- Winner / Loser
- Pressure Cooker
- Mind Reading
- Don't Talk About It
- Can't Ask and Victim
- Auto Pilot
- Master Servant
- Denied Inner WIsdom
- Deaf Ear
People have problems in their relationships when they concentrate on winning or being right instead of focusing on what would be most helpful to all in the situation. They focus on manipulating instead of communicating. We call this the ‘Winner-Loser’ mentality because it is based on the idea that there is always a winner and a loser in any situation.
When this mentality is operating, there is always a sense of competition. This promotes seeing each other as adversaries. This type of relationship is like being in a constant battle. There is no sense of safety and nurturing, and little sense of peace and trust. The participants become battle weary. This type of relationship will not last unless both are willing to change their minds about the purpose of the relationship. It is only when both people can decide to be on the same team, working towards the same goals that there is hope of a win-win situation that leads to long term happiness.
People have problems in their relationships when they build up an agenda of pent-up issues over time. They do not take the time to share their feelings or bring these issues up on a daily basis so they can be discussed and resolved in a healthy way. This creates a ‘Pressure Cooker’ mentality because these pent-up feelings and issues can build up pressure until they explode over a seemingly minor incident.
An important way to solve this problem is to plan a weekly “touch in,” of one to three hours of uninterrupted time to discuss with your partner how you are feeling about the relationship and if there are any areas that you feel need to be discussed and resolved.
People create problems in relationships when they try to mind read what the other person is thinking. The result is that they project their experiences from their past on to this person. They may also expect the other person to mind read them, not communicating what they want. This leads to lifelong misunderstandings and unhappiness, where no one’s deepest needs are met. The ‘Mind Reading’ mentality often develops in an environment of ‘secret bargains’ as an attempt to figure out what behavior will elicit the expressions of “love” that are so deeply desired.
The mind reading habit starts when we are very young. For our survival, we tried to guess how we needed to be and what we need to do to be accepted and loved. As children, we developed patterns of behavior and thinking that corresponded with our primary caretakers’ conditional love or our ‘secret bargain with them. As we grew up, we continued to reinforce the ‘Mind Reading’ mentality as a substitute for direct, open, heart-to-heart, honest communications based on goodwill and unconditional love. Mind reading always leads to misunderstandings and contributes to our feelings of isolation and feeling that having a meaningful, trusting relationship is hopeless.Talk
People may not know how to have a healthy dialog or talk to each other in a way that creates a safe, nurturing environment where they can grow past unhealthy thinking and behaving. This makes the relationship unsafe territory so both partners feel a need to protect themselves.
This ‘Don’t-Talk-About-It’ mentality reflects deeply hidden, unconscious fears generated from our early childhood years. We may have been told at a very early age to shut up and do as we were told. We may have been told to go to our room and think about what a bad boy or girl we were. In painful situations, boys were often told to “be quiet and take it like a man.” These messages reinforced our habit of isolating and closing down even more. This habit of clamming up and isolating now becomes the source of our problems in relationships as an adult. It is only when we are willing to openAsk
People have problems in their relationships when they do not know how to ask or feel they can’t ask for what they need. This ‘Can’t Ask’ mentality comes out of a belief of unworthiness. Often our needs have been so thoroughly denied that we have no idea what our needs really are. Even if we know what we need, we may feel unworthy of help and so we don’t even ask. This is a set up for ‘Victim’ mentality.
Because we can’t ask, the ‘Victim’ mentality feels helpless and at the mercy of what we believe to be an uncaring, hurtful world. This mentality creates a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness when our needs don’t get met. When we are playing the role of victim, there is a tendency to blame others for our problems. We do not see that our thinking — our unconscious tapes from the past — are contributing to our experience. When we learn to let go of the ‘Victim’ mentality, the experiences we attract into our lives will change.
An example of this mentality can occur when both partners in a household work. Because of past programming, they may fall into a pattern where one is expected to do all the cooking, house cleaning and laundry without the help of the other. If she has a ‘Can’t Ask’ mentality, she will feel overwhelmed and resentful that she has more work than she can handle. It is important that she learn to ask her partner to share the work load without blame and resentment.
The behavior of her partner is simply the reflection of his past programming. It won’t change unless there is the recognition by both for the need to change. Asking without blame brings the need for change to conscious awareness in both without the need for defensiveness. One way for her to do this is for her to write down her frustrations. Then she can look at these frustrations in a more detached way. Once she is in an objective frame of mind, she can restate her frustrations as desires. After seeing them as desires, she can then turn them into requests (not demands), which she can then share with her partner. She may say, “It would be helpful to me if we could sit down and brainstorm ways to share the household duties so that I don’t feel overwhelmed?’
An important part of bringing about this change is listening to each other with full attention. This includes asking questions for clarification if you don’t feel you fully understand your partner’s needs. This promotes feelings of goodwill and nourishing validation that everyone wants and needs in relationships. If both partners see each other as equals, then they can together find a win-win solution in which both their needs are met.
