The first step in redefining your relationship is by identifying the root causes of conflict in your partnership. Couple’s arguments can often be incredibly intense. For instance, one partner may come home late from work, and this triggers what seems to be a response only warranted by a life-threatening event.
The truth is… it may seem life-threatening. This is because your partner’s subconscious believes it is life-threatening!
Imago shows how couples’ arguments trigger responses linked subconsciously to fear of death. Here’s more on exactly how that works…
Infancy: Lack of Love Is Life-Threatening
When you’re an infant, deep in your subconscious, there’s an awareness that, if your parents don’t love you, they may not safeguard you from predators and other dangers of prehistoric life.
Even in the present day, you need your caretaker’s love in order to provide food, shelter, and care. To a baby, a lack of love can be life-threatening.
Childhood: Lack of Love Equals Danger
However much your parents strove to love you, no child’s experience is never perfect.
On a scale of 1-10, our parents were intrusive or neglectful, which ruptured our original sense of connection. The developing brain perceives those moments when it feels like love is absent as minor emotional traumas. Pain and danger are intertwined in a young mind.
Since connection is essential to our survival, its loss triggered our anxiety. To regulate our anxiety, we became absorbed in signaling our caregivers by either escalating or constricting our energy to no avail.
Having no other resources, we repeated sending the signal until it became embedded as part of our character. Eventually, we lost our capacity for empathy, and others became objects whose role was to satisfy our needs or suffer the consequences.
Through this transition from original connection through anxiety to self-absorption, we developed the illusion that everyone sees the world as we do. We believe we know how others think and feel. And if they choose to be themselves and don’t play the ‘role’ we have assigned them in our ‘movie’, we tend to annihilate them using all sorts of negativity.
Called the symbiotic consciousness, this is the greatest of human tragedies. The source of most human conflict and suffering.
This consciousness, caused by the pain and anxiety of early childhood rupture, traveled with us into adulthood. We replicate our experience with our caretakers by becoming neglectful or intrusive with our spouse and children, repeating with them the unfinished story of our own childhood.
Unfortunately, regardless of your parents’ intentions and efforts in providing loving and healthy child-rearing, these early emotional wounds can impact you quite significantly.
Adulthood: “The Imago” Is Your Emotional Blueprint
As a result, you grew into adulthood with an emotional map of what love is like when present… but also with emotional scars from when it’s absent.
This emotional blueprint is called “The Imago.”
Relationship: The “Love of Your Life” Feels Right Because They Fit Your “Imago”
Many of us grow up with the dream of finding the perfect love.
When we meet our partner, we will finally feel fully at home, fully alive, and complete in ourselves. Even myths of love talk about two incomplete souls that are destined to become whole when they come together as lovers.
And when you fall in love, it can feel like you and your partner have known each other forever. Together, you believe you will experience the full, complete love that you longed for as a child.
How do you recognize the love of your dreams? You choose the person who fits your Imago. Like Cinderella fits the glass slipper.
But what does this really mean? The person who loves us in a way we recognize from our parents.
Oops! Do you see the problem here?
Conflict: The Gaps in Your Imago Map Are Simply Growth Trying to Happen
If your partner loves you the way your parents loved you, don’t they have the same gaps in the way your parents expressed love? Sure do. That’s why, when the excitement of falling in love fades, we often feel profoundly disappointed with our partner.
Does this sound pessimistic to you? Imago Therapy doesn’t see it that way at all. This conflict and disappointment is growth trying to happen.
Where does Imago come in?