Your Own Worst Enemy
We all suffer from conflicts in our lives. Often it's about what we want vs. what we believe we SHOULD want. These are easier to resolve than the subconscious conflicts because often in those cases we're not even fully aware of what's holding us back.
Lisa says she wants to be in a serious relationship but she cannot find the "right guy." She has a long list of superficial criteria for "the man of her dreams" which she says she needs in order to "be happy." It's easy for me to see that this is hardly her "happy" list! In fact, it is very obviously, her "unhappy" list.
She has created a series of ever smaller hoops (and finally flaming hoops!) that serve to keep men at arm's length. If she can reject a man before he rejects her, she never has to suffer the heartbreak of rejection. If she relaxed her standards and actually started to care about someone, it would stir her fears of intimacy and abandonment. Until she faces and resolves those issues, she will never be able to have the healthy and meaningful relationship she claims she wants.
Don has always wanted to pursue a specific career which requires several years of technical education. He has convinced himself that he made a huge mistake by not going to college in this field when he was young. He believes his poor choice of careers is the reason for all his unhappiness. It's the classic: "If only....everything would be OK."
But now he is in his late 40's, and in a job that pays well. He can't very well quit his job and go back to school (so he tells himself.) Even if he could somehow go to school in the evenings and still maintain his current salary, it would take years to once again earn
the kind of money he's making now! And who's going to hire somebody in his 50's who's just starting out? These are the excuses (some of which are quite valid) that he gives himself for not pursuing his dream. But as long as he places his chance for happiness on something that cannot be attained, he will, ergo, never achieve happiness.
Even if he could be assured that a lucrative job was waiting for him at the end of his new education, he STILL would not make that leap. The job is just an excuse for not confronting the REAL reasons he is dissatisfied with his life. The internal conflict he first needs to resolve is: Why does he make his happiness conditional on something he tells himself he can never have? The ONLY possible result of this is UNhappiness.
If and when Don believes he deserves to be happy, his entire perspective will change. Until then, it will be out of his grasp.
Jackie goes from one intense relationship to another. They all seem to follow the same arc: the mad, passionate love affair which nearly consumes her, followed by an horrific, painful breakup which leaves her in the depths of depression for months. And then she begins again.
Jackie doesn't realize it, but she's an adrenaline junkie. All this extreme emotion produces a rush of chemicals in her brain, which in turn give her various physical reactions. These reactions are so deeply associated in her mind with "love," she does not know how to experience her feelings without them. They are so powerful, they completely block out any subtle, nuanced feelings she may have.
Lou is going through another break up. All his relationships also seem to have the same basic story line: He meets someone he likes and they start dating, and quickly fall into a "serious" relationship. Although there is a certain comfort in having a steady woman in his life, being tied to just one woman is more than he can bear. It doesn't take long before he's shopping around, playing on the side. His charm and good looks allow him to keep plenty of women around and interested. Eventually, however, his main girlfriend will discover and confront him about his infidelity. When she does, Lou just clams up. He never admits to anything; never promises to stop. He simply doesn't tell her anything, avoiding all confrontation. He's become so adept at lying to cover his tracks, it's become difficult for him to discern truth from his own fiction. His girlfriends become increasingly frustrated by his stone-walling. As they act out their frustration, he backs off even more. Eventually, the women all become the same: screaming, angry, bitter, passive-aggressive. This enables him to cheat and lie without guilt because after all, they don't "deserve" to be treated with respect.
Once we understand the internal mechanisms which hold us back, we can resolve our issues, and often fairly quickly. Sometimes, it just takes an objective party to see the "obvious.".