You’ve got to “bring it” to get it and to “bring it right” takes a process of inside-out healing from the past. There is no auto-magic, overnight list of do-betters that will result in the change you want in relationships. You have to address what’s wrong from the inside-out. Anything less is nothing more than a butterfly-bandage strapped across a gaping, festering wound.
The reason we wind up in repeated non-affirming and unedifying relationships has less to do with known expectations, and more to do with the hidden expectations that elude us.
1) The Groundhogs Day Grind
The problem up to now has likely been that you have been caught in a cycle of repeated failed relationships. Job one is to identify the pattern, then make a game plan for addressing the root cause. If your response to the question of, “What went wrong in your last relationship?” is replete with statements like, “He did this…” or “She did that…” you still have some work to do. Remember, your sphere-of-control excludes everybody but you! You cannot control others, right or wrong. So, let’s begin where you have all the control – with YOU!
Make a list of all the things “(S)he did” in all your past failed relationships. Take your time . . . if done right, this will take a few days. Every time you think of something, add it to the list. In fact, keep the thing on your phone, in your pocket/wallet, or in your purse! Once you think you have it all recorded, look it over. Ask yourself these questions:
- What patterns emerge?
- Do you have a history of choosing cheaters, liars, unmotivated folks, lazy folks, controlling personalities?
Whatever it is, trust me; the key to the issue is in that pattern.
2) What’s my major malfunction? AKA Stay in Your Lane!
Getting back to the sphere-of-control, it’s now time for some serious self-awareness through honest soul-searching. Someone once said to me, “What you want and what you get are two different things.” They were right! We all have expectations of others that are born out of everything we experienced in life.
What happens, as a result, is that our internal (hidden) expectations do not align with our external (conscious) expectations. We want better for ourselves relationship-wise, but we wind up in a repeated cycle of drama because we are ignoring our internal expectations. We don’t even know that they exist, let alone what they are. These are the things that come to the fore in relationships.
They are things that others see as plain as day. They are glaring to others, while we, ourselves, are clueless-at-the-helm. I call it a total eclipse of the mind. Every choice and decision we make in life is driven by these internal expectations because they are mucking up the lenses through which we see the world around us.
Ask yourself, go way back…some of us need to take it back to childhood. Record on a separate piece of paper every hurt you ever endured. Who hurt you? How old were you at the time? What were the circumstances? If you are really ready to become the change you want to see, start a separate column and record the things you told yourself as a result of these hurtful situations. Again, take your time and keep the list close so that you can add to it as things come to mind.
These things set up unrealistic expectations of others. We end up looking to unsuspecting others to “make it up” to us for the wrong someone else inflicted. If you’ve ever said, “You’re just like all the others…” or “All (wo)men are alike!” you have fallen prey to this rouse.
If you are honest with yourself, you’ll admit that it’s not “all” (wo)men that are like that; it’s all the (w0)men you choose that are like that! Admitting that to yourself should lead to the quality decision to make better choices.
3) Change of mind. Change of mine.
Going back to your list, in the “What I Told Myself” column you will find a clue as to the internal expectations at the root of poor relationship decisions. This is how it works:
1) We get hurt;
2) We internalize the hurt through grief, bitterness, anger, or other negative emotions; and
3) We decide never to let anybody else do us like that again, no matter what it takes.
Looking back at #2, this is the point where internal expectations come into play. Once we internalize that pain as if we are the wrong that was done to us, we are really expecting it to happen again. Take a deliberate minute to chew on that a minute because this goes against the grain of how we think. Once you grab hold to the truth of that reality, you will recognize that a simple change of your own thinking about the past will result in a massive change in your perspective.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling to help you through this. Doing so puts you in the hands of a professional who can help you get to the root of the matter and provide you with effective tools of your own to challenge stinking-thinking the minute it crops up. Remember, inside-out healing has to go as deep as the wound. Bandaging the wound only goes as deep as you let it.
4) Reality Rules (Don’t Blame the Jelly)!
Once you get your internal expectations in line with your external expectations, you’ll gain clarity enough to know that, up to now, you have gotten exactly what you were expecting – more of the same! Stop choosing men or women who aren’t capable of being what you deserve in a relationship.
This excerpt from my book, “Whose Apple is it, Anyway!” best sums up this epiphany:
“…accept that everybody walking the earth isn’t capable of comprehending, appreciating, embracing or reciprocating [your] values” and act accordingly.
As humans we tend to gravitate toward all the potential we see in a man or woman. Regardless of how much conflicting reality is slapping us in the face, we ignore it while holding out hope for the unrealized potential we see.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that it’s the potential we fell in love with; its not real. It’s a fantasy waiting to happen. As I say in the book,
“You can’t be in love with somebody’s potential!”
Realize that “In the end, it [doesn’t] matter what [you] see when [you] looked at [that man or woman]. It’s what (s)he [sees] when (s)he [looks] in the mirror that [matters] in his or her life.” So, don’t blame that man or woman for YOUR choices.
These are equal-opportunity-knuckleheads; and unless they lied about who they are, it’s your bad for making that choice. Better said, (this analogy comes compliments of my sister): If you go to the store and get home to find out you got the wrong jelly; don’t get mad at the jelly! You chose the jelly. Even if the jelly did choose you, you didn’t have to put it in the cart!
5) Looking for Mr. and Ms. Right.
Until we heal we are incapable of maintaining a healthy relationship. Even if we were to stumble into one, we would ruin it by listening to the lying stories (scripts) we’ve told ourselves for years. In that condition, we’re bringing trash into a relationship with a good man or woman who deserves better. Focus on you and the rest will fall into place.
One true sign of being ill-prepared for a healthy relationship is not being able to be alone. If you are obsessing over, constantly praying for, or always in and out of, relationships—two words: Off focus!
If you aren’t comfortable, fulfilled, and at peace by yourself—you have a whole lot of work to do! If you follow these steps you are sure to flip-the script on the past and start rewriting your romantic story.
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