IMG_7106For a long time, I blamed bad luck, not exactly having any examples of healthy relationships, and the parade of men that I’d dated or gone out with, for why I couldn’t sustain a relationship and why they were always unhealthy. Deep down I felt that all of my experiences confirmed that I truly was “worthless and good for nothing”. I had little sense of self and it was as if I was engulfed in this chasm of cyclical pain due to abandonment, shame, anger and loss. I could never forge anything too deep in case I got ‘found out’ but also because life had taught me that people hurt you, people go away, and that the moment you ever relax, something goes wrong.

My frustrations caused me to frequently ponder if I had a homing device implanted that was sending out signals to emotionally unavailable men, typically ones with mother issues, but what I never really asked myself was: If I believe all of this stuff about myself, love and relationships, how is this playing out in my life? I never gave any deep thought to the connection between what I’d observed and learned early in life and how I was thinking, acting and choosing in the present.

Calling out a Mr Unavailable on his ambivalence gave me a lightbulb moment that sparked a powerful awakening:

I was and am the common denominator to all of my experiences. I am the only person who shows up to every scene and act plus each and every one of these relationships reflect how I felt about me at the time and also what I thought relationships were about. If I truly wanted to feel better and enjoy healthier relationships, I had to be honest with myself in a straight no chaser way. I had to take responsibility for me otherwise, what hope did I have if my life was going to rest on external factors? If I keep putting it on everything and everyone else to change, I am never going to account for my part no matter how small.

Sure, these guys had their issues but what was I bringing to the table that I might actually think that an unavailable relationship was a viable option?

You see— one of the things I’ve noticed is that our past provides a great deal of insight into why we’re repeatedly finding ourselves in variations of the same situation, and because of the lessons and beliefs that we’ve inferred from certain experiences, we are making choices based around those beliefs.

We say that we want certain things but the result is very different. What we don’t always acknowledge are the thoughts and actions that occur between these.

Recently I chatted with a woman who becomes very panicked by going on a date or few. Baffled as to why she found dating so distressing, while she knew that her angst originated from her parents having met and married quickly and then had quite a tumultuous relationship punctuated by his absences, she couldn’t put her finger on her bolting. I pointed out that comparatively speaking, in a matter of a few dates, her parents were already on the way to nailing down an engagement.

Her conscious belief is that she wants to be in a relationship, hence why she dabbles in online dating periodically, but her subconscious belief (and irrational fear), is that things can happen too quickly and she’ll be forced into something that she’ll regret for a lifetime and that she cannot escape out of, plus relationships hurt, men let you down, she’s “not good enough” and the list goes on. The net result is that she is not in a relationship and when she attempts to date, the fears and beliefs overwhelm her because she is carrying around all of this hurt. As we talked, she was experiencing a major lightbulb moment.

My conscious belief was that I wanted to be loved and in a relationship.

My subconscious beliefs were extensive and included believing that no one would love or want me, that love hurts, and that I f-ck things up. I was convinced that I turned emotionally available men unavailable. Net result is that I engaged with men and in situations that reaffirmed these beliefs, specifically unavailable relationships where I never really had to truly risk myself and that inevitably caused me to be in pain (my comfort zone). ‘Available’ wasn’t an option for me and I also settled for less because, well, why would somebody who has everything going for them want to go out with someone like me? Also, note that I wanted to be loved – my relationships were about ‘getting’ a feeling that would allow me to feel a certain way where I might like myself. I figured if I had little or no boundaries then I would be loved (and they’d have no reason to choose someone else over me), clearly forgetting that no boundaries also meant the erosion of my self-esteem. Then I’d go out there, put myself in yet another intolerable situation and stick a label on it and call it a relationship. Surely their love should be compensation for all of the pain I put myself though, was my thinking.

This is where we have to call in our own bullsh-t.

If there’s a gap between what we say we want, and what we’re doing and what’s happening, it’s better to name our BS so that we can face down whatever it is that’s haunting and breaking us through our unconscious habits, than it is to deny it and keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, just so that we don’t have to admit that we’re off-base and believing something that is partly or even wholly untrue.

I’ve spoken to so many people who are in the sh-ttiest of relationships because of lessons they observed or taught themselves in their childhood. Mommy or daddy is miserable / difficult to please / absent / having lots of issues with the other parent becomes, “I’m not good enough to make them feel or behave differently” becomes “I must try my best to not make noise, to be good, to show that I’m worthy with romantic partners”, becomes us being a sitting duck in a relationship that sucks the soul out of us all while we hope for validation.

We say we want love but then have underlying beliefs that relationships are unsafe, that we’re going to wind up just like our parents (whose relationship scared the beejaysus out of us), that if we were to experience hurt or disappointment, that we wouldn’t be able to cope, so next thing you know, we’re in an unavailable relationship where we can continue to tell ourselves the same story and feel more in control.

We say that we want a relationship but then claim that there’s no good men or women to date or that people are only out for sex. Result – we’re rinsing through dating sites or hoping to turn magic a casual relationship into a serious one.

We say we want love but feel unworthy and wonder why anyone would want us, so then we wind up with an abuser. We say we want love and nothing more than to be in a relationship but we have underlying beliefs about being second best and feeling discarded by a parent or having had to compete with a sibling, so next thing you know, we’re The Other Woman/Man where not only do we continue to feel second best but we are safe from having to risk ourselves on a real relationship.

We say that we want to be in a relationship but only feel of value if we’re needed so next thing, we’re playing Florence Nightingale, or a Renovator or even a Buffer in a rebound relationship.

If we want to be in a relationship, we cannot afford to allow unhelpful and unhealthy beliefs to hide out amongst our desires.

We have to become increasingly conscious, aware and present, which we can do as a result of increasing awareness about the messages and lessons that we’ve picked up that are unwittingly being repeated so that we can choose differently and do so based on being in the present instead of living in the past. When we grow ourselves up, we stop defining us by virtue of our past, we shed our ‘child role’, and by extension of taking responsibility for how we want to feel and committing to our desires and needs, we open ourselves up to a different type of relationship.

We have to own up to our underlying beliefs because pretending that we have the mindset and supporting attitude and choices to go with our conscious belief, is the fastest way to keep a loving relationship at bay.

If you’re serious about being in a mutually fulfilling, loving relationship, don’t shy away from the seriousness of knowing you and committing to what you want. Don’t use your subconscious beliefs to give you opt-outs from have from having to be vulnerable and put you truly out there.

Your thoughts?

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