As each person grows and develops they learn patterns. These patterns for living and relating help the individual to interpret and adjust to their specific environment. In environments where unresolved conflicts persist, these learned patterns can have a debilitating affect. Additionally, the person often integrates the patterns that are accepted as norms early in life, as they age. These patterns may consequently set the individual up to be used, manipulated and controlled by other people later in life.
In families where the threat of emotional abandonment is covertly used to both control and temper its members, a trigger pattern is set. With repeated reinforcement the individual becomes conditioned to a specific response. When compliance becomes the expectation, shame can used to manipulate the individual. Such subtle conditioning often occurs gradually over a period of time. The individual slowly begins to unconsciously connect associating with people to painful outcomes. Consequently, the individual may consciously believe that apart from maintaining rigid control and compliance to those expectations, they will experience some type of emotional duress.
Until pieces of the puzzle started coming together, I found myself baffled in my attempt to understand and anticipate what was expected of me. In my experience this produced both stress and anxiety, because I was afraid of being rejected and minimized. Over time, I have come to recognize the debilitating impact produced by this type of conditioning. It gradually depletes the individual and drains them of any ambition to explore and use their unique creative expression.
More over, when individuals seek to integrate socially, similar contingencies can be seen deployed. If the individual does not comply with the group’s covert or overt expectations, the previously set trigger is tripped. The individual — again — is led to believe that they must discard parts of themselves, in order to embrace what is expected of them. In the event that such expectations are used to control and manipulate the individual — with the threat of being ostracized — it is probably not a healthy group. The leaders of the group, as well as the members of the group may collectively be acting out toxic patterns in relating to other people.
When I recognize that rigid control and overt / covert compliance is being used to herd the members of a group I cease to be apart of that group. I am all too familiar with this type of social interaction. Today I chose to practice live and let live. Nevertheless, I have come to realize this as a slippery slope that needs to be avoided.
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