We all have things inside us that cause us to act in ways that we would never accept from someone else. No one likes it when they are treated with contempt or impatience or anger. Our natural response to these kinds of attitudes is to become defensive and to respond in kind. Most of us have learned to not overreact to such behavior, but few of us have learned to control that behavior when it comes from us in the first place.
It is a difficult thing to really look at yourself and see all the things inside you that cause you to do things that push people away. Most of it is selfishness. We all want certain things and society has taught us that we deserve them, regardless of what our situation is or who is in our lives that we feel should be providing them for us. Some of us believe this so strongly that we become angry when we aren’t getting what we want, and many times we don’t even realize the behavior it sparks, even after it has already happened.
Relationships are extremely hard, and have been made more so in our modern world of artificial romance. An upbringing in the movie theater has taught us that love is supposed to be constant passion and closeness and adventure. The reality is that love is sacrifice and hard work. Real relationships aren’t about making each other feel good; it’s about making positive contributions to each other so that you’re both better off than you would be on your own.
It becomes extremely difficult to adopt this mindset if you have issues from your past that weighs down on your ability to accept disappointment. The truth is that relationships are full of disappointment, because you’re dealing with a flawed human being who has their own desires and sometimes they get in the way of providing you with what you want. It is our past that sets the foundation for who we are in the present, and if we haven’t repaired the cracks in that foundation we will constantly be struggling to maintain balance.
Relationships will never be perfect, because they are between two imperfect people. No matter how much we wish we could wave a magic wand and get the other person to act the way we wish they would, the reality is that love is more about accepting a person for who they are than for them to fulfill our personal desires. The alternative is spending our lives moving from person to person hoping to find “the one”, and never really finding happiness or contentment because there is simply no such thing as “the one”. Even the best matches will always have a lot of compromise required to make it work.
Having said all of this, some of us have major demons from our past that are reaching into our present and causing us to fail in our relationships with others. I know my personal issues involve an inability to trust others, and it takes a long time for me to truly accept and feel accepted by others. It stems from an upbringing that wasn’t horrible, but also not conducive to open relationships, as well as a significant portion of my life spent in the extremely controlled lifestyle that is the military, and then finally an entire life spent in the fantasy world of video games. This, combined with my general laziness, causes a lot of problems in all of my relationships.
Of course, my problem is fairly prevalent amongst men my age and younger these days, but it certainly isn’t the only problem that people deal with. For some it’s addiction, and that is an extremely hard cycle to break. Others have emotional needs that aren’t being met, with powerful urges that make them impossible to satiate caused by injuries from the past. Some people simply never had to think about anyone but themselves, and are incapable of seeing things from another person’s point of view. Whatever it is, we all have some demon from our past that is mucking things up for the present and future.
I wish there was some magic phrase I could utter that would banish that demon for all of us, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. Fighting off this terrible enemy is about as hard as anything we’ll ever have to do in life. It’s nearly impossible to do it alone, and that’s why we need things like faith, therapy and a solid group of friends that can prop us up when we are feeling too weak to fight on. When we try to do it on our own, it only gets worse.
If you are dealing with personal issues and can’t seem to find a way past them, I encourage you to seek therapy in some form or another. Even if it isn’t a professional in an office, simply sharing your problems with another person can be extremely helpful. Most of the time we hold our issues inside and it isn’t until after we finally put them out there with another person that we finally feel better about things. Take the time and find someone you can share you problems with. If you do, you’ll find it starts becoming much easier to fight off the demon, and the people you care about will be just as better off as you.
What do you think about dealing with the past? Have you fought your demons and overcome them, or do you still struggle to live with the things that shaped you? What can you do today to start turning the tide of the battle and become a better person for the people you care about? Life is hard, and relationships are harder. Share the load with someone else and start seeing how your life can be so much better than you ever thought.
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