The Weinholds believe that sustainable relationships create a social safety net for people during times of economic uncertainty, political instability and rapid global climate. These videos examine the importance of having a web of relationships that provide social and emotional support during times of rapid change. [Read more…]
The primary cause of relationship conflicts is unmet emotional needs related to developmental traumas from childhood. As a relationship becomes more intimate and feels safe, these unmet needs will begin to emerge. Of course, this is all happening at an unconscious level. Most people aren’t even aware that they have unmet needs.
So when relationship conflicts erupt, people think something bad is happening. We hear this from couples who’ve hit the wall and come to us feeling despair. Their stories have various versions, but the theme is similar: “We had a wonderful relationship in the beginning and got along so well. Then we started to get on each other’s nerves and began having fights. Now we are having trouble just being around each other.”
Sometimes people have been in conflict a long time before they seek therapy. Ongoing relationship conflicts can create a reservoir of ill-will between them that comes from holding onto grudges and resentment. In these situations, the relationship may be so damaged that they may need a break — a sort of “adult time-out.” During this period, they spend time focusing inward and reflecting on their part of the conflicts.
It’s pretty common for people who are close to each other to project onto each other during conflicts. Projections typically involve judgments about other people—how they look, how they behave, what they believe, what they are doing or saying. Having judgments about others is a way to avoid looking at parts of ourselves that we or others don’t like.
Sometimes our judgments just show up as “unclassified” emotions. We’re uncomfortable and just want the other person to change or stop their behavior. Instead of going inside and asking, “Why am I having this reaction to what X is doing?” we just blame our emotional overreaction on the other person.
A variation of this is saying to someone else, “You make me feel XXX!” No one makes us feel anything. We feel because of our inner experiences and the way that we interact with the world.
During a projection, we almost always personalize what the other person is doing. We make what they are doing a personal insult, and perceive that they are doing XX to us just to irritate us. In truth, people just do what they do for their own reasons. They don’t sit around thinking to themselves, “Hmmmm, wonder what I could do that would hurt (someone) or make (someone) upset?” No, the other person is in their own world and trying to cope with their own discomfort.
So you know you or someone else is projecting when:
- You have a 75¢ reaction to a 25¢ event
- You want someone to stop saying/doing something because it makes you uncomfortable
- You blame your intense feelings on other people
- You say, “You made me feel XXX!”
- You personalize what other people do and say
Once you understand the source of projections and how they operate, it’s important to recognize when you are using them. Use the self-inventory below to help you discover more about how you use projections.
Taking responsibility for our emotions, our unmet developmental needs and our emotional reactions is a process of “self-correction.” Most external conflict is just a reflection of our internal conflicts–things we can resolve internally. So we just project it out onto those we are closest to. Then we can see it more clearly. But the problem (unmet needs) belongs to us!
Self-correction also requires conscious efforts to change our patterned behaviors, all the things we unconsciously bring with us from our family-of-origin. We suggest reading our books to get a good understanding of the kinds of dysfunctional patterns that are anchored in our childhood relationships.
The most effective tool for self-correction is Inner Work. Our books have many inventories, self-awareness activities and other tools for self-reflection and self-correction. We also suggest you check out the BOOKS part of our website and also the Inner Work section of our site for more information.
The search for intimacy has reached new heights as more than 40 million lonely Americans used online dating services last year. The search for soul mates and other kinds of “perfect match” partners has caused an explosion of internet match services and social networking sites, showing just how many people are searching for intimacy and connection.
In spite of an increase in population, however, marriage rates are down. While people say they want intimacy, they also seem to fear and flee from it–people like John, Eric, Lindsey and Susan.
The Flight From Intimacy
John is a hard worker who puts in seventy hours a week and has frequent rage attacks when little things go wrong. Despite his high job performance, he has been passed over for promotion because of his poor relationship skills.
Eric is bright and seems to handle life easily. He is a sharp dresser and has a likeable personality. Inside he feels insecure and has low self-esteem. Divorced at the age of twenty-three, he is still looking for the perfect woman.
