The natural rhythms of life between the constants of birth and death involve change, the third constant. In the face of change, our ability to adapt determines how we emotionally approach life’s seasons and new situations. One part of us tries to keep change at bay, which can lead to conflict if we no longer desire what we attempt to preserve. Then, avoiding the dreaded feelings of hopelessness and helplessness dictate our actions. Another part of us accepts the inevitability of change; we adapt and mold what we value and allow those values to find meaningful expression in the new circumstance.
Courage To Change
When we are unhappy with our circumstances, we often speak enthusiastically of the importance of change. Realizing that this entails giving up unresolved Needs, we try to have change on the one hand without doing anything different on the other. Therein lies the essence of conflict in the process of change: The Adult (wanting change) runs into the tenacity of the Child (needing nothing to be different). The tension between these two states generates both the motivation for and the resistance to growth.
A Guide for Listening
When the listener finds expressed feelings painful and difficult to hear, he often steps in and tries to negate the feelings. “Oh, you don’t have to feel that way.” “It’s silly for you to feel that.” “How could you possibly feel that?” “Your feelings make no sense.” This may even represent a well-intentioned attempt to solve the other person’s problem and make him feel better, or it may be an effort to avoid feeling uncomfortable oneself. In any relationship, the experience of actually being listened to makes an enormous difference in our perception of the relationship’s value.
Parenting: Good Enough Will Do
No connection means no survival. Does this mean that we must have a perfect connection in order to survive and thrive? No. That would require having perfect parents, and there are no perfect parents. Not only that, there are no parents who were not once children themselves. I will return to this point when discussing the impact of our unique familial experiences.