WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE EXPECT EXPECTED HURT? I realize this is a seemingly absurd play on words, but please be patient as there is a good message to learn from this topic. I see so many young and even older people being hurt from relationships, and this is not saying I have been exempt from relationships gone wrong in the past. Maybe it is because I am older and hopefully a little wiser. The jury may be still out on that one; but I am hopeful on the verdict anyway. I thought I would share a thought on how we may set ourselves up by expecting to be hurt again; we place ourselves in the very situation to be hurt again.
Let us look at this concept of expecting expected hurt in an abstract way as it will seem more impersonal and it may open some thought process otherwise blocked by emotions. I was diagnosed a few years ago with diabetes. Thankfully, due to a lot of life changes, it is managed. Each morning, I have to prick my finger to monitor my glucose. Even though it is a small prick from the end of my finger or the side of my thumb where nerves are abundant; it hurts more than I think a small prick should. Each morning, I know this prick will hurt and I expect it to hurt so for some reason, I have become accepting of this pain as I realize it is necessary for the purpose it serves. In a nutshell, since I expect pain; it seems more comfortable than a new kind of pain.
I used this example for the definition of an “expected hurt” and now we can look at expected hurt in relationships. I am sharing a fictitious story, but it could be a real one, about a young lady in her early 40’s and from this story, I feel you can understand the “emotional set up” we can throw ourselves into if we aren’t careful. During this gorgeous lady’s marriage, her husband cheated on her. This devastated her and followed her after the divorce. The next event is the tie to this topic. Left vulnerable, she found attention by a man who showered affection and they became involved. She didn’t ask the right questions until she developed feelings for this man and the truth came out….He was married. The next year was filled with highs and lows; unfulfilled promises; statements of love; bouts of breaking up because he and his wife were talking and maybe working it out; and then he returns to start this vicious cycle again. I ask you now; are you feeling compassion for this lady; are you feeling anger for her seeing a married man; are you seeing yourself in her situation; or are you wanting to hit the guy over his head for cheating on his wife?
I found a great except from a great article
Imagine that you are going to a park to feed the ducks on the lake. You park your car at the top of a hill. There is high grass going down the hill towards the lake. You don’t see a path through the grass, so you walk carefully down through the high grass. You feed the ducks and then head back up the hill. Of course, you walk on the same path through the high grass that you have just created. It wouldn’t make sense to struggle through the grass to make a new path.
Then someone else comes to feed the ducks. They follow the same path that you took. And then someone else follows the same path. Before long, that is the path everyone takes down to feed the ducks.
Our neurons fire in the same way – once a path is carved through the “high grass” of our brains, it’s just the path that neurons follow.
To change our behavior means to change the neurons. Not an easy task, but not impossible, as you know if you’ve ever tried doing something new. The great psychoanalyst Stephen Mitchell gives us another image for this process. Let’s say you are a good tennis player, but you want to get better. You go for tennis lessons, and the pro has you hit the ball a few times and then tells you that your problem is the way you’re holding the racket. The pro shows you a different grip and practices with you for an hour. Then new grip feels a little awkward, but you can feel that your strokes are stronger, more powerful when you get it right.
But then you go to play a game, and you’re completely off. You lose worse than you’ve ever lost before. You feel like an idiot. You go back to the pro and angrily describe the situation. More than likely, the pro will take a look at how you’re holding the racket, make a couple of small corrections, and then tell you that you have to get used to the new grip, but that soon you’ll be playing better than ever.
If you keep practicing the new grip (and if the pro knows her business), you’ll discover that she’s completely right. What initially felt new and awkward soon becomes familiar, comfortable and powerful.
When it comes to relationships, of course, it’s a little more complicated. But the principles are the same:
- We are comfortable with familiar patterns, even when they cause us stress or pain. We therefore continue to repeat them, even when they do not get us where we want to go.
- We often do not recognize what the patterns are, and we frequently cannot see where we step off onto the familiar path.
- To change, we often need good advice, but we also need to remember to take change in small increments.
- Small steps, like a small shift in the way we hold a tennis racket, can lead to significant change.
- We also need to remember that even a tiny change often feels uncomfortable at first.
- And finally, practice makes the change feel familiar. And then we have a new pattern that our neurons can follow – without even thinking about it.
Now for the deeper thought……This is a very important and painful vision of how we, as humans, sometimes find it more comfortable, even as painful and hurtful as a situation like this can become. We accept it because for whatever reason; if we expect expected hurt; we find ourselves cushioned for the hurt. Believe me; it is coming when we set ourselves up. Why wouldn’t it be simpler to expect expected love and hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. Improve life by improving what we expect out of life. If you expect hurt; you will get hurt. If you expect love; you may get hurt as life has no guarantees but if you love yourself; you can love again.
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
(C) Copyright 2012-2018 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material and photos are sourced if known original location for credit references.