People have problems in their relationships when they unconsciously repeat unhealthy habits of thinking and resulting behaviors which they learned from their parents and generations of cultural conditioning. We have been trained to be reactive and fearful by generation upon generation of emphasis on separation rather than unity. This ‘Autopilot-Separation’ mentality doesn’t work because it is based on programming from the past that is dysfunctional in the present.
The way out of this ‘Autopilot-Separation’ mentality is to watch your mental habits very closely. Are your thoughts habitually focusing on your partner’s weaknesses or faults, or his strengths and virtues? Are your thoughts coming from a mindset of peace and goodwill towards your partner or is the mindset agitated, anxious or critical? As children we unconsciously picked up these mental habits from our cultural heritage. These unconscious tapes play in our minds until we become fully conscious of how they are negatively affecting our relationships and hindering our own sense of inner peace and happiness.
People create problems when they don’t see each other as equals. They may see themselves and their needs as lesser than or greater than the other person in their lives. We named this the ‘Master-Servant’ mentality because the one who sees himself as greater in a situation will see the other as subservient. Both participants in the relationship may go back and forth between playing the ‘master’ or ‘servant’ role, depending on the situation.
A valuable way to heal this mentality is to mindfully observe your interactions and notice what types of situations stimulate either of you to jump into a master/servant or parent/child role. Once you become more fully conscious of what is happening, you can then decide together how you can do it differently from a more adult-to-adult perspective, recognizing each other as equals.
People have problems in their relationships when they do not know how to access their Inner Wisdom to receive enlightened perspectives about themselves, others and the world. It is impossible to fully understand all facets of a situation based solely on observation and analysis. Fortunately everyone has Inner Wisdom or an Inner Teacher Who can provide a greater perspective that helps heal and support the growth of everyone in any situation. But if someone believes that he cannot access this insight, then he denies himself the awareness of this Wisdom. This ‘Denied Inner Wisdom’ mentality always carries with it a level of insecurity because there is an underlying feeling that important insight and guidance is missing.
It is helpful to watch our beliefs and self-talk in this area and change our attitude to one that affirms that we are always surrounded by loving Guidance. It is our job to still our mind, get into a peaceful state of mind and allow this loving Guidance in.
People have problems when they keep themselves so busy and distracted that they don’t have time for the relationship or to learn skills that promote personal and relationship growth. Healthy relationships require time dedicated to their maintenance. Just as a house will fall apart if it is not maintained, a relationship will fall apart if there is no time dedicated to maintaining it. It’s almost ironic that so many people put so much into maintaining a nice house, yet put very little into maintaining healthy relationships.
A healthy antidote to this Busyholic mentality is for both partners to make a list and talk about all of the interferences that fill up their schedules so they don’t have time to maintain their relationship. Then together they can develop new priorities which allow time to build the relationship they both so deeply desire.
People have problems when they do not understand or acknowledge dissociated or disowned parts of themselves which are hidden in their unconscious mind. Because these parts are hidden, they are also called shadow aspects. As a result of this dissociation of disowned parts, they judge these qualities in others to avoid seeing it in themselves. This ‘Critic’ mentality is part of the mental process called projection. For example, the person who was trained to be quiet as a child may find enthusiastic, talkative people irritating. As a child her natural enthusiastic expressive nature was judged and then suppressed.
She learned to judge this part in herself and so she judges anyone else who exhibits this outgoing expressive behavior. This judged and disowned aspect is then projected outward and judged in others.
The way out of the ‘Critic’ mentality is to recognize that criticizing and blaming others is a reflection of our own fearful tapes. We can learn to let that unhealed habit go because it is not serving our own health and wholeness. Forgiveness means “letting go of the past.” It means recognizing and taking responsibility for doing our own mental cleaning out of judgments that do not serve us.
People may not know how to deeply listen to each other in a way that the other feels acknowledged, nurtured and validated. The partner who may be trying to communicate feels her words are falling on deaf ears. She may feel invalidated and that what she has to say is not important to her partner. This may stimulate feelings of being alone, isolated and neglected.
From this stage it easily turns into resentment, anger and being critical of her partner. The person who has been turning a deaf ear then feels the other is a nag and won’t leave him alone. Both become very unhappy. The solution is for both to sit down and be willing to talk to and listen to each other for as long as it takes for each to feel heard.
When this pattern has been going on for some time, it takes some catching up to clear out all the built up resentment that has been accumulating for some time.
People have problems in their relationships if they don’t know how to give in healthy, nurturing ways. They may have learned from their caretakers and society to give in order to get, which is the ‘Secret Bargain’ mentality. They may believe that giving is losing. They may have learned only to take — `Gimme’ mentality that leads to a one-sided exchange in which one partner feels drained and the other never seems to get enough.
Relationships are healthy and nurturing when there is a natural, balanced exchange of giving out of a sense of innate abundance and equality. When we come from a recognition that our Essence is Love, and that this Love is boundless and limitless, we have a natural desire to extend unconditional love and be helpful in any way we can. We are given many appropriate ways to be helpful to everyone around us. Helpfulness can come in many forms, from nurturing, loving comments to taking out the garbage.