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Templates Part Two: What You See is Not What You Get

Image of sunflowers at the end of their season.

In the last post, we started talking about templates and how they can run our lives. Templates rarely work alone; often they work in pairs or more, controlling our lives at multiple levels at once.

For example, a man came to therapy because he could not find a partner. Dating relationships began well, but ended in disappointment. No one worked out for him. The first template we found was one that sent him in constant pursuit of unsuccessful relationships. As we continued to look at his actions, we uncovered a deep-seated fear of closeness.

Hidden Messages

The second-layer template was what I call, “Running From Ms. Right.” When he would enter a relationship and begin to get close to another person, he would find things which disappointed him, or he would become be a disappointment himself. The top template says “I want love and closeness in my life.” The hidden template -- the controlling template -- says, “Closeness is dangerous. If you let anyone in, you will be hurt.”

Another example can be found in the case of a woman in a new relationship. As it progresses, she finds the man not available enough, and she begins to talk about leaving. In a threatening tone she says, “I can cut this off and never look back”. Her hidden template said, “Men Always Leave.” She had a deep fear of being abandoned, and had unconsciously adopted the motto, “Leave Before Being Left.”

The Messages Are Not Obvious

These examples show that templates can be very tricky, because what you see is not what you get. The top template exists to hide the deeper template. While they work together to protect us, we live by both templates without knowing what motivates our behavior.

When the man in our example felt lonely, the top template motivated him to seek out a partner. When he began to feel close to that person, the second template activates to protect him from emotional pain. This pairing of templates works such that he will always be with the wrong person, either because he chooses poorly, or because he sabotages the relationships with promise.

What do we do with these tricky templates and the messages they give us? One of the best starting points is to listen to yourself. Start questioning your role in creating the life you have, and creating the messes in which you may find yourself. Are you having the same experience over and over again? Then that part of your life is likely being run by a template

Sorting your templates is a complicated process. It is possible to do this with the help of trusted friends and loved ones; however, it will not be easy. A mindful lifestyle and journaling will contribute to this process.

Many times, the help of a professional will be needed. I have worked with many people to learn about their templates and helped them begin to live consciously. Call me at: 919-881-2001, if you would like some help.

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