In an ideal relationship there are two open lines of communication between the partners. This causes both partners to feel safe, because there is no hidden hurt and no “monsters” lurking around.
Relationship monsters are the silent stresses and issues that break your relationship down from the inside. And the monster we are going to talk about today is created from anger and/or hurt feelings that lurk in the shadows and don’t get expressed.
You feel like you’re making the right choice in minimizing your feelings and trying to let it go. But if you find yourself holding onto the hurt feelings in your relationship…eventually your relationship will have an even bigger problem.
So what happens when you hold on to angry and hurt feelings?
Something called your ‘baseline sensitivity’ towards your partner will rise. Because even when you think they are buried down, your feelings are still there. And if you don’t let them out…they WILL find other ways, often having nothing to do with the original incident. You may react to smaller things in a bigger way leaving your partner thinking “where did that even come from?”
Eventually your relationship will become disconnected. The more anger, hurt, resentment and stress that’s carried in your relationship the bigger the emotional gap between you becomes. And it doesn’t matter if the hurt is being held by one or both partners, the effect is the same.
Your pain could even lead you to make relationship-damaging decisions. Affairs often happen when there are unresolved and unmentioned relationship issues. Because when your needs aren’t being met or you have underlying sadness, pain or anger you’re at a higher risk of making choices that will cause you more problems.
How Can You Deal With Them?
You may have actually assumed wrong. If you’re feeling hurt about something you assumed your partner meant and you didn’t clarify (and said nothing) you could be in pain for no actual reason! Not only are you suffering, but your partner may also be suffering from something that didn’t even happen.
There are countless reasons you could be struggling to communicate your difficult emotions and hurt. Because your experiences within your family and past relationships shape you into who you are, you carry them with you. And it’s important to remember that sometimes the experiences shape you in a way that does not serve you or your future.
You need to let the hurt go.
If you are holding on to negative feelings like anger, hurt and frustration it may feel impossible to change. If you’re struggling, find someone you trust to help you unpack those feelings. You can even chat with me here!
You can have the relationship of your dreams, let me help you!
Do you feel safe to talk to your partner about your hurt? Tell me about it in the comments!
Have you ever dated someone who triggered your insecurities and made you feel like you weren’t good enough? Me too.
And if we’re really being honest…haven’t we all? Maybe you’re even dating them now…you’re not alone. These insecurities cause struggles in your relationships. This is because you choose not to ask for what you want want out of fear of being rejected or seeming needy.
How Do Insecurities Affect Your Relationships?
I used to feel so insecure in my relationships, but I would bury it down (DEEP) because “insecurities ruin relationships.” So no one could know I was feeling insecure, even the people I loved and trusted.
So instead of talking to them about my insecurities, I acted in manipulative ways to get my needs met. This is something called “Protest Behavior” (essentially using manipulative ways to get attention and connection.) Sound familiar? Protest behavior is unhealthy and leads to further dysfunction in the relationship. Over time it becomes a pattern and eventually develops into a habit.
The biggest issue within most relationships is in the communication and how both partners choose to get their needs met.
How Do I Talk About My Insecurities?
What you get from assertive, vulnerable communication is incredible. You’ll learn more in 5 minutes than you would learn in 5 months without it. Plus it will either bring your relationship closer or it will help you avoid relationships that will waste your time. Vulnerable communication leaves space for your insecurities.
In order for you to have happy and fulfilling relationships you need to learn how to assert your needs. And it’s important that you do it without resorting to attacks or defensiveness. Dealing with your insecurities is uncomfortable but it’s necessary
How Can I Assert My Needs?
The key to effective communication is for you to be inoffensive. Especially when dealing with your insecurities. Instead of putting your partner in the blame game, it encourages them to be open with you without feeling attacked or wrong.
Focus on “I” statements, not “you” statements. Ex;
Replace; “I feel so loved when you hug me tight and give me a kiss.” With; “You never show me you love me.”
