Firstly, DISCLAIMERS! I am not saying we all need to become therapists or psychologists and start diagnosing our family members with mental health issues, and highlighting traumas in our friends!
I’m not saying that I am in any way a professional with the ability to diagnose or psychoanalyse anyone…like at all. What I mean by “psychoanalyse” is just to think deeply about the people you love and the potential (emphasis on potential, not actual) reasons for their behaviours.
I naturally psychoanalyse people. I don’t know if it’s my empathy and intuition; or that I’ve studied psychology (3 years total, basic understanding); or my interest in personalities and human behaviour in general. But sometimes, I’m quite good at it. And the reason I keep doing so is a reason why I’m sharing this all with you today: it helps me understand people better and therefore treat them better…
Psychoanalysing someone just means taking a step back and putting time into trying to gain a deeper understanding of their interior. There beliefs, thoughts, feelings, past experiences, personality, and so on.
All the things that work together to make them who they are and how they act in this world.
Why does this matter? Well, it should matter a lot when it comes to those closest to you, and it can even help with those who aren’t as close.
Take for example your brother is angry and says something horrible to you. You can take that as him being a jerk. You could write him off as a good for nothing brother. Or, with some emotional maturity and emotional intelligence, you can take a moment to think about a reason for why he behaved that way.
This is not to say that you should give people a free-pass to be jerks just because they have a “reason” for it. Hell no! But it does help you to handle situations differently, bringing me onto my next point…
Once you have identified a potential reason for a behaviour, you can be kinder because you’re not simply reacting to anger with upset. Anger on top of anger on top of anger is just fuel to an unnecessary fire. Instead, you should put that distance between you and the feelings evoked by the situation. Then, you are able to open your heart a little more.
Say you discovered that you brother had just had a fight with his wife or got some bad news at work. This helps you to be like, “Ah man, I’m sorry you’re hurting right now. Is there anything I can do?”
This compassion then unifies instead of dividing you. It calms the situation right now an bridges connection with kindness. And most likely, once calmer and having explained, your brother will apologise for what he said anyway.
As I said, that unity is there when the emotional reactions are taken away. When we bring understanding and reasoning into play. Maybe through your analysis you realise that it’s something much deeper. Perhaps a deep core belief in him, or an emotional scar he has yet to shed.
It is not your job, nor should you attempt to fix this emotional wound in this person. You love them, and so you may want to do so. But that work is self-work that they need to recognise and do for themselves.
But maybe you could help them to see it. Or allow them to at least feel this space to open up with your support. Again, be careful. People don’t like being told who they are or have their past dragged up in front of them.
Sometimes, just you knowing it yourself (or potentially seeing something there) is enough for empathy, compassion and unity which is so important for any lasting, strong relationship. To choose to love one another, see one another deeply, and look beyond initial reactions at the potentially deeper and uglier truths underneath instead.
Some things you may consider/discover playing a role:
- Toxic Masculinity
- Childhood trauma (big, small, everything in-between can leave echoes in our adulthood)
- Attitude/relationship with parents
- What was and wasn’t allowed growing up
- What they consume (TV, books, education, social media etc.)
- Their love language
- Their values
- Time of year
- Present circumstances
- Do not assume you have the right answer (assumptions be bad and lead to miscommunication and divide)
- Do not, as I said, diagnose or push an idea onto someone
- Doing this too much is unhealthy
- It’s about emotional intelligence and trying to understand someone, rather than judgement or diagnosis or assumptions or predictions