Gaining Confidence in Relationships | Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery Podcast

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to learn more. Hi everybody and welcome to happiness isn’t brain surgery
today we’re going to be talking about gaining confidence in relationships
we’re going to start out by looking at what causes abandonment issues how
abandonment or rejection impacts the person and leads to later anxiety and
relationships what the grieving process is for relationships
what causes insecurities and relationships and then finally we’re
gonna get to what you can do to feel more secure so what is abandonment you
know how do all these issues come up well physical abandonment occurs when
there’s a lack of physical conditions necessary for thriving now that doesn’t
mean surviving that means thriving as children you know we can have the basic
needs met a roof over our head we’re not starving to death but if we are not
receiving the conditions we need to thrive it can feel like rejection or
abandonment from our caregiver physical disappearance and this is especially
true when the abandonment issues happen in early childhood young children
think dichotomously it’s all or nothing good or bad and egocentric ly it’s all
about them so if a parent goes away they don’t understand why a lot of times
children will think it’s something they did even if you try to explain it to
them and they say yeah I get it they may not really get it so it’s important to
reiterate these things and parents can disappear for a variety of reasons or
caregivers death you know obviously that’s one that happens if they go to
jail if they take a job where they travel a
lot or maybe they’re in the military and they get deployed for 18 months or just
choice they wake up one morning walk out and never come back so physical
disappearance can have an impact on children now it doesn’t mean that
people can’t grow up healthy in military families or if a parent passes away but
it’s really important to make sure that the remaining caregiver is very
attentive to the child’s needs and if the parent is still alive you know in
the case of anything other than death that the parent reaches out whenever
possible whether it’s through letters or through phone calls anything to reach
out and connect with that child so the child knows that they’re important
emotional abandonment occurs when parents don’t provide the emotional
conditions and the emotional environment necessary for healthy development
you know when parents aren’t emotionally available they’re depressed they’re
anxious they’re stressed out you know they’re just they’re not there they get
up they get the kids ready for school get them out to school at the end of the
day they pick them up feed them and then you know tell them to go play until
bedtime because they just don’t have the emotional energy to even focus on
attending to the child then the child may start wondering you know why why
isn’t mom wanting to spend any time with me why isn’t dad you know out here
playing with me in the sandbox or whatever the case may be so the child
again may take it personally if they are really young you know elementary school
and younger children can take it personally and think I did something
it’s about me you know he must not like playing with me so it’s important for us
to be authentic with our children yes there are gonna be days that we have had
a rough day at the office and we just don’t have it in us but it’s at that
point we need to tell the child you know mommy had a rough day at the office and
I just I don’t have it in me to play today I’ll watch you play or you know
try to make create a win-win so the child knows that you’re interested but
you’re just really really tired proposed something else that maybe you could do
like watch a movie together that wouldn’t require you know creativity and
all that kind of stuff that that play sometimes does
suggesting those things when children are abandoned though emotionally or
physically they often grow up believing that the world’s an unsafe place their
primary caregivers the ones that were responsible for them in the world didn’t
love them enough to pay attention they couldn’t please their primary caregivers
they couldn’t make their primary caregivers happy remember children at
this age think they can control other people and think that everything is
their doing so if the primary caregivers are you know clinically depressed and
unhappy all the time children may think that it’s their job to try to make that
person happy it’s important that we set boundaries with the children and let
them know that you know they may not understand the nitty-gritty of
depression but let them understand it when you feel bad it’s not because of
them it’s because of something going on with you adult stuff maybe other acts of
abandonment can occur if a child can’t live up to the expectations of their
parents oftentimes these expectations are unrealistic and not age-appropriate
so expecting them you know – yeah well age-appropriate I guess it would be
expecting your child to be the star pitcher on his little league team and if
the child doesn’t do it being frustrated all the time and always laying into him
I used to see that a lot when we live we lived at a house by the park and parents
were just ruthless with their children and these were this was t-ball this
wasn’t even you know baseball where they were trying to get a scholarship so it’s
important that children feel like they can meet your expectations children are
held responsible for other people’s behavior maybe they’re consistently
blamed for the actions and feelings of their parent so the child is blamed for
Daddy being angry the child is blamed for big brother you know getting in
trouble for something the child gets blamed for things that they didn’t do so
they feel like it safe nobody has their back and
disapproval towards children that’s aimed at their entire being rather than