Replace; “I love it when you compliment me on how I look” With; “You don’t seem like your attracted to me”
Instead of your partner feeling attacked and defensive which only shuts them down and triggers their own insecurities. When you ask from a position of vulnerability (that there’s something your partner can do that will make you feel so happy/loved/significant/cared for etc.) they want to make it happen for you.
Remember, your partner loves you and they want to make you happy…you just need to tell them how.
You can have the relationship of your dreams, it starts with you.
If you’re struggling to work through your insecurities, I’d love to support you on your journey! Let’s chat here!
Every single one of us, even the ones you think haven’t.
What is Low Self Esteem?
Low self esteem is literally one of the main killers when it comes to relationships, and it’s not talked about enough because admitting you have insecurities isn’t ‘sexy’…therefore you shouldn’t talk about it.
In reality, so many of us wish we were ‘better’ than we think we really are and wearing a mask has become the normal way to cope with this. But pretending to be something you’re not actually creates anxiety within yourself. It also makes you feel even more disconnected from yourself until eventually you have no idea who ‘you’ even are anymore.
So how does low self-esteem affect your relationships?
When you have low self esteem it can be difficult to imagine and almost impossible to believe that you can actually create (and sustain) authentic, healthy relationships. You fear that in every relationship your partner will either; lose interest in you, cheat on you, or leave you. Maybe even a combination of the three. So in an effort to protect yourself from getting hurt you assume dishonesty. You do this even with an honest partner when you have no reason to distrust them. Overtime this eventually breaks down the relationship.
When you hear a compliment you dismiss it because “they can’t really be serious.” Anytime someone appreciates your value you disregard it because it goes against what you believe is true. This means you don’t receive your partner as they are because you believe you are unworthy. On top of continuously testing them to confirm your belief of not being good enough.
Your negative thoughts are helping to fuel your low self esteem, and your partner isn’t able to turn them off for you.
What Can I Do About It?
Self love is one of the most important paths to healthy relationships. Of course there are other things involved where good relationships are concerned, but as someone with low self esteem; working on loving yourself more will always be beneficial and it will better every relationship that you have.
Starting with the most important, the one with yourself.
Repeat after me;
“I am worthy of love, I am enough, I am independent. I am loved for who I am and no one has the ability to change my worth.” *Repeat this as many times as needed, as often as needed.
You can have the relationship of your dreams, start with yourself.
I believe in you.
Is this an issue in your relationships? Tell me about it in the comments!
If you’re struggling with low self esteem, I’d love to support you on your journey. Set up a call here and lets chat!
When you develop real confidence in yourself, you actually rarely feel insecure. This is because you know your own worth, you accept your flaws, and you don’t seek validation from an outside source.
On the other hand…if you have a lack in your sense of self value you will most likely feel insecure in every single relationship you enter. That’s because you’re constantly acting from a place of fear, and that fear is losing the relationship or abandonment.
How Can You Tell?
This fear might look like you or your partner bringing up the relationship “talk” to try and get the relationship defined. It may also show up as one of you constantly talking about your disappointment with how slowly the relationship is moving or evolving.
When you’re constantly speaking about your disappointments or pushing for a definition (from your perspective) you’re actually seeking validation. You want to know that you are significant so you can feel secure and relax within the relationship. But you’re going about it in a manipulative and sneaky way.
Why External Reassurance Doesn’t Work
As an insecure person, it doesn’t matter how much your partner reassures you or shows how much they care. You’ll never be able to truly relax in any relationship. This is because you allow the relationship itself to define you and become your actual source of happiness.
If the relationship does end, there goes all of your happiness…no wonder you’re constantly terrified by the idea of it ending. That’s a lot of pressure for one relationship and one person.
When you’re terrified of losing your partner, you hold on to them tighter…and tighter…in an effort to bring them closer. But this behavior almost always ends up pushing them away because of how suffocating and smothering it feels.
