“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl Gustav Jung
Does your dearest tend to madden you?
We all want to take the best care of our loved ones, to cherish, support and protect them at all times, and to make them feel as if they were the most valued and beloved people ever. Yet, way too often we tend to burst out in anger at our most beloved, or otherwise hurt them by being impatient, unresponsive or sarcastic. In fact, most of us save our worst behaviors to the ones we love the most.
We must wonder why there is such a shocking discrepancy between our good will and our shameful behaviors.
One reason is that our loved ones are often so infuriating.
Another, deeper one, is that they’re the ones with whom we share the strongest feelings and the highest expectations. Besides, we idiotically expect them to know what drive us nuts, even if we don’t know it ourselves, and to always take that into account.
When a colleague of mine is late and doesn’t call, for example, I assume he’s lost his way and will arrive soon. When my spouse, the one who vowed to cherish and protect me, is both late AND doesn’t call, it inevitably means he doesn’t love me anymore. No wonder I’m furious at the poor bastard.
Learning what drives us crazy can help us stop behaving so melodramatically. Identifying our activating buttons can help us stay away from them, and cope better if they’re still pushed, and our inner demons pop up.
To recognize our demons, we better start by looking at some events in which we lost it.
I, as you already know, hate it when my beloved spouse doesn’t call me in advance when he returns home late. One must be really egoistic, I find myself thinking, to leave me practicaly all alone at home. (Being with plenty of pets, descendants and friends doesn’t reduce my need of my dear worse-half).
How can he leave me waiting, not knowing when he’ll do me the favor of showing up? I seethe. His disappearance proves beyond all doubt that he has forgotten me altogether. When, and if, he returns, I should get out and leave him to this damn vagueness, too. Indeed, I have nowhere to go to, but teaching him a lesson is worth the trouble of wandering around for a while, isn’t it? That will serve him right!
In such events, when we behave illogically, foolishly and destructively, we’re possessed by an inner demon. Metaphorically, in all probability. These demons are actually addictions causing us to feel we need something so desperately, we’ll do just anything to get it.
We don’t have to be an alcoholic, a shopaholic, or any other known holic in order to have an addiction. Many of our addictions are neither for materials like coke or sugar, nor for activities like working or watching porn. Our most illusive addictions are to emotions like security, belonging or self-worth.
These needs become addictions when we have to consume them limitlessly and at all costs. If our need makes us behave crazily and harmfully, we’re addicted. Regrettably, we all are. Each one of us is not only addicted to his favorite demon but also has various other whimsical ones. We all own entire private, surprising, hells.
Luckily, we can identify each of our addictions by taking the event in which we got out of our mind (and our demon got in), and inspecting it with the following questions:
When it comes to our unconscious addictions, knowing the enemy is the name of the game.
When we know what our enemies are, we can identify them whenever they show up. My fear of abandonment, for instance, freaks me out not only when I speculate where my sweetheart is. It also maddens me whenever my lover gets lost in his phone, when he falls asleep while we’re talking in bed, or when he travels with his bowling league team. In all cases, though I theoretically know he does nothing wrong, I feel heartlessly left alone.
Naming our demons enables us not only to recognize them but also to try avoiding the situations that wake them up. It also enables us to fight them, when we want to take the control over our lives back to our hands. Conquering the smallest ones will probably require only endless exercises backed by learning or guidance. The bigger ones may also require the help of professionals, rehabilitation programs or recovery groups.
Fighting our addictions can be tough, however, so many times we prefer to stick to our cozy hells. After all, it’s both warm and popular.
But it’s also terribly hurtful.
Especially when it comes to those for whom we have our hottest emotions.
Our Demons’ Special Pyromania
For some strange reason, couples usually host compatible demons in their heads. Our worst demon is bound to communicate with the worst demon of our significant other.When one lover has a fear of abandonment while the other has a fear of a hostile takeover, for example, these demons grow together. The more the first lover insists on being constantly in touch, the more the second tries to run far far away, and vice versa. The outcome, unsurprisingly, is a world war
Pitifully, this wretched couplehood of demons always happens. The reason is that we all, obviously, have some fear of abandonment, some fear of being taken over, and any other normal fears we gather along our happy childhoods.
That’s why the functions of the sticky-one and the fleeing-one are usually switched over the years. Though this switch typically takes decades, it leaves both our spouses and us very bitter. We condemn our spouses for changing their desires exactly when we finally accepted their requests and changed ours, and they condemn us for doing just the same.
Even if our chief demons are not opposing, they can still ignite one another. When I fight with the-love-of-my-life, for instance, my distress grows along with the fight because I feel him draw away from me. Meanwhile the distress of my sweetheart, who, like most men, has an issue with adequacy, grows because I yell at him how terrible he is. That way we can take the fight lower and lower, while naturally drowning with it.
But there’s a better way to handle this hellish situation. (Any other way is better, obviously, so all we have to do is just find another one.)
Getting Out Of The Underworld
Each one of us can fight his demons on his own, but then again, it’s dreadfully difficult. Fortunately, our infuriating spouses can usually be our allies in the war against our demons. Being the ones who frequently really wish to cherish and protect us, they’re the ones who can be on our side.
The way to do this is by identifying our addictions and sharing these revelations with our beloved unbearable spouses. Understanding the buttons that turn us into our demons’ puppets can help us avoid these buttons. For example, being frequently in touch when my sweetheart is late or on travel, and relentlessly appreciating him for it, improves our relationships spectacularly.
Even when one of us does become angry, knowing our buttons can occasionally help prevent a fight, as long as the other is miraculously still calm when the eruption starts. If, when my lover starts frowning emphatically, I manage to compliment him for one of his many generosities, he’d probably thank me back and the fight will be over. If, when I start explaining to him deafeningly how frustrated I am, he hurries to say he’s willing to hear me and find a solution, I’d probably start looking for a solution as well. Much more quietly.
When we do fight, the familiarity with our demons can still help. I, for example, can try to avoid his inadequacy button by not telling him that it’s all his fault and what a horrible person he always is. With a lot of effort, I can try yelling at him, instead, how hurt I am when he surprisingly falls asleep. He, avoiding my abandonment-fear button, can blame me as much as he likes as long as he stays in the room.
Such consideration can make a big difference.
On The Way To Heaven
Over time, as our expertise and solutions improve, we may find our fights becoming shorter, quieter and rarer. We often leave hell in favor of heaven, and our life together becomes safer and happier.
Furthermore, our sweetheart’s avoidance of rubbing salt in our wounds, and their attempt to take care of these wounds instead, can lead to profound healing. After a lot of time and attempts, our help for each other can bring peace to both of us and help us move to heaven permanently. Or at least repeatedly. As long as he doesn’t doze.
Learning our addictions, and our healings, makes us better lovers. But confronting our demons helps not only our love.
It makes us more capable, more confident, and more serene persons.
It makes us better parents to our irritating children.
It makes us better relatives to our exasperating families.
It makes us better colleagues, better neighbors, better drivers, and better friends. Better citizens and better internet users (where the world brings out the worst out of us).
So we can make the entire world somewhat more peaceful.
One activating-button at a time.
One resisting at a time.