a particular behavior can be really harmful because children already think
you know in all or none terms so when you say you’re a bad boy or you’re a bad
girl that tells the child I’m bad not the behavior I did was bad I’m good you
know most of the time I’m good but that was a really poor choice so we want to
try to change our behaviors but if you experience that when you’re growing up
especially when you’re young you probably internalize that as I’m not a
good person well if I’m not a good person then maybe I don’t deserve love
and maybe people won’t want to be in relationships with me maybe you know
people are going to abandon me because I’m unworthy so these are the messages
that children start getting in their head from the time they’re knee-high to
a grasshopper now they can have you can have great parents and great upbringing
and you can experience abandonment in other relationships you can experience
abandonment from your best friends for example and in children BFFs are very
very crucial so if your best friend suddenly just turns on you then that can
be taken very personally and the person and the child may have difficulty
trusting and wanting to get into another relationship another friendship with
somebody else when people feel abandoned they often
feel like they need to hide a part of themselves because it’s not okay or
they’re just not good enough so the child learns this when he or she gets
the message that it’s not okay to make a mistake you know you screw up I’m gonna
yell at you and you’re a bad person and I’m gonna leave you I’m going to you
know all these other things I’m gonna send you off to military school whatever
the threat is it’s not okay to show feelings being told the way you feel is
not true can be really harmful to children so if they get upset about
something and the parent says something like you have nothing to
cry about and if you don’t stop crying I’ll really give you something to cry
about you know we probably most of us heard that when we were growing up at
one time or another or that didn’t really hurt or he’s got nothing to be
angry about so if the child’s emotions are constantly invalidated or if they’re
told it’s not okay to show feelings you know don’t cry here don’t don’t be happy
don’t whatever it is you’re just supposed to be seen and not heard then
the child can feel like it’s not okay to have emotions
it’s not okay to have needs is another message that comes from experiences of
abandonment because sometimes children feel like well if I wasn’t as needy
maybe this person wouldn’t have left so the child gets this message when to them
it appears that everybody else’s needs are more important than theirs so mom
and dad are paying attention to the older kid the younger kid the you know
the troubled kid and juniors just kind of sitting there going I got an A today
I didn’t get sent home from school but since juniors not making waves Junior
may not get the attention that everybody else does and he needs attention so that
can be translated in juniors mind too you know maybe they don’t love me as
much and it’s not okay to have successes now this one is a little confusing to
think about but just think about it this way if accomplishments are not
acknowledged or if they’re discounted then children aren’t gonna want to do
them anymore if they get an A on their paper and the parent goes well that
that’s okay you could have gotten an A+ or if they get onto the track team but
the parent goes well that that’s good but you could have become team captain
you know if it’s always a yes but then the child is going to feel like it’s not
worth trying that they’re good and they’re their best is never good enough
and if your best is not good enough then that means you may experience rejection
and people may leave you so all of these things can lead people in relationships
whether it’s with their primary caregivers their best friend or romantic
relationships can lead people to experience feelings
of abandonment so what is the grief process relationships end they do is
just a fact of life not all but you know a lot of times relationships end so the
first thing is shattering and I use the acronym swirl shattering is when the
relationship breaks up all of a sudden your world just came crashing down like
a vase against the wall withdrawal as time goes on and this is that initial
period when it just hurts like crazy the more time goes on right after that
breakup the more aware you become of all the needs that your partner was me
meeting all the things that you used to get do together you can’t watch a
television program or go somewhere or do something without thinking about that
person and it could be your romantic partner or your best friend or if
sometimes even your parent but we’re gonna kind of move on to adult
relationships here internalizing the person you know will start feeling bad
and then internalizing the rejection going why did this happen and a lot of
times especially if we’ve been abandoned in the past or if we have some
insecurities in our relationships we start blaming ourselves instead of going
let’s look at the big scheme of things we start wondering why did this person
leave me instead of you know what may be going on with that person that ended
their relationship the person feels like they’re not bad they’re not good they’re
not lovable they feel isolated insecure and preoccupied with if only regrets so
this is the real depression phase then you move on into rage and this is when
the person attempts to reverse the rejection by refusing to accept all of
the blame for the failed relationship and surges with rage they get angry
they’re like I’m gonna get even I’m gonna show you now some people get angry
in a pretty benign way other people can get angry in pretty aggressive illegal
ways so it’s important to understand what your style is and figure out how to
rein that in the more secure a person is often the more
