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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Unfinished Business

                                                         'I just moved on...'
 Interpersonal or intrapsychic unfinished business can be a terrible impediment to your full functioning.  Some part of you, even the smallest, most unconscious part, is always occupied, managing that bothersome business.  It deprives you of some of your energy.  The more clear you are as you enter each day, each moment even, the more positive energy you will have from which to draw.
"Perhaps the major consequence of blocked awareness is the phenomenon of unfinished business.  Need cycles cannot become completed, tension is aroused but not reduced, and affect mounts but is unexpressed.  Little new can happen when a person is experiencing an overwhelming amount of unfinished business.

Unfinished business can go a long way back into my past, such as matters pertaining to my relationship with  authority figures due to unresolved conflicts with my father---or it can be a very recent piece of unfinished business left unresolved..."just moments ago.  (excerpted from Becoming Naturally Therapeutic by Jacquelyn Small)

 There were two examples of unfinished business, interfering in two marital relationships, that I saw this week.  In one, the wife could not understand how her husband had blown up over one little thing-a death in the family would necessitate them making a sudden, unplanned trip of about 3000 miles-disrupting the plans they already had.  His blow-up was over the change in plans.  When this came up in the office, we were able to uncover a 'laundry list' of frustrations on his part that had been happening not for days, not months, but literally for years.  The majority would rule in the family and things would not go his way and he would not do anything to address his disappointment.  He would 'stuff it' until it finally burst its bounds, unintentionally.
A similar situation happened with a younger couple who had been having financial distress for a couple of weeks.  When he asked her if she had paid a particular bill-just checking-she barked at him:  "Do I have to do everything!!"

Here are two destructive examples of communication which, by themselves, can be fairly readily untangled with the assistance of a good therapist.  That they sometimes persist or repeat, despite the best efforts at a remedy, leads to the question of long past problems mentioned in the quote.  Even more serious is when unfinished business contributes to PTSD, formerly called Shell Shock.  (note:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a topic unto itself; let me know if you want a post on that.  It refers to the diagnosis given when an individual has experienced something profoundly upsetting).

What to do about it:  If a friend steps on your toes, you can say something to that person, not necessarily expecting to get the result you want.  But, at least, that sting won't be left to fester inside of you.  If the issues are of a more complicated nature and stem from your past, some intensive journal work, might help a lot.  Or see a therapist about it; get some help sorting it out.  If the unfinished business is a part of a trauma, professional help would be the best thing you could offer yourself.  Sometimes group therapy work with others who have suffered a similar experience, is very relieving.  A good one on one relationship with a therapist, where you can share your innermost feelings can be curative.  And, sometimes, during treatment, psychotropic medication prescribed by a psychiatrist (these docs specialize in that class of drugs) can be a helpful adjunct.

But, above all, don't 'stuff it'.  This does not mean you should give yourself license to blow up over every little thing.  Presumably we leave the temper tantrums behind at the 3rd birthday.  But, at the very least, do yourself the favor of allowing awareness, within yourself, of your feelings.  Consider some choices for addressing them; maybe you can talk it out with a friend; maybe a few long, slow deep breaths will do the trick, maybe you need to buy yourself a little present to make up for a disappointment; maybe a hard run will use up your adrenaline and help you to relax.  There are many ways to take care of your own emotional reaction to the difficulties life presents.
The main thing is, do something! 
 Stoic doesn't work in the long run.