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 manifest the life you want

The truth about manifesting

Imagine you are sitting in the middle of a dark theatre. Then suddenly a spot light appears.  The only thing you can see is whatever the spotlight shines its light upon. That is your reality. You may think that is all reality but the truth is it is only a fraction of it. You decide where to point the light and wherever you do that’s what you get ! The universe is a mirror of us. Our external reality is a reflection of our internal reality. The world reflects back to you whatever you believe about it and your place in it.

Are you getting the opposite of what you want ?

Imagine you are the captain of a ship sailing on the wide open ocean. The crew follows your orders to the letter. You just need to tell it where to go. But instead of telling it where you want to go you keep on telling it where you don’t. “I don’t want to go to Hell Island! it’s full of horrible people there and there is nothing to eat and the weather is terrible all year round! No, I don’t want to go to Hell Island! Please don’t take me there!”

Guess where you end up going ? The crew doesn’t know where else to take you, all they hear is “Hell Island! Hell Island”!

So stop asking for what you don’t want and focus on its opposite: What you do want. 

Asking for what you want…

Some people use this simple principle to try to attract to themselves what their ego wants in their life. More money, a better job, a mate, you name it. And although there is nothing wrong with wanting these things, if the request comes from your ego you may end up in trouble when you do get what you asked for. This is because the ego tries to get you ‘stuff’ based on a dream, a fantasy of what getting that stuff will be like. Often we have no idea what that really would entail and it might just be the opposite of what would make us happy !

What if I don’t know what I want ?

The other problem is that we often have no idea what we really want, and that’s because the ego has no idea what would satisfy our deeper needs. It hears ideas about money or fame or having children or achievement as the ultimate goals that will bring it happiness and believes the story. The problem is that’s just a story and what makes somebody else happy might not make you happy. The ego doesn’t know what would make you happy. Only your deeper self does. (More on this later, read on)

I don’t have enough money…

Many people think that if only they had more money then everything would be ok. There are many problems with this:

  1.  money is a means to an end and not an end in itself so you’d be better off asking for the end object or service than money itself. ie. “I want to go on holiday to the Bahamas”, not “I want money to buy a ticket to go to the Bahamas”.
  2. asking for money reflects the idea that we don’t have enough. If you believe that you don’t have enough then the universe will register that and will keep on giving you more of the same. Instead try to focus on being grateful for what the many blessings you already have and you’ll get more of those.
  3. too often underneath the idea that you don’t have enough lies the basic insecurity that you aren’t enough. And if you aren’t enough, anything you get is not going to be enough. So you are just stuck in a scarcity mentality.

Fear vs Freedom

What to do instead ? The solution to this conundrum is to surrender to the higher self, the inner teacher, the part of us that is much bigger and wiser than our ego. This inner voice, the inner counsel always knows what is best for us in a way that might even frighten the ego. This is because the ego wants safety at all costs, while our higher self wants our ultimate growth, happiness and freedom to expand out of our comfort zone. You will be most aware of the difference between the ego and the higher self when you have a decision to make.

Your ‘head’ will always counsel you towards safety. Your ‘heart’ will always counsel you towards expansion. Your head tries to keep you small. Your heart wants you to grow. But growing can be scary, because you are entering unknown territory, so if you feel a little scared of what one of the inner voices is telling you to do you might just have tapped into the wisdom your heart.

How to be happy

So listening to your ‘heart’ (or your inner teacher, wise counsel, higher self, sometimes also experienced as God) is the way forward.

But what if you cannot hear the voice of the inner self ?  It is hard to listen to the inner voice if you are surrounded by constant distraction and never spend a moment looking inside. Facebook, mobile phones, TVs are pulling our attention away from the inner voice on a regular basis.

A simple practice to connect to your Inner Guidance

  1. Switch everything off, sit down (or lie down) and be still
  2. Take a few deep breaths and relax for a few minutes.
  3. Go to a place of peace or stillness in your mind and allow yourself to feel your feelings. Do not try to feel differently from what you are feeling, just accept whatever it is you are feeling.
  4. If you notice the feeling is negative , while accepting what you are feeling, imagine what you’d like to feel instead, as if your life were already perfect.  Connect to this reality and let yourself experience it as if it were already real.
  5. Ask for your Inner Teacher to appear. Maybe it is just a presence, a feeling, or a knowing or maybe you can even see it.  When you are connected to the inner wiser self ask: What feels like the right thing to do for me to bring about this change ? What is going to get me closer to what I want ? What feels right ?
  6. Now listen and make space to receive. Open your heart to its wisdom.

