When we feel stuck or even obsessed about something or someone, we’re often unaware that we experienced a lean period, an extended period prior to the events where we were starved of certain emotional needs. In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain how, for example, a lean period where we experienced little attention, affection, connection, intimacy, etc., can cause us to feel destabilised and eventually entitled and in pain when something or someone comes along and basically wakes us up.

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Some nuggets from the episode:

Examples of Lean Periods:

  • After a painful breakup or where you feel as if you lost big by the relationship ending. Next thing, a short break turns into a few or several years, or even longer.
  • A longstanding habit of suppressing and repressing your needs due to them being routinely unmet during childhood. Basically, you’re subsisting on crumbs.
  • A long-term relationship or marriage that ticks boxes and where you go through the motions, but you’re numb.
  • Putting up a wall after a betrayal.
  • Hiding out in something (e.g. work) that’s stopped you from having to feel too much or to explore who you really are.
  • Focusing on caring for someone else has taken up so much of your bandwidth that you haven’t been able to meet your needs.

Examples of what might spark the desire to be less guarded:

Some people associate uncertainty, feeling out of control, your guardedness, with being interested. This means that the moment you reciprocate or they feel certain of your feelings (or that you’re buying what they’re selling), they lose interest. Their uncertainty is over.

  • Might take a little (or a lot of) convincing. Or, like this person or situation is a reward for everything you’ve been through.
  • Sometimes we try to think things out to the nth degree before we’ll put ourselves back out there. We’re afraid to be vulnerable, to make a mistake, to fail, so we try to work out the conditions for getting what we want.
  • Activation: meeting someone or experiencing something that makes a previously unknown issue (or dormant or X one) active. Characterised by losing the run of ourselves including abandoning our values, boundaries, etc., as well as often claiming unbelievable or overwhelming chemistry.
  • When you get ‘activated’, the person might represent parent/caregiver/old bully. Maybe it’s someone who you feel as if you should have saved them in the past and now this is your opportunity.

When things start to deviate from how you pictured them, or things end, stuckness sets in because of entitlement and obsessing: I did X, they should have done Y, Z should have happened.

  • If you’ve always told you that the reason why an old relationship broke down is because you didn’t do ‘all the things’, and those same things represent other old shame and blame that you’ve given you about other earlier events in life, that reasoning habit (the beliefs) are driving your thinking, behaviour and choices. You’re linking what you do to how others should be and do. Yep, codependency.
  • Entitlement becomes one or both of the following:“I did everything right. I did what I was supposed to do, and I still didn’t get what I want. I’ve been robbed. They’ve shortchanged me. I’m owed.” And then we keep trying to collect the debt. And/or… “I did everything right. I did what I was supposed to do, and I still didn’t get what I want. I’m unworthy. I’m not worthy of what I want. That’s why things didn’t turn out as I wanted.”
  • We argue with ourselves when we matched someone’s intensity and they crashed out: I was holding up my end of the bargain. If I could keep up, why couldn’t they?

There’s a thin line between excitement and fear.

  • When something feels so valuable, we then feel as if we have something to lose.
  • Look back at the weeks, months or weeks prior to the situation or person showing up in your life. Locate the lean period.
  • The experience of having the affair all of those years ago brought me to my knees. It was horrendous, and yet it’s the experience that broke me open.
  • Pick apart the entitlement aspect. Figure out what you feel that you’ve been and done and what you think that you were supposed to get back. Dismantle this narrative that you’ve constructed around the experience.
  • Starving ourselves of attention, affection, intimacy, connection, etc., makes it all the more intense (and later, painful) when we dare to venture out.
  • Mustn’t throw ourselves into emotional purgatory each time things don’t go as we want. It’s like giving ourselves a prison sentence.

You’re not owed for all of those things that you did.

  • Where did you get the idea that you do this, and so people should do that and then in turn that the desired outcome ‘should’ happen?
  • If you keep insisting that it should have happened, you’re going to get the same situation again.

Links mentioned

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