So why are relationships so hard?? Well, relationships ask a lot of us and can trigger some of our biggest fears that we haven’t necessarily faced. Am I lovable? Can others be trusted? Will I be rejected or abandoned? These fears, and more, can get in the way of us being open to connection, being our authentic selves in our relationships, or being able to navigate conflict in relationships effectively.
Where do these fears stem from? Usually our fears stem from past experiences, sometimes dating as far back as infancy. Our early attachments tend to shape and influence how we view ourselves and the world, and have a significant impact on how we relate to others throughout our lives. Trauma is another major component that impacts how we relate and connect to others, and ourselves. Whatever our past experience has been, we may notice certain difficulties when it comes to people. We may find that we have a wall up when meeting new people, and only let them in so far. We may find that we have difficulty communicating how we feel and often misinterpret what others are trying to communicate to us. We may find that when with others, we don’t feel safe enough to be ourselves, and become less inclined to to be around others because it just feels like too much “work.” The list goes on. The good news is, as soon as we become aware that this is a struggle for us, and decide we no longer want to suffer this way, the possibilities are endless in the growth that we can experience. The first step is just identifying “this isn’t working for me.”
In therapy, my focus on relationships and social connection takes place on an individual level. This doesn’t mean working on things with our partners isn’t necessary at times, but I personally and professionally value the impact that focusing on the individual can have. Furthermore, you
may not currently have a partner, which is actually a great time to work on this stuff. Focusing on the internal self before moving into navigating our relationships with others can provide us with much more clarity and confidence moving forward. It never ceases to amaze me how prioritizing ourselves helps us feel more inner harmony, which then helps us feel more confident in being authentic and vulnerable with others. Once we reach that point where we allow for that vulnerability with others, we then have the opportunity to experience intimacy.
Through this journey, my hopes are that you will gain an increased sense of self and acquire the skills necessary to help you navigate relationships in a way that honours who you are, rather than compromising parts of yourself. You deserve to be loved, as you. This will be a process of reclaiming yourself. You will learn to lean into those fears that for so long were in the driver’s seat. You’ll be ready to take the wheel and drive, and let those fears come along for the ride just to see how brave you are.