Avoidance and Self-Sabotage

So it seems I need to deviate from the general theme and title of this blog a little bit. I will be periodically going from experiential stories of my past to more recent processes and experiences. Hopefully you can bear with me as the evolution of this blog continues.

I awaken with that familiar feeling of heartache but in a way it is comforting. It is a feeling I seemed to have used in the past to drive me forward, a kind of feeling of rejection and pain from reaching for love but not fully getting there. Feelings of self-pity and loss come up requiring the need to plow through the day or whatever is ahead of me. Using these deep emotions as a catalyst for self-improvement in what form I have yet to determine.

There was an attachment theory experiment done in the 70’s where children were brought into a room to play and when fully distracted the mother would leave the room without their knowledge. There was much more to this laboratory procedure referred to as the strange situation (Mary Ainsworth) than I will not get into here but from the data collected four different types of patterns emerged which are used to show a pattern of behavior that often seems to continue into adulthood: secure, anxious-avoidant, anxious-resistant, and disorganized.

For me I have come to realize that my pattern could be closest to the pattern of avoidant. I wouldn’t go all the way into an anxious avoidant disorder label but for ease of communication I find the avoidant pattern a close representation of my experiences. Just like all “generalized labels” this isn’t very cut and dry as it plays out in very creative ways for me. Deep inside there is a longing to connect with others and to find love but another part of me wants to push it away or find any excuse to reject the love given. There seems to be a threshold I will reach, especially in romantic relationships, at which point some kind of defense mechanism will kick in and I will self-sabotage the relationship in order to protect my heart. It is the vulnerability I feel in those instances that is probably the most distressing.

Luckily, I am a little more familiar with this defense mechanism these days, but apparently I have not fully removed the pattern. It seems to be centered on the belief that love will not last, that it could be taken away or destroyed at any moment. So there is this strong impulse to sabotage it for at least then it will be on my terms and not blind side me at some unforeseen later date. I had unknowingly done this for many years before I finally caught glimpses of it while dating a woman who would continue to be with me despite how emotionally abusive I was to her.

There is a lot more to this. At that time I was very abusive to myself and so just being around me after a while I would see the person I was dating as an extension of myself and I would start to treat them the same way. But this situation was different. I was really pushing the limits and actually caught myself wondering why she wasn’t going away.

So being aware of this pattern I am able to witness the process a little more. With that being said, I will share that I recently chose to really open up and love someone more. A person I have kept at a distance for some time now. They had wanted to have a romantic relationship with me for a while but I didn’t want to go there because it didn’t feel right. I made all kinds of excuses but yet this person keeps popping into my life and we have a lot in common. So I figured it would be good to let go of my grocery list type mentality of what I want in a woman and participate with what is right in front of me.

No longer wanting to be alone, I decided that I would simply be present with this person and not judge or project into how the future would be with them. Ultimately, to allow myself to be more “vulnerable” to love and see what happens.

I realized after expressing this leap of courage to open my heart more that it was actually still “protected” since this person is now more interested in another man who is in a relationship with someone else. So to break it down, it is a situation where I now want to be with her but she loves some other guy who is in love with someone else. I knew of this other guy prior to my decision to proceed, so for me it is the realization that I had only made that leap of allowing someone to deeply connect and surrender to being with them when I knew they would be less likely to want a long term relationship.

On some level it must have made me feel safe that I did not have to commit to anything. Or perhaps I would now be able to see what happens and who she chooses if this other guy changes his mind. For then I would have put her through a test to see if she really loved me or just the idea of me. This testing of others is also another pattern I am working with balancing. As the testing can become a self-fulfilling prophesy of rejection.

I also wonder if my change of heart might be the result of desperation. Is the slight heartache because I am truly in love with this person or am I simply longing for the love and security I started to reach for. In this reaching, inadvertently scratching at the deep human wound of feeling unloved and abandoned. I know these things are not true in a spiritual sense but we are more than just spiritual beings.

This does not change the sadistic type pattern of finally opening up to a person who really cares about me but not until they had moved on to another. It is a pretty clever pattern to avoid something while believing on some level that “I tried and yet again I got rejected. It wasn’t my fault”. This is a victimization program which I seemed to embrace a lot in the past. Lots of heartache and pain at not finding love. Throwing myself at all the wrong women that on some level I knew would hurt me and sabotaging the relationships that could possible work out.

Well like so many things, I guess time will tell how this plays out. As always the inner work continues while I work to find balance in how that is expressed in the world. To stay present in order to catch and move beyond harmful defense mechanisms, false programming, and victim victimizer patterns.

May you always feel love and security,

Jason

4 thoughts on “Avoidance and Self-Sabotage

  1. As I read your most recent blog-post, I am drawn in by the familiar patterns you describe. The first one is already in the title “avoidance of self-sabotage”. This represents to me a double negative. If North represents “self-sabotage” and Not represents “avoidance”, we have a statement of the type “Not North”. But North is opposite to South as “cold” is opposed to “warm”. So, it could also be stated as “Not Not South”. The difficulty with a negative statement (in the sense of using the word “not”) is that it does indeed not say what it is, but only what it is not. In other words, “Not North” does not say what direction is optimal (it may not be South). If we imagine a continuum of directions, “Not North” represents the elimination of only ONE direction. There are still a plurality of directions open, but “Not North” doesn’t give us much to go on. Depending on how far removed you are from the North Pole (which would represent “death”), there might be more options to improve life. It also is clear that going South to the extreme will end up being cold as well. Therefore, we are interested in formulating what direction we want to go, why we want to go there and what actions we can take to go there.