Lindsey always looks as if she stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. She is witty and fun-loving but is careful about letting people get too close because of her struggle with sexual intimacy.
Susan is preoccupied by her children’s activity schedules, fundraising for local charities, playing competitive tennis, and exercising at the club. She is so unavailable to her husband that he recently had an affair.
So, what causes these kinds of counter-dependent behaviors in adults? We believe it is trauma that prevents a person from becoming emotionally separated from his or her parents as toddlers, between the age of 9 months and 3 years. This process is also known as the “psychological birth” because it marks the psychological separation from the parents.
When this separation doesn’t get completed during the appropriate developmental window, it can cause addictions to “upper” substances and activities, recurring relationship conflicts, problems with closeness and intimacy, patterns of bullying or victimization, and a series of unsuccessful relationships.
Separation Trauma Becomes Adult Drama
In order for toddlers to “individuate,” or become separate individuals, they must learn how to tolerate the loss of their infantile illusion that they are the center of the world. And they have to learn how to control their feelings of infantile rage when others set limits for them or around them.
During this painful process, toddlers need not only the understanding support of their mothers, but also the empathic support of their fathers. Without the support of both parents, children’s individuation process will not be completed on schedule and will continue to cause relationship problems for them later in life.
People who do not go through this rage reduction process during their toddler years will likely express rage their adult relationships when some one or life circumstances impose limits on their behavior. As the defenses against the need for emotional intimacy become stronger over the course of a person’s lifetime, this behavior can turn into a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder.
The massive number of narcissistic adults in the world has become a global problem. Because so many people did not experience healthy narcissism and go through the developmental process of ego reduction, they continue to act like entitled, grandiose, euphoric, and omnipotent 2- and 3-year-olds. As adults, their temper tantrums emerge in child abuse, domestic violence, wars, and a full range of dominating, revenge-seeking protective behaviors. They feel entitled to more than their share of Earth’s resources and even to bankrupt the whole planet!
Counterdependency & Narcissism
Unfortunately, narcissists tend to seek positions of power and prestige in government and private industry. It’s easy to see their unresolved two-year old issues—entitlement, grandiosity, omnipotence and euphoria—shining through their adult behaviors. Their air of superiority and their need to look good and be in control without having limits or being accountable shouts “NARCISSIST!”
Those who experience developmental wounds during the counterdependent stage of development are often addicted to “upper” substances and activities—drugs, overwork, quick sex, traveling and over-consuming. All of these addictions serve as inadequate and unsatisfying substitutes for the lost deep emotional connection with their mother and with the divine. Unfortunately, it often takes people a long time to discover this as the source of many of their problems.
Although people don’t generally remember their early developmental traumas, they are visible in their relationship histories. It’s visible in their addictions and in their intimate relationship patterns. People with counter-dependency issues often create a conflict when the relationship gets too intimate, while those with co-dependency issues create a conflict when the relationship is not intimate enough. Much of couple conflict involves a struggle to determine how much intimacy and how much separation partners can tolerate in their relationship.
The Good News & The Bad News
The bad news is that the closer your adult relationships become the more they will activate memories of old traumas of being dominated, invaded, betrayed, abused and manipulated. The good news is that intimate relationships are the best place to heal the trauma that causes co-dependent and counter-dependent behaviors.
We found that healing trauma in intimate relationships requires redefining intimacy so that it includes the conflicts and struggles that are a natural part of the healing process. This approach to healing trauma in relationships also requires telling the truth about who you really are, what your needs are, sharing power, finding soul-evolving solutions to all conflicts and being willing to openly share your life with your partner on many levels: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
Authentic intimacy involves seeing your partner as a complete and separate person with some traits you like and some traits you don’t. It requires skills in negotiating with your partner to meet your needs for closeness and separateness. Most importantly, it requires being willing to ask for what you want one hundred percent of the time.
Once you expand your definition of intimacy to include healing each other, your relationships will shift dramatically. You’ll find more opportunities for intimacy that help you create an intimate partnership relationship. For us, this is the foundation for building a sustainable relationship. Click here to hear a podcast of us talking about the search for intimacy in relationships.
