What ruins relationships? There are, of course, many factors. One may be that you no longer associate with the things that attracted you to that person in the first place. In fact, you may have gone so far to associate with all unpleasant experience you’ve had with them and to disassociate from the pleasant ones you’ve shared. How does this happen? A person may have noticed and made big pictures of his mate’s habit of leaving the cap off the toothpaste or strewing her stuff on the floor. May be he no longer writes her love notes. Or possibly she remembers what he said to her in the heat of an argument, and she listens to that dialogue play over and over in her head, re-experiencing how it felt. She doesn’t remember the gentle way he touched her that day or the special things he said the previous week or what he did for her on their anniversary. The examples can go on and on. Bear in mind, there’s nothing wrong with doing this. Just be clear that this pattern of representations will probably not empower your relationship. What if in the middle of an argument you remembered the first time you kissed or held hands – a time when your lover did something really special for you and you made that picture big and close and bright again? From the state, how will you treat this person you love?
It’s critical that we look at any pattern of communication and ask ourselves regularly, If one continues to represent things to him self this way, what will likely be the result in his life? What direction is his present behavior taking him, and is that where he want to go? Now is the time to examine what his mental and physical actions are creating. You don’t want to find out later that something you could simply and easily have changed led you down a path to a place you don’t want to be.
It might be valuable to note if you have a particular pattern of using association and disassociation. There are many people who spend most of their time disassociated from most of their representations. They seldom seem to be emotionally moved by anything. Disassociation has its advantage; if you keep out of too deep emotions about some things, you have more resources in handling them. However, if this is your consistent pattern of representing most of your experiences in life, you’re really missing what is like to call the juice of life, a tremendous amount of joy. Mr.C counseled conservative people who were limited in expressing what they felt about their lives and set up new perceptual patterns for them. By greatly increasing their associated internal representations they have come alive and found life to be a whole new experience.
On the other hand, if all or the vast majority of your internal representations are fully associated, you may find yourself an emotional misfit. You may have great difficulty coping with life because you feel every little thing, and life isn’t always fun or easy or exciting. A person who is fully associated with everything in life is extremely vulnerable and will usually take things too personally.
The key to life is a balance in all things, including the perceptual filters of association and disassociation. We can associate with or disassociate from anything we want. The key is to associate consciously, so it helps us. We can control any representation we make in our brain. Remember when we learned about the power of our beliefs? We learned that we’re not born with beliefs that can change. When we were little we believed some things that we think are ridiculous now. We finished on beliefs with a key question: Howe do we adopt the enabling beliefs and drop the negative ones? The first step was becoming aware of their powerful effects on our lives. You’ve been taking the second step throughout this chapter: changing the way you represent those beliefs to yourself. For if you change the structure of how you represent something to yourself, you will change how you feel about it and thus change what is true in your experience of life. You can represent things to yourself in a way that consistently empowers you – now.