    I would say first to turn around. In the “Not North” attitude, your attention is to the North and to avoid it, you keep it in sight. Rather than to walk backwards, pointing your finger North, it is easier to turn around and choose a direction that seems desirable based on what you see there.

    This attitude of turning around (in religious terms “conversion”) represents the opening up of what is in front of you. You describe this process accurately.

    Another familiar pattern I noticed is the attitude you describe with “be[ing] centered on the belief that love will not last, that it could be taken away or destroyed at any moment”. Again, it is an accurate assessment to identify a limiting belief that keeps you from experiencing love from others (or from yourself). The feeling of not being-loved reflects a projection of expectations failed to materialize. It becomes important to create the environment you desire, and you start out in an environment which may be damaging. Taking responsibility for your own development and focusing on and specifying your desires may dramatically increase the effectivity of your actions.

    A turning around from this belief might be to believe that love is not something that comes from another person or can be found “out there”. In other words, it is not a commodity that comes in limited quantities. It is the assumption that love has this property of a commodity that suggests that it could be taken away from you, or given (rejection is a feeling that your love was not recognized, assuming that you gave something that you lost). I found that love is an attitude within. It does not depend on the person in front of you, the circumstances you find yourself in or your state of health. Love is the quality to embrace life as it is, rather than resisting it with how you wish it to be. Knowing that everything around you reflects your own view of reality, may help you to realize that at the core of your view lies the security of your own love. It can never run out, never deplete, never be taken away, never be separated from you. It does not go from you to another person or from another person to you. It is the ability to realize that it is the creative force behind all of your reality.

    Identifying limiting beliefs is already an advanced step in the process of change. As you dare to change your beliefs [Out of courage or desperation? Who cares? A bit of both perhaps?], you will find that you are not your beliefs. Your thoughts, emotions and beliefs can only reflect more of who you are if you let them change with your growing insights.

    I applaud your openness, Jason, and return it with a heart-felt response.

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    • Hi Bruno,
      Actually it was Avoidance and Self-Sabotage. I appreciate what you said about turning around and opening up to what is in front of me. That is very much the point I am at now in processing this. Much of this blog is about sharing my experiences to assist others but also it allows me to more deeply transform any lingering pain.
      I definitely agree about the inner love and excepting. I guess it could more appropriately be called unconditional love. Perhaps long ago we would not need descriptors such as unconditional to designate what kind of love it is. It was just Love, all that is, the Source of all perhaps. I always liked the idea that love is our natural state being.
      Thanks for your support!

      Like

      • Hi Jason,

        Thanks for explaining the meaning of the title.

        You wrote “Perhaps long ago we would not need descriptors such as unconditional to designate what kind of love it is.”

        Yes, you are right on topic and I am glad that you distilled this gem. In my investigations I discovered that “God’s love” as described in the Bible is not unconditional. Apparently God’s love will only be bestowed on us IF we accept His Son as the (righteous) sacrifice for our sin. Isn’t that the greatest contradiction? On the one hand the Bible states literally “God is love” (1Jo 4:8,16), but on the other hand, it is God who withholds His love to “sinners”, at least according to the doctrines Paul set out.

        What is often forgotten is that the term “sin” is very vague. And even if Paul gives it a totally different meaning to sin in his letters, it is still arbitrary what to call sin. To be the judge of somebody and proclaiming they sin, is to violate Jesus’s indictment “do not judge, lest you be judged”.

        I can’t help myself pointing out that the Bible, arguably the most influential book of our Western culture, is laden with contradictions of this nature. It is not too strange, therefore, that many struggle or have struggled to define love in a way that works for them–me included. I agree fully with you that the adjective “unconditional” for love should be superfluous, but it is this Bible who suggests that there is a higher love than God’s love. For if we can choose to love unconditionally, we are sure better than God [of the Bible], who requires something from us for His love (without forgiving us also unconditionally). This God, therefore, has a grudge that can’t be satisfied, save with a human sacrifice. How heathen is that? I tend to agree that I sacrificed [part of] my own life to become the receptor of this (God’s) love, until I realized I have had it all along.

        I encourage you to discover your own source of (unconditional) Love within yourself. As you start to see the eternal benefit of finding it, there seems to be no greater quest.

        You can count on my (unconditional) support.

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      • Yes I have experienced that direct God Source connection many times the problem for me is in maintaining it. All the mental body stuff tends to cloud that connection from time to time and during periods of stress. I must sit and meditate to find that place, my center, my higher self connection. It is a bit hard to explain.
        As far as the bible, I do not give it much thought and there are definitely beings that think they are god who would require many forms of sacrifice. They are a parasite upon humanity which infects the minds of all who incarnate here. There is a great deal of spiritual raping going on in the form of what is called religion.

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