The Basic Fissure in Personality
written by: Kosjenka Muk
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In this article I will describe a process that seems to be present to some extent in many families. If you do not recognise yourself in it at all, you probably had very wise parents. In that case, this article can help you to better understand other people’s behaviour.
Because of conditioned love and unsupportive or manipulative environment, most children learn to unconsciously connect love to subordination and games of power, which is the reason for unconscious resistance to intimacy and opening up to another person.
Such a person has learned to fear expressing love, expecting it to be exploited and manipulated. Parents who are afraid that love might mean slavery, might be afraid to fully love even their own child, especially since children are “by default” demanding and usually testing their parents' boundaries. So a parent will believe that it is their priority to “teach” children that they can not always “get their way“, even in situations when children’s needs are natural and their wishes modest.
A parent might see natural childish/immature behaviour as something wrong or unacceptable, creating a negative attitude towards the child's personality, which is the result of a combination of following causes:
- immature expectations of perfection from other people in general, and own child in particular
- some people might have unresolved conflicts with their own parents and project them onto the child (especially if grandparents were immature, so every immature behaviour of the child triggers the memory of grandparents)
- negative feelings for one's own inner child and its needs, feelings and requests (if the parent learned early to dislike and reject his own self).
A parent with those issues might consider himself a victim if his expectations are not fulfilled, and think that the child has spiteful and negative intentions, which becomes reinforced as the relationship worsens (and this can be expected if the child is not too scared to show resistance). Such a parent will not allow the child to learn through mistakes - which is the most natural way to learn. So the child develops a feeling that mistakes mean something is essentially wrong with him - but how to avoid them without adult experience?
Creation of conflict
For a child this is a huge pressure and he will normally react with a conflict between love and blind confidence on the one and a raging wish to protect and prove himself on the other side. If we explore both of these emotions, we could describe them in this way: it is either that they are right and something is wrong with me; or they are wrong, they do not love me and they are being cruel – but why must I live in those conditions? – in both cases, the child's conclusion is often that he or she does not deserve to be loved.
In this way a child herself starts to be afraid of love and to fear hurt, manipulation or shame if allowing herself to love (the humiliation would not only be experienced through the parent’s behaviour, but also the negative belief about herself created as a consequence). This pattern is therefore transferred to her life, especially in the partnership area, and carried down to the next generations.
With time, both child and parent might develop a resistance to any sort of peaceful conversation or understanding, because of the fear that any kind of reconciliation might lead to new humiliation and slavery. Especially in those circumstances it is difficult to admit personal contribution to the problem, because of the heaviness of the emotion and the amount of energy that we invest to project the responsibility to the others, so to avoid the feeling of guilt and fear that something is wrong with us.
The infantile part of us, the part that still perceives the world in black and white, feels that either we or the other person can be right, not both in the same time. In perception of that inner child, if I admit my part of the mistake, I am bad, which triggers not only the feeling of guilt, shame and lack of self-esteem, but also the belief that I have to allow the humiliation to continue. On the other hand, if I blame other person, the part of me that still longs for love is in pain and confusion.
Facing the conflict
We can not get rid of that conflict until we accept and heal even the most deeply suppressed parts of us which feel that something is wrong with us – followed by the feeling that we do not deserve love, that we are unworthy, worse than others – it is so easy to believe this in the young age, when everyone around us is as big as a house and acts so self-assured. (Immature parents will emphasize their position of power by subtly underestimating a child, and even through clear negative comments about the child).
As long as those beliefs are still within us, they will from time to time come to the surface, which will automatically trigger the opposite subpersonality (anger and defensiveness) to react. The most common mistake is to try to make a choice between one and the other part: choose which emotion is "right". If we try this, the conflict will not be resolved because none of those parts are our true identity. In Soulwork, conflict is resolved by exploring both parts, so we gradually approach the cause of the fissure in our true identity, which is covered up with the deep feeling “I can not be myself“.
I find it reasonable that any kind of misbalance and immature behaviour has its counterbalance in the opposite tendency, which is suppressed. In other words, at first glance a person who gives up easily and seems weak probably suppresses deep feelings of aggression and hostility, while an aggressive person suppresses fear and insecurity. Sometimes, a conflict between mature and immature parts of the personality can happen too (e.g. smoking, food addiction etc); in this case there is probably even a deeper level of conflict, and the particular immature behaviour is just an outer expression.
This process is not only active while relating to parents and family (although in these cases is usually at it’s strongest) but also in all other situations that remind us of the original circumstances. That is, for example, why so many people are so terminally afraid of being wrong and will do and say many crazy things to avoid admitting a mistake.
All those processes are very subtle, except in moments of crisis, and most people like to deceive themselves that they do not experience them just because they are very rarely aware of them.
A child whose parents are very immature will feel pushed into the parental role, which creates anger and a heavy feeling of responsibility, followed by guilt, (leading to the defensive blaming of parents, depending on how much a person feels allowed to be angry). Considering the child's tendency to black-and-white conclusions and generalisation, this leads to expansion of negative attitude to all irrational acts of others, and the result is can be unhealthy moralistic approach to people. Empty intellectualism is one of its possible varieties – escape from the feelings to the intellect, and the person can perceive the expression of feelings as a weakness and immaturity. The opposite attitude is crime – act of spite, in which the person blames all the responsibility to other people, and justifies his behaviour with the of lack of possibility to get what he or she needs without fight in this unfair world.
When I decribe these situations, I do not recommend to become aware of your feelings just to find “who is to blame” for them, but to gain more sympathy and understanding of yourself and others. To be able to resolve a certain problem, it is important first to admit it and accept it. In our work, blame is a waste of energy. It is important to recognize causes and consequences and take responsibility to work on the change.
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