As a psychologist with over 35 years of clinical experience it is clear to me that our social journey as infants/children has a tremendous impact on what our psyches allow us to experience and what it yearns for but has trouble integrating into the already formed character structure of the presentational self.
Imago Relationship Therapy which was created by Harville and Helen Hendrix and made popular through the book holds to the hypothesis that our original state of being is full aliveness and that this is the state we all yearn for. One of the major impact on our sense of full aliveness is the messages we receive in our early attachments about how to be in the world.
The four aspects of the Social Journey include -sensing, acting, feeling and thinking. As we begin experiencing our sensing self (the comfort of our own bodies); our acting self (the freedom to move around and be kinetic); our feeling self (the freedom to express our emotions both positive and negative) and our thinking selves (the ability to think and express ideas) each of us receive messages of approval/disapproval for what we doing with our bodies, how we are moving and expressing kinetic energy, how we let others know our feelings and how we express our thoughts. At the same time our psyche has the mandate to keep us alive and we quickly learn what is valued by our primary care takers and the source of our safety and nurturance. What that means is that each of our forced to surrender parts of our innate being that we experience as a threat to our connections. In short, we become an adapted self. Truth be told, however, all the instincts and desires that we repress in our to stay alive are still parts of our being and it is often what we see in another that excites us and allows us to experience the exhilarant feeling of full aliveness.
So each of has had to surrender parts of ourselves in order to survive and when we have the opportunity to reclaim those lost parts there is a feeling of full aliveness which can be exhilarant and joyful. However, touching something that helps us reclaim our lost or denied selves does not equate with being able re-integrate it into our character structure.
One of the ways to understand romantic love is that part of what each of us is attracted to in another person is their ability to express and feel comfortable with parts of themselves that we have had to repress our surrender in our social journey. For example someone who is comfortable with their thinking self but not comfortable with the feeling self might find a person who can express their emotions as very appealing and refreshing or viz a versa. This is what leads to the excitement and ability to attach to another person.
Ultimately, what happens is the very trait that attracts us to another is often the source of power struggles and reactivity once the romantic phase of the relationship is over. Why does this happen?
Simply put what we can yearn for is not necessarily what we can live with. The psyche is a timeless construct in our being and remembers that experiencing certain things were dangerous to our welfare and therefore were split off and although the psyche can be over rode in moments ultimately we default back to our character structure. That being said we still have to understand that we are trying to reclaim the lost parts of ourselves and that being on our growth edge is not easy but necessary for our growth.
This phenomenon is unconscious and therefore I have called it “Unconscious Self Hatred” because what we do in sabotage the opportunities to re-integrate because of the archaic memories of the consequences of experiencing the parts of ourselves that were rendered forbidden.