For Relationship Success, Escape the Emotional Acknowledgement
Release the Phantasy if You Expect to Ever Enjoy the Real Thing
I use the word “phantasy” with clients, to describe their made-up vision of what life would’ve been like if only… Their vision of that alternative reality isn’t simply a fiction or daydream. It’s a vivid and compelling image resonating deep within.
Secrets to Having a Successful Relationship
A person’s phantasy represents such a tangible desire, that nothing else satisfies their craving for precisely that. What they received instead pales by comparison. They’re often left in a never-satisfied state of longing for acknowledgement. In many cases it’s carried since early childhood – well into adulthood.
Quit Setting Yourself up for Disappointment
All of us feel a need to be loved in a way that feels “just right.” And what that means is totally unique for everyone. Moving beyond the insatiable hunger for affirmation from particular people permits focusing on more positive and realistic goals.
Improve your Self-Esteem
The need is indeed real. But it is not realistic. The harder we try to pull the desired response from another person, the more they resist. This sets us up for a continuous cycle of failure – which replays itself in a hundred little ways. The original problem grows despite our determined efforts to solve it.
A future article will be, “The Apparent Problem Isn’t the Problem.” Every “problem” results from our previous efforts to resolve it.
An Insight that Unblocked the Impasse
Keys to a Good Relationship
My client, Linda, has spent her 34 years trying to get her mother to recognize her value. When her mother bitterly criticizes her (as she’s always done), Linda goes the spectrum, from pleading with her to see her value, to scolding her mother for being mean and critical. However, none brings the response she wants.
I told her about another client, (Kathy) who also struggled to get her mother’s approval. Kathy received a letter saying she’d passed the Psychology Licensing Exam. Kathy called her mother in the heat of her excitement. The response she got was devoid of interest, or the desired validation.
“Oh, that’s nice. I knew you would. I’m on the other line; I’ll call you back.” Her mother never called back, and didn’t mention her accomplishment when they next spoke.
As Linda listened, she said, “That’s good that her mother said, ‘I knew you would.'”
I demonstrated the mother’s flat tone.
Linda responded, “I see what you mean. We need to be acknowledged exactly how we want it. Even though this was good, (more than I’d get from my mom) it still didn’t provide what she wanted. What did Kathy want to hear?”
“That’s a good question. I asked her just that. Kathy told me, ‘I wanted to hear, I’m so proud of you, Kathy. You’re so smart, and you’ve worked so hard. You completely deserve this.'”
Linda’s face registered a deep understanding, “Wow, that’s so powerful!”
During her next session, Linda brought up the story again. “Even though Kathy’s mother wasn’t hateful, like mine, Kathy still needed to hear something specific from her mother. This keeps her continuously yearning, like me.”
Linda learned from Kathy’s story. Her comments revealed a shift in perception, which will change her behavior, little by little. She’s moving from her phantasy, toward more attainable goals that serve her better.
Developing Habits for Relationship Success
The work is to focus on your own authentic goals for YOURSELF. If the goals you set for yourself are in line with your core values, you’ll get motivation and inspiration from within. That feels completely awesome.
Hitting Your Emotional Bulls Eye Follows Changing Your Expectations
My definition Emotional Maturity – Releasing that phantasy… that we’ll be loved exactly the way we want (need) to be loved.” An appropriate desire – yes. A realistic one – no. But relief is possible, even if people you’ve relied on to provide it don’t change at all.
Trying to get people to correspond to our phantasy expectations seldom brings the desired results. Once you stop expecting a particular response, people actually want to do it. It’s paradoxical. In fact, they’re responding (albeit unconsciously) to a new dynamic that you brought into the relationship. The needy striving is absent.
Acknowledge Your Worth
To the extent we’ve sacrificed our self-satisfaction to other people’s approval, we each need to develop within ourselves the parental approval we want so badly. That’s another reward from releasing the phantasy.
Since lack of acknowledgement is a familiar type of frustration, future articles will show how to reclaim your power and self-respect. For example, Kathy’s treatment by her husband is similar to her mother’s. (Not a coincidence.) Understanding this relationship with her mother in a new way reveals the dynamics that caused her to select him as a husband.
Releasing a phantasy changes yourself – along with the situations you feared would never change. That’s a tangible shift of perspective that changes your future possibilities.
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