Buy our books on relationship!
The secret of Divine Relationships is synching our conscious mind with our unconscious mind. When these two minds are out of synch, the unconscious mind takes over. Rather than experiencing our divinity in relationships, we are controlled by trauma from the past and disconnected from those closest to us. [Read more…]
Birthing positions can be a cause of developmental trauma during a child’s birth. The trauma can be prevented by using more natural birthing positions that allow the mother to squat. This is possible during underwater births, which have been practiced for since the 1970s years in France and Russia and appeared more recently in California.
Some hospitals are now installing large water tanks so that mothers can give birth underwater, which is a remarkable innovation. This procedure makes sense because a child lives in water while in the womb. Water birth is also a natural way to give birth, as it allows the mother to deliver in a squatting position.
This allows the forces of gravity and support of the water to assist in the birth process. The worst possible delivery position for a mother is on her back with her feet up in the air. In most “primitive” societies, women squat to give birth.
Waterbirth is felt by mothers and providers alike to be the gentlest of gentle births.
Warm luxurious water cradles both the mother and child and give them complete freedom to move during this profound human experience. Women who have experienced the support and comfort of water for their labors while birthing and holding their newborns in their arms speak more than any scientific article or paper on the subject.
Here’s a great video about Gentle Birth:
We got a lot of inspiration from Tara and Bella about making close relationships work . . . we hope you do too.
For the past 23+ years we have been creating what we call a divine relationship, in which two people commit to walk together on a path that heals the hearts of both and opens each to the experience of the divine. What we have experienced is that walking this path together has activated layers of unmet developmental needs and wounds stemming from developmental traumas from the first three years of our lives. Our commitment to healing these wounds and meeting these needs within our relationship became a central focus of our relationship and served as a uniting force that has helped us through many challenging situations. It has required we use the forces of compassion and unconditional love for each other and ourselves. Our relationship conflicts have opened doorways that allowed us to explore both higher consciousness and deeper intimacy with each other and with ourselves. What we learned is that the deeper we went in our healing work, the more we expanded our consciousness.
Our experiences have helped us identify the true secret of divine relationships. The books about the Law of Attraction that have been very popular recently say that we can use the it to draw to us what we want. What this approach totally misses is that what we try to attract with our conscious mind is often cancelled out by what is hidden in our subconscious mind.
The Power of the Unconscious Mind
Biologist, Bruce Lipton, in his book, The Biology of Belief, offers an explanation for this. His research indicates that the conscious mind processes thoughts, feelings and beliefs at 40 bits per second, while the subconscious mind processes thoughts, feelings and beliefs at the rate of 40 million bits per second. If the conscious and subconscious minds have similar thoughts, feelings and beliefs, then the two work together in powerful synergy. If there is disagreement between them, then the subconscious mind is in charge. We believe that the real secret of books such as The Secret is learning how to change the subconscious thoughts, feelings and mistaken core beliefs that cancel out what the conscious mind wants and prevents us from attracting what we say we want.
The subconscious mind contains the wants, feelings, and beliefs that we hold about ourselves, about other people and about the world around us. This information module is known as the internal working model of reality, which developmentally is formed by the age of three.
The Internal Working Model of Reality
Developmental research has consistently shown that those who are unaware of how the internal working model shapes their conscious mind will find it very difficult to create real change in their life experiences over the course a lifetime.
We have learned how to access this internal working model of reality, map what it contains and created effective tools for changing it. Our books are filled with information on how to access and change your internal working model of reality, including our latest books, Breaking Free of the Co-dependency Trap, the Flight From Intimacy, Healing Developmental Trauma and Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way. These books are all available at our Store on the left hand navigation bar.
From our perspective, the information stored in our subconscious mind is the primary obstacle to experiencing a divine relationship with our self and others. The internal working model of reality typically contains:
- Early developmental traumas caused by an inability of our parents to understand and help us complete the two main developmental processes of early childhood: Bonding and the development of a Self. Unmet developmental needs from childhood show up in our closest adult relationships, such as a need for unconditional love and acceptance for who we are.
