Bad Timing

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The last while has found me in a particularly reflective mood – I always get this way as autumn descends. I’ve been thinking about where I am in life, where I’m going, and especially where I’ve been. I’ve had so many fractured relationships, both platonic and not, and I’ve always figured that I just had crappy luck when it came to picking others…however, I’ve FINALLY come to the conclusion (and I’m actually believing it this time) that the common element in all of this is me. There’s something wrong with ME – and, until I fix whatever it is that’s wrong, things will never change. This is a heartbreaking thought. 😦

I’ve been trying to catalogue exactly what it is that I do that’s so off putting, and the list so far is sadly considerable: I’ve always kept myself busy, so anyone who wants to be in my life has to either roll with that or have enough of their own on to not find my absences to be a deal breaker; I never stop thinking, so I probably drive a lot of people off with all of the analyzing that I do – this is a big one…I’m certain that I’m annoying as hell; I like to feel like I am being courted – I don’t require grand gestures or anything over the top…I just want to feel like I am still being wooed, regardless of how long or short we have known each other (DISCLAIMER: Wooing isn’t solely for romantic relationships – friends woo friends, too. When you respect someone’s time, and make the effort to make plans with them you are wooing them…and it feels great!). A final thing is that I have been told that I make others around me feel badly – as if they aren’t good enough as they are. This hurts me deeply, because I generally think that most people are pretty awesome…and I hate the thought of making anyone feel insecure. The hard part is that I’m not even aware that I am doing these things – which makes it kind of tough to remedy, don’t you think?

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This article landed in my Inbox this morning, and I actually laughed out loud over the timing…it’s moments like these when I truly believe in a higher power. It was entitled “This One Mistake Might Be Keeping You From True Love” – here’s what it had to say:

For the longest time, I believed what I’d been told: that drunk drivers, whose bodies are fluid and loose with alcohol, are more likely to remain uninjured in a crash than those who are sober and brace themselves against the impact. I’ve since learned that this isn’t true, but it’s always provided a powerful metaphor for the different ways we experience love: we are either accept love in flow, or we brace ourselves against an anticipated impact.

I’ll be coasting along, my life in beautiful alignment; fully grounded in each moment, present with the one I’m with, navigating with my heart. Then, out of nowhere, I find myself holding my breath, overthinking rather than feeling, and braced instead of relaxed. That’s when I know fear has taken hold, and cut off the air supply to my hope, and my reason.

I realize that when I’m in relationships, I spend a lot of time in my head. My love default — how I naturally experience intimacy — is to over-analyze, hesitate, and perfect. I always feel like if I just think it through enough, then I can make it work out the way I want.

Unconsciously, the intellectualizing of relationships is really fear disguised as “being smart about it.” (Note: I am NOT talking about that inner voice — that instinct — that tells you that something is wrong. I am not encouraging you to ignore warning signs.) I’ve convinced myself that if I brace myself against falling too fast or getting too connected, then I’ll avoid heartache should the relationship not work out.

Here’s what I’ve learned about this approach. Instead of protecting ourselves from heartache, we’re pushing love away. Picture someone bracing themselves: They’re stiff-armed and lock-jointed. When we do this, we’re limiting our ability to fully experience the beautiful process of developing and settling into relationship.

In fact, it’s more likely that, by doing this, we are unconsciously drawing heartache to ourselves by being disconnected from our authentic selves. We are disconnected from how it feels to be with our partner.

Falling in love in flow doesn’t feel like this. It isn’t cramped and sharp-edged. It’s fluid and full of trust. Flow comes from being so grounded in and connected to ourselves that we don’t fear the impact of a broken relationship. Instead, we rest in love rather than bracing ourselves against the imagined end.

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Here are some qualities of the two approaches to love. Of course, there will be times when you’ll find yourself back in fear, but the goal is to make flow your default.

What it looks like to be in a braced relationship:

You question your every move.

In this type of love paradigm, you might find yourself relying more on dating rules or games than on your own instinct. You might replay conversations over in your head to make sure you “got it right” and didn’t say anything to drive your partner away.

You’re afraid to be authentic.

If you’re bracing yourself in your relationship, you’re fighting against your authentic self. You might hide your strong opinions, pretend to like something you don’t, or neglect to honor your boundaries. In essence, you are wearing a mask instead of being yourself.

You scrutinize your partner.

