Breaking behavioural patterns

Lifewise

, Last Updated: 3:50 PM ET

Have you even wondered why you keep dating men who don't treat you very well? Or why you're still unable to have an open and honest conversation with your mother?

Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a self-destructive cycle, simply repeating the same behavioral patterns?

According to Mary Elizabeth Marlow, the author of a Handbook for the Emerging Woman, such restrictive and repetitive behaviour is the reflection of psychological or emotional conditioning. Fortunately, the rules governing your behaviour were made to be broken.

Mary Elizabeth Marlow's Handbook for the Emerging Woman: Awakening the Unlimited Power of the Feminine Spirit provides the key to understanding the way in which your life experiences are reflective of what's going on deep within your being.

By awakening her readers to the fact that certain self-destructive patterns of behaviour are the expression psychological or emotional conditioning, she allows women to see that the person they are is not the person they must be.

"We face all kinds of problems that seem impossible to solve at first," writes one of the book's editors, Josette Ghedin-Stanke. "Instead of blaming our parents, our lover or the whole universe, we can search for the meaning of these situations. We admit that supporting our suffering hides large parts of our being. And without daring to be ourselves, it is impossible to be happy."

In this sense, Marolow's project in the Handbook can be seen as an extension of the work begun by Robin Norwood in her best-seller, Women Who Love Too Much. Rather than identifying women as victims of external circumstance, however, Marlow details the ways in which women fall victim to their own psychological conditioning.

Having grown up in a well-to-do family and married a wealthy lawyer, Marlow suffered through a fifteen year marriage that was marked by a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Convinced that country club memberships, exotic vacations and gold cards would make her happy, it took her years to realize that the idea of success and happiness that she had grown up with did not actually accord with her own innate sense of value and pleasure.

One day, a horrible revelation finally struck her: her 'wonderful' marriage—if not her whole life—was a shame devised to impress people she didn't even know. After fifteen years of lies, it was finally time, she realized, to put away the facades and find out who she really was and what she really wanted out of life.

As Marlow explains in the Handbook, this process began by finding out why she had allowed her negative self, or what she calls a 'vixen,' to control her life for so long. Even though—she now realizes—she was not driven by money, social status or the trappings of success, her 'vixen' (the personification of a survival instinct) was successful in convincing her that these things were important enough to build her life around.

According to Marlow, the first step in battling your own vixen is identifying its defining characteristics. If you are to become a whole woman, she claims, you have to come to terms with this dark side of yourself and learn defeat it.


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