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Many of us engage in what I call relationship insanity which is where you carry the same baggage, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, choose variations of the same person different package and then expect different results. When we want to experience real change in our lives and break the pattern, it means having to get out of our uncomfortable comfort zone but at the same time we’re afraid of the unknown better possibilities of a better comfortable.

To bring about real change in your life, you have to get uncomfortable and essentially feel some short, maybe even some medium term discomfort to feel the long term gain.

The strange thing though is that in spite of knowing what makes you uncomfortable and knowing what creates pain, you may have been throwing yourself into oncoming emotional traffic and wondering why you’re getting run down, putting your hand in the proverbial fire and hoping it won’t get burned but then being surprised (and hurt) when it does, or starting to make changes and then panicking at the fact that you’re responsible for your own experience and quickly retreating to the familiarity of a painful relationship.

Why do we worry? Because we create obstacles about what is in the way of making change come about. We come up with umpteen reasons for why the fear exists.

As a reader said to me a long time ago, “Fear is just a feeling” and truth be told, we often exaggerate the fear so we can stay in our comfort zone.

So for example, I regularly hear from people who are struggling with the whole idea of cutting contact or accepting someone is who they are and they’re not going to change into the person who they want them to be. When they say why they’re afraid or why they can’t make changes for themselves, it’s because:

He won’t leave me alone. (Initially no, but unless they’re a stalker, cutting contact will eventually communicate that the door is closed. And actually you’d be surprised how much someone will leave you alone when you really show through actions that you want nothing more to do with them.)
It’s really difficult to break up. (It is but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it! The pain doesn’t last forever!)
He says it will be different this time. (Do you have confidence in ‘this time’? Do you have evidence to support what he says?)
If it were me I’d want them to give me another chance. I’d want someone to believe in me. (This is projection and denial which are two dangerous reasons to stay in a relationship)
We have a lot of history together. (And what has your history taught you?)
We have an amazing connection and he’s got so many good things about him except for his assclown ways. (Yeah…be careful of that ‘except’ bit – it’s called denial.)
If he didn’t have all of his issues we would be working. (Denial and absolving responsibility)
If I can convince her to go for counselling then I know this could work. (Denial and absolving responsibility)
I need to gather up my strength. (Resigning ones self to helplessness)
I need to save up some money. (You will never have ‘enough’ if you rely on this reason)
I need to understand what has been happening. (But you don’t need to stay in a relationship to do that plus you’re likely looking for validation).

I don’t doubt that some of these reasons are legitimate but at times they are excuses for why you’re afraid and really what you’re worried about is your ability to cope with the situation or to be responsible for your own experience. Even though technically you are already responsible for your own experience, often when we stay in situations that detract from us, it’s ‘easier’ because we can blame it on other external obstacles that are in the way of us making change and that appear insurmountable right now.

Don’t get me wrong – your reasons may be legitimate but they’re not the core reason.

A few months back I talked to a woman who has been trying to salvage her broken relationship with her Mr Unavailable. They shared a child. Unfortunately this man had a number of children that he didn’t support and when I asked her why she kept trying with him and why she would cut contact and then go back, she said that she was worried about her child not knowing his father. While this was true, it wasn’t actually her real reason but it sounded more legitimate than saying ‘I’m afraid of admitting the reality of this man and that the relationship is over and that I have to start again’.

When she admitted this to herself but also realised that if she did want her child to know his father that it was solvable without there having to be a relationship between her and him, she stopped trying to fix a broken man and a broken relationship and focused on healing herself. She’s now moving on with her life – unsurprisingly, her Mr Unavailable is still exactly the same.

Much like when we have negative beliefs about love, relationships and ourselves and they permeate our interactions, we often can’t say that what we believe is a certain truth no more than we can say that we have absolute proof that what we’re afraid of is insurmountable.

Don’t hold yourself back based on fear because when you live your life out of fear and base your decisions around it, it’s a half life.

Focus on building your self-esteem so that you can have confidence in your decisions and even when you’re worried, you’ll find the courage to take a leap of faith on yourself and get uncomfortable to make real change.

Five years ago I was afraid that I would never get better from my illness and I’d be on steroids for the rest of my days and might even keel over at 40. I was afraid I may not ever have children, that I would always be in pain, and that I’d forever walk around with a secret neon sign calling Mr Unavailables and assclowns. I convinced myself it wasn’t possible to recover from the heartbreak and that I’d never love again. I was afraid I couldn’t or wouldn’t be any better than I was and I’d end a up failure. But whatever fears I had, when I looked at my relationship pattern, I had enough evidence to know that I didn’t want to continue the pattern and that surely it could get better than this. If I didn’t start believing in me even though even at that point I didn’t even love myself yet, I’d still be pining for my ex, or mixed up with some other Mr Unavailable and paying attention to doctors that told me I had no other options than the ones they’d given me.

I had to trust myself. I had nothing else to trust in other than fear and I figured I’d been doing that for long enough and getting very dubious results, so surely trusting my gut, instinct, and intuition and busting through the fear and getting uncomfortable, while treating myself with care and respect couldn’t be a bad thing?

Don’t hold yourself back. It’s not ‘everything else’ holding you back. What can you do for you today? How can you overcome your concerns? Because you know what, you can overcome your concerns if you start thinking about how to cope instead of focusing on the fear or the existence of the problem itself.

Your thoughts?

 

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