dramatic their rage reaction is the person may have spurts of anger that
that are displaced on to their friends and family you know you just don’t
understand or why are you bothering me you know can’t you see how much I’m
hurting so the person is really angry they’re angry at themselves they’re
angry that they couldn’t control the other person they’re angry because they
think you know I must not have been good enough they’re angry at the other person
for leaving they’re just angry at everything right now so once they move
past that anger helps them externalize their pain you know start getting it out
there it’s kind of like the Plus that you get out of an infected wound you
know get that out of there it hurts and it’s puce but once it gets out you start
feeling better and this is the lifting phase gradually as you become more
involved in this new chapter of your life you can start lifting from your
depression and I use a form of therapy called narrative therapy with a lot of
my clients who are dealing with grief issues and I suggest to them to think
about their life like they’re writing a book or a screenplay or a miniseries and
when something like this happens this is the close of the chapter or the
cliffhanger for the season and they’ve got to figure out all right has happened
you know for whatever reason this is how this script was written what am I going
to do in the next chapter or the next season how can I write this so the
protagonist me can be as successful and happy as possible what can I do how do I
want to use this person’s energy in a story to help them emerge victorious and
it can be a true-to-life narrative or it can be
something that’s a little bit more fictional but I want the person to start
envisioning their main character surviving and thriving despite this
ending of this relationship despite this character leaving leaving the screenplay
characteristics of abandoned nurse well the first thing to remember is sometimes
relationships end because of the abandoner they got issues and it may not
have anything to do with the abandon II now generally there’s a little bit on
both sides but there are some people who for whatever reason you know probably a
lot of the ones we already covered were abandoned themselves and have a lot of
anxiety in relationships and there are some theories of relationships called
attachment theories that try to explain this but we’re just going to focus on
characteristics of abandoners for this presentation a lot of times abandoners
have been abandoned themselves either physically or emotionally and you know
I’m thinking of sometimes kids who grew up you know with everything given to
them you know they may have grown up in a great household where mom and dad were
there they had a nanny taking care of them everything was given to them but
their emotional needs were never met so they felt abandoned they felt like they
could never do enough to make that parent proud to actually get attention
if they made a mistake the parent would monetarily fix it and that can have an
impact even though it sounds like a great life it can have an impact on the
person’s sense of self you know they don’t feel as worthy they feel like you
know I’m screw up but my parents are always going to get me out of it or you
know I I got these all all of these accomplishments because people were
trying to impress my dad to get him to donate a wing to the hospital or
whatever the case may be so they feel abandoned they may have a need for power
or to be in control so they’re always the dumper they don’t want to feel like
they’ve been rejected so they always find a way and it could be starting
fights or it could just be one day going you know what this ain’t working
toodles but they want to be the one to take the action because it makes them
feel more in control and less like they were rejected they may have an
unwillingness to let walls down you know they’re just frozen solid they will
smile they will do things with you but as far as any kind of genuine connection
it’s not gonna happen they’re not willing to risk experiencing that hurt
again and they may be seeking you to fill a void their inability to commit is
not about you but some personal needs of their own so maybe they just want
somebody to do stuff with so that’s a void you’re feeling maybe they want
somebody to eat dinner with or to clean the house or whatever it is that you do
to fill the void not an emotional void but to fill some sort of practical void
that they have and you know when you feel that then a lot of times again
there’s not that emotional connection with in the abandoners eyes and the
abandoners mind so it doesn’t hurt him or her as much to end the relationship
it’s just like well okay it’s kind of like changing their britches is just
something they do causes of insecurities and relationships
now the abandoner and the abandon II have probably both been abandoned before
and people with low self-esteem often have been abandoned in the past but
having low self-esteem can lead to abandonment because people with low
self-esteem tend to be more clingy tend to be more nervous in relationships and
have a more anxious type attachment that can drive people away ineffective
communication skills can also lead to abandonment or be a cause ineffective
problem-solving skills can lead to abandonment if you have a hiccup in your
relationship and you know when you’re together for a while you’re gonna have
hiccups so you’ve got to figure out how to solve these problems and if you don’t
know how to solve problems if you don’t know how not to
the winner then there’s a potential the relationship will end and somebody may
feel abandoned and cognitive distortions a lot of times in relationships when
people start feeling insecure their mind when things happen their mind is telling
them inaccurate information and we’re going to talk about cognitive
distortions later but for example a cognitive distortion could be if John
