Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The click's the thing...

So often, couples report, when talking about how they met, that "we just clicked". Its worth taking a moment to understand that click.

What we call clicking with someone, is actually the experience of being seen and understood. If you come from a european background, chances are high that you will "click" with someone who also has a european background. You "get" each other, you "recognize" the shared cultural values, the language, the nuances of unwritten rules first generation kids had to learn, for example. 

If you click because you both come from solid family backgrounds, imbued with respect, an understanding of empathic attunement, whether you call it that or not .. You again will feel seen and understood and that is a powerful human force.

However if you come from an alcoholic family for example, chances are you will "click" with someone who also comes from such an environment. You will feel seen and understood, you will share a common emotional culture as well... Often times we do this without knowing what that emotional culture is all about. And if we don't recognize that, this is often the mechanism for repeating past dysfunction.  We need to be able to recognize shared hypervigelance, or rigidity in relating, reactivity, narcisstic tendencies or responses to them, this being but a brief list. 

So many come into therapy saying I keep falling into the same type of relationship over and over again. I really believe it has a lot to do with the power of the "click". Feeling seen, understood, known, familiar, on the one hand is powerful, comforting, almost safe. But if in fact what has been familiar to me in the past has been chaos, dysfunction, violence, abuse... What is it then that is familiar? The challenge of the click - is that in the face of that delicious comfort, to sit still and not run into it headlong; to maybe hold back and wonder at the "click" before you react. 

Conversely, how might we sit still and remain curious, rather than dismiss outright, when we meet someone who doesn't  "click"? How might we stay put and see what that can grow into? We need to understand that the brain is geared toward reinforcing what it knows. That being said, new and unfamiliar behavior will not have the same pull as a potentially unhealthy "click" but it may not have the same old results either.

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