Do you ever find yourself silently picking apart your partner, wondering if you could ever fully love someone who is/does _________? When we are unconsciously afraid to fall in love, sometimes we fixate on one quality our partner has that we don’t like. (I’m not talking about the big things, like the strength of someone’s character. If we’re bracing ourselves against love, we usually fixate on something fairly petty.) We use this as an excuse to hold our partner at arm’s length.

What it looks like to love in flow:

You show up.

This doesn’t just mean making the date on time. When you love in flow, you’re fully present and fully yourself with your partner. Even if it feels scary to share something about yourself, you say it anyway. You let your quirks shine, knowing that they make you beautiful. You embrace the vulnerability of partnership because you know it’s the only way.

You stay grounded.

When you’re in flow, you are anchored in yourself. Because you realize that you are the source of your own happiness and security, you don’t put pressure on the other person to make you feel a certain way. There is no clinginess in this type of relationship. You recognize the joy this person adds to your life without being the source of it.

You spend more time feeling than thinking.

In this modern, thought-driven society, we’ve lost touch with our feelings. We distract ourselves from them or chide ourselves for having them. In truth, our feelings are guideposts to be honored. When you love in flow, you allow yourself to ride the waves of emotions, without overreacting to them or overthinking them. Rather, you allow yourself to experience them fully. Even the beautiful ones, which we are sometimes scared to experience, for fear that they’ll disappear.

If you feel like you’re more braced in your relationship than relaxed into it, there’s no need to fix yourself. Through awareness, catch yourself and choose to drop your guard. Relax into the moment. Open up to the flow.

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Holy crap, this is ME!! I enter most relations with people in a braced position – I question every single thing, and I am afraid to be the real me. I push people away should I think that they are getting too close…I am the biggest, over-analyzing bracer you’ve ever seen. It’s insane!! I need to learn how to relax into things, and especially how to spend more time feeling than thinking. Only then will I perhaps find what has eluded me for so long. There’s hope, friends! 🙂 I do this with everyone that I encounter – colleagues, friends, romantic others, the whole nine yards…and it’s hard to stop. I don’t know when exactly I developed this rather annoying habit – but I hope I’ve not always been this way. I hope. Part of the reason that I push people away can probably be traced to my incredible insecurity when it comes to having relationships with people – and my considerable insecurities about myself in general. I’ve been working on addressing this issue a lot lately – here’s what I’ve been trying to do (suggestions courtesy of this piece):

1. I will stop comparing myself to others and underestimating my own abilities.
2. I will not live in complacence. I will tolerate feelings of awkwardness and step outside my comfort zone regularly.
3. I will not get caught up in the could haves and should haves – Instead I will embrace each moment for what it is.
4. I will invest in the things that inspire and move me.
5. I will be self-reflective, and open to changing my thoughts and behaviours when necessary.
6. I will never allow setbacks to stop me from achieving my goals. I will get back up and never give up.
7. I will not lose sight of all the reasons I have to be grateful.
8. I will love myself unconditionally. I will stop basing my self-worth on the opinions of others.
9. I will set higher goals. If it doesn’t scare me, it’s not big enough.
10. I will face my fears of failure and rejection.
11. I will not become bitter or resentful. I will embrace forgiveness and let go of the past.
12. I will focus on my strengths rather than dwell on my weaknesses.
13. I will not let anxiety steal my peace of mind.
14. I will accept whatever comes my way and use it as an opportunity to grow.
15. I will fill my mind with positive affirmations: “I am strong, capable, worthy, lovable”
16. I will embrace failure as a stepping stone to greater success. I will appreciate the lessons and wisdom it adds to my life.
17. I will consider my opinions valuable and worthy of being considered by others.
18. I will take responsibility for my own happiness. I will not blame anyone for my feelings or the setbacks in my life.

Isn’t this list awesome? I know! 🙂 I’m partial to these ones myself:

9. I will set higher goals. If it doesn’t scare me, it’s not big enough.
10. I will face my fears of failure and rejection.
11. I will not become bitter or resentful. I will embrace forgiveness and let go of the past.
12. I will focus on my strengths rather than dwell on my weaknesses.
13. I will not let anxiety steal my peace of mind.

I love this, don’t you? What do you think, friends? Are you flow-ers or bracers? 🙂 Do you flow into relationships or brace yourself against them? How do you manage to let people in to your life? 🙂 Teach me your secrets!!!! 🙂

xxx

 

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