Do you find yourself attracted to the same type of guys or girls and getting involved in relationships that all end the same way? The kind of relationships that got you feeling like you are stuck in an endless cycle of disappointments, heartbreaks and despair? And every single time you say the exact same thing, I will never be with someone like that again. But you somehow keep finding your way back there, back where you started — going in circles.
Insanity according to Albert Einstein:
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Before you start to panic, take a deep breath and understand that it’s quite common. Humans generally gravitate towards people and situations that they are familiar with because it allows them to feel comfortable. The problem with that however is that by repeating the same behaviour and making the same dezisions — we end up in similar situations every single time. The disappointments, the heartbreaks and sense of despair will never go away. So change is necessary. You’re probably wondering; “but how?”
To begin, you will need to let go of your old story. That means, your decisions and experiences in the past should be left where they belong, in the past. You can’t change what was done in the past, but you do have control over the present. Letting go of the past involves understanding what worked and what didn’t and defining exactly what you NEED in a relationship and from your partner. This may sound simple, but many people don’t actually take the time to understand what they need or worse, they don’t feel worthy of a relationship that provides them those qualities. For example, if you are looking for someone who offers stability, you don’t choose someone who jumps from one job to the next or someone who constantly travels for work or someone who’s emotionally unavailable. But we have a tendency to ignore those things until it becomes a real problem or when we find them unbearable. You see, early in a relationship, we tend to overlook things because the feeling is new and we don’t want to rock the boat. As time passes, those same behaviour that didn’t used to bother us become increasingly annoying and the arguments begin. Or in the case where self-worth is low, we will repress our emotions, with the occasional outburst. In either case, you are living within an old and unhealthy story.
Letting go of your old story also involves letting go of resentment and forgiving those who have hurt you or you feel has wronged you. Letting go is very much a physical act as it is a mental or emotional one. Some practical things that you can do involve throwing away old belongings that have deep meaning attached to them that can trigger a strong emotional reaction at any moment or whenever you look at them. Be prepared to go through rounds of negotiations with yourself as you start the process of discarding those items. A part of you wants to hold onto them and a part of you understands that you need to let them go. What you want is to make the latter part of you be more dominant and the best way to do that is to make it crystal clear to yourself why it’s an important step in the moving forward and healing process.
You also want to change your mental focus and the role in which the past plays. Every relationship, no matter how badly the experience was or how it ended, came with valuable lessons. Choose to see the values and hold onto the lessons and let them be your building blocks towards a better relationship. Once you let go of your past and old story, you have to create a new one! This new story needs to sit on a foundation of a better understanding of your needs. An exercise that I often assign to my clients is to put together a laundry list of needs. Once they complete that list, I ask them to identify the “must haves” — these are the needs that you are passionate about and will help you identify relationship that you desire. And once they have that short list, I then ask them to identify the things that they don’t want in a relationship. This step is equally important because it helps you limit surprises; those qualities can easily nullify some of the good ones, so be diligent here as well.
In building a new story, you will also need to have a stronger understanding of your emotions and the behaviours that reflect those emotions. There are patterns of behaviour that you may not be familiar with. There are 4Rs that I learned through Tony & Sage Robbins to avoid in a relationship.
Resistance: This is where you aren’t communicating your stresses or things that bother you about your partner.
Resentment: Built up resistance (also known as “emotional stacking”) will lead you to hold things against them and start a cycle of blaming them for things.
Rejection: It’s no longer about a single situation, but due to built up resentment. You become harsh with each other.
Repression: When you don’t feel that it’s getting any better so you just become “numb”. There’s lack of communication and your expectations drop to friendship or worse acquaintance level.
These escalated behavioural states illustrate how we play a role in the breakdown of relationships. When you choose not to communicate or choose not to break free from these patterns, the fate of the relationship hang in the balance.
Lastly, your new story has to involve a deep belief that your ideal relationship is available and that you are worthy of such a relationship. You also have to embrace “discovery”. You already know what the challenges that natural attraction poses. You know that it’s not always reliable in helping you choose the kind of partner that you ultimately need; someone who you can build a strong future with. The discovery process will involve unfamiliar territories and you may even feel uncomfortable, but that’s the process of change. You will continue to make mistakes, but you will continue to learn from them. Never stop discovering and you’ll never stop learning and growing. Eventually, that process will lead you to your ultimate relationship and you’ll finally be traveling forward as opposed to in circles.