doesn’t respond to Sally’s text right away she may cognitive distortion she
can exaggerate and magnify that and start thinking he never returns my texts
right away or he doesn’t care about me or making assumptions without having all
the facts assuming that he’s gonna leave me and he’s angry with me because he
didn’t return my texts okay well John was in the bathroom and didn’t get the
text that’s why he didn’t respond right away but Sally didn’t know that so she
used all these unhealthy cognitive assumptions and got herself all anxious
and insecure in the relationship so what do you do to improve your confidence in
relationships the first thing is don’t try to squelch the feelings you know
that sounds kind of counterintuitive but if you try to squelch the feelings it
comes out you know if you’re just stuffing them down then eventually
they’re gonna bust out like Vesuvius so you want to make sure that you identify
what you’re feeling even communicate it to your partner go you know what I’m
feeling really insecure and I know it doesn’t seem to make sense to you but
you know I just want you to know acknowledge it but then it’s your
responsibility to work through that fear you know don’t squelch it don’t ignore
it don’t stuff it down acknowledge it look at it figure out where it’s coming
from and do something about it one thing you can do is unhook from your feelings
so if you start getting anxious in your relationship thinking oh
my gosh you know if this relationship ends I don’t think I can live without
this person instead of saying I can’t live without this person say I’m having
the thought that I can’t live without this person I have thoughts all the time
and forget them you know thoughts come and go I’ll give you another example
that may be more poignant if somebody is an alcoholic they may say I need a drink
right now well that is pretty right out there I’ve got to have a drink and the
under undertone is or something bad is going to happen if you change it and say
I’m having the thought that I need a drink right now well you can make
thoughts go away and thoughts can be wrong so it’s important to unhook from
that feeling and put that phrase I’m having the thought that in front of it
it takes a lot of power out of the statement does it make it go away
completely No you know I do this a lot at night when
I’m sitting at home watching TV and a commercial for some kind of food comes
on pizza or something that’s totally unhealthy but so yummy and I’m like I’m
having the thought that I really need pizza right now and I’m like yep it’s
just a thought it’ll pass most thoughts pass in less than 20 minutes you just
need to distract yourself or do something else the second thing is don’t
try to manipulate your partner into doing things to make you feel more
secure when your partner does or doesn’t do something that triggers your anxiety
ask yourself why you’re feeling anxious you know it’s not their responsibility
to make sure they’ve got their phone with them 24/7 365 and they respond to
you within 30 seconds that’s not their responsibility your responsibility is to
you know communicate with them but if you text them accept the fact that
they’ve got a life you know they may be in the bathroom their cell phone may be
dead there may be a lot of reasons so before get jumping to conclusions and
getting all in a tizzy and those are all things that you’re doing to yourself you
to figure out what you can do to make you feel more secure you know what would
help you in this situation one of the things that you can do when you start
feeling anxious is ask yourself what facts support my belief right now that
something bad is going to happen or that my partner is angry with me or they’re
going to leave or they were in a car accident or whatever what facts do I
have you know if the only fact that you have is the fact that the person didn’t
return your text in ten minutes that’s not a fact there are 20 things I can
think of that might prevent a person who’s at work especially from returning
a text I know when I’m at the gym I don’t return texts you know I don’t I
don’t even answer my phone when I’m at the gym unless it’s my kids but you know
those are things that you the anxious person have to consider what are some
alternate explanations for why this behavior might have happened that have
nothing to do with our relationship you know John comes in and for the past
week every night he’s come home he has been in a god-awful mood well you know
an anxious person might start feeling oh my gosh I wonder if he’s unhappy in
their relationship and he’s getting ready to leave me and yeah uh what other
explanations could there be for that you know maybe John’s having a really tough
time with his new office mate or is working on a really awful project or you
know doesn’t feel well you know there’s a lot of things that could be going on
that you know depending on the relationship may not be openly shared so
it’s important to ask don’t try to read each other’s mind because as soon as you
try to read your partner’s mind and guess what he or she is thinking is when
you start making mistakes and you can create a whole lot of upsetness for
yourself that probably doesn’t need to happen
don’t use emotional reasoning emotional reasoning is when you feel a feeling and
then create a scenario or us dori to support that feeling so again
we’ll stay with the text metaphor for example if Sally texts John and he
doesn’t respond in his normal ten minutes Sally could get nervous she
might start fearing that John is mad at her she might start fearing something
bad happen whatever and she starts getting really nervous so since she got
nervous then she fuels that with if I feel
scared then all these thoughts I’m having must be true there must be some
truth to this and there must be something bad getting ready to happen so
remember that just because something happens that triggers your abandonment
