In yesterday’s post, we talked about unconscious projections keeping us chained in the Devil’s dungeon.

Today, we’re going to look at my unconscious agreement with a family member, Harron, that stated we’d never get angry with each other.

I mentioned last time that Harron and I both have a family history of abusive rage, so it makes sense that we would want to avoid scary, angry interactions.

But unconscious agreements, like any Devil’s bargain, come at a high cost: freedom and awareness.

Modern Witch Tarot

Neither of us was free to express what we were really feeling. It always had to be run through an unconscious filter of, “This doesn’t have anything to do with anger, does it?”

Most of the time that wasn’t even happening consciously.

The “decision” to express or not express anger was short circuited by unconscious defenses that prevented us even being aware of our anger.

But guess what?

We’re both human, so we got angry! What then? Well, we weren’t allowed to express it, per our agreement, so instead, it slipped out in all sorts of passive-aggressive ways.

For instance, I would offer pointed, unsolicited advice that made Harron feel like a loser, and they would make “jokes” about the things I was most cringy and sensitive about. Such fun!

But because we weren’t allowed to be angry, we had to deny this hurtful stuff was going on, because otherwise this would be proof that we’d broken our pact (which would also require us to acknowledge that the pact existed in the first place–another big no-no).

This meant we either didn’t talk about these harmful interactions at all, or if we did…

…because neither of us was being honest with ourselves (much less each other) about our anger, the conversations were a total mindfuck of gaslighting and confusion.

Here’s the other thing about unconscious agreements: Contents in the unconscious tend to be exaggerated.

Thus, our agreement to never be angry at each other ballooned to epic proportions, gobbling up massive territory, simply because it was unconscious. So instead of disallowing, say, abusive anger, ALL anger was off limits.

In addition to being completely impossible to honor (hence all the passive-aggression), this agreement also served as a flimsy stopgap for developing important life skills.

For instance, learning:

How to express anger in a constructive way.

Where boundaries are needed (anger is often a great indicator!) and how to set them.

How to hear someone else’s constructive anger and make amends.

How to recognize punishing or abusive behavior.

On the surface, it might seem like the agreement to “never get angry” is way easier than tackling that hairy list, but what really happens is our world gets smaller and smaller as we try to avoid being in any situation where these skills might be needed…

(can you see the dank walls of the dungeon starting to take shape, stone by stone?)

…and we become filled with fear and resentment, because it feels like life is too hard and other people are forever making it harder, but since we can’t talk to them about it directly or constructively, we feel lonely and resentful.

The most effective way I have found to uncover where we have unconscious agreements…

…is to learn how to state, clearly and directly, what you need.

This doesn’t happen overnight, but with each step toward clarity you take, you’ll be shining a light on one hidden agreement after another, transforming the Devil into the Light Bearer.

We might think of this as breaking agreements we don’t yet know we have, to reverse engineer our way into figuring out what they are.

Want to hear something bizarre?

I took a quick break while writing this email and picked up a book I was midway through. I turned to the next page, and the first thing I see is this quote by Rosa Luxemburg:

“Those who do not move do not notice their chains.”

Hello, synchronicity.

I won’t lie, this process can be super hard at times. People might reject you or try to punish you for breaking unconscious agreements.

We have to learn how to take really good care of ourselves when the going gets tough, because it will.

But you know what else is tough? Spending our entire life in a dungeon when there’s a whole, wide world waiting out there.

After breaking some “agreements” in an enmeshed relationship this year, and sitting with all the feels that welled up within me when the person gave me the silent treatment…

…I began to notice moments of pure joy in what might seem like the oddest of places.

For instance, one night I was watching Always and Forever, Lara Jean, the final installment of the To All the Boys trilogy.

No spoilers, but there’s a scene where they’re eating giant cookies in New York, and I began to happy cry all of a sudden, so filled with gratitude that we live in this freakin’ amazing world with love and NYC and giant cookies.

Those moments became less and less fleeting, and I’d find myself marveling at the way the dew shimmered like tiny gems in a field of grass on my morning walk or that cute, little mole under my husband’s right eye.

Parts of me I hadn’t even known were chained in the cellar slowly came back to life, blinking their eyes in the brilliant sunshine.

And it felt downright miraculous.

If many of your relationships are tethered with unconscious agreements, like mine were, this can feel terrifying.

You don’t have to do it all at once (nor could you anyways). Move at your own pace, my friend.

And while some people might not be able to transition into a more direct way of relating, I bet some will surprise you…

and you’ll start meeting new people who are more available for this sort of connection, because you’ll actually have room in your life for them.

You’re not alone.

It’s scary to take those chains off, but you’ve got this. One step at a time.

If you want help, join me in Shadow Play, my new course that shows you how to identify and cast off those clunky chains, reclaiming your personal power and joy.

Learn more and sign up here.

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