When you’re constantly seeking assurance and validation from your partner, you’re telling them you’d never be okay if they left. You’re also telling them that your entire well being depends on them. This is way too much responsibility to put on your partner, and eventually your insecurities will overwhelm them and make them want to run.
You need to stop expecting your partner to manage your emotions when you’re unable to do it yourself. Truly, you’re looking for a parent, not a partner.
Having to carry the emotional load and be responsible for the well being of someone else is an unfair expectation. You need to learn to carry it for yourself.
You’re In Control of Your Insecurities…Not The Other Way Around.
Only you control your happiness, no one else. You can have the relationship of your dreams, it starts with you.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who struggled with insecurities? Or have you struggled with them yourself? Tell me about it in the comments!
If you’re struggling to work through your insecurities on your own, I’d love to help support you – find me here!
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before, and you probably never questioned it. I mean…why would you? It’s everywhere.
Giving itself truly is good, there’s nothing wrong with it at all. And giving even makes you feel good…that is up until the moment you give too much and that good feeling turns into pain and resentment.
Have you ever felt like you gave someone EVERYTHING you had…you were the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend, you gave and gave, then gave some more…only for them to just leave?
If you’ve ever felt this way or even found yourself talking about how much you gave, only to wind up heartbroken and resenting your ex…there’s a pretty good chance you’re an over giver.
What’s an Overgiver?
If you’re an over-giver…you are constantly left feeling broken, unimportant, empty and used because you continuously put someone else’s needs (or at least your perception of their needs) above your own.
Overgiving can sometimes look like;
Canceling your plans to be with them every time they ask
It’s been a REALLY long time since you had fun with your friends
Sending pictures when you aren’t comfortable because they asked
Having sex when you’re uncomfortable or uninterested because of guilt
Putting off your own things to do, to get their to do list done
Basically, you constantly sacrifice your own needs in order to meet theirs.
Why do you keep doing it?
Subconsciously a part of you thinks(and hopes) that this giving will bring them closer to you emotionally, so eventually you’ll feel more appreciated and irreplaceable. You’ll feel secure. When in reality they actually feel your over investment and this ends up damaging their respect for you. Instead of coming across as loving you come across as a victim.
Try Being Selective!
Someone giving too much and denying their own life and needs doesn’t have much left to actually give to others. You cannot give when your cup is empty, and what you give has very little meaning when you have low self value.
Stop giving to get something, give when you want to give and ask when you want something.
Being selective in your giving will always make people feel more special than when you give everything. Learning to be selective will also prevent you from building up resentments against the people you love.
Do you struggle with over-giving? Tell me about it in the comments!
If you’re struggling to work on your relationships, I’d love to help support you – let’s chat here!
Negative thinking will never EVER make your life positive.
“I can’t trust anyone.” “It’s too late.” “There’s so much that could go wrong.” “I’m not good enough.” “It will never get better.” “I can never make a mistake.” “There isn’t enough time.” “I should be more…*insert desired trait here*.” “The world, and the people in it are truly awful.” “I feel like I’m getting nowhere.” “Nobody cares about me.”
Any of these thoughts sound familiar? I know they do for me. For a long time many of these thoughts were the only things that ran through my head. Which might seem absolutely ridiculous as I am now known among all of the people in my life as one of the most positive and energetic people out there.
So what happened?
Well…I changed. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, but it was necessary and oh so worth it. And now I’m going to help you do it!
So buckle up and get comfy because we are going to talk about…
When you worry or have negative thoughts, you actually trick your brain into thinking that there is an immediate threat that has to be taken care of. This kicks in your fight or flight response system to deal with that stress.
Negative thinking has an immediate, destructive effect on your life. When you think negative thoughts, it turns on your inner panic buttons, while simultaneously turning off the creative parts of your brain and hitting the breaks on your immune system.
Your brain is hard-wired to respond to negative thoughts, words, behaviors and events more quickly than it does for positive ones (due to danger).
When your brain is faced with more complex tasks, negative thinking also limits your ability to process information properly and think clearly.
