Psychological Self-Help

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designed to make that partner very emotional (angry) or
untrustworthy, while we remain certain that we are well controlled and
not resentful (Freud's ego defense). 
Both spouses or lovers may be projecting personal traits to each
other, e.g. he projects his depression to his wife (and via self-fulfilling
prophesy she responds with weakness and despair) and she projects
her repressed strength and independence to him (he reacts logically
and confidently--and does his own thing). As a result of these
projections to the other person, he never feels his depression and she
never feels strong. But, while she, in part, is expressing his depression
for him, her increasing depression creates an intolerable situation for
both of them. They come to hate each other--indeed, they have hated
or feared these projected traits all their lives--and they fight
frequently. The solution? Become more aware of what feelings really
are going on inside of us and how these conflicts often come from
early childhood. 
Some people, while in a love relationship, primarily experience only
one side of a mixed or ambiguous situation. A classic example is a
conflict between being an independent, separate person and being a
interdependent, intimate person. In love, this ambiguity or conflict
exists. Some people concentrate exclusively on wanting closeness and
warmth; others dwell on needing space and distance; both types find
it difficult to tolerate the internal conflict of striving for distance and
closeness at the same time. So, if two people like this start a
relationship, they handle the internal conflict by projecting part of their
needs (closeness or independence) to the other person. Thus, when
relationships are created between a "pursuer" and a "distancer," both
tend to be blinded to part of their needs. They become irritated with
the partner (their own characteristics each has rejected in him/herself
and projected to the lover). No one in a relationship carries all the
needs for closeness and the other person all the needs for
independence, but they act and think that way. 
A similar kind of polarization via projection of some of our
emotions to the partner, similar to Shostrom and Kavanaugh's male-
female relationships, can occur within many dimensions, such as
reasonable-emotional, strong-weak, rescuer-troubled, boss-slave,
smart-dumb, good-bad, etc. We have to recognize that we have--and
should have--all kinds of feelings and motives (in varying degrees),
not just one end of a dimension. 
What can we do about unconscious motives? Become more aware
of your feelings. Of course, I don't mean trying to remember your
emotions as a 18-month-old. I mean becoming aware of your fears
and anger if you don't think you have any. I mean finding out about
your childhood, e.g. were you or one of your parents sick or absent?
Were there family fights? Were you a caretaker as a child or
considered helpless? What kind of expectations did others have of
you? Are you repeating any of your early family conflicts? Observe the
feelings you have toward yourself and your mate--ask yourself:
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