“Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.” Frank Sonnenberg
We all have that one friend that swears she’s unlucky at love.
Maybe you know someone who always seems to make the same relationship mistakes, attracting the wrong guy: the guy who can’t commit, the guy who won’t be faithful, or the guy who is already taken.
And you may have repeating patterns in your own relationships that keep you wondering, “Why does this always happen to me?”
My client, Janell, grew up in a household with a father that was a bully. He was always angry about something and it was always someone else’s fault, so it was often her mother, herself or one of her siblings that was on the receiving end of that anger.
There were degrees to her father’s anger…sometimes he was quiet and somber with his glass of scotch on the rocks, but you could tell he didn’t want company so everyone kept their distance. Other times, his anger was direct and specific, aimed at someone in particular.
Janell married young.
And she married a bully. She was used to a certain amount of anger, thinking that was normal in a man. Unfortunately, she was also used to hiding when necessary, denying her own needs, and making herself and her personality as small as possible.
Janell and her husband had children together. She stayed for 19 years. Until she couldn’t anymore.
But just because she left that relationship doesn’t mean the repetitive pain of her relationship mistakes ended.
The first man she became involved with after her marriage ended was manipulative and emotionally abusive.
The next man she fell for was just generally unhappy; but she saw who he could be and she mistakenly thought that if she loved him enough, he would eventually become happier. But he never did. Not with her. Not with his life. Not with anything.
Janell knew there was a pattern of hurt in her life, but she couldn’t connect the dots.
- She knew she kept choosing men that made her walk on egg shells and made her feel invaluable and unimportant.
- She knew she couldn’t change people, but she also stayed in painful relationships longer than necessary hoping for change.
- She just didn’t know how to stop making the same mistakes time and again.
Here are the steps we took together to free her from the patterns:
- Taking Personal Responsibility.
Since the ONLY thing you have any control over are your own choices, actions and behaviors, she had to start there. She had to see what her role was in the creation of her painful experiences in love. And at the very moment she accepted responsibility and could see the truth of her role, everything changed going forward.
If we allow ourselves, we can stay stuck in the painful story of how he was a jerk or a loser or an abuser. The problem is that there’s no freedom there; it keeps us stuck in our stories. And if we believe that these experiences are happening TO us, rather than THROUGH us, it places us in the role of the victim and makes us powerless.
Be brave enough to look for what your responsibility has been in creating your own experiences; that’s where all the freedom lies.
- Be Willing to Change.
Once you can see your role in and take responsibility for the ongoing, painful relationship mistakes, you have to be willing to change what you’ve been doing in your past in order to create an experience that feels dramatically different for your future.
You know the saying, Nothing changes until you do? You’ve heard that phrase because it’s true.
You cannot keep your painful story about being unlucky at love and attract the loving, lasting relationship you desire.
You cannot doubt that love can happen for you and at the same time, feel hopeful.
You cannot keep the drama, anger and pain and have peace.
- It’s All Good to Know.
When Janell first started working with me, she would tell me about all the hateful and hurtful things the people she loved would say to her or do to her. She would tell me about how her daughter wouldn’t return her calls or how her good friend told her maybe she deserved some of this pain she was experiencing since she was the one that left her marriage. She would tell me about the man she had been seeing and how he would still text and communicate with her, but didn’t ever really want to be with her or make her a priority. She would tell me about how his words weren’t aligning with his actions.
Through our work together, Janell’s favorite three words become, good to know.
Instead of trying to get everyone to change their actions and behaviors, she took those actions and behaviors at face value. Instead of seeing people the way they could be or should be, she began to see them as they were. And rather than continuing to carry the hurt from other people’s actions, she began to set healthy boundaries for herself and walk away from relationships that brought more pain than joy.
Other people’s actions and behaviors were just information for her; and it was all good to know.
- Know What You Want and How You Want to Feel.
If I asked you, “Do you know what you want in a relationship?,” you might be able to give me some superficial details, but what you would likely tell me about is what you don’t want and why you don’t want it.
It’s so easy to know what we don’t want, typically because we experienced it and it didn’t feel good.
But if we stop there, we don’t allow the opportunity for what it is we want to come into our experience. It’s like if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get to your desired destination.
And everything we want is because of how we think we will feel once we have it.
- How will it feel when you feel both confident and hopeful about your relationships?
- How will it feel when you know for sure that you will not repeat the same painful pattern in your relationships ever again?
- How will it feel when you have a deep, soulful, connected intimate relationship by your side?
If you just pay attention to how you want to feel and keep walking towards everything that feels that gives you that feeling, you won’t allow yourself to walk too far down the path with someone that doesn’t give you that desired feeling.
- Communicate and Honor Your Own Needs.
You have needs. I know you’ve been taught that you shouldn’t have needs or that those needs should be a lesser priority than everyone else’s needs, but that’s not true.
You are the only one that can know what you need in any given moment and if you don’t honor those needs, no one else is going to do it for you…because they can’t.
We are always more comfortable when we know the rules; so make everyone around you more comfortable by knowing what you need personally and expressing that. Set the rules of what feels good for you.
We teach people how to treat us, based upon how we treat ourselves. If you don’t think your needs are important, why would anyone else?
The Path Through
My client, Janell had a long history of allowing bullies into her life.
She surrounded herself with people that couldn’t and wouldn’t give her what she needed.
She allowed men into her heart that never made her a priority.
She allowed angry people into her life.
But walking through these steps – not from a place of finding another reason to beat herself up – but from a place of total acceptance and compassion for who she was and what she didn’t know at the time, she healed all the wounds and interrupted the painful relationship mistakes and ongoing patterns in her life.
Janell is in an amazing relationship now with a strong, kind and loving man. She will often share with me the texts he will send her to share the joy and so that I can confirm for her that this, in fact, isn’t just a dream. Here’s one of his messages to her:
You are probably more than I deserve but I think I’ll keep you forever. Your ex is crazy for letting you go. I can’t imagine my life without you.
It’s not a dream.
And it’s not just for some; healthy, loving relationships are available to you too.
There is a path through the painful patterns of our relationships so that you can create the kind of connected, intimate relationships you desire and deserve.
You can go-it-alone or you can get through it quicker with me. I’m here if you’re ready.