Thinking negatively about a problem or situation not only doesn’t help solve anything, it actually makes finding a solution much more difficult. This is because when you think negative thoughts, a section of your brain called the Thalamus (the area responsible for sending sensory and motor signals to the rest of your body) assumes it needs to prepare the body to flee. This is because it can’t tell the difference between actual danger and negative thinking. As a result, your body will experience real symptoms of an adrenaline spike that include; elevated blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and heightened senses.
Long Term Effects of Negative Thoughts
Long term stress from negative thinking actually creates chemical and hormonal changes in the brain. These changes may affect your likelihood of developing mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and mood disorders. This happens because the moment you focus on negative thoughts, they already;
Make you feel worse (about yourself, your situation or both).
Keep you from achieving something that you want.
Add negative value to your life in some way, shape or form.
Repetitive negative thoughts have a huge impact on your life and cause;
But the amazing thing here is that you can improve these things by replacing negative thinking with positive thinking.
So how can you change your negative thoughts?
Getting stuck in a pattern of negative thinking can be the equivalent of building a prison inside of your own mind. It holds you captive and traps you in. I know because I’ve been there myself, and I’ve seen it in so many others.
You may try different ways to cope with this mental prison, one way is by using distractions (like food, alcohol, sex or drugs – which can lead to unhealthy addictions – a topic for another day) but often once you realize that this distraction didn’t actually get rid of the negativity or help at all you will beat yourself up…feeling guilt and worthlessness because you are still stuck in that negative cycle. This actually leads to a spiraling battle inside your brain, that usually leaves you feeling worse.
If you are struggling with negative thinking – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! I can tell you from my own experience (and others) that it is possible to turn it around.
So we are going to go through the 4 steps to turn your unwelcoming, negative prison cell into a 5 star all-inclusive beach resort (if you like beaches of course)
Recognize your negative thought patterns.
Separate yourself from your negative thoughts.
Be mindful of the moments your brain finds a negative thought.
Choose CONstructive over DEstructive thoughts.
Important note: This is not a quick fix – and I truly believe (as with most things in life) there is actually no quick fix.
But I promise your mental health and quality of life improvements that these steps create are most definitely worth it.
You are worth it. Without a doubt.
So let’s dig into step 1…are you ready?
Recognizing your negative thought patterns!
Negative thought patterns tend to be unproductive, repetitive thoughts that serve no real purpose and directly cause negative emotions.
Once you can learn how to recognize and identify these thought patterns as they are happening you will start to have a choice on how you react to them.
These are some common negative thinking patterns;
Worry and Anxious thoughts
When you imagine or expect bad things to happen (or feel that nothing good will ever happen for you) this is a form of negative thinking. This could mean stressing about losing your job or your relationship. It can also be waiting for your health to deteriorate or your career to be ruined. Even when nothing has actually happened to justify these thoughts.
This can also look like you thinking into your future and focusing on all of the possibilities that “could” go wrong. Creating and imagining terrifying or stressful “what-if” scenarios.
Criticism and Abuse
Constantly criticizing is another form of negative thought patterns. This can come out with you being very harsh on yourself and focusing on all of your perceived weaknesses and flaws. It can also be extended towards the people around you and can cause extreme strain on your relationships. Negative self talk and criticism will lead to lack of confidence and low self esteem.
Coping with low self esteem usually tends to go one of two ways. You may try to compensate for these feelings by attaining status, admiration and recognition. On the flip side, the lack of self esteem can cause you to feel unworthy and close yourself off from everyone around you.
When the mind continuously focuses on what’s wrong (with yourself and others) it dissociates from what is good and right.
Guilt and Regret
Reliving mistakes that you made in the past only breeds negativity. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt will usually arise when you replay ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ choices and actions you feel you’ve made. Now don’t get me wrong here, there is absolutely nothing wrong or negative about reflecting on your past experiences. In fact that aspect is necessary in order for you to learn and grow as a human. The negativity shows up when you dwell on certain memories with no real intention to learn and move on. When you choose to constantly wish things were different instead of accepting them.
