So how does this affect your relationships?
Your reality is created in large part by your filter system. If you believe that the guys you want will never want you, you will find a justification for this fear even if it’s far from the case. Once you come to expect the behavior, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Whether consciously or not, you will start to behave in a way that turns men off (this can be very subtle and might not come across in anything you say or do), thus feeding into your original fear. If you are afraid your boyfriend will never commit in the way you want him to, you will ignore all signs of his commitment and will only focus on the signs that he doesn’t want to commit. Your fear will manifest itself in behavior like clinging more tightly to the relationship or being on guard for its inevitable end, which will, in turn, cause the relationship to unravel. (I’m not talking about situations where a guy clearly won’t commit, like a guy not calling you his girlfriend after an extended period of time. I’m talking about more subtle signs.)
If you believe you’re unattractive, you will dismiss everyone who compliments your appearance and will write it off as them just being nice. When someone says something that implies they don’t find you attractive, you’ll grab hold of it and will use it as proof of your original belief.
We have an innate need to justify our thought patterns, even if these patterns don’t serve us in a positive way.
Want proof? Close your eyes and pick a color. Visualize the color in your mind, picture items that are that color, see yourself dressed in that color, think about the emotions that color evokes. Spend about 30 seconds to a minute doing this and then open your eyes, what’s the first thing you saw? I guarantee it will be that color unless you did this in an all white room. If we dwell on something, even for under a minute, our mind becomes programmed to pick it up.
We’re all wired to look at the world in subjective ways. Reality is not objective; it is shaped by both what happens to us and how we interpret the things that happen to us.
Solution: In order to have more success in love and relationships, you need to adjust your filter system so that you see the good all around you. You need to be able to appreciate and acknowledge the goodness that is in you and in your relationship. If you let your fears run the show, you will set yourself up for sabotage.
First, you need to weed out faulty thought patterns. Anytime a negative thought pops into your mind (I’ll never find a boyfriend…I’m going to end up alone…Men always leave me), pluck it out and tell yourself the opposite. This applies not only to relationships, it applies to and can be used to enhance all areas of your life. Our thoughts have a huge impact on the way we feel, and since we can control what we think our thoughts are a very powerful tool once we start using them.
I am also a big fan of keeping a gratitude journal. Every day jot down 1-2 things you’re grateful for (and pick different things every day). This will re-train your brain to focus on the good. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but I’ve done this exercise and I recommend it to readers all the time, and the results are truly transformative.
6. The Ex Factor
Most of us are unaware of all the ways our past can bleed into our present—and even our future—if left unchecked. Your ex is another biggest reason why you haven’t found love yet.
I have been hurt a lot over the years, for which I am thankful. The pain has served me well in that it’s given me invaluable insights into relationships (and provided me with a plethora of content to write about!) but I also came to a point where I realized the extent to which I never fully processed and let go of some of that toxic baggage.
They say time heals all wounds, but I find that is only partially true. Time makes you forget or it makes the memories more distant, but it doesn’t automatically heal the wounds left behind. Healing from a devastating breakup isn’t a passive process; it is something you need to actively work on.
A relationship is going to unfold in only one of two ways: it will either last forever or it will fall apart. In order to get the relationship that lasts, you have to come to terms with all the ones that didn’t.
When I first started dating my husband, even though I felt very sure about his intentions I had a really tough time fully trusting him and the relationship. More importantly, I had a hard time trusting myself and my own judgment. Even though I knew my fears had absolutely nothing to do with him, I couldn’t get past them.
I knew these feelings were coming from me because he did nothing to make me think he was anything other than fully committed to making the relationship work. But sometimes seemingly small, innocent things would trigger my fears and insecurities. For example, anytime he would try to reassure me by saying “I’m not going anywhere,” I would feel
my guard reflexively come up and I would become a bit more distant, withdrawn, and uneasy. He was understandably hurt by this and thought I didn’t believe him or didn’t trust him, but that wasn’t it.
With a little self-reflection I was able to pinpoint exactly why it was happening. You see Eric used to say that line anytime my insecurities would flare up. And I believed him. Those words gave me an instant feeling of calm and security (it never lasted long because it wasn’t the right relationship, at all), but it did assuage my fears temporarily. Even though the relationship was far from ideal, I believed he would never leave. I believed he couldn’t live without me, just as I couldn’t possibly live without him or fathom a world without him in it.
The relationship had its ups and downs … and even though the downs were becoming more frequent and long lasting, I believed we would power through it. I believed we were in it together and would make it work. But we didn’t. Instead, my greatest fear became a reality… he left me for someone else and showered her with all the love he had been incapable of giving me. Saying I was devastated doesn’t do justice to the state I was in. Rather than process what had happened, I partied like there was no tomorrow. I made sure to leave no open space for the pain to slip in. I was going, going, going, no time to stop. No time to think, or worst of all, feel.