How many of you relate to the words of Rob Thomas’ hit single? You want to share your life with someone, really love someone, and yet over and over you find yourself in relationships that are not working for you. In your search for Mr. or Ms. Right, how many of you have found that the consequences of your choice have been painful and sometimes even traumatic? Divorce, financial loss, and a decrease in your confidence and self-trust along with emotional scars can all result from choices that were made in good faith.
There are those of you who find that too often, you meet a person who is too busy, so you do not feel as important as that person’s work, or even his or her golf game. Some of you may have a pattern of being with people who are manipulative, passive aggressive, or financially unstable. Or you unknowingly invite into your life someone emotionally abusive and unstable or with an addiction that is draining and depletes your spirit.
The key to moving out of this pattern or comfort zone (even though it is uncomfortable, it is familiar) is awareness. Identify your pattern by closely examining all of your relationships, particularly those you invite in as potential partners. Take the time to journal.
What are their characteristics? How do these characteristics reflect who you are in relationship to yourself? Or how do they reflect a belief that you hold about yourself at a core level? For instance, an abusive person may be an indicator of how you abuse yourself with self-criticism. Underlying this may be a belief that you are not good enough or not worthy of the best that life has to offer.
There are important action steps along with increasing your consciousness so you can make different choices. First, own what you see. Be in the pain without any agenda that it goes away. Gradually and naturally you will accept what you see inside yourself.
Start to envision what you do want to attract into your life and feel deep inside what that would be like for you. What would life be like without the belief that you are not worthy or enough? Instead of feeling constricted by fear, your heart will be open and expansive. From this fresh place, you allow new possibilities.
Add in action steps that are grounded in being centered. Patrick Carnes, in The Betrayal Bond, has many powerful activities to discover more about yourself. Make a list of your “must-haves” in relationships, particularly with your partner. Coming from a place of worthiness, be clear about what you want, and commit to following through on this without settling for less.
What are the choices that you will make for yourself in terms of your behaviour? Be specific and concrete. Examples might be the following: I will notice when I’m trying to change or rescue someone; I will be aware when I’m trying to talk myself into someone; if my body is telling me that I am uncomfortable with this person, I will listen and leave. List your relationship goals, which look like taking 100 percent responsibility for yourself.
Most importantly, what will you do to take care of yourself? Make a list of your needs and what you plan to do to address these needs separate from looking to someone else to fulfill you.
Imagine the metaphor that you are the cake and a relationship is the icing. Audition those who you put in your life from the perspective of what they will add to it.
Shifting out of comfort zones around how you relate is possible and happens gradually as you be in awareness. You can use your past relationships to move forward and create healthy, whole relationships with others as you create that quality of relationship with yourself.
Lean in. Be grounded, centered, and present. Be mindful of the mind’s tendency to self-criticize. Practice gratitude.
This foundational relationship with yourself will be reflected in all aspects of your life: at home, at work, with your friends, and in your larger community. Enjoy that cake...and the special icing on top!