Are you focusing on the symptom or the cause?

I recently had a session with a husband and wife that were deep in the process of a contested divorce. Each had their point of view about how things should be handled and each person’s point of view was valid. As they fought to have their points of view prevail, the cycle of conflict escalated dramatically.

There was so much upset and defensiveness that neither person could hear what the other was saying. Instead of looking for solutions, all the focus was on fighting and resisting. They couldn’t see that the conflict and suffering was their own creation. It was a symptom, not the problem.

The underlying condition

If you have a relationship or any area of life that isn’t working, there will always be an underlying condition of resisting or hanging on that is creating the problem. This condition makes us defensive. It creates a state of fear, upset and tunnel vision. It destroys our ability to see what needs to be done and it forces destructive behavior.

As I worked with the couple, they began to see the real problem. Each person was triggering a suppressed hurt, in the other. She triggered his hurt of feeling worthless. Then he felt threatened and reacted negatively. This triggered her hurt of feeling not good enough. Then she got upset and reacted negatively toward him. Then he got more upset at her.

Without knowing, they created a cycle of conflict, a cycle of fighting, resisting, hanging on, and withdrawing. This cycle of conflict destroyed the experience of love and made it very difficult to find solutions. Then it got worse.

She had a fear of losing her children. To avoid this fear, she demanded that he have minimal access. She did this in a subconscious attempt to avoid her hurt of feeling not good enough as a mom. This triggered his hurt and forced him to fight her. Then she felt threatened and fought him even more.

The illusion

Neither person could see his or her role in the conflict and neither person could see the hurt. All they could see were the circumstances that triggered it. The threat appeared to be what the other person was doing, but as we worked together, they saw that this was an illusion. The real threat was not their circumstances. The real threat was the hurt. The automatic avoidance of this hurt forced them to act in a way that created a nightmare.

Then I worked with them to heal their hurt. As they healed their hurt, the circumstances that seemed so threatening before, no longer had power. When the threat no longer had power, they were able to put their focus on finding solutions and discovering what needs to be done. They researched what would be the best custody arrangement for their children and agreed to that.

The opportunity

Once they took their focus off of their circumstances and looked inside, they were able to heal their hurt. They could then focus on solutions that were based on facts instead of emotion.

This is the opportunity for all of us. As long as we focus on our circumstances, it’s all about emotion. Our circumstances have power over us and we are forced to act destructively. When you take the focus off of your circumstances and look inside, you get your power back. You can then focus on restoring your inner peace and discovering what needs to be done.

The key to life is simple. Let go and trust that you will be okay no matter what happens. Restore your ability to see clearly and then take action based on facts. To learn how to do this, read these articles. If you want individual support in restoring your inner peace and effectiveness, schedule an appointment. Most situations can get resolved in a few sessions.

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