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When the Price is Too High

Moving Through Emotional Blackmail

The price we pay to keep people, places, and things in our lives can be too high. We pay with our health, our finances, our very Soul more often than note. Learning when to say enough can be difficult for most.

This is the first in a series of articles on moving through emotional blackmail during our journey into self-awareness and spiritual reconnection.  Our life expression challenge, should we choose to accept it, is to learn to work with and incorporate all aspects of our multi-dimensional Self into a complex, yet harmoniously working collective.  Make no mistake about it – we are a collective and most of our challenges have come from linear thinking and single-mindedness when it comes to our very being.  Freedom, true freedom – comes from recognizing that we are multi-dimensional beings with a unique complexity that provides us with a multitude of adventures for our being to discover, cultivate and then incorporate into its collective.  But, we must have a starting point.  For me, the starting point was clearing away the emotional overlays in this life expression that were resident deep within my psyche.  As we are multi-dimensional beings – any where can be an effective beginning.  So why not begin with your here and now.

There are times in our lives when the price for maintaining a relationship – any relationship -- is simply too high.  The price I speak of here is the “emotional” price we pay.  The emotional price may be in the form of fear, guilt, frustration or resentment – just to name a few.  Given our individual life experiences, I am sure there are other emotions that come to mind in connection with your own particular emotional price.

Like most of us, I was very young when I recognized that everything in the Universe comes with a “price” – an emotional price.  I noted also that the “financial” and “physical” prices we also pay, are tied to the emotions as well.  However, in this writing, I will be talking about the emotional price and only some of its ramifications.

It all begins quite innocently enough.  Our parent(s) reward us for being good and withhold favor when we act in a manner that merits disapproval.  With each subtle, and not so subtle, parental nudging, our feet become firmly planted on the road to compromise – a road that has no real ending - only beginnings.

You see, no matter what you may think, we are all seeking “approval” on some subconscious level – just ask any reputable therapist.  As we have been domesticated at such an early age that our opinions are faulty and consequently do not matter; we learn to mistrust anything that we intuitively sense or feel.  We begin to “bow” to the stronger exterior Will of another and accept the opinions and dictates of others so that we can be “accepted” – part of the “group” – just like “everybody” else – ad infinitum.  And, while we are social beings and require companionship of all manner and nature, we must learn to balance and see clearly that blurred line between what is for our own highest and best good, and what is sheer manipulation on the part of others that we can do without.  I can assure you that as we become older and more domesticated, this line is hard to distinguish as our very emotional stability is all tied up in compromise and approval seeking.  (There is “guilt” - the familiar tactic of family; the “conditional “friendships of classmates and childhood friends - the “pouting” tactics of spouses, and the “threats” of employers.)

When we are young, say between the ages of two to four (and in some cases five), we are completely in a healthy state of narcissism.  We are convinced that we are the center of the Universe and the world is ours to explore and bend to our individual Will.  We wield this recognized power over our parents, grandparents, and (in some cases) younger siblings if we come from a “pecking-order style of parenting” which places the “older” children in parental roles over their younger siblings.

I say that this is a “healthy state of narcissism” because we instinctively know what is “good” and “right” for us.  We sense at this age, that what we see and experience is real.  We know that we are to trust those feelings and ourselves implicitly.  We act upon our feelings – at all times at this age (much to the chagrin of our parents more often than not.)

As I stated earlier, I grew up in a home and adopted a belief system that children should be “seen” and not “heard”.  I learned to stifle my speech and be quiet.  Of course, coming onto the Planet in this life-expression with a vibration of communication – in every form – speaking, writing, and singing – I was truly at odds with my Self for much of my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.  I suffered for it immensely.  I developed sore throats at least three times per year and at least once per year I suffered with “strep throat” until I was in my 20s.  Not fun to be sure.  I continued to suffer with ailments in the throat area in one form or another until I “found” my voice. 

Once I became comfortable with expressing myself through writing, singing, speaking – I never suffered with communication maladies again.  Now, it has taken me some 30 years to connect the dots!  My caregiver was “rigid” to be sure and unhappy to the point that she made my childhood most unpleasant at every conceivable opportunity.   I was shut down on every level: emotional, physical and spiritual.  She took much delight in making me feel bad about myself and my lineage.  During the entire time of my childhood with her I could never “figure” out the triggers to gain her acceptance and approval (some semblance of peace of mind).  Approval and acceptance of me was never given and nothing that I ever attempted to accomplish lent itself to any approval moments from her.   Consequently, I accepted the limitations she placed upon me and grew tired of trying to excel.  I often wonder if I would have completed my dream of being a foreign correspondent and living my life abroad had I had just one iota of encouragement.

At times, I was mercifully saved by the intervention of my biological father and his library of books – psychology, mythology, and metaphysics.  I lost myself in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Emerson, Thoreau and Walt Whitman as well as Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies.  All of these writings healed and protected and in some cases nurtured me.  This intervention allowed me to escape into the deep recesses of my psyche and affect some harmony and balance within myself.  I learned to go within at a very early age and to really trust my own sense of the rightness of things as they applied to me. 

Compromise is the first thing that we learn from our earliest childhood relationships with our parent(s) or caregiver.  I consider compromise the first layer, or foundation for emotional blackmail being so effectively used against us by others. Under no circumstances do we want our parents, the source of our very survival, to withhold from us.  We learn very quickly what it takes to get as much from them as we can.  By the time we are two years of age, we now trust that our parents are not going to starve us and we begin to express our narcissistic nature more confidently.  (As parents, you will recognize the terrible two’s.)  Coincidence – I think not.  We are very comfortable with the word “no” during this time.  This is because we are still in alignment with our Authentic Self and we therefore are adamant about what we do (or do not) want at any given time.  Depending upon the family dynamics, this willfulness will only last about one to two years before it is tempered into something more tolerable.

The double-edged sword of compromise is that we soon become painfully aware that we are the only one compromising (or even expected to compromise).  We quickly learn that compromise somehow means that I must give up and give in – that I must somehow be the one to settle.  We quickly discern from our parents, significant other, employer, co-workers (the list can appear endless) that although “they” may say compromise – what [they] really mean is “do this my way and you will get ...” – this is a pattern that we will take note of during our entire adult life. 

The definition of compromise implies sharing, discussion and then decision as to what is right for all parties involved.  However, in reality, there is no discussion in “do this my way and you will get ...” – and so, enter manipulative ploys that are designed to get US what we want while simultaneously adding another layer covering over our ever retiring Authentic Self.

Compromise translates on a vibration level as far as our psyche is concerned – that we are somehow unworthy of getting something simply by asking – that we must negotiate, manipulate, and give over ourselves.  We then set out to give up as little of our Self as possible – our integrity becomes askew.  This self-betrayal generates fertile ground for our emotional imbalance and we now experience frustration, guilt, and anger as an integral part of our overlay personality mask and our Authentic Self retires even further.  In every life scenario where we acquiesce due to emotional blackmail and are forced to “give up” and “give in” we lose much more than we are consciously aware of.  We lose the very essence of our Self.  A high price we pay, to be sure.

I will continue with compromise in my next issue and the importance of honestly handling those areas in our lives where we have sacrificed far too much.