Getting Stuck … Staying Stuck

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When I wrote my latest book entitled How in the Hell Did This Happen to Me?, I essentially was addressing the thousands of people who feel stuck in their lives as a result of certain patterns that they learned from childhood which, at some point, began to serve up some very difficult problems in their adult lives. in most cases, though, the problem is not the patterns that have been learned and handed down from generation to generation but it is the fact that most people do not recognize the problem. As a result, the practice may go on indefinitely until whatever pain the problem serves up becomes unbearable and/or a disastrous result occurs driving the person to get help. Sometimes, it is too late because of the longevity involved but much of the time, with the skilled help of a psychotherapist, the pattern can slowly change to the person’s benefit.

As mentioned above, patterns are not unusually handed down from generation to generation much like a legacy. The problematic patterns may go unnoticed or even work well for individuals in the early days of their lives. But then, the complications of life such as getting married, having children and holding down a job begin to show signs that tend to threaten the individual’s well-being or those whom he or she loves. Divorce might be an outcome or serious child-parent problems or even children becoming involved in drugs. With help, many of these types of traumatic problems can be traced back to the patterns that drove them to the brink of becoming threatening.

There are several reasons why problematic patterns go unnoticed or continue on despite the awareness of individuals. Below are some of those reasons:

Early background patterns: Patterns usually begin within family constellations and are learned and practiced from a very early age. These patterns are part of the family structure and are practiced by its members. As a result, a sense of normalcy prevails which is taken for granted.

Fear of change: Most people have difficulty with making changes in their lives which contributes to the longevity of patterns existing despite the awareness of individuals.

Unresolved guilt pattern: Many people raise their children using guilt as a control factor with the result that children grow up repeating that pattern in their lives and inn the lives of their children as well. The guilt tends to keep people stuck in negative or problematic behaviors.

Fear of abandonment: Despite an individual’s awareness that certain patterns are harmful to themselves or others, the fear that if they change them, they will be abandoned by the people whom they love.

Loss of love: The need to love and be loved is a basic need that everyone experiences. If there is a risk that love might be withdrawn should changing a pattern take place, it isn’t unusual to decide to continue the pattern in deference to maintaining the love relationships.

Fear of rejection: It is not unusual for people who choose to change problematic patterns in their lives to experience a sense of rejection by those with whom they’ve been involved. To others, those changes can be very threatening and they often will try to get the person who’s making changes to go back “to the old way” of dealing with their lives and relationships.

Fear of the unknown: People tend to be creatures of habit as they live out their lives. Making changes can be very frightening for them because of the unknown factor. They might rather live with the problem than risk an uncertain outcome threatening their security and stability.

Dealing with regression: Oftentimes, people who decide to change patterns … whether on their own or with professional help … become very discouraged when they might experience a regression to their old way of life instead of realizing that regression is an indication of how difficult things were previously. This is  not necessarily a failure on their parts. Regression is a natural part of any change and should not stop someone from continuing the process.

Sense of isolation and loneliness: Often, people in the midst of changing patterns in their lives experience a sense of feeling isolated in the sense that changing from an unhealthy pattern to a healthy one results in not being involved with the same relationships as they had before.

Depressive reaction: The steps that need to be taken to make changes might result in a temporary depressive reaction which many succumb to and terminate their efforts to change.

Gotten used to feeling stuck despite negativity:  Some people resign themselves to feeling poorly about themselves and their lifestyles. As a result, they end up believing that is their plight in life and the only way they can live.

Comfort level: There is a certain comfort level associated with negative patterns resulting in a lack of motivation to make changes.

Blaming others: Some people conclude that others (e.g. parents)  in their lives are responsible for their unhappiness and tend to blame them instead of taking personal responsibility for themselves.

Unwilling to take risks: Reasonable risk-taking is a necessary and vital part of living one’s life. However, some people tend to avoid taking risks to make changes  in their need to feel the security of what they know best.

Unresolved anger pattern: Because of the interfering manner that negative patterns have in people’s lives, it is not unusual for them to feel a sense of anger which they may have carried with them for many years. In order to be successful in changing patterns, that anger needs to be confronted and resolved.

High anxiety level preventing change: Anxiety is no uncommon in those that have lived with unhealthy patterns. Perhaps, the anxiety emanates from a sense that they should make changes but instead they resist. This type of quandry can create a considerable amount of anxiety.

Multiple fears: The fear factor is something that must be reckoned with in order to go through the process of making changes. however, some people don’t just have a single fear but multiple fears in their dealing with life which tends to put them into a very defensive and immoveable position.

Lack of insight: In order to make changes, there needs to be some insight that will allow a person to gain a healthy perspective of what needs to be done. However, some people tend to be more “other oriented” in the sense that they take little time to wonder about themselves and their lives.

Fear of harming others: Those who consider themselves as being altruistic are often hiding from the reality of what is good for them while they focus on what they can do to make others happy. In effect, they fear that if they made some personal changes in their lives, others would be harmed in turn because their changing would not be to the liking of others.

(27 November 2013)


Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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