Like Attracts Like or Opposites Attract? The Gift of a Breathing Heart

Like Attracts Like or Opposites Attract? The Gift of a Breathing Heart

Holidays offer humanity a second chance to heal by bringing up our unfinished business with family and friends come and gone. If you dread seeing someone there's a reason for that. If gift giving is an issue there's a message there. If memories of a broken heart arise it's not yet healed. It's not bad; it's information.

When a cat wags her tail she is giving a very different message than a dog. Let's face it, relationships can be confusing. Who is responsible for what when it comes to emotions? Could "Like attracts like" apply in one area and "Opposites attract" apply in another? Could a Universal Law be case sensitive? 

What I find interesting is that both like attracts like and opposites attract can apply to the same situation. Behaviors can appear to be opposing while the feelings fueling them can be the same. 

To follow are 3 examples. Before we continue I'd like you to ask yourself, "Do I have a willingness to heal? Am I willing to put my defenses down and listen fully? Am I willing to be wrong in pursuit of being right?" Be honest because what I have to say may get your hackles up. It could turn your world upside down or rather right the upside down world in which you've been living. And maybe you are still in the throes of your pain, and if so, how you unknowingly contributed might be the last thing you want to hear. That's okay too. You can save this for later.

My hope is to offer you the gift of a healing perspective where there may have been a hurting one at play. This can be sensitive stuff. I can't reach everyone in a blog post. Some situations require a conversation. That's why I do individual sessions as well. However, this may be enough to put the skip back in your step this holiday season. We'll see!

  1. It is common for one partner to complain about the controlling nature of another in a sessionhow their partner is bossy, barks orders, wants things his way or the highway. What that complaining partner is not aware of is his or her own controlling nature. The complaining partner often controls by keeping her feelings under wraps, selectively sharing or pretending things are fine when they really aren’t. One controls aggressively while the other controls passively. Control is a coping skill born of fear. That’s what they have in common. How they execute control is what is opposite.
  2. Let's look at a victim and a bully next. What could they possibly have in common you might be thinking? Especially if your tendency is to feel like a victim. Their positions may appear opposite yet the feelings fueling them are the same—feelings of inferiority and powerlessness. No one who feels good about themselves goes around making others feel small. If a bully knew his or her power he would never abuse it and others by bullying. Similarly with victims; have you ever heard of a powerful victim? Society tends to root for the underdog. Bully and victim are both ways for getting attentionone aggressively and the other passively. More often than not both are unaware of their motives. Believe me, I've felt like a victim. It feels pretty awful. But bullies aren't having a blast either. Who would genuinely feel good about getting people on their side by intimidating or threatening them? 
  3. As with football there is the offensive line and the defensive one. When someone is passive aggressive with their anger they come across as the offense. The passive aggressive will contrive a play—do something that he/she is pretty confident will score a pissed off partner. He uses the partner’s vulnerability as a weapon with which to hurt her (or him) in secret hopes (sometimes even secret from himself) of a defensive response. Defending ourselves is, in essence, an attack back. It makes us no better. Both are being abusive with their anger, just one aggressively and the other passively. The passively aggressive partner often walks away more prideful because he just pulled one over on his significant other. He got her to express his anger for him and looks down on her for falling for it. The passively aggressive partner adds the element of deceit to his (or her) anger, which only serves to further confuse. And besides looking down on the offender what is the defensive partner ultimately defending? Her pride as well, because if she knew her power in that moment she’d also know that defending herself was, in essence, giving it away.

When you don't know how to see yourself in someone who triggers you it can create anger, hurtful feelings and foster distance, but that same situation can promote healing, compassion and understanding depending on how it is handled. It can be an opportunity to know and be known. It's impossible to have compassion for someone when you are taking their behavior personally. That part needs to be tended to first.

When you can see yourself in someone else it's humbling rather than infuriating. "Ah! Yuk! I do that too!" We can shift from frustrated to grateful for becoming aware of our own fear based knockdown methodologies with the snap of a finger. Someone you love may have been experiencing a fearful moment but it was no accident that it was experienced with you.

Feelings can be used as fuel for learning, healing and growth rather than to cause harm. Growth, as in grow in our capacity to love-and-be-loved and know-and-be-known as opposed to using people and then discarding them when they won't cooperate with our agenda. Pride must be busted and fear based methodologies dismantled to get there, but that is exactly what is needed to open the pores of the heart so it can breathe love again. Pride clogs the pores of the heart. Humility opens them.

Passive aggressive, defensive, bully, victim, controlling are not who you are; they are your coping skills. They are our little "s" selves that we created during adversity. They are just a few versions of who we become when it doesn’t feel safe to be ourselves. We even created case sensitive 'laws' to back them. These behaviors can only serve to cause harm to ourselves and others as adults. They are manipulative. They are intimacy busters. They never lead us anywhere good. They make us selfish at best, narcissistic at worst. And we teach them to our kids by example.

We have a big "S" Self, which was created by Love and abides by Universal Laws of Love. It's the self we abandon for the "s." We download one or the other in any given situation. Fortunately you don’t need your 'partner’s' active participation to heal, only for reconciliation. Sometimes he just isn't ready, sometimes she is no longer in your life and sometimes he is too damaged. All you need is a commitment to Love and to confront your feelings when they arise rather than give little "s" decision-making authority. Depending on how far off track you've gone it can be a journey. I'm not going to lie. But the rewards will be far-reaching.

My hope is that I have given you the gift of a healing perspective this holiday season—a perspective that offers a little peace of mind and softens rather than hardens your heart. When something makes sense we can "breathe a little easier," as they say. From my personal and professional experiences your breathing heart is your ultimate gift to yourself, those closest to you and humanity at large! 

Happy Holidays!

Friends in this Love,

Dr. Trish

P.S. It’s not just me. 

Matthew 7:3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?"

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung

If this makes sense but you need help getting there give me a call. And if you are in physical danger call a domestic violence hotline such as (1-800-799-7233).


  1. Mandy says:

    Ah, Jett just came home so upset over perceived friends bullying him all day and talking behind his back and all he wants to do is retaliate and hurt them back somehow.

    what I will share with him:

    By attacking or defending in this situation, he’s Giving his power away.

    No one who feels good about themselves goes around making others feel small. (Him and them)

    Good lessons.

    1. Trish Whynot

      Hi Mandy,

      It's a little different with kids. As his mom you might want to take a look at what was leading up to this. Was Jett feeling powerless in another area of his life as well? He would benefit from a positive outlet for his frustration. That's SO important. So would the bully for that matter but our focus is on your son. When my kids were in elementary school I'd have them do a lap or 2 around the house to shake it off. Depends on where you live these days. As they got older I had them write a letter to the bully that they had no intention of sending to get the emotions off their chest. Also assure him that this says nothing about his value. There is more but it's beyond the scope of this blog. Just know that this positive shift could have the potential to inspire his entire school and positively change the course of his life. Keep me posted.

      Thanks for bringing this up. I'm sure other moms can relate.

      Much love,


  2. Michelle Poulin says:

    Thank you Trish, I enjoyed the blog it gave me a little insight. As we all know holidays can be stressful ,sad ,especially when you’ve had a loss of a loved one. And other issues going on..

    I hope we can Schedule a session right after the first of the year. Have a merry Christmas and look forward to speaking with you all my love Michele

    1. Trish Whynot

      Sounds good Michele. I'm glad to have offered a little peace. Merry Christmas to you and yours and I look forward to seeing you soon! We'll be bringing some 20/20 into 2020.

      Friends in this Love,



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