I was talking yesterday about the cycle of conflict and breaking free from it. Let me start with some background.
Carousel of Tears
I spent my first fourteen formative years on this carousel of tears I call a cycle of conflict.
It was a never-ending loop which usually ended in divorce. I’ve seen very few people trapped in the cycle of conflict who emerged with their relationship intact. And they don’t know why because they “always got back together again.”
Back then, we not only had no insights into how to end the conflict; we couldn’t even see its cyclical nature.
Becoming Our Parents
Having seen the cost to my family of the cycle of conflict, I made myself a promise that I would stop the family inheritance, the intergenerational transfer that Michael once called “legacy behavior.”
But I mentioned to you earlier that the legacy behavior was the only movie I had in my head.
When we “become our Father,” what really is happening is that we’re reaching back into our memory banks and bringing forward as our mode of behavior the only movie all of us have – what our Dad or Mom did.
And we don’t see what we’re doing happening for the same reason we may not pay attention to what’s happening in our world. We’re busy doing other things.
That’s how we become our parent.
Just that one matter alone – not becoming our parents – takes a high degree of awareness and an unwillingness to respond automatically in order to break the pattern. And, no, I’m still down here in the trenches on these matters, working away with everyone else.
Never Seem to Learn and Nothing Changes
Another feature of the cycle of conflict is that we never seem to learn. Instead, we seem to focus on and congratulate ourselves for getting back together again.
For me, getting back together again is a significant event but it’s not the significant event.
The significant event is recognizing that we’re caught in a cycle of conflict that only ever brings heartache.
So long as we fool ourselves that reconciliation is the big win, we may not do the work to break the cycle.
Everyone promises not to do it again and off we go, not communicating or communicating unproductively. The same issues arise. The frustration begins and is worse because we thought we had the issue handled. All it takes is a spark.
Is this not the theme of countless Hollywood movies?