The Baby and The Bathwater Pattern (The Pattern That Keeps You Both Losing and Starving) - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

The Baby and The Bathwater Pattern (The Pattern That Keeps You Both Losing and Starving)

In English speaking cultures, we have a saying, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”.  It is a saying that means to convey wisdom expressed as a warning. This expression means don’t unintentionally get rid of something good or useful because you recognize something as all bad or are trying to get rid of its negative aspects.  It means don’t reject the favorable along with the unfavorable. But this is what so many of us do in our life and in our relationships and as a result, we end up in an all-negative world, unintentionally starving ourselves of resources.

A few examples of throwing the baby out with the bathwater are: A company has a very diligent accountant. This accountant is passive aggressive in company conflicts.  As a result, the company fires him instead of keeping him on for his skills while finding ways to minimize or mitigate the impact of this flaw on his fellow employees.  A woman has had a very close friend for years. Despite that friend having proven her loyalty and value, when they have a minor conflict over a difference of opinion, this woman ends the friendship.  A teacher is full of all kinds of amazing information. The student perceives him to be off base when it comes to one or two of his teachings and as a result, the student begins to doubt all of his teachings and decides to not learn from him or listen to him anymore.  A couple had a four-year relationship. During that time, they both gained a lot. But when they break up, they devalue the relationship and each other in entirety and say it was a waste of four years of their life.

What people don’t know is that this pattern does not only cause us to lose valuable things in our life, it causes us to not even take them in or use them as resources in the first place.  And it is this aspect of this pattern that causes us to unintentionally starve ourselves. Some examples of this are: A company is in the process of hiring a new manager. They are looking at hiring an accomplished and overqualified man who is deaf.  They worry that the other employees will not take him seriously as a leader on account of the way that he occasionally mispronounces his words. So they don’t hire him. A woman is dating a man. He is affectionate and committed and it is the best time she has ever had with a man, but he is still a friend to his ex girlfriend and this woman can’t live with his refusal to end that friendship, so she decides not to get into a committed relationship with him.  A man needs friendship badly. Every person he meets seems to meet some of his criteria for friendship, but not others. For example, one person is super fun to hang out with, but is flaky. The other is incredible at having deep, reflective conversation but isn’t very helpful when he needs her to actually lend a hand. The other is really helpful, but is dumb as a stump. Instead of simply valuing them for what each is good at and going to one vs. another when he has a specific need, he writes them all off and says he has no friends.  Here’s another example that most people might not catch. A woman has a friend who gives her compliments often. This friend gives her one negative reflection and suddenly, she feels like all of the positive feedback she has been given was a lie and so she disqualifies all of it and therefore it is no longer a resource for her self esteem. She also can’t take any further compliments she is given by this friend seriously.

When we are stuck in this pattern, we are stuck in a pattern of subconscious disqualification and rejection.  The thing is, we will always, always be able to find something that disqualifies someone or something or that allows us to justify rejecting the totality of something because of an aspect of it.  I have a really good example of this. On the first day of one of my events, a woman stood up and said “I can’t take anything that you are saying seriously… I mean, you are supposed to be a spiritual guru or something, but here you are wearing high heels on grass.  How am I supposed to take a woman seriously who wears high heels on grass?” And she vindictively thanked me for being the person who made her aware that she was ready to step up and be a spiritual teacher herself and literally walked out of the retreat demanding a refund.

When we are stuck in this pattern, what we are really doing is trying to avoid fear and pain.  When we have been hurt in our interpersonal relationships, we become ‘guillotine happy”. Any little thing that even mildly suggests that it could lead to us getting hurt, makes us reject something or even cut it off in its entirety.  People who struggle with this in close relationships often struggle with intimacy phobia. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Fear of Intimacy (How to Overcome Your Fear Of Intimacy).  

When we are afraid something may hurt us, we don’t want to keep it or let it in to begin with.  Receiving any part of something is dependent upon something being completely safe in its entirety.  But very few things in life (if any) actually meet this qualification. So we end up starving. Because shadows around receiving are such a key element of this dynamic, I suggest you watch my video titled: How to Receive.

Also, when we have this pattern, we tend to not be able to clearly see and hold space for people’s excellence and deficiencies at the same time.  Because of this, we fail to put them in the proper place in our lives. For example, a man in a woman’s life is super sexy and adventurous. But he is more committed to his own fun than to the happiness of other people so he is unreliable when he is needed by others.  Because of what she needs in a partner, he is incompatible to her as a partner. But if she cuts him off entirely, she may be losing someone who can add incredible zest to her life and someone who is able to offer her tons of adventure as a friend. It may be beneficial to think of people in your life like puzzle pieces.  Instead of disqualifying a person for not being every piece in the entire puzzle, you need to consider each person to be a valuable part of the overall puzzle. If you put them in the right place considering their specific areas of excellence and intrinsic nature and gifts, all of them suddenly represent incredible value to the overall picture of your life.  You will experience an abundant life where you can actually recognize which need of yours can be met where, because you will suddenly recognize yourself to be surrounded with valuable resources. We need to recognize compatibilities and incompatibilities in order to figure out where to fit someone into the puzzle of our lives and what to resource them for. For this reason, it would greatly benefit you to watch my video titled: Incompatibility, A Harsh Reality In Relationships.

The reality is that you will always be able to find negatives and unfavorable things about anything you look at.  If that causes you to get rid of everything or not take anything in, you will end up feeling alone and unsupported in a desert of a world where none of your needs can be met.  You will miss the gift inherent in every single living and non-living thing. The time has come to adopt the challenge of recognizing and keeping and taking in the value of each thing in existence.


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