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Headed for a Train Wreck

February 21, 2018

 

 

Before I wrote this blog post, the caption (right) was going to be a post all by itself. I had considered the message in the photo to be self-explanatory. I've said this exact phrase often enough that it's often easily understood by my clients, but that's only after an examination of how their fears are pushing them towards an end they are trying to avoid.

 

So what does the caption mean?

 

Well, let me start by explaining that many of my clients come into therapy with their own emotional hang-ups, fears, anxieties, etc. Basically, they have issues they'd like to get over.

 

Sometimes those fears are conscious, they can tell you exactly what it is that worries them. Other times, it's unconscious and it takes a little digging. Either way, they usually come around to the idea that they would like to avoid some negative outcome.  Whether it's failing at a job, a marriage ending in divorce, having their children hate them, and so on and so forth. While those would be things most people would want to avoid, all too often, a person's behavior does the exact opposite. Instead of making sure they manage their fears in healthy ways, they simply avoid them altogether.

 

Here's an example: A client would like to avoid a divorce and so instead of engaging in healthy arguments they decide to bottle everything up and "just deal" with their frustrations. They do this because they watched their own parents argue and fight until eventually their marriage ended up in divorce. They learned that arguments are bad and unconsciously vowed to never have them again.

 

The problem with not arguing or sharing one's feelings is that they will either blow up one day (like a shaken up soda bottle) or their spouse will sense their resentment and discontent. They can sense a change in their spouse's emotional state because our non-verbal communication tells them everything they need to know. And so, when you say nothing at all, it leaves your spouse on shaky, uncertain ground.

 

What's more, by holding in your anger, you are more likely to also withhold love and affection, which can also lead to a dissolving marriage.

 

This theory about heading towards a train wreck also applies to other aspects of our lives. We tend to think that doing the opposite of whatever it is we fear will yield a better result when, in reality, it ends in the same result.

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