Even when we are well aware that our strong emotions might be awakened memories from childhood, we might still find it very difficult to focus inwards to resolve those emotions. The urge to blame people around us and seek to change or control them can be overpowering. Why is it so difficult to recognize the truth even after spending much energy in vain, causing stress to ourselves and others by trying to change who they are? Even if we know that the real cause of our emotions is probably in our pasts?
As babies and toddlers, it’s our biological instinct to turn to other people to solve our problems. Hungry? Mommy will nurse you. Wet yourself? They will change your diapers. Bored? Scream energetically enough and they will do their best to amuse you. Tired? They will do just about anything to avoid waking you up and enjoy some well deserved peace. Even children of toxic parents inevitably learn that sooner or later, no matter how much pain and struggle experienced in the meantime, at least their basic needs would be fulfilled by others. Thus the biological instinct is reinforced and grows into an emotional habit.
When we age regress into childish emotions, this instinct can be awakened alongside them. Age regression includes forgetting or temporarily losing touch with our adult resources. What would be more natural in such a state than to turn to the solutions experienced in childhood? Thus we may once again feel as if our emotional well-being or even survival depends of those around us. This essentially means that we confuse other people around us with our parents.
This is visible in many parts of adults’ lives. People try to solve their emotional problems through all kinds of external means. For some people, money can be a weird substitute for parents, as it provides safety, comfort and toys (often other people’s attention, too). Others might turn to religion (heavenly father), magic or New Age bioenergy theories. Food can be a temporary emotional comfort, reminding us of the pleasure of being fed on our mothers’ breasts.
Intimate relationships are where this instinct to seek external solutions is most obvious. They are often created as substitutes for parent-child relationships from the start, and when problems arise and we regress into childish states, it can be extremely difficult to take responsibility for our feelings. The old instincts from childhood awaken again and we can start expecting our partners to provide solutions – which usually means expecting them to change.
It never rains but pours – and usually in an intimate relationship, both people experience childish states from time to time. This means that both start demanding the other to change. The problem is, even if our partner tries to change, the childish parts of us will always want more – just like, as children, we always needed more from our parents.
Depending of how much time people spend in such states, their relationships will deteriorate and they will start accumulating resentment. If good communication skills are lacking, too, a crisis is almost inevitable. If an age-regressed state is intense, it can take exceptional self-awareness and responsibility to avoid blaming your partner and pull yourself back into an adult frame of mind.
I hope this can help you understand an aspect of relationship behavior which very few people are aware of. Simple understanding won’t bring automatic change – but it might help you deal with your childish issues in the moments when this is most important.