Today we are going to go a bit deep. For those of you who don’t know me well yet, let me first tell you a little bit about myself. I am a Latina woman born and raised in New York, my background is Puerto Rican. I grew up with both love and heartache. My first heartache happened before I was even a few years old, some might dare to even say, it happened while in the belly. My parents divorced when I was three. My mom and dad did the best they could with the information they had, as all parents do.

The problem is that most of us, at some point, will not be loved, seen or heard for what we are really saying in our childhood. Some are abused and neglected. I was loved and I was abused.

Both, which was confusing to my psyche and my soul. Perhaps you went through similar things, or at the least, you’ve had a moment where you felt misunderstood by your parents. So this might cause you to feel that perhaps your reality wasn’t validated. The effects of that? Low self esteem, you don’t trust yourself as much, and you don’t feel secure emotionally. The result of that? You seek unconsciously for stability in similar people to your parents, trying to get them to change. In essence, your subconscious mind sees your romantic partner as some type of new emotional parent – that is either going to nurture you or not, and if you were hurt in your childhood you might not be seeking parents that can give you what you need, but it might be familiar – so you stay.

The key is to realize this. THEN IS NOT NOW. However, patterns from the past are there and they will rule you if you don’t become conscious of how to work with it. The first step is to notice times that you feel triggered, notice times where you feel hurt and unloved. In those moments pause and ask yourself…

  1. How is this feeling familiar?
  2. Where else do I remember feeling this feeling?
  3. Who was involved when I felt this feeling?
  4. How did I usually feel emotionally when this similar feeling came up?
  5. How did I react then to that feeling?

STOP and pause. Give yourself credit for pausing and taking an emotional inventory, which we rarely get to do in this busy world. Know that as you do this, you allow yourself to shed some more light on these usually darker and more hidden parts of our psyche and subconscious.

The next step is to decide to use your relationships as a teaching tool for you to HEAL these inner wounds and to help the other heal their inner wounds. This comes with a warning if there is imminent danger like an abusive relationship. If this is the case, you must seek professional and sometimes legal support, to help you with the process. But beyond that warning, your relationships are there for you to react differently from the way you did prior when you felt unloved, so that your mind can learn to feel safety and not repeat the same subconscious programming that it had due to the lack of love from childhood.

How do you practice? First you set the intention:

Although my relationship is about pleasure and fun and connection it is also a deep healing tool for me to grow and for me to help my partner grow. I commit to using my relationship as a way for me to do my individual work and help my partner do his/her individual healing work.

Then practice the following tools: communication, mirroring, empathy, and validation.

Practice communication: Don’t hold it in, express it so it doesn’t harbor up inside.

Mirroring: For example, mirror back what your partner says and ask that he does the same “So, I hear you saying that you are stressed at work?”

Try to use the same words your partner uses with as little of your own assumptions, feelings as possible. Ask your partner to make sure you understood correctly and to let you know if you missed out on something.

Partner A: “Did I miss out something”
Partner B: Yes you said that right, but you missed out on how that makes me feel.
You keep going until you both feel heard.

Empathy: Empathy is difficult when you are triggered, but you must mentally tell yourself: my partner is not MINE, he is his own person with his own journey and feelings, and life history. You don’t need to agree with him/her but you must accept what is. Having empathy means you feel connected to his/her experience and realize that it is affecting them. Show them you care by reflecting empathy, “I can feel how that makes you feel stressed and how awful that must be.”

Validating their experience is a massive part of the healing both for you and for them. In turn, the more we offer this, the more the other partner feels safe to do the same for you. You can also communicate that you would like that in return as well.

The reason why these tools work is because we subconsciously treat our romantic partners as our parents. In turn, whichever needs weren’t met as a child, we subconsciously seek to fulfill them with our partner and express all that childhood pain through our patterns as well.

Our subconscious mind can’t tell the difference, so as we choose to bring more consciousness in and deal with similar triggers in a new more conscious way, the subconscious then finds relief and feels more safety. In turn, childhood wounds are validated through this more conscious way of interacting with your partner. It might feel funny at first, but the more you practice the more the inner child and subconscious pains are soothed, which in turn allows you to actually be in a relationship with your partner in this moment, with less tension and projected anger from childhood. Lastly, if you are not in a relationship or dating you can practice this with friends and anyone that triggers you.

Practice is key and learning to take those moments of discomfort and using them to grow and respond to them more consciously, has been the biggest key that I have learned in my life and that I continue to learn and practice.

Every day is different and who you are today is massively different than who you were yesterday.
@CosmicChristine (Click to Tweet!)

We are always growing and changing, so check in with your heart and your inner world, and see what lessons your heart is calling for you to learn.

See what experiences have been happening and take a guess at what they could be attempting to teach you. Then choose to not run or react to them, but instead have more conscious conversations and reactions to them.

I want to hear from you! What experiences have triggered you in relationships and what is one way you can choose to respond more consciously? Remember, you can share your answers in the comments below. Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Christine Gutierrez is a psychotherapist, advice columnist, speaker, author, poet, and founder of an online hub that features psychologically-savvy and soulful advice, articles, videos, private consultations, workshops, retreats (both live and virtual), radio appearances, and television projects. “Ancient wisdom with a modern twist” is the motto. She has been featured in TimeOut NY Magazine, Latina Magazine as “The Future 15: The Healer,” Yahoo Health, Ebony Magazine, Cosmopolitan for Latinas, The Conversation, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Ricki Lake, Lifetime TV, and more. You can also follow Christine on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. And sign up for her weekly newsletter at: Want a free 15 min consultation call? Click here to set it up.