Whose Job is it Anyway? Relinquishing the Addiction to Thinking that Someone Else is Going to Do It For YouBy BeingMike
November 24, 2008
Do you find yourself struggling with the fantasy that someone or something will come along and finally make everything alright? Taking full responsibility for ourselves is crucial if Inner Bonding is to truly work.
In the 6 years since I’ve embraced Inner Bonding, I have bumped up against a false belief time and time again that in order to be happy and feel good about myself and my life, someone else has to do it (whatever “it” happens to be at that moment) for me. I’ve watched myself attempt to dodge responsibility, doing everything I can to convince myself of my incompetence in taking care of myself, only to eventually drag myself back (kicking and screaming) to the alter of relinquishing victimhood and claiming ownership of my own destiny. I’ve seen this dynamic play out in my work with many clients as well. So what is this addiction to needing someone else to do it for us? I believe it stems from childhood spiritual abuse, neglect and deprivation, and our inherent helplessness at the time to effect real change. Let’s take a deeper look into the cause and then how Inner Bonding can help us move beyond this very challenging place.
A crucial underpinning of Inner Bonding – and an idea that deeply resonates with me personally – is the understanding that as children, we internalize our experience and unconsciously form the false belief that whatever is occurring is because of who we are or something we have done; this way we have some control over our experience – it helps us to safe. It’s a total lie, of course, but a brilliant one, and crucial for many of us to survive a damaging childhood.
A British object-relations psychologist in the 50’s, Ronald Fairbairn, first wrote about this when he theorized that as children, it is less terrifying to be “a bad child in a good world” than it is to recognize that we truly are at the mercy of our primary caregivers. Back when we were infants and young children, we truly were victims to our environment – if “someone else” didn’t ensure that our basic needs were met, we literally would have died. And then, taking it one step further, any of our wants and needs that were not met (and let’s face it, how could any caregiver possibly meet their child’s every want and need), we became frustrated and felt victimized by our helplessness to affect the situation for the better. And indeed, certainly in this context we were victims – we simply were not yet capable of getting our needs met, nor were our caregivers capable of doing it perfectly. Tricky stuff this being a kid! Just realizing this dynamic helps us have compassion for ourselves and the human condition – no one escapes this lovely Catch 22. One could say there is a fundamental flaw in the system – why couldn’t it have been organized so that all of our needs were perfectly met all the time -- that way we’d grow up to be secure, confident adults with genuine self-esteem and true self-worth? Or at least if we didn’t, we’d truly only have ourselves to blame. But is this really true? To borrow from Byron Katie’s ideas – can we absolutely know this to be true?
But one thing is clear: as children, however it looks like and plays out for each of us, we fall victim to our unmet needs. And so is born the Wounded Self (WS)– the ego – the part of us that is separate from God/Spirit – that part of us that experiences life as, borrowing from another object-relations psychoanalyst, Karen Horney, “alone and lonely in a lonely world.” One can easily appreciate how that reality can become solidified in our minds and, if we don’t become conscious of it, basically rule our motivation for living! In a sense, the WS is frozen in time to when it was formulated, and so forever wants to go back to the scene of the crime (our childhood) to hopefully, finally get it right this time. It tells us we’re helpless but that this time, this person, this job, this situation, this w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r, if we play our cards right (i.e, effectively manipulate the situation), it will show us how loved and worthy we truly are. The bad news is that even if the person/job/situation mirrors our need/worth perfectly, it will only temporarily satisfy until the WS has another want or need. Oh, that insatiable desire for more! In this way, the WS perpetuates our addiction to helplessness in getting what we want. Cognitive psychologist Timothy Miller talks of this dynamic in his thoughtful book, How to Want What You Have.
The good news is that as adults, we are no longer victims! Indeed, we are completely capable of taking care of ourselves, navigating in the world and getting our own needs met. While we each have a WS emerging from childhood, as adults we have the opportunity, in each moment, as Margaret loves to remind us, to commit to the sacred task of taking full responsibility for our feelings and re-parenting our WS. And thus is born our Loving Adult (LA)! And fortunately (or unfortunately, if you are reading this through the lens of the WS), an essential part of that process is relinquishing the fantasy that someone or something else is going to come around and make everything perfect for you. The cherishing of that fantasy stunts our growth; it curtails our ability to taking full responsibility for ourselves and our thoughts and feelings. As we let go of that yearning, we embark on a fascinating journey of self-discovery, holding Spirit’s hand and healing the false beliefs of childhood helplessness which only perpetuate our pain, while deeply loving ourselves in the process.
Regular practice of the six steps of Inner Bonding continues to compassionately bust me of my WS’s need to hold onto the victim vise…on my bad days, it’s all Spirit and I can do to gently pull back one finger. But that’s ok, it’s a process, and I’m indeed learning. Those days are becoming fewer and farther between though, thanks to my Loving Adult’s commitment to Inner Bonding and my Spiritual Guidance. Yippee!! Now there’s a real Thanks-giving.
Mike Moran, LMSW is a psychotherapist & motivational speaker/trainer with offices in New York, NY and Jersey City, NJ.
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Today, notice what you do when pain comes up - especially the pain of loneliness and heartache when someone is being unloving with you. Do you get irritated, angry or judgmental? Do you resist or withdraw? Do you people-please and give yourself up? Do you numb out with food or other substances, or with activities such as TV? Notice the ways you might be avoiding your feelings rather than compassionately attending to them.
By Dr. Margaret Paul