Think about the small ways you might be preventing love in your relationship.
As we grow we digest a set of rules about love. Eric Berne advanced our understanding of love by identifying the importance of strokes – “I love you.” “I understand and don’t judge you.” “Thank you.” Good physical contact etc.
Unfortunately strokes can also be negative – “Shut up”, “You’re stupid”, “You are only OK if you do it my way.” Slap. When we are little people we are trained by big people to seek strokes and obey rules within our family.
This is not about blame: caregivers may have been starved of good strokes themselves and were doing the best they could.
Some little people grow up with few or even no strokes at all. It is an established fact that babies and children who receive no strokes at all, can die. So strokes are not only teaching about love, approval and disapproval, they also teach us about survival. In this way some children learn that negative strokes are better than no strokes at all – so they sometimes seek disapproval. Survival trumps love and approval every time.
This training in the family rule-set is all-powerful and enduring. We are probably most influenced in the early years, so our rule-set about loving and being loved is fixed in our unconscious rather than being easily accessed for self-reflection. So we often don’t know when we are enacting those rules in adult life; they just come naturally as part of a belief system about what love is.
- Withdraw loving strokes. The love you have is limited (completely untrue!), be sparing, especially when your partner seems undeserving.
- Don’t ask for the good strokes you would like. It’s weak and “needy” to ask; other people won’t respect or love you.
- Don’t accept loving strokes. Deny that you want them. You may get let down. Nice strokes might be manipulation to get something from you.
- Don’t give yourself good strokes. Self-love is for softies, you don’t deserve it. Drive yourself forward with self-criticism; be strong, achieve more.
With thanks to:
Scripts People Live by C Steiner
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