anxiety doesn’t mean there’s anything to be anxious about necessarily so go back
to the facts I’m gonna say that two or three more times get out of the emotions
and go back to the facts what evidence do you have
don’t make your partner feel emotionally responsible for you you’re responsible
for your reactions your partner your friend they’re responsible for their
reactions and you know things are going to happen that trigger anger and you
trigger anxiety in you that’s just a normal reaction that’s your body’s Way
of telling you to do something if you feel anger or fear then your body’s
telling you that there might be a threat you need to check it out to see if you
need to fight or flee not you need to fight or flee but you need to check it
out to see if you need to fight or flee when you start feeling anger or anxiety
think of it like the smoke alarm in your house sometimes it goes off for no
reason sometimes it goes off because there’s a fire but how many times has it
gone off when it’s been because the battery has been low because somebody
burned some popcorn in the microwave because you know anything but a fire a
lot of times the same thing for our feelings so we meet when we feel those
feelings we need to kind of thank ourselves for going okay thank you for
wanting me to survive cool now let me see is there really a problem here if it is then it gets you to do
something when you feel happy that’s your body’s way of saying that was good
do that again so feelings get you to do something if
you’re having an unpleasant feeling like anger or anxiety look around and you
know identify what you can do to improve the next moment if you feel that feeling
and realize there’s really no threat what can you do to start feeling better
if you feel that feeling and realize there is a threat for some reason what
do you need to do fight or flee at that point but it you want to use your
feelings and use your emotions as tools not just be consumed by them have
realistic expectation of the root of the relationship try to avoid demanding too
much too soon relationships are kind of like a dance
the cha-cha is a dance that two people do and the lead partner usually the male
will do a few moves and then the female partner will replicate those moves so
it’s give a little repeat a little bit so I in a relationship maybe I will
share a little bit and my partner will share and then I’ll share a little bit
more than my partner will share a little bit more it’s not me coming up to them
and just kind of dumping everything here let me tell you everything that you’ve
ever wanted to know and oh by the way can I have a drawer at your house the
tango is more like asking somebody for a drawer at their house it’s one that is
led by one partner and it’s a very intense passionate dance you know
intense and passionate can be good but at the beginning of a relationship and
when you’re talking about boundaries it can be really overwhelming so look on
YouTube learn a little bit about the cha-cha and the tango and think about
how your relationships go are you trying that’s a good thing stop loathing
yourself when you see that your insecurity is driving your partner away
the more you loathe yourself the more you expect that you’re worthy of being
abandoned or rejected if you’re looking at yourself
going oh my gosh I suck well you know you’re communicating that non-verbally
to other people it’s okay to loathe behaviors that you do though so if you
see yourself you know stalking your significant other on Instagram or
Facebook or whatever it’s okay to loathe that behavior become aware of it and
change it but in the process you need to be loving and compassionate to yourself
because you’re probably reacting from old wounds and you need to stop yourself
and go okay you know John is a nice guy he’s trying to do the right thing in my
other relationships you know things have gone south and I feel nervous when these
types of things happen but he’s shown no indication that he’s like those other
people the example or analogy I can give you is if you got bit by a dog in the
past then dogs might trigger anxiety in the present whenever you see a dog you
might be like oh my gosh you know I don’t want to get bit well relationships
are kind of the same way if you were in a relationship and got abandoned you
kind of got bit in the ass then in new relationships you might be more guarded
in order to protect yourself and that guardedness can cause a little bit of
problem but once you realize what you’re doing to try to protect yourself that
behavior instead of loathing it work through it
validate yourself by acknowledging the severity of the emotional wounds you
have sustained and grieve those prior losses again it could be primary
caregivers it could be prior intimate relationships it could be best friends
you know people who are significant in your life that you lost you want to
grieve the loss of the person you know that person’s not in your life anymore
the trust when that person abandoned you you lost a little bit of your ability to
trust others at least for a little while the dreams you had you know going back
to that screenplay you had the next three seasons written
out and all of a sudden you that character is not in the story
anymore so you’ve got to rewrite those next three seasons okay and the time
sometimes we look back at our relationships and maybe you were in a
really unhealthy relationship for five years or it was healthy for four years
and then it got kind of bad and then the person just up and left and you felt
abandoned and you’re looking back going that was five years of my life you know
what happened so grieve the loss of that time you can’t get it back that’s just
it you can’t get it back so staying stuck there staying angry that you gave
up those years of your life isn’t gonna do you any good holding other people
hostage going I only have so many more years left so you know you better make a
