A lot of clients ask me about the fears they have of entering new relationships, so I thought I would share some of the most successful relationship tips I know, in the hope that it helps others to understand the fear a little better.
There are two options in relation to fear, we can either stay away from what causes it, the triggering factors, or we can face it head on. Both require a different kind of attitude:
- Avoidance means we are usually in for a long haul and often, nothing ever feeling much more positive, things will not get better if we avoid them, though granted we will learn to accept it in time.
- Facing our demons (the fear) head on, takes more courage, but I also feel its the option that gives us more in return, the chance of a better future. If we face things we have a better chance of future peace and happiness for the same amount of emotional energy.
Whenever I have a problem or worry, I do something called ‘reframing’, let me explain. Fear and feeling grateful can’t co-exist at the same time, it is cognitively impossible. When we are in a state of fear about our partners behaviour hurting us for example, in that moment we stop being grateful for having them in our lives, however, the moment we think of how much they mean to our lives, the anger is quelled. It’s a very quick fix, gratitude conquers fear. We don’t need to focus all of our energy on the fear, instead focus on acknowledging our gratitude and the fear will be gone.
Now, lets focus on the specific fear of entering into new relationships, this fear also has a fix, stay with me and I will try to explain it. When we get hurt, particularly in matters of the heart, we hurt and often when we hurt we build a wall, its often a very robust wall, all our energy goes into building and maintaining that wall. Slowly the wall becomes impenetrable, which in turn intensifies the fear of being hurt again.
We learn at a very early stage in our lives that when we get hurt we should avoid the risk of being hurt again, in many aspects of our lives this serves us well and keeps us safe, how safe we need to feel depends on many factors such as our early attachments, our families, and how secure we feel generally, but in relationships and connecting to others, then its very damaging to take the avoidance route because we are social animals and if we’re honest, we all like being loved and loving in return, its only the fear that stops us opening up to a new relationship.
We all know that all our energy is directed to what’s on our minds. So if we feed our fears they get bigger, but if we feed our natural need to connect and be loved, then our fears will eventually die. In our battles against fear, we must change our focus, don’t focus on letting go of our fear, instead, we should increase our gratitude for all we have and in particular if we have a current partner, for everything they bring to our lives, this will remind us why we want to be in a relationship. If we are single, then we need to remember all that a relationship can give us.
Consider why we like being in a relationship and try to understand that it’s okay for people to be different, that as much as we don’t like it when it goes wrong, there’s lots we can do to change it by focusing on the reasons why we fell in love with our partner in the first place. Gratitude will break down the walls we subconsciously build because of our fears of being hurt again. I’m sure most of you have had a broken heart before and like myself, i’m sure there was a time when you also felt you would never be able to get over it, but I did and you have, whilst it isn’t nice, we can get over it, only the fear keeps us trapped.
Try it, next time you fear something, don’t focus on building a wall, instead focus on making it better by being grateful for what you have in terms of coping strategies and all the skills you have at your disposal. We can overcome anything if we use our energy and focus it on not making it bigger than it already is.
Paul Parkin – online counsellor