Have a look at your relationships with others and your relationship with yourself; do you value your time with others as much as your time spent with yourself? Do you feel that your mood is usually affected by other people’s moods or behaviours? Where lays the source of your contentment?
One of my clients, a young woman (let’s call her Nicky) shared with me that her life is full of dramas and she wondered why this happens to her. We worked out that she often engages in other people emotional stuff and then (unconsciously) she gets caught up in very intense feelings or distress, sometimes even for a long time.
In a process of liberating her from other people dramas we could gradually see that Nicky was fulfilling her needs for connection with others by going fast into their level of emotional intensity. This was also her way to feel important and close to friends or family but it was bringing huge costs, like neglecting her workload or drastically cut down time for important things in her life, not mentioning feeling constantly exhausted. She became simply burned out of playing very active roles in other people drama plays. Nicky thought about herself as a very emotional and affectionate person but she was really disconnected from her own feelings. She felt depressed and helpless when she was alone and she felt caught up in a cycle of excitement/distress (often with anger) when she was falling into other people’s feelings. It was an addictive emotional vicious cycle.
During a process of deep exploration of Nicky’s dysfunctional patterns in relating to others, we discovered many things. A big one was that Nicky was engaging in other people life and struggled with her own difficult intense feelings. Her own emotional pain, grief and anger was pushed deep down, and avoided. Nicky was unconsciously mirroring other people’s difficulties in a kind of repetitive pattern, living their emotional life instead of her own.
By connecting to others’ pain and grief, Nicky could release a little bit of her (deeply buried) difficult feelings. But living through other people emotions was never really going to relief her own pain, because her inner feelings were not acknowledged and integrated in herself.
We are social creatures. We need others to survive and to thrive. That’s obvious. But the way we connect with ourselves precedes ways we connect with others. That’s why having time for yourself, taking regular solitude practices is an essential part of conscious living and success in relationships.
Nicky’s negative self-image was making her feeling that she doesn’t deserve other people attention when she is feeling down. One of her (unconscious) core beliefs was that she could get love and connection only if she would be keeping distracting herself from her feelings and would engage in others’ dramas.
That’s why awareness and looking into an inner mirror are so crucial if we want to be more in charge of our life and success. Without awareness of our inner self-image – we can’t really improve our relationships with other people and with the world.
How to do it? You can use therapy, coaching or mentoring to get more understanding of what you present to the world from unconscious elements of your inner self-image.
If you feel that you can bear what is difficult in you – take a time to sit down with yourself. That’s a basic mindfulness practice. You don’t need to do anything special or to be experienced in meditation techniques. Just sit for few minutes in solitude, and try to observe what is happening in your thoughts, feelings and in your body. Try to not let your mind to go to other people stuff or to to-do list.
Observe an notice; don’t go to any interpretations of what it could be; just name your present experience of what is happening right now. If it’s hard to be fully present to your thoughts, try to start from focusing on breathing, and observe whatever you can. Even one minute of such practice could be a good start.