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It’s these sort of issues that – over decades – create catastrophes and that we therefore need to know about way ahead of time, in order to look out for people who are optimally designed to withstand them.
Or we work all the time without grasping, because there’s no one calling us to come for dinner, how we manically use work to gain a sense of control over life – and how we might cause hell if anyone tried to stop us.
At night, all we’re aware of is how sweet it would be to cuddle with someone, but we have no opportunity to face up to the intimacy-avoiding side of us that would start to make us cold and strange if ever it felt we were too deeply committed to someone.
We believe we seek happiness in love, but it’s not quite that simple.
What at times it seems we actually seek is familiarity – which may well complicate any plans we might have for happiness.
We get together with the wrong people because the right ones feel wrong – undeserved; because we have no experience of health, because we don’t ultimately associate being loved with feeling satisfied. Digesting lunch is unconscious; reflecting on what you’d like to do this weekend is conscious.
Also, we start off as children with fierce difficulties around self-awareness.Prior to marriage, we’re rarely involved in dynamics that properly hold up a mirror to our disturbances.Whenever more casual relationships threaten to reveal the ‘difficult’ side of our natures, we tend to blame the partner – and call it a day.The very idea that we might not be too difficult as people should set off alarm bells in any prospective partner.The question is just where the problems will lie: perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us, or we can only relax when we are working, or we’re a bit tricky around intimacy after sex, or we’ve never been so good at explaining what’s going on when we’re worried.The default balance between conscious and unconscious tends to be wrong, we are incentivised to let too much of who we are happen in the unconscious.As a general point, we need to make heroic efforts to correct the imbalance and bring more of our lives into the conscious realm.But unfortunately, the lessons we picked up may not have been straightforward.The love we knew as children may have come entwined with other, less pleasant dynamics: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating, in short: suffering. Why is it hard for us to know ourselves in these ways? There are several huge cognitive frailties that make it hard for us to have certain kinds of insight about ourselves.’The problem is that knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by.It can take years and situations we have had no experience of.