If we don’t have the relationship we want, it’s because we might not fully want it.
Before your brain argues with me, I’d like to invite you to consider some things, then you can debate with me, promise.
We can have conscious desires that our subconscious is not on board with. We all have some form of relational trauma. We are both traumatized by our relationships and from being outside of relationships through isolation and neglect.
If we had a horrifically traumatizing date that included an amusement park and too much cotton candy, let’s say we might avoid the two in the future without giving it too much thought. We may think that a moment like that doesn’t hold much impact, but the subconscious doesn’t forget. We may have heard before that “the body keeps the score.”
We all have protective parts of ourselves, kind of like the well-intentioned mother or father figure who has their altruistic (though entirely misguided) ways they think are shielding us from life’s cruel consequences (welcome to your protectors).
However, instead of these protectors being actual, mature adults, they’re younger versions of ourselves or adapted versions of the adults we have encountered in our life. So if we haven’t learned “adulting” from well-regulated, healthy adults, then we might not have an example of how to give and receive secure love.
If we consider that the heart wants what it wants, we cannot stop desire and the fact that the human animal part of us—our subconscious, instinctive wiring—wants safety; we now have a conflict between what we desire and what makes us feel safe.
Ah, the delicious tension of being human.
Which do you think normally wins?
If we’ve experienced what Henry David Thoreau calls a life of “quiet desperation,” or said another way, a Groundhog’s Day of monotonous hell on repeat, then it’s likely our protective parts are doing a great job of keeping us alive, but the irony is we’re not really living.
If we let the subconscious mind drive our bus without intervention, we might end up in the ditch of what’s familiar yet safe (which may, in fact, be the chaos or trauma we’re used to on repeat. But hey, we’ve survived it, it’s safe, it’s known).
But if we only say yes to what’s consciously desired without considering the resistance of our subconscious parts, we may wind up frying ourselves from the heat of a too-intense challenge. We’ll go into overwhelm and shutdown, or we’ll try to go somewhere, but we won’t get very far and we may think, “This just isn’t meant for me. I can’t have what I want.”
That, however, is not true.
What is more true is that this part of us consciously wants a healthy, secure relationship, while the subconscious part of us does not.
What’s the solution here? To just sit in this stalemate of torturous tug-of-war between our conscious mind and subconscious mind? To live a life that is neither satisfied in its safety or desire? I’d say no.
In order to make some moves, our conscious mind must first make a contact with the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind will naturally do its subconscious thing. (I sometimes think of it as an underground island, Lord of the Flies type scenario: a bunch of tiny, savage kids running around, trying to take over and get the conch. They need mature guidance. They need conscious leadership. They need to be offered new perspectives.)
I don’t think that anyone has ever said it better than Carl Jung, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” This is one of my favorite quotes because it reminds me that I’m powerful; it reminds me that through awareness and expanding consciousness, I have a choice. As do you.
If we don’t have the love or relationship that we want, it’s not our fault, there’s nothing wrong with us, and the stars are not stacked against us. I believe that we do want love and wholeheartedly deserve it; I just know that a part of us hasn’t felt that it’s safe to let it in yet. There’s a good reason why we are where we are.
Just remember that you can direct your life; not having what we want doesn’t have to be our fate, but it helps that we’re aware. And once we’re aware, we can consciously find support to make those much-needed connections with the subconscious protectors and give them the kind of safety they seek as we move forward with going after what it is that we really want.
You got this.