If your analytical mind is interfering with the process by distracting you with judgements you need to relax more and pay no heed to its criticisms. It’s just the ego getting scared and trying to protect you from the unknown. You can reassure yourself you’ll listen to it later. But for now pay attention only to the exercise. Drop your judgements and connect to the deeper truth of the present moment.

Follow these steps and you’ll access the most valuable teacher and therapist you’ll ever have. The coach that knows you the best. Remember this is a PRACTICE. You don’t run a marathon by going to the gym once. You need to keep at it and commit until you get the results you want.

Remember, it is never the experiences we have that keep us stuck but the judgements about them. It is the resistance to feeling our feelings. Move into the feeling and trust it has something invaluable to teach you.

For more articles on related topics see

How to be Happy

You are what you believe 

You Are What You Believe

What do you believe in?

Your beliefs shape your life.

Are your beliefs serving your best interest?

This is what I happen to believe. Read through if you like, and compose your own list.

I believe in giving people a fair chance.

I believe in taking responsibility for my well-being.I believe in being honest and true to myself.

I believe that the most difficult, painful and challenging experiences life throws at us can end up being
the most enlightening rewarding and meaningful.

I believe that being different although not easy is something to celebrate as a blessing.I believe in the power of laughter to help us lift us from tragedy.

I believe that an enormous amount of wealth lies in reading and learning. I believe sometimes the best thing you can do is switch off and have a good night sleep. In the morning new solutions and insight may come.

I believe in learning to let go of the need to always having to “do something”.

I believe that most problems come from tension and not giving ourselves permission to relax.

I believe that believing in myself is the best investment I could ever make.

I believe that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. No success is ever possible without making mistakes. What’s important is to listen to the feedback.

I believe genius is not something we are born with but something we make with practice, dedication and determination.

I believe that not letting people get to me is sometimes hard but essential.

I believe in learning to let go of whatever is bothering me by first expressing my feelings and then examining my thoughts and gaining perspective.

I believe in not paying too much attention to those who do not have other people’s best interest at heart. To do so would impair my faith in humanity.

I believe in choosing to listen to the part of myself that encourages me and not to the part of me that wants to put me down.

I believe in expecting the best and accepting the rest.

I believe there is nothing wrong with people who do not like me. The fact they don’t tell me more about them than it does about me. They might have something to teach me, or they might have something to learn. You cannot please everyone all the time…

I believe in allowing myself to like what I like without shame. I believe in not denying myself the things I feel attracted to, no matter what others may think of me as a result.

I believe in making time for fresh air, social interaction and being creative.

I believe in self-reflection as a path to self-healing.

I believe that focusing on things we are grateful for is the key to happiness.

Check out these blogs on 

Happiness

Living stress-free

Meditation for beginners

7 Ways of getting what you want

Four easy steps to find your life’s purpose

Manifest the life you want

How to be Happy

Everybody wants to be happy

It seems that is the true quest of every human being on earth. Sometimes success is defined in terms of happiness.  The American Declaration of Independence even states that happiness is man’s inalienable right.

But why is it so important to be ‘happy’?

Well, first of all, it goes without saying that life is already complicated enough without the added burden of moodiness and sadness. Also, it is scientifically proven that elation triggers hormones that are essential when it comes down to proper metabolic function and well-being. Also, when someone is happy their positive side is brought to the fore and problems become easier to solve.

On the other hand issues such as poverty, oppression and stress do exist. There are still many places where abuse is a commonplace occurrence and where people still die victims of hunger and violence. Are we advocating we just close our eyes to these and pretend they do not exist? Certainly not. On the other hand, dwelling on problems and becoming depressed by them has never helped anyone.

The American Psychological Association states that teenagers as young as fourteen begin experiencing depression at least once a year until they are thirty. Human beings have a tendency towards negativity because often negative events and feelings carry more weight than contentedness and joy. As a result, a lot of us experience sadness that continues to influence us long after the triggering episode has gone. This, in turn, increases our risk of developing illnesses such as chronic heart failure, cerebrovascular accidents, apnea, and migraine.

So perhaps we can all agree that it would be better to be happy than not.  But then, a question springs to mind:

What does it mean to be happy?

Happiness is sometimes defined as a state of mental well-being characterized by positive emotions which can vary between contentment and joy. Another way to understand happiness is in terms of a way of life, rather than an emotion. It is hard to pin the concept down because happiness means different things to different people. Sometimes we are happy because we are confronted with unexpected positive events. Other times we are happy because we feel accepted and loved by others. 

