How to find the love you deserve (part 3)

How to move on from dysfunctional relationships

This article is part three of a series of three. Here are PART 1 and PART 2 (please read/watch these first)

In order to create lasting change in your relationship patterns so you can find the love you crave and create the relationship you deserve, you must TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the way you act and feel. What does that mean? 

It is easy to blame others, society or even yourself for the way things are but what good does that do? Does that attitude help get you where you want to be? Chances are it doesn’t. 

You are fully responsible for the way you respond to situations. Responsibility means to have the ability to choose your response to what happens rather than behaving automatically without thinking things through based on the conditioning you have received throughout your life. When you focus on yourself and your behaviors with gentle compassion you give yourself a chance to choose your reaction to challenging feelings or situations. In this way, you can work on things you can control without beating yourself up for what you previously did with less awareness. This is how you can get back in the driving seat. 

QUESTION: In what ways are you not taking responsibility for your love life?

Even in the most difficult situation, you are half of the picture. What are you doing to allow things to go the way they have always gone ? What part are you playing in the game? If you want to change a situation you need to know what you can do differently rather than hoping others will magically change and make everything better without you doing anything at all.

Are you trying to change your partner? 

EXERCISE: Make a mental picture of the person you’re dating exactly as they function today — warts and all —  If they never changed, would you still want to be with them in five years?

Answer honestly. You need to stare reality in the face as uncomfortable as it may be.

If you have answered NO  you need to ask yourself another question: is what you want to change in your partner a personality trait or is it a behavior?

Character traits (such as shyness for example)  are almost impossible to change. If you cannot accept a particular trait in your partner you need to either leave them or accept that you are condemning yourself to a life of misery with them.

If on the other hand, it is a behavior that you want changing, there might be a chance your partner may change but that depends entirely on how much they want to change and how committed they are to making an effort in the right direction.

Basically, people cannot change their traits and can only change their behaviors if they really want to. And if you are spending your time trying to change someone who doesn’t want to because YOU cannot live with it, you are either falling into the category of “fixer” or you are ignoring the fact that you need to leave the relationship because it has become toxic.

How to break negative relationship habits 

Now, I normally don’t like maths but when it comes down to change here’s my winning formula :

(Insight + Behavior Change ) x Repetition = Identity Change = Different Outcome

Also: Intention (to change)  + Attention  (to old patterns of behavior) = a capacity to catch yourself when you are about to repeat old behaviors which leads to – Choice to do something different.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. First you invest your time and energy in answering questions that increase your awareness around your patterns so you uncover your automatic ways of responding in relationships and become aware of the motivations behind them.
  2. Following that, you catch yourself when you’re triggered to fall back into old behaviors and you consciously decide to do something different instead.
  3. You shift your view of yourself as someone capable of a good, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship and decide you will not accept anything less than that.
  4. You keep building new positive patterns paying attention to strengthening your new identity so you can prevent and manage trigger situations that would have you go back to old ways.

Start the process of change now 

To start this process I would ask you to get a pen and paper and write or respond to these questions speaking out loud. It’s not enough to just think about them. Thoughts have a way to get lost and keep meandering in our minds unless we pin them down either in writing or through spoken word.

First of all, you need to target the behaviors that hold you back and learn to replace them with new ones:

  • What attempts have you already made to change your repeating behaviors?
  • Think about your last relationship and ask yourself, what were the earliest warning signs you saw that could have tipped you off to potential problems?
  • How did you respond to those warning signs? How would you have wanted to respond? How will you respond in future?

In order to change you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You need to be willing to be uncomfortable for a while and ’embrace the suck’. Can you bring an attitude of curiosity to the investigation of what you are finding so challenging? You need to make a commitment to stop avoiding difficult stuff and just face it.

  • Are you really willing to change?
  • Which of the ‘types’ do you relate the most to?
  • What behaviors would be hardest for you to change when it comes to responding to the old type of man/woman you are attracted to?
  • What feelings will be the most difficult for you to sit with as you start to change your own behaviors?

Finally, you need to have a good idea of where you are going and why. If you just keep on thinking about what you don’t want that’s what you’ll keep on getting.

  • How would you describe the reward you’re going to get as a result of engaging in this process of change? In other words: why change ? what are you going to get out of it?
  • What’s standing in the way? What are you afraid of?
  • What new behavior do you need to implement to reap the reward of a great relationship?
  • What do you attitude/ belief/behavior do you need to leave behind?
  • From where you are right now what do you think your identity tells you to expect from your romantic relationships? What are your expectations now and how are they keeping you where you are?

