Are You In, Or Out?
I remember once I was talking to a friend of mine in a bar. It was about halfway between afternoon and night, and there weren’t that many people there. We had met earlier by coincidence, and decided to hang out for a while. He started telling me these problems he’s having with his girlfriend. He says that he’s having the same problem with his current girlfriend that he’s had with all of his previous girlfriends. Right when they get to the “serious commitment” stage, he starts to do all these stupid things (stupid according to him) that he claims that he doesn’t know why he does them, and they invariably lead to fights. These usually continue until the relationship breaks up.
I asked him if he does these things intentionally, and he said that he didn’t. He said they were little things that added up over time, like showing up late or flirting with other girls when they were together. Eventually she would put him on the spot, because to her it would seem as if he wasn’t taking the relationship seriously. He would always claim that he was, she would press him, they would fight like that for a couple weeks or months, then they’d break it off. It was always her that broke it off, saying that she wanted something serious, while he didn’t seem like it, despite his objections to the contrary.
He claimed he has no idea why he does those things, and only starts to do them when the relationship is beginning to get serious. To an outside observer, it seemed to me to be a clear case of unconscious self-sabotage. Part of you wants something, part of you doesn’t, for whatever reason, so you are conflicted at a subconscious level, and this comes out in your behavior. It seems to me that my friend, despite his conscious objections, doesn’t quite feel ready yet for a serious, committed relationship, on a deep unconscious level and it comes out in his behavior. He is in his late twenties, and a serious committed relationship to a guy that age usually means giving up the single life for good.
I asked him if he really wanted that kind of relationship, and he said he really did, but he didn’t know why he was doing these things. I am by no means qualified to give advice on this, but it seemed clear to me (especially after a couple beers) that he had some issues regarding commitment that he needed to deal with before was able to go into a life long relationship with both eyes open.
I haven’t really known this guy for that long, and I didn’t really want to ask him about his childhood or if his parents were divorced, but I suspect something happened to him earlier that made him feel extremely and deeply conflicted about committing to one person for life.
I was reading this book recently about psychology, and the author was talking about this thing called cognitive dissonance. This is the amazing ability of people to be incredibly self-deceptive. Scientists, namely evolutionary biologists suspect this arose out of the need to constantly deceive one another. Back in the day (before agriculture) when people lived in small groups of a couple hundred or so, it became really important to be able to detect “cheaters” in the group. People that wouldn’t contribute their fair share would pose a serious threat to the safety of the group, so humans developed this uncanny ability to detect when others are lying, through body language and facial expressions.
So, the more we developed a sense for detecting liars, the better we got at deceiving. In order to better deceive our neighbors, we had to be able to deceive ourselves, so we wouldn’t give off any subconscious clues. It’s been time and time again that one measure of a psychopath is somebody that can tell a lie, knowing it’s a lie, and get away with it.
So we have this automatic capacity to easily deceive ourselves, not only to lie to others without getting caught, but also to lie to ourselves to protect ourselves from facing inconvenient truths about ourselves. Keep in mind that this is always happening unconscious. We don’t go around telling lies on purpose.
A good example is when two people meet in a bar, and “hook up.” In the moment, they really believe that they are “right” for each other, and that there is at least the potential for a relationship. In reality, the urge to have sex is so great, that the reality of the situation is ignored, and self-deception allows one or both people to believe that this encounter is more than it really is.
Many people know somebody that has been in an abusive relationship, one that is obvious to outsiders that they should get out of. But from the inside, they convince themselves that it would be better to stay. If they were to leave, they may have to face the thought of being alone, or rejected, or worse.
The secret is to be able step in and out of your own personal situation, and see things from different perspectives. In NLP they call this “associated” and “dissociated.” People that can see themselves objectively in a situation are “dissociated” while people that are seeing themselves from a person, subjective point of view are “associated.” One is not better than the other, but it can be extremely helpful to be able to switch back and forth to get a better understanding of the situation that you’re in.
People that are stuck in an associates state are the people that are stuck in abusive relationships, or people like my friend that always ends up self sabotaging himself without knowing why. People that are stuck in a dissociated state are people like Spock (who is a fictional character), and psychopaths who have no conscious or feelings or morals.
When you study NLP, you learn how to do this at will, so you can be in any situation, and check it from a dissociated viewpoint, to make sure it’s healthy and empowering, and then switch back to an associated viewpoint, so you can enjoy it as much as possible.
If you’re interested in learning how to use NLP in your own life to increase happiness, wealth, and positive relationships, click on the link below. This is a basic course that shows you exactly how to use NLP to structure your thinking so that getting what you want out of life is automatic.