The biggest obstacle to cultivating the authentic intimacy you desire with the special person in your life is a part or parts of yourself you do not love. These are hidden parts, parts you have never fully accepted, perhaps parts of you that were disowned, rejected or shamed by a parent when you were a small, or parts you feared would cause conflict or anger. These subconscious parts of you, essentially, are the main obstacles to forming and enjoying the healthy, loving, mutually enriching couple relationship you desire.
These hidden aspects of yourself are powerful shapers of your life because the operate subconsciously, outside your awareness. Even if a miracle occurred and you awakened tomorrow morning to find that your partner was “exactly” how you want them to be and your relationship instantly changed, for example, you will not likely be able to sustain the changes long enough to enjoy them.
In truth these unloved parts would not like it, feel “uncomfortable” at best with this unfamiliar territory, and would likely begin to act quickly to return your relationship (and partner) back to what you had before.
Self-sabotage — not!
Though some call this “self-sabotage,” it really isn’t.
These hidden parts of you are controlled by a part of your mind known as the subconscious. It is responsible for managing all processes of your mind and body that you do not have to think about with your “conscious” mind, the part that does conscious thinking, makes plans, decisions, and so on.
Your subconscious mind monitors all systems 24/7. It never rests. It isn’t self-sabotage because the main directives of this operating system are always set on restoring balance, health and ensuring your survival.
Its primary directive however is to ensure survival. Unlike the conscious mind, since it does no reflective “thinking” of its own, it does not know the difference between physical and psychological threats to your survival! That means: It relies on information from you, at any given moment, to interpret life around you, especially in terms of threats to your emotional survival, which is as real and conceivably more intensely guarded than physical survival.
The greatest fear?
It’s safe to say that: our greatest fear is intimacy. And, as any creative process, intimacy is a balancing act — an art. It is the art of balancing our drive for meaningful connection, on the one hand, with our drive for self-agency, on the other. These drives activate core human fears, such as rejection, inadequacy, correspondingly, which have to do with natural doubts or anxiety we feel either about our ability to handle closeness (feeling controlled or limited can trigger core fears of rejection or inadequacy) or distance (feeling alone, emotionally detached activate our cores fears of abandonment or separation).
And thus, we may take actions that are in effect “harmful” to our relationship, however, they are not “self-sabotage” or “self-destructive” per se; they are rather misguided ways that our subconscious mind “thinks” it “has to” protect us in situations that trigger our deepest intimacy fears, and thus, our emotional survival response. If you do not feel safe enough to connect emotionally to your partner, for example, you do not feel safe enough inside to love, period. That because our body’s fear response shuts us off or overrides our drives to matter, and gives primacy to what “seems” urgent in the moment: your survival, defense, protection.
In these moments, when we are totally disconnected from our inner sources of love, acceptance, compassion, understanding, wisdom, etc., we need to know how to restore our own sense of love and safe connection to our self. Instead, we tend to take desperate actions to either distance or get close to our partner, and then feel surprised and hurt that, like us, they get scared or thrown off balance by our defensive strategies, protective reactions.
Love is all about safety.
Since the primary directive of your subconscious mind is your safety, and in the case of relationship-building – emotional safety — your body-mind will automatically act to keep anything that resembles a close intimate relationship at bay until it feels you (not your partner) are “capable” of handling your inner emotional response to what triggers your fears, and maintaining your connection to your self (ditto).
This explains why, as you’ve likely heard before, that it is “impossible” to fully love another person unless you really and genuinely love your self, and that means, first and foremost, knowing how to handle upsetting emotions (yours and your partner’s) in certain triggering situations so that your body does not unnecessarily activate your survival response (in which case you get shut off from the inner resources you need to your own inner ever-present source of unconditional self-love and self-acceptance).
As an infant or small child you were totally dependent on your parents as sources of love and thus safety; as adults, you and your partner own 100% responsibility for not unnecessarily activating one another’s survival systems. You absolutely must grow out of, rewire, let go of your early survival-love maps.
Letting go …
Your early survival-love map is a set of beliefs that automatically activate your defenses to protect you from what you (mistakenly…) believe you just cannot handle without these “proven and reliable” protective strategies. In a sense, you cannot –at least not until you believe you can, that even though you yearn for (and prefer to have) your partner’s love, recognition, understanding, etc., that you are not only worthy of your own unconditional love and acceptance — you only need, require, and must-have your own to restore a sense of balance, health and peace of mind within.
It is these limiting beliefs that are blocking you from the love and connection you need. For example, you may have learned to believe that, in order to feel loved and accepted, others in your world “should” appreciate what you do or treat you in specific ways, otherwise, it means you have no value. These limiting beliefs, and the toxic thinking patterns they produce, can leave you with a sense of feeling unloved, unappreciated, undeserving, and so on, which then keep you spinning your wheels in life, continuously looking for someone or something out there to do what only you can do by deepening your connection to life from within.
It’s the way you and the world of relationships are designed to work. Let go of old limiting beliefs, and create your life anew.
Self-love is the solution.
Learning to fully love yourself and life is your job, if you wish to be happy and heathy that is.
As long as you do not love and accept yourself fully, all parts of you, you see, you will likely attract persons into your life that also do not love themselves, albeit in different ways.
All cases are indicative of the absence of genuine self-love and self-acceptance. It is the absence of self-love that anxiously focuses our efforts on getting, depending or waiting for others to give us what we believe we “must” or “should” have before we can be free to feel loved and accepted, valued and deserving of love and happiness.
If you do not love yourself for all you are (and are not), is it reasonable to expect the other can do so?
In truth, the intense focus on what the other should or should not do before you can feel loved is a mere distraction, a way to deal with the pain you feel in relation to yourself and those closest to you. It is also a way to avoid the work you need to do on yourself, so that you can develop a mature capacity to love and accept yourself and others unconditionally, even as you also simultaneously create the life and relationships you desire. When you truly love yourself, you also bring out the same qualities in those around you.
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From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: June 4, 2013 | World of Psychology (June 4, 2013)
Last reviewed: 1 Jul 2013