Once you do the work you are on your way to better relationships. Remember that this is a process that requires constant practice and commitment. Like getting physically fit requires you to exercise every day at the gym you need to keep going to achieve and maintain your goals. There are no quick fixes in life but the reward is worth it! Focus on that and you will reap the fruits of your hard labor so you can find the love you deserve.

More about relationships:

How to find the love you deserve part 1

How to find the love you deserve part 2

Tips for a healthy relationship

How to find the love you deserve (part 2)

Reasons people end up in dysfunctional relationships

In the last article we looked at the main dysfunctional relationship patterns people get into:

  1. Idealizing the external
  2. Chasing the emotionally unavailable
  3. Rescuing and fixing
  4. Self sacrifice

Now let’s have a look at why do we repeat these patterns

REASON #1 FEAR

You are afraid of Having a Good Relationship

You may think why would I be afraid of having a good relationship? It makes sense that I would be avoiding a bad one but a good one? The answer is that openness and joy, actually make us feel more vulnerable than we may feel it is safe to be. Positive emotions potentially expose you to rejection and pain which can be a terrifying prospect especially if you’ve experienced heartbreak before. So in a good relationship, you may feel terrified and anxious and therefore avoid it at all costs.

You are scared of Intimacy

Intimacy can be defined as a desire to know and care for the another in a way that is mutual as well as the ability to be vulnerable and trust one another. If you are stuck in the same relationship patterns you may have learned to be pretty independent and self-sufficient as a result of the fact that you feel nobody else will care for you or meet your needs. Perhaps somebody badly betrayed you or something hurtful struck you down and now you cannot trust, as you are scared you may not survive another blow.

REASON #2 DENIAL

Denial is a defense mechanism that your mind has produced to defend you from the possible threat of facing something that could destroy you. If something is so upsetting that it threatens to overwhelm or destroy you then your mind will push it away and repress it. When you are in denial you are not in touch with your need for intimacy (to be close and to trust others). You may hardly ever have had your needs met so you don’t even remember you have them. If somebody asked you what you were looking for in a partner you may answer simplistically. You may be stuck in a fantasy. Or you may be focussed on a checklist of items that have nothing to do with your emotional needs. You cannot even imagine what it would be like to be treated well or to be happy in a relationship.

You are in denial of anger

When you are in denial of old feelings you may not be aware that you are in fact angry and your anger may have turned in on yourself.

You are in denial of sadness

You could be unaware of a deep old sadness. It could be that the original experience that caused you to be wounded has happened so long ago that you can’t even remember it. Or it could be that the experience is too painful to be recalled. The sadness you feel now is the old sadness revisited.

You are in denial of your own responsibility

This is when you don’t want to look at yourself and you avoid taking any responsibility for what went wrong in your past relationship/s and instead blame your partner or others. By refusing to ask what you could have done differently and not learning the lesson you are bound to repeat similar mistakes in the future.

REASON #3 IMPULSIVE COPING STYLE

You have a low tolerance for discomfort

If you are impulsive you will just jump into a relationship without thinking much of the consequences in advance. You may feel uncomfortable with feeling bored or lonely, sad or angry and you just want to jump into action. Alternatively, you may be afraid of thinking too much of the situation if you find something wrong and then you have to deal with the inevitable disappointment. This way you may end up with similar kind of partners because you have not taken the time to go slow and properly vet your potential partner.

You are drawn to drama

You tend to get into relationships marked by emotional highs and lows. You may come from a home where there was a high of emotion or conflict. You may be afraid that a good relationship equals too much stability and that means boredom and therefore emotional death. You may feel addictively drawn to relationships that you know are not good for you and that you know will not work. If you already use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or you use other addictive behaviors to cope with life in general your dependency in relationships may be just another way that your impulsive coping style gets manifested.

Reason #4: DISTORTED BELIEFS

Sometimes it is our deeply held beliefs – which are the foundation for all behavior – that are holding you back.

You have unrealistic expectations

Do you believe that a relationship will permanently change the way you feel, so you’ll finally be happy? Do you believe that if only you had a relationship you would automatically :

  • feel fulfilled

  • have someone who will be there no matter what

  • you’ll finally have a gratifying sex life

  • you’ll be swept away from the mundane realities of everyday life

If so, you are in for a fall! Inevitably you will realize this relationship, like the one before, cannot meet these expectations. You are attempting to use the other rather than relating to them and you are trying to get something so unrealistic from a relationship that you end up disappointed .