Focused on Problems
Negative thoughts often Center around what’s “wrong” in your life. When you become fixated on the negative aspects of your life your brain subconsciously downplays the things that are good and exaggerates the bad. For example, everything in your life could be going good. Then when something bad happens (car breaks down, pipe is leaking, lost something etc.) you allow that situation to dominate all of your thoughts. All week you are angry, frustrated and depressed about what happened but fail to notice everything else that’s actually going pretty great in your life.
If you have the habit of focusing on your problems you will constantly feel anxious, depressed and frustrated. You will become so absorbed in what’s wrong you become unable to notice what’s right.
Focused on Not Having Enough
Obsessing over the things you “need” in order to be happy is another negative thought pattern. “Wanting” creates feelings of discontent and restlessness. It’s a very seductive thought pattern, and leads you to place your ability to be happy on external things. You are constantly bombarded with subtle messages and advertising that you need a better life situation, or more stuff in order to be happy.
To most people it seems normal to always be discontent and wanting more. But when you are always focusing on what you “want” instead of appreciating what you do have, it constantly reinforces that you and your life aren’t good enough now and that you need something outside of yourself to make things better and make you good enough.
All of these thought patterns are so easy to start. When you let one negative thought slip in here…and another shortly after. But when we focus on these negative aspects in our lives it causes so many bigger issues. Now when you first start paying attention to your negative thoughts, it can be shocking just how many negative patterns your brain actually gets stuck in, but I promise you’re not alone.
So now that you’ve recognized your negative thought patterns…now what?
Well once you see a negative thought pattern arising in your head, it’s time to move on to step two!
Separating yourself from your negative thoughts.
When your trapped in a negative thinking prison it’s easy to feel hopeless because you don’t know what to do. It’s not always an option to just not think of something. Situations have to be dealt with, problems have to be faced and futures have to be planned. Unfortunately just keeping your head down and ignoring everything isn’t possible, and as great as it sounds to just “think positive” it just doesn’t seem very authentic when the situation is truly difficult.
So how is it possible to live life authentically and practically without falling into those negative thought prisons?
First you’re going to have to become the observer of your thoughts. It sounds silly but bear with me…this works, I’m proof.
In order to separate yourself from the negativity you must first become more aware of your thoughts. You do this by paying attention to what’s going on in your mind at any given time. Especially paying attention to when any of the negative thought patterns arise. I want you to become a curious observer of everything that goes on inside your mind.
By bringing conscious attention to your thinking patterns, you become more aware…or more accurately you become mindful.
Once you can step back from your thoughts and just watch them, the thoughts (and emotions) immediately start to lose their hold on you. Every time you become consciously aware of a negative thought pattern, imagine it like putting a little scratch on a record. Before now, the record was continuously playing simply because no one has bothered to change it but after a while (and continuous scratches) it never quite plays the same again. Eventually it never plays again.
When you are observing your emotions and thoughts, try your hardest to do this as an impartial witness. Just watch them and pay attention to what happens.
You are going to want to resist, ignore, change or be distracted from these “bad” thoughts, it’s totally normal. Ignore those feelings. It’s time to face them and allow them to be, not push them away. Be strong, you’ve got this. And you are incredible for getting this far, don’t forget that.
This takes time, but with practice it does become easier and easier.
I know because I did it too.
When you are the impartial witness it is important to not believe all of your thoughts, and to not take them all seriously. As you do this you will begin to see them not as weights to keep you down, but as merely inner objects you are observing. I like to look at it like I’m people watching or watching traffic pass by.
Of all the steps, this one (in my opinion) is the most difficult but it’s also the most important. The more you allow your negative thoughts to control your emotions and how you see yourself, the thicker you build the walls around your inner prison.
It’s time to break them down. I did it, so can you.