- Mistaken core beliefs about ourselves, other people and the world around us, that direct our behavior such as I am unlovable, I have to do what others want me to in order to earn their love and I have to protect myself in my close relationships from getting hurt again.
- Intergenerational family patterns and relational dynamics that we learned from growing up in our family of origin that show up in our adult relationships. Barry identified 12 common patterns that show up in most relationships and writes about them in Breaking Family Patterns.
Barry’s Book on Breaking Family Patterns This e-book, which is available at our Store, describes the following patterns:
- The Reappearance of Unwanted Parental Traits
- Parental Disapproval Patterns
- Revenge and Getting Even
- Replay of Co-dependent and Counter-dependent Issues
- Acting Weak and Helpless to Get Needs Met
- Seeing Your Life As a Struggle
- Sexual Repression
- Living Out Your Parent’s Relationship
- Family Loyalty and Legacy Issues
- The Fear of Success
The Fear of the Unknown
We use a very effective writing tool for accessing these subconscious thoughts, feelings and beliefs that we call The Two Lists.We ask people to look back at their childhood and make one list describing all the things they wish had been said or done for them as a child and weren’t, and having these things would have made their adult life easier and happier. Then we ask them to look back at their childhood from a different perspective. They make a second list describing the things that were said and done to them as a child that did not do them any good and were actually hurtful, harmful and prevents them from getting what they want and need in their adult relationships.
Each lists represents a different type of developmental trauma containing different kinds of unmet needs and mistaken beliefs, which relate to the intergenerational family-of-origin patterns that people bring into their closest relationships. The first list represents developmental traumas from the co-dependent stage of development, the pre-natal period and the first six months of life. These traumas leave unmet needs for experiencing trust, secure bonding, mirroring from others, expressions of unconditional love and a deep sense of being loveable. The most important healing tool for this list is being willing to ask for what you want and need one hundred percent of the time. This eliminates the childlike fantasy that someone will read your mind and give you what you want without asking.
The second list represents developmental traumas between the ages of seven months and three years. The items on list indicate the times you were hurt, abandoned, disrespected or misunderstood in some way. They also represent unmet developmental needs related to feeling safe and secure in close relationships, to having our feelings and needs understood and respected, to being seen and validated for who we are and to being able to trust our own internal signals, feelings and urges to guide our lives.
We found that the healing of the traumas on the second list requires letting go of the anger and resentment and the need to get revenge about what was done to us when we as a child. We found that the most effective healing tool for this list is forgiveness. Our definition of the word for-give means to give back. We must give back what others passed on to us that wasn’t useful and actually was harmful to our growth and well-being. Our books contain many other processes for doing this kind of deeper healing work. We realize this is not an easy path and may not be for everybody, but it sure has opened us to an increasingly deeper experience of a divine relationship.
In our recent book, Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way, ( 2009, pp. 161-172), we discuss one of the most universal human experiences: betrayal trauma.
Betrayal experiences create a special kind of developmental trauma and stress. They often begin in early childhood when you placed all your trust in your parents and other caregiving adults, anticipating that they would be perfect caregivers, see your essence, honor your innocence, appreciate your uniqueness, and meet your needs in a timely manner. When your parents were unable to do so, you felt betrayed. Our experience indicates that all people have betrayals of some kind during their lives.
Our first childhood betrayals often begin in early infancy. We perceived our parents and others as divine and trusted them to treat us with respect. However, your mother or father may have looked at you, perhaps while feeding you, failed to see your divine nature, and saw instead their own unfulfilled wishes and dreams. In this situation, they may have used you as a tool for meeting their own unmet needs. This is how the process of invalidating our divine nature begins. We eventually discover that our parents are not divine beings but mortal humans with faults and problems. This realization can trigger feelings of betrayal and damage if not break primal trust in the relationship.
In our adult relationships we attempt to recreate this experience of primal trust and use it as a criterion for determining the relationship’s worth, so we get betrayed again and learn that our partners are just ordinary human beings like our parents. In the middle of conflicts they say and do things that activate memories of unhealed betrayal trauma. We feel profoundly disappointed, lost, and hopeless that we will ever find someone who can mirror our divine self so we can recover it.
