ACA Blog

Anderson Antoine
Sep 04, 2012

The Psychological Power of Separation

You have been holding on very tightly. You have believed that your partner was doing the same. Suddenly, there is a break in the relationship. You are lost for words. Your world has crushed in. It imploded or exploded. You had sold out everything. You kept none of yourself. This is when you know that separation is just like amputation. It is pain. Perhaps for the rest of your life, you may be living with unwelcome memories.

Children experience it. Lovers and friends experience it. Husbands and wives experience it. There are anxieties, dizziness, nausea and heart palpitations. There are tears, fears, pains and sometimes suicide. Everyone, it seems, tends to suffer from separation issues of one kind or another. When that moment comes, the reactions are obvious. It is not unusual to see separated people looking depressed and very quiet or loud and dangerous.

Let us liken separation to an amputation of sorts. I cannot tell of anyone who wished to lose a leg or an arm. If they do, however, it is reported that they keep on looking for that missing part. No one really wants to lose. The experience of losing tends to affect one’s self-concept and subsequently one’s self-esteem. In a broader context, when you leave a village, or a school or a country some level of the separation anxiety issues tend to raise its head.

Just because no one really wants to lose they tend to use failed strategies to assist them in the effort to prevent the loss. You would find them reassuring the partner of the changes they would surely make. Over and over they would tell the how much they love them. They would argue. They may even become addicted to being very pessimistic. There are people who need negative thoughts to feed on. What one can do is keep starving their negative feelings.

It is crucial to understand some of the skills involved in preventing separation in a relationship. These would involve focusing on moving away from pressuring the other party through criticizing, complaining and whining. Though this may seem silly, it is suggested that one can agree with whatever one’s partner does and says. This may include sounding sincere as one agrees with their partner’s negative feelings and by acting quite happy about everything.

Let me say here how much I appreciate the idea of the Meta Model by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. To my mind, “if what you are doing is not working, then you ought to try something new. If you do not you will keep on getting the same result,” no matter how loudly you scream or shout. Rather, try something that has a chance to work.

Perhaps we should consider the idea of two types of separations, which there is a tendency to get confused about. These two I suspect happen at the same time. I refer here to the legal and the emotional separations. The legal divorce or separation does not at the same time stop the emotional divorce or separation.



Anderson Antoine is a counselor from Trinidad and Tobago. He lectures at the University of the Southern Caribbean, and owns the company ‘Anderson Antoine and Associates Professional Counseling Services’. At present he is deeply engaged in writing poetry.

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