Now for step three;
Being mindful of the moments your brain finds a negative thought.
Most (if not all) negative thoughts usually come from one of two places. The first is when you dwell on the past. That’s when you over analyze past problems and mistakes or anything in your life that did not go the way you had hoped or planned. The second is when you worry about the future. When you have fear about what may or may not happen whether it is about you, others or the planet.
Notice that in order to have negative thought patterns your mind needs to focus on the past or future.
When we get lost in our negative thoughts we tend to be so focused that we completely lose touch with everything in the present moment. To step away from that thinking process you need to redirect your attention to the here and now. Give the present moment your undivided attention. To do this, notice everything around you, use your senses to the fullest. Don’t make an inner dialogue about it, just be aware of everything.
Be aware of the sounds you hear, and the scents of everything around you. If you are doing something, give it your full focus. Do just one thing at a time.
It is almost impossible to be both fully present in the moment and have negative thoughts. Try it and see!
What truly is the problem right now, in this exact moment only?
When you are really in the present moment the past and future have no hold on you.
If you notice your mind is heading in a negative direction…step away, observe, and focus on your now. Your life is better than you think it is.
Now for the fourth and final step on the path to changing your negative thoughts to positive ones!
Choosing CONstructive instead of DEstructive thoughts.
By following and practicing the first 3 steps, you actually build the self awareness that allows you to change your thinking process.
Positive, constructive thoughts help you face situations that you come across day to day in a much more effective manner than negative ones.
When you dwell on the past it is unhelpful and causes negative emotions. Use your past experiences to help make decisions, learn from it then move on. Worrying will only cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Take constructive action to be ready for situations (maintenance on houses and cars, travel insurance etc.) but then let the worry go.
Constructive thinking is what helps you be happy when things are going well, to help you put your problems into perspective and handle them in practical and appropriate ways.
The more you practice the awareness of these thought patterns and what they are actually doing to you, the faster you get at redirecting yourself to being in the moment. It’s just like building a muscle and over time it will get stronger, except the strength will be mental instead of physical(which in my opinion is 10x more important). In time, your old habits will be worn down and go away. Instead of being preoccupied with negativity, you will feel the positivity and excitement from focusing on your life right now.
It’s not that you are no longer worried about anything, but because you have separated yourself from the negative thoughts…they no longer affect you the same way anymore.
So start right now, at this very moment.
What exciting things do you have happening in your life? Is there something positive and happy about your life that can be focused on instead of negativity? What do you plan on accomplishing this week, month, year?
Whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing…want to know why? Because you’re going to now have the power to tear down your self built mental prison, so go do it!
The next time negativity comes knocking at your door…be too busy living your life to answer it.
You’ve totally got this.
I believe in you.
If changing your negative thoughts seems impossible let’s chat here!
“I’m feeling uncertain and having doubts about my relationship.”
If you have said or thought these words, you aren’t alone…we all doubt our relationship sometimes. It comes on as a sudden fear or uncertainty around your relationship with your partner. It is completely unavoidable, and is usually not a bad sign.
Doubts can be scary when they first come up, and they typically come up right around the time when the “high” of falling in love is first meeting the truth that you and your partner might not actually be “made for each other.”
That you are in fact, two separate and individual people.
That you may not love, or even like everything about them. (Trigger uncertainty)
Your doubt could also mean that you and your partner are about to move into another stage in your relationship where differences get worked on, and growth happens. Unless you let that doubt get the better of you.
So why do you doubt the ones you love?
Doubt is a normal reaction to change and is common when a relationship graduates to moving in together, travelling, marriage, children etc.
If you are having these doubts, talk to your partner…you will usually find they are feeling the same way.
Doubt can also come from a stress response which can be your brains way of preparing yourself for new challenges.
“What if I don’t like their friends that much?” “I am uncertain about the way they manage their finances.” “What if I’m still attracted to other people?” “Are we really a match sexually?” These doubts are issues that change over time and are often only half of the story.