decision about whether you’re gonna stick around or not that’s not fair to
them either so grieve those losses so you can live more in the present and
appreciate everything that is that you do have around you stop blaming your
insecurities on your partner or anyone else yeah other people may have caused
the initial problem and probably did in some ways you may have been responsible
in some ways if you had poor communication for problem solving skills
you know there’s generally two to tango as they say but regardless of who caused
the initial abandonment issues you’re the only one that can fix how you feel
now you’re responsible for your own feelings it’s not fair but it’s the way
it is so don’t blame your insecurities on them when you feel that way
acknowledge your feeling you know that’s your body telling you I’m worried that
there’s a threat out here and deal with the threat and that’s between you and
your brain basically a hundred percent responsibility when
you feel anxious rather than expecting your partner to fix it it’s not his or
her responsibility to make you feel secure so don’t tell them well you know
I’m feeling really anxious right now so if you would make sure that you respond
to my text within ten minutes and you’re you call me if you’re gonna be more than
five minutes late and you do this and this and this the person’s gonna feel
like they’re in jail it’s not their responsibility to make sure to check all
these blocks and when you feel anxious it is their responsibility to
communicate with you but you’re the only one that can affect how you feel they
can’t make you feel calmer they can’t make you feel more secure that’s a
choice that you make so you’ve got to choose whether to stay stuck in
unhealthy thoughts or choose to be empowered and think positively identify
what’s truly important in your life and how you can use your energy to help you
move toward those people and goals and improve the next moment when you’re in a
healthy secure relationship you are growing you are moving towards things
that make you happy so if you’re using that energy and you’re focusing on the
things that make you happy and you’re not going to be using that energy to
worry to fret to stalk to do anything else that you might do in insecure
relationships learn to tolerate distress by adding daily activities that are
life-sustaining including time with supportive friends therapists and even
support groups there are support groups out there that you can attend but it’s
important to tolerate the distress of being apart you know maybe it’s the
weekend and you’re both off but your partner wants to go hang with the boys
or hang with the girls if that makes you anxious you need to figure out how to
tolerate that distress knowing that that person is nurturing a part of themselves
not to abandon you but to be more whole for you
so think figure out things that you can do to pass the time if they’re gonna
hang with their buddies what can you do that will make you happy get into the
moment and stay there as long as possible the future has been disrupted
by the break-up those next few chapters or seasons you don’t exactly know what’s
gonna happen until you rewrite them and your past is where that relationship is
pulling so painfully you want to go back there you want to fix it you want to
change what’s happened well you can’t so it’s important to stay in the present
moment focusing on what is still there and how that next season will play out
and maybe even get better ratings than the last one focus on the three C’s
commitment control and challenge challenge yourself to continue working
towards those things that are important in your world all right that person is
not in it right now but what other things that you were working toward
before the relationship broke up are still there what other things are
important your pets your job your garden your motorcycle whatever it is that’s
important to you and identify those things that are still
there that you can work on that you’re committed to working on and that you can
control what parts of these things can you control we can’t control other
people we know this so what can you control you
control what you do with your time you can control what you do with your
self-talk there are a lot of things you can control so focus on those remember
the past does not have to repeat just because other relationships ended
doesn’t mean that all relationships are going to end so explore your other
relationships and learn from them look at the facts think about what happened
in this relationship and why why did this relationship break up they say
hindsight’s 20/20 so let’s look back and figure out what did I do in this
relationship that contributed to the break-up what did that person do in
their relationship that contributed to the breakup because remember remember I
said it generally takes two to tango and what are the impact of other influences
on the relationship ending you know we just had graduation here and you know a
lot of people who were high school sweethearts are going to go to
potentially different colleges so even though they may be in love maybe there’s
you know a lot of commitment between them that the relationship may end at
least temporarily simply because of distance they’re going to school in
different places so getting different jobs friends anything that else that
could have contributed to the relationship another thing you can do is
work on your self-esteem remember I said a lot of people who are insecure in
relationships have low self-esteem they’re looking to others to tell them
you’re okay you’re just fine you need to be able to
look in the mirror and tell yourself I’m okay I’m all that and a bag of chips so
the first thing you need to do is quiet that internal critic that voice in your
head that tells you you’re not good enough and we’ll talk more about that in
a minute when we go to cognitive distortions
encourage you to keep a mean Journal I had three things each day that you did
