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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: January 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lies We Live By (that hurt our selves and our relationships)

Okay, I know this might sound a bit harsh - but stay with me.  Because sometimes we have lies that we tell ourselves - usually because we are in pain - usually they are fear based lies.  And usually we tell ourselves these lies in an effort to protect ourselves and to survive and to cope with whatever pain or problem we are trying to deal with. 

And usually these lies have a small core of truth to them, just enough that its hard to tell that they are lies.  When it comes to relationships, these can really trip us up.  So picking up on my last post, here are a few to consider - along with some possible underlying fears and some truths that might help bring some relief:

Lie: S/he must understand deeply what they did that hurt me.  I need this understanding.  If s/he does not understand then I cannot move on.

Possible Underlying Fears that: I am worthless.  I'll be alone.  Being hurt means I'm bad.  If I make a mistake it will have irreparable consequences.  I won't be safe. I'm not okay unless they admit what they did

Truth:  It would really help a lot if s/he understood deeply what s/he did that hurt me.  It may be difficult to move on - but I can embrace my own healing process.  His/her understanding is not the sole key to my relief and pursuing it may further hurt the relationship.

Lie: If I cannot trust him/her completely all the time and in all areas then this relationship is bad.

Possible Underlying Fears that: I won't be safe. I'll keep getting hurt.  I have no good choices.  I'll lose my security.  I'll be the stupid one and mistakes like that are not allowed.

Truth:  We all slip up.  Some lies are worse than others.  It is possible to be with someone that we cannot trust in every single way.  We can seek to understand what is underneath the lie.  (I'm not suggesting you stay in dangerous or damaging relationships, just that taking a step back and unpacking what the fear is and addressing it can really be useful).

Lie: If s/he does not love me all the time no matter what I say or do or how I behave then I must not be lovable.   I should able to act/be/say/behave however I want towards him/her/life and s/he should still adore me.  (this is usually a quiet but powerful one).

Possible Underlying Fears that: I really am not lovable.  I cannot make it on my own without his/her approval and agreement.  I'm not safe or important unless s/he is always in sync with me.  This relationship really is all bad.  I made a big mistake that's unforgivable.  I have no good choices.

Truth: In healthy relationships people don't always feel loving or agree with each other all the time.  I have infinite worth no matter what, but I am responsible for how I behave and what I say.  S/he can be his/her own person - that does not make me less than anyone else.  It is unreasonable to act poorly and expect others to still have good feelings about us - even, maybe especially, those we are closest to.  I can still express my feelings, but I can do it responsibly.

Lie: If I need something and s/he loves me - s/he should do it - or that means s/he does not really love me - or that means that I am not really lovable.   So then I feel alone and I really am alone.

Possible Underlying Fears:  I really am alone.  I will always feel this way.  I must deserve this.

Truth: Feelings are real, but they are not always facts.  We can tend to our lies and fears gently and honestly and we can be okay.  Sometimes we are alone, but so is everyone and it's not always so bad. I can learn how to cope without so much self criticism and fear.  People who love each other don't always do everything right for each other.

Some of us are pretty well aware of these subtle lies and some of us think we've got them licked but somehow they are still influencing our feelings and our behavior.  When take a good look at the quiet beliefs that are under our feelings and actions, we can move forward in new ways that  can bring us much better feelings and results.

There are many more.  What are yours?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Broken Up Does Not Mean Broken (or does it?)

I hesitate to start the year off with grief but a lot of folks have been telling me that they were glad to see 2013 go - there was too much heartbreak.  And when heartbreak comes up, and we shine the light on some of the thoughts and ideas that go with it one chain of thinking is this:

S/he broke up with me/broke my heart/disappointed me/hurt me/betrayed me: therefore not only is s/he awful but really because s/he did this/feels this way: that means that I am awful, worthless, unlovable, un-wantable.  It must be all my fault.  Whatever I did or however I am (which I can't even look at because that would be too terrible to deal with) must be so bad that I deserved this.  So: therefor it must be all his/her fault and s/he must see this or I will go crazy.  Maybe I am crazy. 

Sometimes this is a quiet whispering - sometimes very quiet  and - sometimes not so much.

And there is often this too:  If I do not have infinite value to this person, and s/he does not place my feelings and me above all else at all times, then I really must be worthless.  Or s/he must be way too flawed.  Or our love must not be the real thing.  Or it's broken.  Or I am broken. 

Of course everyone does this to different extremes at different times. 

But when we can we ask ourselves - without awful self attack - What is my part?  How reasonable are my expectations?  Are they emotionally reasonable? Am I making unreasonable demands? How do I come across?  How do I behave?  Am I putting the responsibility for my own self worth on someone else?  Is it possible that my reaction to this current situation packs the punch that it does because of a past trauma, feeling, hurt, experience, relationship?  Could I have a role in it,  but not be awful? Or worthless.  Could I bear the hurt without it being so attached to my sense of self?

For sure, these are not usually simple questions, they need some real and tender exploration and study.  And we are absolutely influenced by what other people think of us and how they behave toward us, especially people we respect, love and are attached to.  But.  We tend to suffer a lot more when we don't take a look into the deeper emotional messages and beliefs we have, and when we attach being hurt by someone to the deep - sometimes quiet belief that we are unlovable or pathetic. 

This prevents us from finding out what our part really is and then taking care of it so that it does not keep repeating in our lives.  But it does not mean that we are worthless, it just means we have to work to do - good, worthwhile work.

And of course, there is so much emotional pain when someone we love and depend on leaves us, or hurts us.  There are many layers to such grief.  But one piece of the puzzle that can bring us real relief is to consider that taking a look at our part will help us feel and be better.  And another good piece is to have the idea that just because we have been hurt does not mean that we are worthless and undeserving of love.