Some psychologists have attempted to explain happiness: Seligman, for example, thought humans are most happy when they experience Pleasure (such as good food, warm baths etc) , Engagement (also called ‘flow’ which is feeling absorbed in an enjoyable yet challenging activity) , Relationships,   Meaning  ( a sense of belonging to or a quest for  something bigger than themselves)   and Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals)

Maslow, the founder of humanistic psychology, understood happiness in terms of a hierarchy of needs shaped in the form of a pyramid.

 

At the bottom of the pyramid, we have our basic needs that must be fulfilled at all costs. When we fulfill them we attain a basic level of happiness.

After that we ascend to ‘higher’ needs and a higher, more fulfilling sense of happiness is found. We proceed this way until we reach the last level where ‘peak experiences’ of profound love and understanding are felt.

When we reach the self actualization level we feel more whole, more alive, self-sufficient and yet part of the bigger world around us. This is the highest state of ‘happiness’ that we can experience.

 

Can we be happy all the time?

According to this model we can’t be happy all of the time and we shouldn’t expect to be. Happiness depends on needs being fulfilled, therefore until they are fulfilled we can expect an unhappiness. Surely, this model is useful to understand ourselves better and to aspire to have our needs met at different levels as we proceed in life. 

However, there is something to be said about how a positive attitude of mind can help us fulfill our needs quicker because if we feel good about where we’re at in the present, we cope more effectively with the circumstances we find ourselves in while aspiring to better them.

If we see happiness as an attitude of mind we might find that our needs get fulfilled quicker and that we can feel reasonably happy despite all the negativity that surrounds us and despite not having attained just yet the highest levels of self actualization.

How do we foster a happy attitude?

A good attitude is half talent half habit. Like some people are born with a talent for music so some people struggle with it. However, anyone can become a reasonably good musician if they put enough effort and practice into it. In the same way, a good attitude is the product of a positive habitual way of thinking, which might be partly inherited from good parents and partly learned and acquired.

So if your parents were negative and you were brought up, like most of us, in a society that thrives on fostering insecurity for economic reasons there is still hope for you. Luckily for all of us, our mind is extremely pliable and versatile and can learn new habits throughout our lives. It is never too late to change, unless of course you tell yourself it is.

I have found that the first step towards change is gratitude. We could spend all of our time focusing on what is missing but if we do that we will only attract more of the same. This is not because of magic. It simply is a psychological reality: whatever we tell ourselves we create in our minds.  And whatever we think produces an effect in feelings and actions. These, in turn, are reflected back to us by others and create more of the same. The tricky thing is to think about what we want, not about what we don’t want, because our ‘irrational’ mind does not understand negatives.  To illustrate:  if I said to you “don’t think of pink elephants!” what are you thinking about?

When we focus on what we have and not on what we don’t have and we are grateful for it (we feel positive about it) we are more likely to attract more of it. This is because not only we subtly inform our subconscious of what we want more of, but also we project a positive attitude to others and the world is more likely to respond positively to people who are positive rather than to people who complain.  This doesn’t mean that we should just accept our lot and be content with it.  But if we accept where we are, trying to see the opportunity rather than the flaw, we are more likely to have the energy to progress beyond it.

Therapy, Coaching or Self Help ?

So what if you want to get some support to learn how to change the way you think so your mind can be your best friend rather than your worst enemy?

The first step towards wholeness is the hardest and if you have read this far you are already well on the way to overcoming the tallest hurdle in your way. At the end of the day, the best help we can get is the one we give to ourselves. Even when we ask others to help us, we need to want to help ourselves first. 

So with this attitude in mind, taking responsibility for our own well-being, we can read a whole array of books on the subject but If this proves not to be enough or we want some extra support we have a few options.

Holistic hypnotherapy, combined with NLP and Coaching could be the way for you to go. Or you could go on a self-development course or a self-hypnosis class. Alternatively, you may want to find a humanist psychotherapist or perhaps a CBT counselor. Or perhaps you could combine these to suit your needs. What is important is to listen to yourself, and to go with what feels right.

So begin your journey now by expressing gratitude to yourself for being the sort of person to even read this article! Give yourself a pat on the shoulders: well done for caring enough about yourself to be interested in self-development! You are already close to finding your way to live a happier more fulfilling life!

More on this: The Key to Happiness by Dr. Brené Brown –

Brene is a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy? Brené is the author of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power (2007) and the forthcoming books, The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and Wholehearted: Spiritual Adventures in Falling Apart, Growing Up, and Finding Joy ( 2011).

Check out this video: Believe that you are worthy of love and connection