People often believe there is something wrong with them when they can’t entirely “get over” an extremely painful situation or loss. While I steadfastly believe that we have the capacity to emerge from these experiences stronger and healthier, the concept that we can somehow “undo” what has happened or arrive at a point in time when the pain permanently dissipates is often a fallacy. We may be able to vastly improve upon how we carry the burden, and reach a place where it no longer negatively dominates our lives, but an integral part of healing is accepting that we are in some way forever altered by what has happened to us.
The term “flying monkey” is widely used by mental health professionals to describe individuals who enable the narcissist and do their bidding. Sometimes this person has no idea that they are being manipulated by the narcissist. Because narcissists always view themselves as the victim, they are highly adept at convincing enablers that they aren’t at fault for the situation in which they have found themselves.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we tend to view a happy, contented life as a fundamental right that can easily be acquired without too much thoughtfulness or the experience of discomfort. There’s often an inherent belief that if we live the life that we were raised to believe is “good”, happiness will just sort of magically follow. The reality is that nothing can be further from the truth.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.” He was describing the process by which we develop dysfunctional behaviors as a way to avoid emotional pain, yet seem to wind up in far more torment and confusion than when we originally started. Instead of solving one problem we often simply add another. The true problem is one of unrealistic expectations; that a life well-lived can somehow be accomplished without difficulty or discomfort.
The first thing people often say to me when we begin a session is, “I’m confused.” They then may proceed, with razor-sharp clarity, to articulate their feelings, thoughts, and circumstances. With great sophistication and ability to connect cause and effect they will outline their own problematic patterns of behavior, why they are concerned about a relationship, or what decisions they believe they should make. After these impressive and startlingly astute perceptions so many people will then slump in their seat, defeated, and say, “But I’m so confused.” Confusion becomes the self-constructed yet hollow wall that prevents them from moving forward.