You have Negative Core Beliefs

If you have deeply negative core beliefs about yourself you may be interfering with your ability to find and maintain a long-term, positive relationship.

  • Do you believe you are unlovable?

  • Do you believe you are helpless?

  • Do you believe a combination of the two?

You are rigid

You restrict yourself to a narrow selection of partners and fail to see the big picture. You may get caught up in non-important details, and not see how a partner may be good for you just because they don’t fit it with your rigid idea of the requirements they should meet.

You are trying to get over a previous trauma by putting yourself through a new one.

If you have previously experienced a trauma you may try to gain some mastery over the original traumatic event by putting yourself in similar traumatic situations now and hoping to react differently.

Trauma can be anything you perceive as traumatic, regardless of whether others would find it traumatic.

SELF-EVALUATION

  • So, what do you think are your triggers for repeating the same old patterns in your relationships ?
  • Which ones of these reasons struck a chord ? If you think none do, have another look at the denial section !
  • What in your past could have set the stage for this ?

And finally : Do you believe you can truly change the underlying causes of your behaviour? This is essential if you want to change . In the next article we will deal with how to practically change these patterns.

This article was inspired by the book : Dr Seth Love Prescription. Overcome Repeated Relationship Patterns by Seth Meyers.

MORE: 

How to find the love you deserve part 1

How to find the love you deserve part 3

Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Healthy Relationships: The Responsibility Trap

Do you worry a lot about hurting other people?

Or do you often get scared you might get trapped into being someone other than yourself?

Do you feel responsible for other people’s feelings or do you cherish your independence to the point that other people have deemed you to be insensitive?

If you have said yes to the any of the above you may have to re-adjust your understanding of what the healthy amount of responsibility is to be taken when it comes to our loved ones.

“You always hurt the one you love” goes the saying. But why is that?

Of course, nobody wants to willingly hurt the ones they love. By the same token, nobody wants to hurt themselves by losing themselves in a relationship to the point that they don’t know who they are anymore. The good news is there is no need to swing from one extreme to the other, and the trick is to find a balance between taking too much and too little responsibility for other people’s feelings. But how do we find this balance?

Before we even start thinking about others and how they respond to us we first need to be honest with ourselves and the way we feel about them.

In order to do this, we need to be self-aware, which means that we need to pay attention to the way we truly feel about other people. Once we pay attention we will start to notice how we feel and once we do that we need to accept it. There is no point in denying the truth to ourselves because whether we like it or not the truth will always come to the fore, sooner or later.

But where do our emotions come from? Are we to believe that we should be victims of our emotions, and let them have tyranny over us? Luckily it is now understood that most of our feelings are a by-product of our thoughts, whether we are conscious of them or not. Thoughts are responsible for the way we feel, and since thoughts can be positive or negative if we feel positive about something it is because of what we are thinking about it. By the same token if we tell ourselves something negative about something the resulting emotion will be negative too.

But then where do thoughts come from? Why do we have a specific thought and not another about something or someone?  The answer is simpler than we think: our thoughts are a direct result of our deepest beliefs about who we are, which in turn are formed mainly during childhood and to a lesser extent during our teenage years. Sometimes these beliefs are based in hard fact, and sometimes they are a result of misconceptions which came into being as a result of past unpleasant situations out of our control. These beliefs are stored in our subconscious mind and whether we like it or not they shape our identity, the way we perceive the world around us and the way we relate to it.

Now, if we are, to be honest with ourselves about our feelings, we need to be as aware as possible of our thoughts and beliefs too so that we can be truthful with ourselves and so, in turn, be truthful in our communication with others. Of course this is not always easy, as most of our thoughts are habitual and unconscious but still, we can only do our best, and our best is all that is required of us.

Let us assume we have a working knowledge of our feelings about our partner. We are open to change our opinion if we get more information about it, but for the time being, we are pretty sure about where we stand.

The next step is to be honest with them about the way we feel about them and to act coherently in accordance to that. That is, we need our actions to be in line with our feelings.  This might sound scary and might make some people anxious, especially when we have negative emotions and we are afraid that communicating these emotions to our partner might result in them not liking us anymore.

If we feel this way chances are we are taking too much responsibility for our partners’ feelings and we will end up losing ourselves in relationships. This, in turn, will make us feel resentful toward others and cause us to want to break away from them.