well or that you did that were nice for somebody it doesn’t have to be
earth-shattering just three things that remind you that you’re a good person and
separate who you are from what you do what I do you know I teach I garden you
know those are things that I do Who I am I am loyal I am honest I am
compassionate those are values about me that don’t change you know depending on
whether I get out of bed or not you know I can be compassionate and loyal from
anywhere it’s not about what I do is Who I am
self-awareness is the next step you need to feel good about yourself but you also
need to be aware so practice mindfulness to become aware of your wants and needs
one of the insecurities are reasons for insecurities and relationships is
because partners say well that person never meets my needs okay why not well
it often comes out that the partner doesn’t know what your needs are a lot
of times you don’t know what your needs are probably mindfulness helps you
become aware of what you want and need so you can communicate that to your
partner so your partner can try to meet those wants and needs if you don’t know
it you can’t communicate it and they can’t need it so it’s up to you to be
mindful and aware of what you need once you know those needs you need to
learn how to communicate them effectively to be assertive not
aggressive not you have to do this but this would make me happy this is what
would be ideal whenever you’re communicating with your
partner try to create a win-win if there are certain things that are kind of
non-negotiable see if you can figure out how to create a benefit for them like if
you’re gonna be more than 30 minutes late for for dinner I would appreciate
it if you would call that way I don’t start getting nervous and worried that
something something happened and 30 minutes is generally pretty reasonable
10 minutes is not so much 30 minutes you know dinner can burn in that amount of
time so create a win/win and help the other person see how it benefits them
practice asking for help when you need it it’s okay to ask for help a lot of
times that helps relationships when people start depending on one another a
little bit for stuff you know I have my strengths and my partner has his
strengths and you know we’re kind of yin and yang so it’s good we work together
there’s stuff that I can do I can mow the yard but I cannot rebuild the fence
so we work together I ask for help when I need it and you know I’m also able to
say no when he wants to do stuff but I don’t want to do you know he’s a pilot
and I hate flying you know it’s I’m not afraid of it I
just don’t like it and so sometimes he’ll ask me to go flying and I’m like
no I’d really rather not unless it’s super important to you once you take one
of the kids because our kids love to fly so I’m like you know just let them go
and it’s not and he understands that it’s not about him it’s not that I don’t
want to spend time with him it’s just I don’t want to spend time cooped up in a
little tiny plane because I get bored and I’ve got to pee every 15 minutes
so learn how to ask for help and learn how to say no to requests without
feeling like you’re going to be abandoned without feeling like you’re
going to be rejected if you state your wants and needs and
finally the cognitive distortions jumping to conclusions when something
happens and you take one clue like the smell of perfume in your car and assume
the worst you know maybe your partner gave somebody a ride to a business
luncheon and she had way too much perfume on it doesn’t mean that he was
cheating on you so jumping to conclusions is one of
those cognitive distortions that can cause your mind to start going wild can
get that internal critic to start standing up and going I told you so
we want to shut him up selective abstraction is seeing only what you
expect to see so when your partner does something that makes you upset all of a
sudden you only remember the times that he or she failed to do whatever it was
so if they failed to do the dishes one time and you come back at them with you
never do the dishes well you know let’s remember the times that they did do the
dishes it’s not never it’s sometimes all-or-nothing thinking is another
thinking error when you tell somebody you always do this or you never do this
look for exceptions before you open your mouth and try to try to avoid using the
words always or never but before you open your mouth think to yourself how
often does this really happen and are there exceptions to it for example
sometimes when we go out in public my partner will forget to introduce me to
the people that were talking to and I’m just kind of standing there twiddling my
thumbs and I could say you always forget to introduce me but that’s not true
it’s just sometimes he does and you know so we’ve kind of developed a system and
I’ll tug on the back of his coat jacket or something if he’s forgotten to
introduce me so he remembers as opposed to me just going well let me introduce
myself and that works for us fallacy of control
thinking that you can control another person if he or she is going to cheat
then he or she is going to cheat and it’s more about that person and the
more you try to control another person the more suffocated and oppressed
they’re probably going to feel and the more likely they are going to be to act
out or to run away so the fallacy of control really often backfires personalization is thinking your partner
is doing something because you’re not good enough or he or she is trying to
hurt you you know when your partner does something that makes you angry you know
if you think well that person is just trying to hurt me or because they don’t
respect me well then that creates anxiety in the relationship you start
thinking why don’t they respect me why don’t they love me enough to I wonder if
that this means they’re getting ready to leave and you can get all riled up
instead of thinking of what are some reasons that this might have happened
