In a previous post, Relationship Anxiety, I discussed why and how interactions with others can introduce anxiety into our lives, and under certain conditions, can generate remarkable levels of stress.
While it is often difficult enough for adults when their interactions with other adults threaten their sense of reality and security, it is even more disturbing when this happens for children in their interaction with adults, especially when it is with their parents.
Indeed, it is here that the origins of why some of us feel fundamentally secure while others do not begins to develop and unfold. And it is those experiences that will define the quality of every subsequent experience we have, and influence the many ways we will learn to respond to every personal interaction we encounter.
This fundamental insecurity generates anxiety, and with our all too common human tendency to minimise pain which stems from anxiety, almost all of us have a wide and complex variety of avoidance based strategies and defences created across the many years and stages of our psychological development.
So it is is that some of our reactions in times of relationship stress are reasonably mature and productive, while others can appear childish and are destructive.
These historically rooted developmental avoidance strategies help explain why many people don’t like to argue with those around them, why they don’t like to stand out from others, and why they can be so easily persuaded to surrender their beliefs and alter their behaviour if it allows them to feel like they belong or fit in.
Coupled with the fact that our defensive avoidance reactions are primarily unconscious also helps explain how two people can begin a relationship so in love, and end up fighting and hating each other so completely, without ever really understanding why or knowing what to do about it.
That which is familiar, predictable and controllable is comforting. That which is unfamiliar, unpredictable and uncontrollable creates anxiety .
Perhaps this explains why, in the larger arena of social relationships, there is so much distrust and conflict between people who hold different religious beliefs, or cultural values, or even sexual preferences.
It also accounts for why we so quickly criticise those who don’t share our beliefs or ideologies, and why we feel so completely justified in doing so.
What is so odd and distressing about all of this however, is the fact that the very existence of differing realities and values of others can potentially make our experience of life so so rich and interesting.
It is because there are such difference that we can learn about life beyond our own narrow personal understandings and perhaps begin to learn what it is we need to make this a better world for us all to live in.
It is a shame this opportunity is wasted all too often.