Whatever you’ve been doing to ‘get’ love or to avoid what you’re afraid of, it’s based on you having come up with a set of conditions for being ‘OK’. You’ve imposed these rules and obligations upon yourself as a form of self-protection. On some level, you figured that abiding by these rules and obligations would make you a worthwhile and valuable person to your parents/caregivers and other significant people in your early years. Childhood coping mechanisms, though, often turn us into people pleasers. Without realising it, we lose sense of our needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions. 

Keep in mind that adulthood isn’t a giant-sized replica of your childhood. Habits designed for a small group of people or situations cannot play out in the same way in adulthood. Why? Because you have so much more agency and the freedom to choose who you want to be around and what you do and don’t want to be involved in. What helped you to cope and survive will not allow you to thrive

The conditions upon which you based these habits have become obsolete, so you need to adapt your habits. And rightly so — they’re holding you back from being your truest, most loving self. In some cases, these habits based on your old beliefs lead to you settling for less than what you need, desire and deserve or stop you from recognising and valuing loving partners.

You’re not that kid (or younger version of your adult self) anymore.

Often, we humans don’t realise how much of our habits are down to emotional baggage. We shape who we are based on trauma, fear, guilt, and pain, and this hurts. Who you are now and in the future doesn’t have to be determined by who you thought you were. You don’t have to base yourself on who people told you to be in childhood. Also, you’re allowed to give and receive love, care, trust, and respect.

Addressing and overcoming present-day problems in evolved ways breaks patterns and heals the pain, fear and guilt from the past. It may feel like an issue is brand new and specific to a person or situation. Still, your response to it and the lessons you’ll learn through the experience reflect something from the past that’s waiting to be healed. You have an opportunity to unpack, declutter and reclaim yourself from emotional baggage.

Once you begin treating issues that arise as an opportunity to ‘clean up’ and become more conscious, aware and present, you will see that relationships offer profound opportunities for healing that propel you forward.

For more on authentic, loving relationships, check out my book Love, Care, Trust and Respect. Need help with unpacking and healing from the impact of childhood beliefs and habits? Check out my latest book, The Joy of Saying No.

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