Grasping & Rejecting
Last week we looked at the primary object relations in a person’s relationship blueprint. This week we will focus on two of those internalized relationships, the wanting or grasping relationship and the rejecting relationship, common themes in most people’s love lives.
As human beings, when we were infants, we wanted the original yummy object… the breast. We were all about getting what we wanted, what we were driven towards… milk, contact, warmth and so on. We were perfectly set up to begin to believe that what we want, what is most important, is outside of ourselves. It couldn’t be otherwise. We needed food, love, shelter and so on, to survive. Of course, we do want things outside of ourselves, no matter how enlightened we are. But the more enlightened we are the more we realize that what we really want, what is most important and most rewarding is simply Being, consciousness, life and so on. Being becomes central.
Inevitably as young humans there were times that what we wanted was not available. Mother had to go back to work, or she wasn’t so good at paying attention or we were bottle-fed or whatever. Not only are we imprinted that what is good is outside of ourselves but we are also imprinted that what we want is largely unavailable. The degree to which what we want feels unavailable is related to how well our needs were met.
People identify with this structure of grasping for the unavailable at a fundamental level. How much do you identify with your self-image that wants? How attached are you to your goals? I’m not saying that having goals is bad. I’m suggesting that we have a fundamental identification as hungry and empty. That this is who we believe we are, who we take ourselves to be. In fact, we are so strongly identified as this hungry wanting self that we will sabotage success, relationships, career or whatever, to return our familiar sense of self and avoid the disorientation that comes from being happy where and as we are.
Interestingly, we are much more effective in getting what we want when we are not empty without it. But that is another topic!
So if we are identified as a hungry self when something is available it does not fit our pictures of what we want, because what we want must be unavailable and out of reach. Of course, this is not a rational way to look at things. We can see this irrationality play out in love relationships. People spend a lot of time pursuing the unavailable. When someone becomes available, after the initial thrill and high, it doesn’t quite make sense to people to cherish and value what they have. We can’t be a hungry wanting self and have what we want at the same time. People almost inevitably choose their identity and are actually often quite righteous and defensive about it. For example, singles having difficulty finding partners often complain “There are so few people I am attracted to or want to be in a relationship with” or they want to be in a relationship with whoever rejects them. This self-sense as a craven individual (whether it is for productivity goals, sex, success, relationship, etc.) is so believed to be oneself and associated with survival that people often do great damage to their lives in the maintenance of it. Basically, we sabotage things to maintain our identities.
All of this is largely unconscious because of the early nature of this object relation and because of the pain of it. Therefore it tends to stay stuck and does not evolve much. Making this exciting and frustrating, and often painful, wanting conscious and understanding it is imperative if we want liberation from it. But be forewarned disorientation and emptiness will be confronted if we release our normal sense of self. What will guide us, who will we be? We will focus on that next week.
The other fundamental internalized relationship that we will focus on tonight is the self that feels rejected and rejecting. Every child feels rejected to a greater or lesser degree. Inevitably a child will receive some form of aggression or rejection from the environment, from parents, siblings and so on. Perhaps, a parent looks at the child sternly or becomes upset when the baby cries. Perhaps a sibling feels angry that a new member of the family has arrived and directs that aggression towards the infant. The variations of being rejected are endless, but we can all identify with feeling rejected.
In fact, because of an infant’s own aggression, that infant will also often perceive aggression when aggression is in fact not coming toward it. Think of a stray dog in a scared aggressive state; that animal will inevitably perceive aggression on your part if you come close, even though you may be trying to help or feed that animal.
This experience of being attacked or rejected is so painful that the imprint can be quite strong. We begin to understand ourselves as rejected or rejectable. This becomes a key part of our self sense, and as we know there is nothing that a human being holds on to quite as much as their identity! And, of course we need our parents, so we hold onto the other in this object relation, because it represents our parents, even though to a greater or lesser degree this other is harsh and rejecting. We internalize them as our super ego. We believe we better get with the program, internalize what they say and who they are, or we will not survive. And to some degree this is in fact the case. It probably helped us navigate our family or early life circumstance, but now we are left with it.
So everyone has a fundamental identification as a self that is rejected. The self pole of this object relation is rejected, victim, innocent and small. The other pole in this object relation is big, attacking, unsafe, bullying and forceful. Whereas people tend to identify mostly to the self pole of the wanting object relation, i.e. the hungry self, with the rejecting object relationship we move easily between identifying with the self pole, i.e. the rejected one, and the other pole, i.e. the rejecting or aggressive one. This is because most children come to the conclusion that I should be more like the big dominant one with all the power rather than this small weak self so they move towards identifying with the other or parent pole of the object relation.
Similar to the wanting or grasping object relation, the rejection object relation is also largely unconscious. The memories are painful and the affects (emotions) involved are difficult to bear so we hide this psychic structure from our direct awareness. This doesn’t mean that it does not impact us or that it is not acted out. In fact, the unconsciousness of it makes it that much more powerful and likely to be acted out, although unconsciously. For example, we may run away from intimacy but not be clear that we are hiding from a rejecting other (who exists primarily in our minds). As mentioned above we also bury the feeling of being rejected by transferring our identification to the rejecting pole of this imprint.
Fear of rejection, rejecting others and so on are obvious themes in most people’s love and sex lives whether they are in committed relationships or single. Therefore, resolution of this object relation is key to having a successful relationship or Eternal Date. Resolving this object relation or any psychic structure, including the grasping object relation, involves consciously experiencing the pattern, dissociating it from the triggering circumstance and experiencing the imprint itself. Memories, of some sort, will arise and a grieving process allows the imprint to dissolve. This leaves a type of emptiness and disorientation since we don’t have our usual moorings, reference points; even our old sense of self may dissolve.
The emptiness experienced as some type of lack is really due to the disconnection from our true nature, from being, that the psychic structure caused in the first place. Here we are at a fork in the road, it is very important to continue into that emptiness. If we do this it becomes a spacious emptiness and then even a fullness… full of possibility and essential qualities like love and power. We will elaborate on the resolution of these psychic structures next week when we focus on the primary or central ego, the healthier parts of the ego, the part of the ego that is not so stuck in the unconscious, the part that grows and evolves and, in fact, dissolves, more easily into space and is replaced by direct contact with our being and presence.