The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Epiphany II

I’ve arrived at a turning point in my therapy. Ahead of me is an obstacle of ageless familiarity, an old enemy. How shall I proceed? How can I proceed? I do not know how to defeat this enemy. From Getting the Love You Want:

We all have an understandable desire to live life as children. We don’t want to go to the trouble of raising a cow and milking it; we want to sit down at the table and have someone hand us a cool glass of milk. We don’t want to plant seeds and tend a grapevine; we want to walk out the back door and pluck a handful of grapes. This wishful thinking finds its ultimate expression in marriage. We don’t want to accept the responsibility for getting our needs met; we want to “fall in love” with a superhuman mate and live happily ever after. The psychological term for this tendency to put the source of our frustrations and the solutions to our problems outside ourselves is “externalization,” and it is the cause of much of the world’s unhappiness.
It’s human nature to want a life without effort. When we were infants, the world withheld and we were frustrated; the world gave and we were satisfied. Out of thousands of these early transactions, we fashioned a model of the world, and we cling to this outdated model even at the expense of our marriages.

Standing in the way of the changes we need to make in order to have a more satisfying relationship is our fear of change. A fear of change is also basic to human nature. We can feel anxious even when we’re undergoing a positive change, such as getting promoted, moving into a new home, or going on vacation. Anything that breaks us out of our comfortable or not-so-comfortable routines sets off an alarm in our old brain. The old brain is alerting us to the fact that we are entering territory that has not been mapped or surveyed, and that danger may lurk around every corner.
With so many years invested in habituated behaviours, it’s only natural that they should experience a great reluctance to change. After all, I am asking them not only to risk the anxiety of learning a new style of relating, but also to confront the pain and fear that have been bottled up inside them for decades – the reason for their dysfunctional behaviour in the first place.

Ten Characteristics of a Conscious Marriage

10. You accept the difficulty of creating a good marriage. In an unconscious marriage, you believe that the way to have a good marriage is to pick the right partner. In a conscious marriage you realize you have to be the right partner. As you gain a more realistic view of love relationships, you realize that a good marriage requires commitment, discipline, and the courage to grow and change; marriage is hard work.

Let’s take a closer look at number ten, the need to accept the difficulty involved in creating a good marriage, because none of the other nine ideas will come to fruition unless you first cultivate your willingness to grow and change.

And herein lies the problem. The fear of change. The need to live without effort. I never outgrew these childhood, old-brain tendencies.

And after half a century, I am so set in my ways that I have no idea how to escape my tar pit...