Tools for Dealing With Fear in Relationships

 

I recently posted about my history of fear in my relationships.  I would make my boyfriends my idol and let my perceptions completely take over and sabotage my relationships.  After my college boyfriend and I broke up largely due to my own issues, I was devastated and sought help with a therapist, named Roger, who ended up changing my life.  He specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which basically helps you to rewire the way you think.  Since Roger, I have encountered other helpful tools that I have taken into consideration to help deal with my fear in relationships.

“Out” your limiting beliefs!

First of all, as Gabrielle Bernstein encourages us to do in Spirit Junkie, it is important to recognize this feeling of “not being good enough” as a limiting belief.  A limiting belief is something which skews your perception of reality, which you have been conditioned to think through formative experiences.  I grew up with an emotionally unavailable father, whose emotional distance influenced me to think that it was my fault: that his lack of affection meant that I was not good enough and therefore unlovable.  I carried this perception into my relationship with my college boyfriend, which lead to projecting it onto him, which lead to fights and misunderstandings and hurt.  SO MUCH HURT.  By burying the cause of my negative emotions in my relationship, they became bigger and bigger inside me until they consumed my entire thought process.  By “outing” my limiting belief that I was unlovable due to my experiences in childhood, I could have taken away a lot of its power.  Now, when I recognize a limiting belief from my past is affecting my relationships, I can go back to Spirit Junkie for guidance.

“I’d often find myself digging up past fears, such as ‘I’m not good enough,’ and ‘He’s going to leave me.’  In the past, I would’ve taken out those fears on him or let my mind concoct dark scenarios.  This time I turned to my [Course in Miracles] work for guidance.  I’d witness the ego’s tiny mad idea and recognize it as a fear from the past.  Then I’d shine light on how I’d made him special and better than me by seeking completion in the relationship.  Finally, I would forgive him and myself.”

What’s the worst that can happen?

When my therapist, Roger, made me confront this question head-on, it was a total “a-ha” moment.  If my fears came true, if I truly wasn’t cool enough and I truly was unlovable and my boyfriend did find someone who I perceived as “better than” me, seriously, what was the worst that could happen?  My honest answer was this: we would break up.  I would be sad, depressed even.  Roger persisted, “Okay, and then what?”  He didn’t relent until I literally could not come up with worse things.  The point was, and IS, this: even if “the worst” happens, I would survive.  I would be alive.  I would be learning and growing.  

This is easy to say years later, now that I’m out of the woods and in a healthy, fulfilling relationship – but I have felt the feeling of NOT thinking life is worth it, that no highs can make up for the deep lows of excruciating heartache.  But it IS.  I am now more compassionate, wiser, and stronger.  I would not have been able to recognize or maintain the healthy relationship I have now without having learned from my previous relationships, devastating breakups and all.  When I was going through it, I learned I just had to take one day at time, and when that was too hard, one minute at a time.  Once I realized that I was strong enough to deal with heartache, and that was the worst that could happen, it was liberating.  

holding hands

A thought is simply that: just a thought!

This is so important.  Your brain is a machine, and it is simply doing its job: thinking.  But you don’t have to give power to every thought that it produces!!!  For example, in my last long-distance relationship, I started to have thoughts that my boyfriend could cheat on me because I wasn’t around.  “Thank you, brain, for doing your job, but I think I will choose to think differently.”  Yes, this was a possibility, but if I examined the evidence of it being a reality, I could see that it was much more probable that he was being faithful.  

One of my college professors said something that has stuck with me all these years: try to see your thoughts as train cars.  As the train passes, you aren’t going to jump onto every single car that passes!  That would be ridiculous and impossible!  Choose the car that feels good for you and brings happiness and peace to your life!

Practice self-love.

It is infinitely important to love yourself and know that you are enough.  You are fabulous just as you are, and deserve someone who sees and appreciates that!  This took me years and years to believe.  In college, after my breakup, I dated lots of random boys who I perceived as so much better and cooler than me.  I was miserable and still hating myself for ruining my relationship, which I can’t imagine was very sexy!  Every time these new guys didn’t want to commit to me, it further reinforced my belief that I wasn’t good enough.  Of course they didn’t want to commit!  I was dependent, needy, and clingy, because I was attacking myself and letting my fears TAKE OVER MY LIFE!  

The point is, if you don’t believe that you are fabulous and lovable and enough yet, take some time to focus on yourself.  I truly believe the saying that “you can’t love someone else until you love yourself.”  An idea to help you do this is to create a self-love journal.  (Check out Gala Darling’s blog and her concept of Radical Self Love.)  Write down your accomplishments and the compliments you receive.  Practice this ritual of self-love and eventually you will start to believe it :]

I heart you stones beach

Reframe the thought.

THIS IS THE MOST CRUCIAL OF ALL.  All you can do is work on YOU.  If you are doing your best and being your best self and living in love, then if he isn’t digging it, HE’S NOT THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU, ANYWAY.  Repeat that to yourself until you believe it!

How have you overcome your fears in relationships?  Please share in the comments below – it could help someone!
xx Katie

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