We have been talking about dating, mating, lovers and that special relationship known as marriage, intended in part to propagate our species. We fall in love, make love, have babies and secure the future of human beings on this planet. We are social animals and we need one another. This is the good news.
The bad and good news is that we are creatures of memory. We are not unique from other animals in this regard. Other animals rely on memory, the past, and traumatic experiences for their survival. If we are a small bird and forget about the hawk we will not survive.
Sometimes memories will find their way into our daily choices and decision-making where relationship partners are concerned. Trauma and painful life events don’t have to be with us on a daily basis. In fact, it is best if they aren’t. Love relationships have a way of teasing these old things out if a part of how you were harmed was within a relationship.
We want to learn to Unlock Our Inner Instinct and use it to our advantage. Here is one way to do this:
1. Name three things about your current relationship that are great.
2. Name three things that are not great about the relationship.
3. Name three things that bothered you about your father and three things that bothered you about your mother.
4. Name three things that were or are good qualities about mom and dad.
List them on a sheet of paper or find six note cards to create what is asked for above.
Note cards are sometimes easier.
Put the cards in front of you and see what is similar. Notice what is not similar. Are you using words that are the same or are you choosing different words that have a similar meaning?
Here is the result of Jane Doe’s Inner Instinct Exercise:
Things that are great about my boyfriend Jack:
He is handsome. He is a hard worker. He likes to do the same things I like most of the time.
Things that are not great about Jack:
He can’t talk about how he feels. He doesn’t like conflict. He drinks alcohol most weekends.
So, in the relationship we argue, or at least I argue. I feel alone and stupid. I don’t trust that he loves me.
Things that I didn’t like about my dad:
He didn’t talk to me once I became a teenager. He spends all his free time out in the garage tinkering. He ignores me.
Things I didn’t like about my mom:
She drank alcohol most days, even though I never saw her drunk. She wouldn’t talk to me. She spend her time in front of the television watching soap operas.
Things I liked about my dad:
He was a hard worker. He provided for his family. He liked the outdoors when I was little and so did I.
Things I liked about my mother:
She never showed excess emotion. She never verbally judged another. She was a great listener with my dad and family friends. She seemed to have a quiet strength.
When you look at the cards or the statements, do you see how many similarities there are? This is how you begin to use your inner instinct.
You can do this little exercise in relation to friends, family, partners, or even employers and your children.
There is a high possibility that there are links to the past, to old hurts, to trauma within all of or some of your current relationships. Check it out and see if this is true for you. Work on Unlocking Your Inner Instinct!
In our example of Jane Doe, pay attention to what is similar to her past but also to the strengths she sees in things such as silence…
More in the next blog.
Let me know what you discovered.
Be well and take care,
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD
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Last reviewed: 12 Jul 2012