“Absorbing Markov States” characterize defensive states where we have amplified or numbed emotions, distorted perspectives, destructive impulses, and diminished capacities for empathy and self-reflection. They are mutually amplifying and self-reinforcing with couples. JG call them the “Cockroach Hotel” because they are easy to get into and hard to get out of.
The stories we use to keep locked up in defensive states tend to reflect our current worldviews, but have the same impact of resisting self-reflection and empathy and supporting distorted perspectives and amplified or numbed emotions.
Recognizing them and attuning your antenna to love/compassion gets you out of your absorbing Markov state — but that’s not enough. Just like the Navy Seals who never leave a comrade on the battlefield, once one partner is out of the state, they have responsibility to help the other out. If you can’t do it right away, you can do it energetically and approach when your partner is ready.
This speaks directly to our responsibilities as couples to be lovable to our partner and help our partner be lovable to us.
This speaks to the restimulations of family and our emergent responsibilities to open the moment with everyone.
This is very much like the responsibilities we have with our kids when they enter absorbing negative states, most often defensive states.
During the holidays, family triggers for pleasurable and painful states tend to be more common because of the stress of the system and the connections with family. This is a great time to practice attuning your antenna to love/compassion and bringing it back to that attunement when triggered into another state.
written by Dr. Keith Witt
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About Keith Witt
Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.