Love versus Pattern Recognition

December 19th, 2016






I know I was a generic dysfunctional child, but I think a lot of people are.”


– Henry Rollins



An old Saturday Night Live comedy sketch went something like this:


A boy is talking to a local policeman. “Officer Johnson, what would be your ideal woman?


“My ideal woman, Jimmy? Well, I suppose that would be someone like my mother. She loved me and my father…till she left us for another man.

But I’m sorry to bother you with my history. To answer your question, Jimmy, my ideal woman would be someone that loves me…then leaves me for another man.”




No laughing matter


Comedy (in its better forms at least) can provide sharp insights into the human condition. In particular, the struggle with our inner fool and its attempts to highlight our blind spots of consciousness. We usually only become aware of its work after it has set in motion the comedies, dramas and tragedies of our life.




One of the recurring themes of the Monday Conscious Health blog is that, one way or the other, the unconscious will try to make itself known to us. It can do this with a metaphoric tap on the shoulder or a baseball bat over the head.


Those “Why does this always happen to me?!” moments are usually the work of our unconscious trying to help us understand a particularly well hidden program of dysfunction within us. And, by dysfunction, I mean potential for personal growth and enlightenment about ourselves.




The mind-body interface



Another tenet of Conscious Health and this blog is the software metaphor of energy-consciousness. That is, the same bio-energy that animates life and differentiates the living from the dead in this plane of existence also manifests as the flow of conscious awareness.


It includes the flow of our unconscious as well. After all, the unconscious is still a (very large) part of our mind-body. A distinguishing feature of our unconscious self is its eternal drive to become conscious within us.


Like waves from the depths of the ocean eventually breaking upon the shore, our unconscious is constantly trying to reach the shores of our conscious mind and become integrated into our awareness. Not only does this enlighten us a little more about ourselves each time this happens but it also can affect the flow of energy within us all the way through to our physical body.


This is why old symptoms and aches and pains can leave us when this energy from the mind-body is integrated in an ‘Aha!’ moment. Our symptoms have been made redundant as they no longer have the purpose of awakening our consciousness about that issue any more.


Once we have become aware of the old, unconscious programming and changed our thinking, attitudes and behaviour as a result, the symptoms are no longer necessary. Their work is done.


This idea (in various guises) is a central tenet of many therapies from acupuncture and shiatsu to healing, the Rosen method and psychotherapy.




Programming language


In keeping with this ‘energy-consciousness as bio-software’ theme we have the concept of unconscious ‘programming’. These dysfunctional ‘codes’ are usually (but not always) given to us at a young and impressionable age.


The young are a particularly receptive but non-discriminating sponge for every input – whether it is good for us or not. Our most likely ‘programmers’ then are our parents (or significant care-givers). Their values and attitudes, view of the world and one’s place in it along with how they view and treat us mould our way of seeing ourselves, our value or worth and therefore our expectations of how life will be for us.


One of the greatest disservices a parent can do to a child is to abuse them (psychologically or physically) and then tell them it is because they love them. We can grow up with some very skewed views of what love is and how we should give and receive it.



In the name of love


What everyone has in common (at least to begin with) is that they want to experience the giving and receiving of love. What makes everyone so differently wonderful, wild, wicked and weird are two main things:


  1. Our understanding of what love is
  2. How we might go about giving and receiving love based on this understanding



Of course, in a theoretically perfect world, we would learn from our parents to love ourselves, the world and others in the same way. This is a relative world however (somewhat of a pun intended) – which is by way of saying it is not perfect or balanced at all but in a constant state of flux.


It is entirely possible therefore that our notion of what love is and how to give and receive it has been similarly skewed. How would we know this? Because of what we create in the name of love. If we long for ‘x’ but keep attracting ‘y’ (or at least “Why me?…) then its probably our unconscious mind trying to tell us something.



In any case, our parents cannot teach us about things of which they themselves are not yet aware – any more than a toddler could teach advanced mathematics. It is therefore the responsibility (or not) of each generation to bring up to conscious awareness and transform the old, dysfunctional code of previous generations. If they do not or cannot they will then repeat and pass on those dramas, tragedies and comedies to the next generation for them to work out.



Circling constellations


In a previous blog we mentioned the work of Bert Hellinger who focused upon just this dynamic in family constellations. Of course its principles could be applied to any sentient system or group from an individual to an entire planet or beyond.


In particular he noticed and, perhaps more importantly, could work practically with the repetition of dysfunctional patterns through generations. This was especially relevant to the way people formed their public and private relationships.



Love versus pattern recognition


I’m sure we all know of someone (possibly even ourselves) who unconsciously repeats dysfunctional or even abusive relationships in a search for love.




What may be happening is that our initial attraction to someone (and visa versa) is not love at all but an unconscious recognition of a matching dysfunctional program in the other. That familiarity and recognition is mistaken for a meaningful connection.


The initial comfort and ease they feel with that person can simply be the program – ‘the devil they know’ – repeating itself as many times as necessary for the person to become aware of it and begin to consciously change their patterns.


For example, it is not uncommon for a person who has experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse in their upbringing to repeat that in their adult relationships. This is true of other dysfunctional patterns like addiction and codependency states as well but we are just looking at love and personal relationship here even if they are often intertwined.


I have lost count of the clients who have told me their histories of a dysfunctional childhood leading to dysfunctional relationships in later life. Does a woman, for example, who has been physically or emotionally abused in early life want her adult relationships to reflect that? Of course not. We are not describing a masochistic enjoyment of abuse.


They are genuinely terrified and confused that this is happening (again). This is also true for the abuser who is frustrated with finding themselves (again) with someone so threatening to the hidden, unconscious programs within them that require an outward target to release the pressure they create.


Friends of such people who may not have those particular patterns can easily spot someone like that. Despite their warnings their friend will insist that they are mistaken and “just don’t know him/her like I do.” – until of course the pattern repeats itself.



A family Christmas…




As a police captain character in a Terry Pratchett novel said to a new recruit: “We are like one big happy family here at this station. And once you have gone to your first domestic dispute you will understand exactly what I mean by that.”


Christmas with family members can sometimes be a mixed blessing. While we share the bond of DNA and shared early experiences we may also share and exhibit all too familiar traits as well.


Rather than let this be depressing news in the festive season we could choose to be more observant, particularly within ourselves, and use this knowledge to raise our awareness. Maybe we might not have to repeat the experience too many more times and can focus on love instead. Now there’s an idea…or not.



Till another Monday, and indeed a New Year offers the choice to spin the wheel again or bring a new beginning.



© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:

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