The research on human potential indicates that most people use only a small percent of their inherent capacities. They are so richly over-endowed that very few even begin to understand how much unused potential they really have at their disposal. In fact, Einstein, who was considered the epitome of mental giants, reportedly wept just before his death when he contemplated the fact that he had used so little of his own potential. Betrayal trauma, as a form of developmental trauma or stress, plays a major role in the loss of human potential, particularly the loss of innocence in early childhood. Each time parents or other adults fail to see, accept, and understand a child, they chip away at the child’s sense of Self. It is helpful to look at when, how, where, and by whom you might have been betrayed as a child in order to recover your split-off parts, restore your full connection to your essence, and reclaim the vision of your true potential.
Typical Responses To Betrayal
James Hillman (1975), in a very penetrating article about betrayal, writes about the choices people typically make when they feel betrayed. He believes that most people make what he calls “sterile choices” that prevent them from learning from their betrayals. Here are Hillman’s descriptions of each of these choices:
- Revenge. People often feel a very strong desire to get even with the persons who betray them. When someone says or does something hurtful, the immediate impulse may be to get revenge. Hillman says that this choice is the most common response and the one that creates the least amount of growth in consciousness. Seeking revenge and getting even mean placing the focus on what other people did or didn’t do or say; this response allows you to avoid looking at yourself in order to expand your awareness.
- Splitting. People in intimate relationships who are unable to maintain their internal object constancy or sense of self often resort to splitting against themselves or others. Triggered by post-traumatic stimuli from the past, they may feel regressed, and then make either himself or herself or the other person the “bad guy.” This kind of split immediately activates automatic flight/fight/freeze behavioral responses. Splitting responses to a betrayal may indicate a need for trauma reduction therapies and/or individual counseling that focuses on developmental trauma during the first three years of life.
- Denial. A third choice in a betrayal situation is to deny the value of the other person. This choice may also involve splitting, or making a person once perceived as “all good” into someone now perceived as “all bad.” It’s surprising how quickly this defense mechanism can be activated, often with little awareness. By placing all the blame on the betrayer you may miss important learning about the real source of the betrayal as a reenactment experience of some earlier betrayal trauma.
- Cynicism. This easy choice may be the disease of contemporary times. It is easy for people to get cynical because of their inabilities to stop reenacting their betrayal traumas and the subsequent lack of understanding of the patterns inherent in them. Cynicism is often called broken idealism and if only seen this way, that perspective prevents any serious look at how any previous betrayals may have led up to the current one. Cynicism, again, doesn’t lead to much growth or awareness.
- Paranoia. Paranoia, or a lack of trust of the betrayer, is another common response to betrayal. Someone who was betrayed and hurt in a loving, trusting relationship may require that people pass a lot of tests before they are allowed to get close again. Paranoia also leads to very little growth. It requires a lot of time to constantly monitor the other person’s behavior to determine if he or she is passing some trustworthiness tests. Rather than focusing on the source of the betrayal or the patterns being reenacted in the relationship, paranoia is another way of avoiding self-scrutiny.
- Self-Betrayal. The final sterile choice, according to Hillman, involves the betrayal of one’s own self. The inner response to a betrayal might be, “How could I have been so stupid!” Such responses often include a self-judgment about the risks that were taken. Rather than seeing the risk-taking as a potential for learning, it becomes classified as a mistake that is used for self-judgment and disempowerment. In another post is a skill practice exercise designed to help you identify your patterns of betrayal that could have caused you to have unhealed developmental trauma or stress.
It is big business today in America to label any compulsive behaviors related to food, drink, sex, relationships, or activities such as gambling, smoking, working, or shopping as a disease. The expensive residential treatment programs that stand to benefit most from the disease model have been successful in getting almost all addictions or compulsive behaviors labeled as diseases, even though there is very little research evidence to support this disease model. But, there is almost no solid research evidence to support the claims that participating in these treatment programs leads to recovery.
