People unfold, and yet, we tend to stick to the assumptions we make about who we think that they should be. We decide that because someone works in a particular profession or goes to therapy, or is “charming, good-looking, smart” that this means something about them and their ability to love us and be in a relationship.
In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain why it’s time to shelve the assumptions. It turns out, people can be more than one thing. Or, they can have what appear to be certain desirable qualities and also have other less desirable ones and/or make a poor relationship partner.
Some nuggets from the episode:
- “In the beginning, they were just so crazy about me. They wanted to be around me all the time. Why didn’t it stay like that?” Um, because it was the beginning.
- When we expect people to stay exactly as they were (or assumed them to be in the beginning, it’s like we don’t want our perception of them or the relationship itself, to grow. We’re thinking, I want to take a snapshot of you on day 0, day 5 or the pinnacle moment of when I think you’re wonderful, and I don’t want you to deviate from that. This way, I don’t have to be vulnerable. I don’t have to risk anything because I will know exactly what to expect.
We jump to conclusions. “They’re charming, good-looking, smart — what more could I ask for?” Errrr, a hell of a lot!
- We think that we can tell who somebody is from looking at them or from the assumptions we make about what makes someone a person of value as if to say they can only be one thing or how we perceive them. We’ve got to stop trying to box people in. We’ve got to stop trying to stick the beginning and our assumptions.
Big blind spot: “It’s not possible for them to be shady/emotionally unavailable because they go to therapy.” Yes, it is.
- If going to therapy is somewhat performative in nature, a box-ticking exercise where they can say to people, “Look, I go to therapy” as if that action in itself speaks for who they are, that’s not going to lead to them doing the work they need to do.
- Fallback Girls/Guys who get involved with Mr/Miss Unavailables provide an ego stroke, shoulder to lean on, sex and other fringe benefits of a relationship without actually having to receive commitment and love, care, trust and respect. And they assume that they are giving these things (and that the other person is receiving them) because they’re in a relationship.
- We think that people owning up to “past” issues (while often continuing to behave that way in the present) or saying that they don’t want to hurt us makes them ‘self-aware’. “I know I can be manipulative at times.”; “I know that I’ve been narcissistic in the past.”
- Sometimes they’re saying “I don’t want to hurt you” because they’re aware that they’re benefitting from what hurts you. It’s almost like they’re saying “I’m sorry that you’ve fallen for me”. We mistake this for empathy when what they’re really doing is giving themselves an out. When things eventually come to a head, they’ll say, “I told you that I didn’t want to hurt you. I told you what the situation was.”
You haven’t been ‘robbed’ when someone doesn’t live up to the picture you’ve painted in your mind. What have you been robbed of? Your assumptions? Your expectations?
- People aren’t just one thing. Even serial killers having their charming moments and people who vouch for how helpful and kind they were.
Think back over past situations where you’ve beaten you up for being a bad judge of character or where you’ve felt baffled and hurt about who someone turned out to be.
- What were your first impressions of the people?
- Why did you think that they were so amazing? Or, how did you come to reach the original conclusions that you did about them being a particular type of person? Why did you, for example, believe that they were trustworthy?
- What did they tell you about themselves and what did you glean information from that caused you to reach that conclusion
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