Your doubts can also arise from your partners actions and behaviors towards you, and sometimes they are even your own issues in disguise. You and your relationship can grow from these doubts too but only if you recognize and face them.
If you are having doubts in your relationship, take some time for yourself and figure out what it is you are actually doubting.
Are you uncertain about the relationship, yourself, your partner, the next step…or something completely unrelated?
No matter what doubts, fears and worries you have; If you don’t talk about them, they can’t get addressed and fixed.
When it comes to relationships, one of fear’s favorite places to hide is in doubt, especially the fear of intimacy. If every step towards commitment has your doubts rising significantly…it might be time to think about what it is that you are actually scared of. If you do fear intimacy your doubts may actually be your subconscious pushing your loved one away.
Past experiences also leave us with doubts. Sometimes we think we are doubting our partner when in reality we are making assumptions based on our past experience and past partners rather than facts.
It is rarely “doubt” that is the real issue in your relationship. It’s lack of communication.
You cannot let things go unaddressed because you are afraid to bring them up to your partner, you will build a wall of resentment and uncertainty in the middle of your relationship.
Each unaddressed issue and doubt as one brick, until eventually the wall between you is so tall and thick it may never come down.
If you have doubts and fears that you feel you can’t talk about with your partner, I want you to think about why?
Do you fear upsetting them? (Why? Have they overreacted in the past? Did a past partner overreact?)
Do you not know how to navigate conflict, or do you not trust each other enough to be vulnerable? What makes you uncertain?
These are issues worth looking at, either alone or with a coach.
Doubts are healthy, so long as they don’t take you over…so how can you keep your doubts from taking control?
Steer clear of talking about your doubts with the wrong people. Often our doubts are just normal, every day anxieties and fears…but when we talk about them too much with the wrong people (ex. A parent who doesn’t like your partner or a jealous “friend”) those doubts can turn into real issues. Try to figure out your doubts by yourself first, then with someone you truly trust or a professional.
Balance your doubts with equal focus on what is working. Your brain is naturally wired to see the negative things, and the more negative things you look for the more you will find. Sometimes you are so focused on doubting something negative you can miss the fact that many of the other aspects of your relationship are great.
Try spending a few minutes each day going against the uncertainty by thinking of 3-5 things that are working or make a list that you can check regularly to remind yourself of all the ways your relationship does work, and how your partner is just what you need.
But what if your doubt is more serious in nature?
It is really important to understand the difference between your “garden-variety” relationship doubts and red flag doubts.
Big questions about how you are being treated can be much more serious than uncertainty and can also be a sign that you are in a mentally, emotionally or physically abusive relationship.
Red Flag doubts may sound like this;
“She makes negative comments about me that make me feel awful”
“I doubt his intentions when he won’t let me see my friends.”
“She pushed me last night and it was the second time”
“It hurts so badly and makes me doubt myself when he refuses to tell me where he goes at night.”
“She makes fun of me when I’m naked”
“He guilt trips me when I spend time with my family”
“She didn’t tell me she was seeing other men so I doubt her”
“He grabs my arm so hard it hurts”
“When I tell her not to come over she does anyway, I doubt she has respect for me.”
If any of these doubts sound familiar at all, please talk to someone you trust; A good friend, A support hotline, or talk to a Counselor or Coach who can help you understand what you are dealing with and what you need to do to be safe.
Doubts like these can indicate a potentially abusive situation and are centered around the other person’s actions and behaviors. These are a sign of disrespect, control, betrayal, and overstepping personal boundaries.
It’s an issue that comes from poor self-esteem, a deep fear of rejection (and failure), and is usually in response to someone’s childhood environment (An environment where life is unpredictable and/or love and support are conditional.)
People-pleasers believe that if they can just keep the peace, be everything other people want, and smooth over any conflict that they will be loved and feel accepted.
But that’s not what happens…because those are impossible goals.
So what does happen?