The National Council on Alcoholism, for example, says that you cannot recover from the disease of alcohol addiction and that you will always have to identify yourself as an alcoholic or an addict. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) also supports this widespread notion, which was originally developed to counteract the moralistic judgments against alcoholics or problem drinkers who were cured by staying away from alcohol.
While there is some research linking alcohol and genetics, it is mixed and contradictory. What is clear is that some people cannot metabolize the sugar in alcohol and should stay completely away from it. These people have an allergy to sugar, not to alcohol itself. George Vaillant, a physician and a strong supporter of AA, argues that alcoholism is not, strictly speaking a disease [but] calling alcoholism a disease . . . is a useful device both to persuade the alcoholic to admit his alcoholism and to provide a ticket for admission into the health-care system.” However, he concluded, in the long run, it [the disease concept] is not effective. Vaillant also conducted the largest comparative study of the effects of AA support versus no AA support on long-term abstinence by former alcohol abusers. He found that 81 percent of those who quit on their own were still abstinent after ten years, while only 32 percent of those who attended AA meetings regularly remained abstinent after ten years. The popularity of the disease concept of alcoholism has been spread by AA and the National Council on Alcoholism.
In 1956 the American Medical Association determined that alcoholism was a disease, even though there was almost no research evidence to support the claim. As noted earlier, the founders of AA used the word disease metaphorically, meaning that they believed that alcohol addiction resembled a disease. Certainly, this concept was useful at that time, because of the widespread moral condemnation of alcohol abusers. The American Medical Association, however, began to see how useful and profitable it might be to drop the metaphoric use of the term, and stretched its diagnostic categories to include alcoholism.
So definitive and authoritative was this pronouncement that, by 1987 (according to a Gallup survey), almost 90 percent of Americans believed alcoholism was a disease.
In addition to helping more and more medical specialists become wealthy, the disease model has dramatically changed the insurance industry.
Once co-dependency and counter-dependency were diagnosed as mental diseases, practitioners were able to collect third-party payments from insurance companies for treating co-dependency and counter-dependency. Between 1978 and 1984, the number of for-profit residential treatment centers increased by 350 percent, and their caseloads rose by 400 percent.
Typical twenty-eight day in-patient programs (twenty-eight days is the usual maximum length for in-patient care that most insurances will pay for) cost the patient’s insurance company from twenty thousand to forty thousand dollars. Many of these ads played on people’s fears that their undetected disease would eventually kill them or a family member if they didn’t seek immediate treatment. This excess was a major influence on the managed care model of mental health that limited treatment of mental illnesses and severely reduced the liability of the insurance industry for mental health coverage. As noted, cost containment procedures in most insurance companies now limit the number of days of inpatient care; they also limit the number of sessions of outpatient care, or the dollar amounts for both.
Unfortunately,the short-term approach now in use, because of the cost-containment policies of insurance companies, has replaced the client-therapist relationship with prescription drugs, which do not, and will not ever, address the developmental issues inherent in addictions. Once alcoholism became widely accepted as a disease, so was the concept of co-alcoholism (now called co-dependency). Co-alcoholism was defined as a disease that a person caught by growing up in an alcoholic family.
This diseasing of alcoholism and co-alcoholism led to labeling other compulsive behaviors as disease, including sex, gambling, eating, worrying, smoking, shopping, rage, religious beliefs, and being in an abusive relationship. The only compulsive behavior so far to escape the disease label is compulsive working (workaholism).
Using the current medical approach, almost any set of behaviors engaged in excessively or compulsively that might have intermittently harmful effects on a person or others whom this person relates to is defined as an addiction, which (and now for the biggest leap) is then automatically defined as a disease.
by Janae B. Weinhold & Barry K. Weinhold. (2008, New World Library). $14.95 – 245 p. This book, which describes the flip side of co-dependency, shows how trauma during the separation stage of development causes recurring conflicts and problems with intimacy in adult relationships. This is the only book on the market on this important topic, and more than half ofit is devoted to self-inventories and practical exercises designed to identify and change counter-dependent behaviors.