Destructive Patterns Reframed

Wednesday 29 March, 2000

Last night my plans to travel to London were cancelled. One of the two friends I had planned to visit had already made arrangements with his girlfriend. My initial response was disappointment, and immediately a trait of mine came to the surface. Ever since I can remember there has been a part of me which is intent on making others feel guilty. I want them to feel remorse for doing me an injustice.

In this case it can be argued that no wrong has been done to anybody, but of course I don’t feel that way. I felt I was more of a priority than my friend’s girlfriend and that if he couldn’t make time for me then I will stubbornly refuse to see him. I will make alternative arrangements which exclude him and he will pay for his negligence.

I remember that as I child I would, on occasion, sacrifice my warm bed and sleep on the floor so that when my mum came in to check on me she would feel guilty for whatever she had done to me. The severity of the injustice was irrelevant: if I felt hard done by then somebody had to pay. Those same feelings (emotions) appeared again last night and I spent 5 or 10 minutes dwelling on my disappointment and plotting to get my own back. This behaviour strikes me as extremely childish and a complete waste of time and energy. The most disturbing aspect of it is that it seemed instinctive.

I realised the futility of my feelings but I felt them all the same. It is not an aspect of my character of which I am proud, and I would very much like to change it. It seems to be a defence mechanism to protect myself from the pain I feel when things like this occur. The best I can do is remain calm and understand that it’s okay. I ran through these arguments in my head after I had received the news about my London trip. I told myself it was for the best. I can go another time.

Eventually, after a couple of hours, I was fine with the situation. This has been an important lesson for me because I know it is possible to lessen the impact of my emotions by remaining calm and telling myself: it’s okay. Then I can re-channel the energy I waste on plotting my revenge into more useful pursuits. It is not a problem that I experienced the feelings I did. What’s important is that I recognised them for what they are.


2 Responses to “Destructive Patterns Reframed”

  1. Eveline Says:

    Was it possible for the other members in the group to point this out to you? Or were you too angry, revengeful or hurt in that state to accept feedback from the others?

  2. Jonathan Lewis Says:

    I was on my own at the time. Mostly, feedback in the group was taken as it was supposed to be – as we had been trained to receive it. However, there were times when it was just too much to take. At those times, we were grateful for the feedback giver’s perseverance and the support of others in the group whose contribution was to point out to that feedback was always given with the best of intentions.

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