that have nothing to do with me and I always encourage people to think
of three reasons that your partner may be doing that because that don’t have
anything to do with you yet sometimes yeah I’m kind of finicky about the house
and and sometimes my partner is is not cleaning up and you know we’re all doing
our chores and stuff and he’s sitting there reading on his Kindle and you know
my first thought is that doesn’t work for me but my next thought is you know
what he had a really rough day a really rough week at the office and maybe he
just needs a little bit more time and he’ll get to it and he does but it’s
important for me to keep my attitude in check so remembering that people
generally don’t especially people you’re in a relationship with they don’t do
things to try and hurt you so what is another explanation that’s much more
benign because that one’s probably going to be the right one and magnification is
blowing a small mistake someone makes into a huge offence so if somebody
forgets to pick you up for something I don’t know and it’s like you just didn’t
want me to go and you turn it into a huge fight you know you want to pick
your battles so look at the small mistake and figure out number one what
does it mean if anything it could just be that person had a lot on their mind
and they forgot or they made a mistake they forgot your birthday or Mother’s
Day or something and think about you know does that mean they don’t love me
or does that mean they had a lot on their
mind and it just slipped their mind I remember one year and I still feel bad
about it to this day I was in college and I missed my father’s birthday his
birthday was May 25th I called him promptly on June 25th and I
wished him a happy birthday and he’s like thanks but you’re a month late
I felt so bad and it wasn’t that I didn’t love him I adored my daddy but I
got caught up with stuff and I just the months slipped me by and yeah so I made
a big mistake you know and he didn’t hold it against me he was just like well
thanks for calling when you thought it was my birthday so we want to look at
these things and give people a little bit of slack cut them a little bit of
slack and don’t always assume the worst and finally remember that relationships
are like chocolate chip cookies not salad dressing and lettuce salad
dressing you can’t just pick up a bottle of salad dressing and chug it and go
mm-hmm that was good that’s just disgusting and lettuce I’m sorry it’s
not satisfying to me by itself you know so you put the two of them together it’s
it’s pretty good relationship shouldn’t be like this we don’t want to take two
incomplete people and put them together to try to get a complete person you want
to have to complete people that come together and make something awesome and
that’s like chocolate chip cookies chocolate chip cookies or the
combination of sugar cookies and chocolate chips either one of them you
can eat by themselves and they’re darn good put them together and they’re
downright amazing so that’s what you want your relationship to be you want
each person to be able to stand independently and be able to come
together and make something even better instead of tearing each other down when
you’re in this kind of relationship to make the chocolate chip cookies nurture
yourself and the other person which means do things for yourself
it’s all about being that other person’s
significant other or best friend you need to do things so you have an
independent identity do things for the other person we always enjoy when our
significant others do things for us and allow the other person to nurture
themselves give them the space they need to grow their interests and have their
independent identity it doesn’t mean they’re trying to get away from you or
grow away from you if you allow them to nurture themselves and you share in each
other’s growth then you’re going to actually grow closer together one way
you can nurture relationships is through love languages and you know you can get
the book the five love languages but basically people express and experience
love in different ways and some people feel like some like they’re being loved
they feel it’s a loving gesture when they get gifts other people could care
less you know I’m not one of those people who’s big on gifts I’m just like
you know it’s a really nice thought but I don’t need gifts to feel loved
some people need quality time I’m one of those people um you know I would much
rather spend the day on Mother’s Day I don’t need gifts I would rather spend
quality time going hiking with my kids or doing something positive words of
affirmation are important so you know kind words a thank you for a job well
done or a statement of appreciation or just a statement of love is important to
some people acts of service and devotion so doing things like making breakfast in
bed or vacuuming the house so your partner doesn’t have to or things that
you do that are just nice they’re acts of service to lighten the load on your
partner those are received by some people as acts of love and some people
need physical touch not all people so it’s important to know your partner and
how they experience love how do they experience love messages and which ones
and a lot of people have two or three different love languages so figure out
which ones are more and important to your partner but don’t
assume they have the same love language as you do my partner and I don’t you
know so it’s important that I understand that you know quality time is great but
that just doesn’t do it for him and we go from there
so we can communicate our affection for one another in a way that’s meaningful
to the other person I hope this has given you some ideas
about ways to improve your relationships become less anxious and maybe some of
the reasons where or causes of that anxiety so you can start addressing them
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