One of the greatest relationships secrets
“Romantic Love delivers us into the passionate arms of someone who will ultimately trigger the same frustrations we had with our parents, but for the best possible reason! Doing so brings our childhood wounds to the surface so they can be healed.” (Harville Hendrix)
One of the greatest relationships secrets you need to understand, to transform your relationships is that every person in your life is a mirror, reflecting backs parts of you. These are templates or idealised images of positive and negative qualities that your parents or caregivers possessed. Unconsciously you are drawn to somebody who has these qualities. In other words, your partner carries some of your shadow.
Your relationships show you what you struggle with and need to work on, they mirror what you have learned to identify or disown during childhood. Superficially these patterns may not appear to be like your parents or care givers, you will however, inevitably experience similar feelings you did as a child. These can be positive feelings of belonging, acceptance, safety and love.
A significant relationship can bring up painful feelings due to more traumatic experiences, which trigger old wounds. Unconsciously, you are seeking out a partner with whom you can heal these wounded parts.
One of the scariest places encountered in relationship is a deep inner sense of how you are not loved, where you do not know you are truly lovable just for being who you are, where you feel deficient and do not know your value. This is the raw wound of the heart, where you are disconnected from your true nature, your inner perfection. Beneath your conditioned and learnt behaviour, exists a basic nature of the human heart which is unconditioned, awake, and present, with a caring, inquisitive intelligence, and openness to reality. These two forces are always at work, and your life hangs in the balance.
It is human nature to contain these two sides, your journey involves working with both. Intimate relationships are a path because they touch both these sides of you and bring them into forceful contact.
Your beliefs about relationships, about men, about women, about love and life in general are all there for you to see in your relationships.
To understand how the shadow might appear in your relationship.
Make a list of frustrations, problems and unmet needs from your parents or caregivers for example;
“she never listened to me and that made me feel…”
“He never had time for me and that made me feel…”.
“No one noticed me or made me feel protected…”
Once you have completed that list, make a list of issues you have with your partner and how they make you feel. Compare the lists and notice any similarities. Discuss with your partner the similarities. When they understand that they have triggered your childhood wounds, you cab do the work needed to keep each other safe and meet each others needs.
Every quality you recognise in your partner, whether you admire it or not, is your mirror; it shows you who you are. The more you dislike a certain quality, the more it shows you a part of your shadow. When your partner acts in a particular way that upsets you, you will find that you too act in the same way, most likely not towards them but towards yourself and probably others. The more a particular action frustrates you, the more it reflects a part of you that you are not owning.
The Turtle and the Hailstorm
You may have a lot in common with your partner, but may be incompatible in how you handle stress and conflict. When it comes to handling stress and conflicts, people’s reactions fall into two categories: minimizers or maximizers.
When minimizers are anxious, they contain their energy and go inside. Like a turtle, they retreat into their shell. When maximizers are anxious, they tend to express themselves loudly. Like a Hailstorm Their energy flows outward and they prefer to process their feelings with others. (Harville Hendrix, “Getting The Love You Want”)
Turtles process slowly and inwardly. From the outside, it looks like not much is happening and as if the person is avoiding rather than addressing the issue. However, the turtle processes their feelings and thoughts quietly on the inside, reflecting carefully before responding. Hailstorms visibly get things done; they love lists.
When a Turtle feels flooded and becomes overloaded, they need to withdraw. This feels like the Turtle disappeared to the Hailstorm making them more anxious, they will start hailing to get their partner’s attention.
Both of you need to learn to accommodate each others differences in how you process difficulties.
The Hailstorm can learn to give the Turtle a little shell time and make them feel safe to come out again soon by letting them know how much they are appreciated and valued.
To entice the turtle, you can,
1. Ask them what they need right now. Sometimes they are not sure, be curious about why they are hiding.
2. Do not do anything; give them space.
3. Write a short note of appreciation and leave it somewhere for them to find.
“Hailstorms hail because they are overwhelmed. They often feel like they are holding the weight of the world. And when you retreat, the Hailstorm feels even more alone. So the minute you hear a rumble, give them your full attention. Offer kindness and support.” (Hendrix)
The fastest way to get the storm to stop is to reassure the Hailstorm, they can rely on you and you will do your part to keep them safe and the sun will shine once again.
To calm the hailstorm
1 Respond! Let them know you are not retreating. Respond with facial expressions, a kind note, a service or gesture that shows them you care how they feel.
2 Listen and repeat back how the Hailstorm is feeling. They might not feel heard. Demonstrate that you are listening and understand them.
3 Ask “Is there something I can do for you?” They need to know you are present and care for them.
Turtles and hailstorms can teach each other what they are each missing to become more whole.
“Turtles need to learn how to push their energy out and how to ‘show up’. This means expressing themselves loudly and clearly, like the Hailstorm does. T
he hailstorms need to learn the turtle’s wisdom of stepping back and containing their energy.” (Hendrix)
Ironically, both partners need to learn how to be more like each other. When you embrace the shadow in relationships you reclaim the parts which you have disowned, you can get closer to each other.
Which do you feel you are in relationship? A Turtle or a Hailstorm?
“As the Turtle becomes more storm like, and the Hailstorm becomes more turtle like, balance is restored”
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