Why do we act this way?  Because to us being approved of is more important than being truthful to who we really are. This is a dangerous game to play. In fact, nobody wants to be with someone who seems to shift their shape according to the where the wind blows. In the end, our partner is likely to lose faith and respect in us because we have lost our sense of identity and they do not know how to relate to us anymore. If this weren’t enough, a relationship based on dishonesty is never going to stand the test of time.

If we belong to this category of people, what we need to realize is that our only responsibility is in being truthful first to ourselves and then to others. Once we have communicated our feelings honestly our responsibility ends there. Of course, communication should be carried out with gentleness, tact, love, and without laying blame and our actions need to reflect our words, but provided all the above is done, the matter is then out of our hands.

If, in spite of all the above our partner still chooses to react negatively to what we have communicated we need to realize that’s what they choose to do and it becomes solely their issue. It is essential that the “it’s my fault” trap be avoided because that only leads to emotional manipulation.

If, however, we are to have a healthy relationship the other person has to learn to accept us for who we are and to appreciate our honesty. If they cannot do that, we need to acknowledge that the relationship is unbalanced. In fact, when the other person is ready for it, the truth will create a strong bond between two people without anyone losing their sense of self because healthy boundaries are put into place. After all, if done with love, truthful communication is ultimately positive and will only build bridges between people.

The opposite of the approval seeking behavior just described is the one taken by those of us who are so scared of losing their sense of self that they over-compensate by refusing to take any responsibility for other people’s feelings. If we belong to this category chances are we will appear selfish and insensitive to others, while we may harbor deep, sometimes secret feelings of guilt. We may even believe ourselves to be “bad” because that is what others have told us countless times.

In reality, we are just trying to protect ourselves from being smothered and suffocated in relationships. Perhaps, during our own infancy, we experienced a primary caregiver who was too fearful and that reacted to their fear by smothering us with too much “love”. As a result of these early imprints, we have come to equate closeness with danger and we will end up, again and again, acting in ways that sabotage closeness and that make other people feel rejected. Of course, this behavior does not do us any favors because it makes it impossible for us to maintain a relationship for very long. In order to correct this error, we need to understand that acknowledging and caring about someone else’s feelings need not mean we have to deny our own. In fact, we have to realize that being assertive does not mean doing whatever we want regardless of how our partner feels about it. On the other hand, we need be able to clarify to each other what each deems to be acceptable behavior so that we do not fall prey to emotional manipulation.

As an aside, it is interesting to notice that often these two types of people attract each other and end up in relationships that recreate familiar negative patterns. Each partner acts in ways that alienate the other by “pushing their buttons” and a drama is created where each person’s negative beliefs are confirmed by the other’s behavior. This kind of relationships is often very painful but it also offers great insight and as such an invaluable opportunity for growth for all parties involved, because it exposes the fallacy of both partners habitual thinking patterns.

To summarise, if we want to avoid the pitfalls of caring too much or too little for other people’s feelings, first we need to pay attention and become aware of  our habitual patterns of behaviour: whether we try to fit into the idea of who we imagine the other person wants us to be  or whether we ignore our partner’s needs and feelings we have one problem in common:  we are following an erroneous habitual pattern of behaviour which needs to be changed.

Once we consciously recognize our need to change we can tackle the causes for such behavior and explore the erroneous beliefs which caused it to emerge in the first place.

Since beliefs and habits have their seat into the Subconscious Mind and Hypnosis grants us access to the latter, Hypnotherapy can be highly effective in isolating such erroneous beliefs so we can face them and correct them.

Once we do this we are free to be ourselves and to relate to others in healthy ways because we learn to respect ourselves and others; we accept and love ourselves and others for who they are; we stop demanding from others that they be what we want them to be and we stop demanding that we fit into other people’s idea of who we are. We become conscious of our choices of partners and we only relate to those that can relate to us in healthy ways. We consider other people ‘s feelings but we do not let them overwhelm us to the point of losing ourselves in them.  We learn to love without expectations and projections, and our relationships cease to be battlegrounds for our unconscious conflicts because we understand that our duty to each other is one of honesty and support. And so we grant others the same rights we have and grant ourselves the same rights we give others.

This kind of relationship is bound to create a deep sense of trust between two people and is therefore healthy. A healthy relationship may take many forms in its constant development but nonetheless, it will always grow into something beautiful and positive which will benefit all parties involved.

There are ways in which hypnotherapy can help you and your partner understand each other better. Please get in contact with me today to find out how.  Email us or call us now on 075 44247800.