Internal conflicts happen whenever we are torn with a mental or emotional decision. On one side we want to do something and on the other it’s like there is an unexplainable drive towards destruction within us that pulls in the opposite direction. Internal conflicts reside at the subconscious level since that is where our memories, emotions, impulses and behaviors are stored. Consciously we know it’s not good to do something but the power of the subconscious overcomes our will power and we do it anyway.
Step 1- Identify what your internal conflicts and coping mechanisms are
For example if your top needs are certainty and love, you will have a particular belief system behind that which says you have to act a certain way in order to assure love is coming to you. You also have certain rules and ways in which you feel loved and appreciated and whenever you do what you think you should do towards others and they do not reciprocate in the way you think they should, you will get trapped in a crazy 8 pattern. We each have our own crazy eight pattern oscillating between 2 particular emotions but for most people the pattern is between anger/self defense and depression/self pity.
When in anger most people will find comfort( food, alcohol, drugs, sex, learning or work) so they can feel better and change their physiology. After a while the body will be tired of the tension and determination anger brings, and there will be a transition into sadness and self pity. Now the physiology will be changed from one of tension into one of letting go, getting some pleasure and comfort. The behaviors will shift from person to person, one might feel sad and eat to feel comfort, while another person will feel angry and eat to feel comfort. A third person might get angry and that anger will serve them to create something, to learn and better themselves in some way. What is general is that we will shift from one emotion that has more tension to it towards one that is more relaxing.
Contrary to what everybody believes anger is not a bad emotion if used wisely. It can serve a great purpose and has a lot of determination, fire and energy that can be used in positive ways. That will happen only when the person is aware of what emotions are they in and how to use them constructively. People don’t want you to be angry because it is much easier to deal with a depressed person than an angry one, but I am telling you, if you are depressed reach out for anger, it will do you so much better to get a little bit of your power back. Then, once you stabilize in anger, use it constructively and reach out for frustration, then go up the emotional scale and reach for hope, then positive expectation and eventually personal power and joy.
Whatever destructive emotions form your crazy 8, they are an addiction for you. These emotions are keeping you from making progress in your life and have what you really want to have.
Step 2- Social Triggers- what circumstances trigger you to go into the crazy 8?
Think back of an event that made you go into this pattern. What happened, what were you thinking, what meaning did you give it?
We usually escape pain by going towards another source of pain, because that secondary source of pain makes us change physiology: ex anger to sadness. These two emotions are painful but when we engage in them there is a different physiology, mental focus and inner talk going on. When we are in sadness or self-pity shoulders drop, we breathe easier because we kind of give up, we cry to release tension. When we go into anger we feel more powerful, we build tension in the body, we are ready for some sort of action.
We also have accompanying coping behaviors for each one of these emotional states. Whenever a circumstance triggers a negative emotional state, we do more damage by also engaging in the negative behavioral pattern. For ex anger and then the coping behavior follows: withdrawal or confrontational attitude- fight or flight response.
Step 3- Understand why you do what you do and how to meet your needs in the future in positive ways
When craving certainty and love women will focus on children, girlfriends while men will focus on work, sexual prowess because in this way they can feel good about themselves.
In a marriage love will become a trade with each partner fulfilling his/her role, while meeting each others needs, passion and intimacy will be a Hollywood ideal. Both females and males are reaching for love through their success in the roles of provider and nurturer, because by having a successful career or being a great mom they give themselves permission to be significant enough to be loved. For females if they don’t have connection with their significant others it is much easier to get it from their kids or from girlfriends, while for men it is easier to be successful at work or to escape in affairs since they feel unable to make their partner happy. Obviously roles are not fixed by gender anymore, and both females and males are fulfilling simultaneously the career and family roles. But at the core these are the differences in how females and males approach life.
For balance and happiness to exist there has to be first connection with self-based on personal needs and values and then intimacy and connection with the partner. Compromising on one’s values and needs will make people find unhealthy ways of loving themselves through comfort in order to fill the void inside. That is the way we develop safe problems, which are challenges we could easily change, but we don’t because we get comfort, and they serve a purpose of distracting us from dealing with real problems in our lives. Think about what is a real problem in your life? What is it that you really want and because you don’t have that you escape into the safe problem behavior? What do you do to prevent that real problem from being solved?
What is your emotional and behavioral pattern that sabotages what you really want in life? Emotional patterns can be: worrying, defensiveness, blame, anger, or depression. Behavioral patterns could be: self-medication, withdrawal, stubbornness, procrastination, retaliation, being sedentary, or decision paralysis.