EMOTIONAL BLACK HOLES Self-Justification Soothing Painful Emotions BY : Troy Murphy | September 2016
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Self-justification—we all do it. Being wrong scares us; we ignore blatant evidence when it conflicts but believe fragments of ambiguous information that supports. Five traffic tickets and a few accidents doesn’t shake our conviction of superior driving skills—yet we effectively acknowledge the inferior driving maneuvers of others. Several failed relationships doesn’t motivate self-searching for personal causes of failure but a single enjoyable month of a new relationship serves as irrefutable evidence that previous relationship troubles were because of sub-par partners.
Once we hold an image of self, we blind ourselves to opposing evidence. Open minded reasoning, especially about personal character, is always skewed by biases.
We skim over obvious shortcomings and actively seek obscure evidence to disprove the obvious. Opposition to beliefs creates discomfort, and discomfort demands an explanation. We actively seek an explanation for the cause of discomfort; an articulatable reason creates to alleviate the pain in the future. This isn’t an exact science. Reasons aren’t immediately recognizable. Often a freak combination of causes collide to create the final event. By rationalizing responsibility, solely pointing our accusing finger at outside sources, we shift culpability freeing ourselves from guilt but limit future control. By accepting responsibility for relationship troubles, we more effectively identify intimacy destroying personality traits. We can then work on them.
We become the greatest obstacle to obtaining desires. By ignoring our prominent role in problems, we limit helpful information to make necessary adjustments.
Others play a role in current circumstances; they trigger emotions--we tend to act as if others are the only causes. We get frustrated when others interfere with goals but our goals are not universal. Circumstances and others don’t march to our rhythm. They shouldn’t have to. Others have their passions, goals and hopes—that sometime match ours. An intimate partner should be supportive but not at the expense of their own individuality. In healthy relationships, individual lives play in parallel, sometimes in unison, sometimes in toleration, other times through negotiated agreements. When differences spark discomfort, we need to look a little deeper. Is our partner selfish, or we expressing selfishness by expecting a partner to be a puppet to our emotions? Finding character flaws in a partner is simple—all partners have their share. If we habitually blame, this is convenient. All relationship conflict can have a default cause—the partner’s flaws.
When every dissatisfaction points to a partner’s flaw, the relationship is doomed. Unless challenged and changed, this thought process will destroy many relationships, magnifying issues, spiking insecurities, and ruining lives. Constantly point out partner’s flaws doesn’t work. Instead of building a relationship, the focus is on making a partner who doesn’t trigger emotions. It doesn’t work. Partner’s find biased opinions of their insufficiency hurtful; they respond defensively or equally bitter attacking your flaws. Poorly worded, poorly timed advice isn’t embraced with gratitude. Mercilessly attacking character doesn’t work.
Next heated encounter, slow down, recognize the triggered emotion, identify the urge to blame, and raise a warning flag. Ask yourself, “Am I avoiding responsibility? Is there some vulnerable trait that I am ignoring?” As we acquaint ourselves to personal emotional vulnerabilities, the moments of discomfort are not black holes of disaster, sucking us in to destructive behaviors but a portal pointing to deeper personal insights, character traits in need of examination and adjustment.