines, depression and anxiety!
3) Learn to communicate with your beloved in a healthy way. You can get tips and hints on my comms blog. http://www.ginahardy.co.uk/category/communication. In any situation I encourage you to use the following language:
“When you do that darling, I feel sad/lonely/hurt/frustrated/irritated....”
“I could really do with a cuddle/some time talking/help with the laundry children etc.....”
“ What feels/doesn’t feel good for me is.......”
Conscious languaging will get you heard in an easier non threatening way. Be willing always to serve your relationship by expressing what you feel and what you need. Work as a team.
So there you have it. A few thoughts and some energy about emotional maturity. Like anything, we need to practise, practise, learn, learn. The journey of you is indeed the best one you will ever take, so do yourself a favour; help your planet by aiming to be the best you can be. Emotional immaturity causes wars and pain. That’s old paradigm. Belong to the new every time.
Blessings and love for a happy month