Seductive Highways

Many people wonder about how they slipped into a controlling relationship without realizing it until too late. Others say that they saw the “red flags” but didn’t heed them. In addition to asking themselves “why does he act this way?” they sometimes feel badly about themselves because they “allowed” it. I remind them that they didn’t give their permission.

Let’s look at the personal roads we often take without realizing the consequences.  Remember, it has nothing to do with wanting to be treated this way. If we had a crystal ball and knew with clarity where the path was taking us, we wouldn’t travel it.

The roads I will outline are interconnected just as real ones are. Many people often identify with more than one. And you may be able to come up with other variables that contributed to your vulnerability.

The Road of Avoidance

Some of the most attractive signs on this route are “Cooperation”, “Teamwork”, “Humility”, and “Generosity”.  These are strengths for sure; we want to value getting along with others, as well as to find ways to work with them rather than becoming polarized. Having to be right is not a healthy way to be. We value humility and generosity toward others.

On the other hand, avoiding conflict is unhealthy. Conflict is normal and actually can contribute to growth in people and systems when it’s handled well.

When difference has been punished or we’ve experienced destructive expressions of anger in our families, we are naturally attracted to the sign “Safe Zone”. An internal siren goes off and there is a retreat at the first sign of someone being unhappy or disagreeing. Therefore, when we are on this road, conflict becomes the proverbial police car that forces us off onto the shoulder and causes us to give in and go along with what someone else wants.

Controllers’ “rules” are to get their way whatever the cost. Therefore, they often manipulate what you value for their benefit. After all, if you think you’re being selfish, you’re more likely to give in to them. If you believe you’re disrupting the peace in the family, you may cave about what you think. If you doubt your own ability to do a good job, you will be easier to influence. Constant pressure for their way contributes to giving in because of the costs involved in not doing so; it becomes the path of least resistance. In this way the strengths that attracted us to the avoidance of conflict become something else darker, contributing to our own self-deception and vulnerability as “prey”.

The key is to honor values such as cooperation and generosity while also honoring yourself. That means not accepting what others say to you about your motives and opinions without examining it critically. It means holding your own opinions and feelings as important along with others’. The internal predator here is that part of you that agrees or goes along with coercive controllers and what they say. 

Upcoming Routes:

  • Road of False Modesty
  • Road of Self-sacrifice
  • Road of Accepting Responsibility for Others
  • Road of Devaluing the Feminine
  • Road of Fear of Being Alone
  • Road of Being Put on a Pedestal
  • Road of Helping Others
  • Road of Commitment
  • Road of Romantic Love
  • Road of Fear
2 Responses to Seductive Highways
  1. Rosalie Migas
    December 31, 2012 | 5:02 pm

    Great material. Can I reference in my UW class?

    • Jennifer
      December 31, 2012 | 5:14 pm

      I would love that. What is the class? I will be continuing the theme.