Let’s take a look at what a relationship is like for a people-pleaser;
Always being considerate and kind means you are constantly worried about the thoughts and feelings of everyone around you. You fear that you will be rejected and shamed if you fail to live up to their expectations…so you become a chameleon and constantly adapt to what everyone else wants.
You continue to do this until eventually you lose yourself. Until you wish that someone…anyone…would like you for who you really are. But the problem is that you’ve been ignoring yourself for so long…you aren’t even sure if YOU even know who you really are anymore.
No is something you will NEVER say because you are constantly afraid of being seen as mean, unhelpful, incompetent, or even worse…selfish. But when you never say no, people ask for more help, with more things…more often.
At first this is amazing. You can’t get enough of their positive feedback and approval, they couldn’t do this without you, you are SO helpful! But the more they ask, the more burnt-out and overwhelmed you become. Over time you feel taken advantage of and you want to be around them less and less.
You feel that you MUST take care of your partners every want and need in order to feel worthy of their love (because you believe love is conditional) and you want them to feel as though they can’t possibly survive without you. In order to do this though you have to put your own needs on at the end of the seemingly endless to-do list.
Chronic fatigue and overwhelming stress are your constant companions; depression comes next with unhealthy coping behaviors usually following close behind. You feel angry and resentful because you always give more than you allow yourself to get in relationships, but you lack self-esteem and look to others for approval so you can’t risk showing outward anger for fear of rejection.
Suppressing all of those negative feelings makes you emotionally distant and detached from the relationship, which is then matched by your partner. This eventually leads to the breakdown and sometimes even the end of the relationship.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can change it.
So how do you stop people pleasing? How do you break the cycle?
The answer is simple. Not easy, but simple.
If you’ve ever taken a flight you have heard the safety demonstration that happens in every airplane before take off. One of the things you are told is that; “in the event of a sudden change in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the panel above you.”
We are also advised to secure our OWN mask before assisting anyone who needs help, no matter who they are.
After all…what good is an intention to help if you pass out from lack of oxygen before you were able to?
The same concept applies to people-pleasers.
Wanting to make other people happy is not wrong. Compassion and kindness are so important when it comes to building healthy, strong relationships. But you can’t truly make anyone happy if you lose yourself in the process.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by a people-pleasing cycle in your life here are 3 beginning steps you can take to start breaking the cycle;
1. Acknowledge your self sabotage
Blaming others is simple. Owning up to your part in what went wrong is incredibly hard but you can’t change what you can’t see. Admit that you are so scared of rejection, you reject everyone around you with emotional distance…not trusting them to see your true self.
Only when you see that your problems are rooted in your own rules, beliefs and behaviors can you start making real changes.
2. Learn your needs
When you meet your needs, you build up a strength and energy within yourself. This is the energy you get to use to invest into relationships and helping others. There’s a really good chance you’ve spent so much time ignoring your needs, you don’t even know what they are, but that’s okay. Start with the basics. Are you taking care of your mental and emotional health by getting regular sleep every night and spending time alone every day to de-stress and focus your thoughts? Are you taking care of your physical health by eating healthy foods and exercising?
If the answer is no, start by making them a priority in your life. Today.
3. Alone time
Are these beliefs, and behaviors going to change overnight? Of course not. But it happens by setting small achievable goals in regards to making time for yourself. Starting today I want you to schedule 10-20 minutes of time alone every day. Use that time for anything you want. You can go for a walk, write in a journal, sit quietly and meditate, the activity doesn’t matter so long as you use it to focus on what YOU want and your passions.
If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up; just make time for yourself the next day.
I’m not going to lie, making these changes is not going to feel comfortable or easy. It is a simple process, but meaningful change takes continual work and practice and it will often push you outside of your comfort zone. That’s why it’s important you seek support for your efforts.
If you’re struggling with a people pleasing cycle and feeling overwhelmed you can find me here!
Remember the first step is always the hardest, but it’s also the most important. I believe in you!
You can have the relationship of your dreams, let me help you.