Attachment Answers

What are ways to help myself calm down or cope during an anxiety attack?

Dear Rose,   I’d like to start on a somewhat positive note by pointing out an encouraging factor that I hear in your question. That is the fact that at least a part of you is aware on some level that you are “okay,” and even that your relationship with your boyfriend is secure.  It is clearly painful and extremely frustrating when you are “hijacked” by these episodes of insecurity, jealousy, and anxiety. At the moments you are experiencing them, I don’t doubt that they feel like your full reality, like there is every reason to be insecure and doubtful about your relationship. But on another level you are aware that these are episodes are, in fact, episodes of toxic and harmful thinking.   There are a couple of ways to look at this kind of relationship insecurity. One involves a deficit of self-esteem, lacking a basic and solid foundation of “selfhood” that allows you to know that you are lovable, valuable, and worthwhile exactly as you are. This kind of self-doubt may have origins in your childhood. Early life experiences leave each person with an “attachment style,” a way of being in the world in terms of the level of felt safety and security in relationships. One end of this spectrum is secure attachment, which makes it relatively easy to believe people when they tell you they love and care about you.  At the other end is anxious attachment, which causes fear of abandonment. It is worth learning more about attachment style to assess if this basic foundational anxiety could be behind your need for outside reassurance. Here is a place to start that exploration:   https://www.psychalive.org/getting-over-relationship-insecurity/   In addition to childhood experiences, previous relationships can impact present sense of security. If you had a past relationship in which you trusted someone deeply and they betrayed that trust, or if you were blindsided by a break-up that seemed to come out of nowhere, you can bring those fears into your current relationship.   Individual counseling can be really helpful in sorting all of this out. In therapy, you can explore your attachment style and sort through any baggage you still carry from past relationships. Coming to a better understanding of the forces that are influencing you gives you more power to make positive and healing changes.   Another factor that could be behind your need for constant reassurance is the phenomenon of intrusive thoughts. These are unwanted thoughts that you know deep down are not consistent with your belief system, but that recur anyway. These can be very challenging to manage, as they generally feel like something that “happens” to you rather than a conscious process you have control over. While it is true that you don’t have total control and can’t turn your thoughts on and off at will, there are ways to decrease their intensity and impact on you.   The first step is to distance yourself from the thoughts. This means reminding yourself that they are indeed thoughts, they are not facts, and they are not you. You do this by observing and identifying them when they arise. For example, when you are hit with a pang of “what if I’m not enough?” you can reframe that by reminding yourself – “There it is again. The thought that I’m not enough just popped up.”   When you “put a thought in its place” like that, you decrease its power over you, and will likely find that it loosens its grip on you. Thoughts are always flowing through our minds, like leaves drifting on a stream. It is only when we hold onto them and give them our focus that they stick and become repetitive. Refusing to engage with unhelpful and unproductive thoughts is where your true power lies. It can take practice – you have likely been having these insecure and anxious thoughts for a while, and they will not disappear overnight. But if you consistently respond to whispers of self-doubt by calling them out as an intrusion on your well-being, rather than taking them to be a reflection of reality, you will see a difference over time. By deliberately focusing on being positive and affirmative of yourself, you are using the power of your attention to shape your mindset. It is well worth it to take these steps to free yourself from painful preoccupation with anxiety and fear.   Here is an article that explains more about that:   https://www.newharbinger.com/blog/self-help/why-sometimes-no-amount-of-reassurance-is-enough-2/ Either way, I suggest that you talk openly with your boyfriend about the fact that you know your insecurity is a problem, and that it is one you are trying to overcome. This will allow him to better support you, and to encourage you in your efforts to become more self-assured, needing less from him and/or other outside sources. Best of luck to you in your healing journey and personal growth. Julie  
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I ease my fear of commitment? I don’t like to commit because I feel like I will lose control.

Hello Mercedes,  I am sorry to hear about your fear of committing, which is tied to losing control. I will discuss these two fears: Fear of Losing control and fear of committing.  It is one of the most misunderstood OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorders) and one of the most taboo. And for a good reason, impulse phobias are characterized by the fear of losing control and committing an act—morally reprehensible, even violent, against oneself or others. Like all people with impulse phobias and, in general, OCD, you probably quickly developed rituals, methods, and avoidance strategies to reassure yourself in the face of anxiety-provoking situations. Do you often experience a loss of control in your day-to-day life? No, probably not.  What you are describing is philophobia. What is it? Philophobia is the panic fear of feeling love for others, and more generally, of engaging in a sentimental relationship. Love causes you a feeling of well-being and intense excitement? In a philophobic person, it is more of a trigger for paralyzing anxiety attacks. It makes you unable to let yourself go in loving a person—suffering representing a break on healthy and fulfilling couple life. What are the causes? Several traumatic events occurring during childhood or adulthood can explain this anxiety disorder and the inability to develop intimate relationships, such as:  Parents' divorce: it can leave a negative image of the couple that we do not want to reproduce, to the point of developing an aversion to any feeling of love;  The loss of a loved one: the pain is immense to the point of preferring to guard against any feeling to protect against new suffering; A breakup that left deep inner wounds; Etc... What are some of the common fears associated with philophobia?  Fear of suffering, of getting involved, of being abandoned, of feeling betrayed, humiliated ... the best way to overcome your fears in love is still to face them. Fear of repeating failed past relationships pattern.  Fear of being hurt.  Not feeling worthy of being loved. (having low self-esteem) You are experiencing negative intrusive thinking linked to being in a relationship.  Fear of being vulnerable.    What are the symptoms? The manifestations of this anxiety disorder vary from one individual to another. Among the most common are:    Violent panic and anxiety attacks; Significant anxiety linked to the fear of commitment: nausea, tremors, increased heart rate, etc. ; A marked detachment towards those close to them;  An inability to open up to others; Etc... Philophobia is a maladaptive coping mechanism to keep love at bay. For fear of abandonment or breakup, some people prefer to avoid any form of relationship, going so far as to convince themselves that they are incapable of loving. A person who has philophobia steeped in negative thoughts and anxiety would instead focus on the slightest flaw in their partner rather than take the risk of falling in love. For those who dare to take the plunge, one of the most common mechanisms is to provoke arguments and conflicts to push the other to end the relationship, especially when it becomes severe. A parade will most often lead to an escape from the philophobic person. What can you do when you experience a fear of commitment and relationship? To find a peaceful life and start a serene, romantic relationship, therapy can effectively cope with your feelings. There are different natural solutions to deal with this situation, such as: Cognitive therapy will help to understand the mental process that pushes to put all signs of affection at a distance and, more specifically, feelings of love. Mental health providers can accompany philophobic clients in the discovery and modification of their thought patterns; Affective desensitization therapy: put in a situation in front of his phobia, the patient may have to simulate interactions to succeed in overcoming his phobia; Some individuals go to a hypnotist as Hypnosis will allow patients to be in a modified state of consciousness, to perceive things from a new angle. I hope that my response will help you.  JP
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can someone recover from a heartbreak, even though you are close friends with your ex-patner now

Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How to live after breakup? I am glad you reached for some guidance with what you are going through in your life at the moment.  Breaking up can be emotionally painful and can leave you with hurtful feelings.  There is hope, you can recover from this.  I will share some information and some practical  self-help tools you can implement for yourself to address your symptoms of anxiety.  I will then share some information about professional counseling support should you decide to take this step.   Like any loss, a breakup is an end to something that once existed and held value in your life. If you’ve recently gotten out of a relationship, you might be wondering how long it takes to get over the one you loved. The truth is that it can vary significantly from person to person – everyone grieves in different ways, on different timelines. The period of grieving also has a lot to do with elements of your relationship, like how long you were together and the circumstances surrounding your split. Regardless, getting over someone you love can be an ugly process, and it can hurt. It’s painful to think that someone who has been a huge part of your life and your relationship will be different now and that the future you imagined with them is gone. Let yourself feel those emotions and remember that they will fade over time, and you will eventually feel like yourself again.   In the meantime, there are a few things that you can do to speed up the healing process or, at least, make it go a little smoother. As M. Kathleen Casey said, “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”   How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Breakup And How Do I Do It?   Reaching Acceptance   The first step to getting over a breakup is to accept that it’s over. Acknowledging that your ex is unlikely to come back is important to move forward. To reach acceptance, most people move through a five-step grieving process after a breakup. Understanding what lies ahead is necessary so that you know what to expect so you can be patient with yourself along the way. Stage One – Shock and Other Feelings Even if you’re the one who did the ending, the finality of a breakup can send a shockwave through your system. During this stage, you’re likely to be filled with a hodge-podge of emotions: sadness, fear, disgust, loneliness, abandonment. In stage one, you might also be desperate for answers. Why has this happened? What could I have done differently? Deep down you may feel that by finding out your ex’s reasons for ending the relationship you can reverse the outcome. These are all primal emotions that you can sit in until you are ready to continue forward. Stage Two-Denial, Denial, Denial Denial is typically the second stage of grief. It’s not uncommon for jilted partners to deny to themselves and to others that the relationship has ended. Not possible. Didn’t happen. Can’t be real. Like stage one, falling into the zone of denial is totally normal. Although difficult, it’s important not to postpone your grief by staying in this stage indefinitely. Stage Three-Begging and Bargaining Like stage one, stage three is a place of desperation. You’ll likely be bargaining with your ex and with yourself as a way to make things right. You’ll replay moments, decisions, and actions, obsessing about what you should have done differently to prevent the breakup and what you can do to fix it all. What if you didn’t complain about their drinking? Maybe you shouldn’t have argued with them about their mother so much. In stage three, you then turn externally. If your ex would just take you back, you’ll be a much better partner than you ever were before. Everything that’s been wrong, you’ll make it all right—calling, begging, pleading, visiting, writing letters, sending smoke signals, sending pigeons. During this stage, it feels like nothing will make it better other than being back together. Stage Four– Relapse Even if stage three begging and bargaining works and you piece the relationship back together, the relief is usually fleeting. If the problems that drove you apart aren’t solved, you’ll likely end up back at stage one again sometime in the future, and the grief process will repeat itself. To avoid this, it is best to skip stage four whenever possible and instead work toward accepting that although things have ended for you and your ex, the future is still bright. Stage Five – Acceptance The final destination of acceptance is what led you to this article in the first place. By asking the question, “How long will it take to get over a breakup, and how do I do it?” what you’re really saying is, how do I accept that this is over, and how long will I have to hurt? There is no cookie-cutter answer to this query, but there are several roads toward acceptance.   Reaching Acceptance   Focus On You   If you did the breaking-up, maybe you need some time to explore and find yourself. Don’t feel guilty for having done what was right for you. You might discover why you felt the need to end the relationship (if you aren’t clear on that already) and what you need more of in your life now that it’s over. If the breakup wasn’t your decision, don’t dwell on the external ‘whys.’ Instead, look inward and figure out what you need to feel more at peace. Better self-care? Time to rest? Fun things to distract yourself? Remembering that you are worthy, giving yourself the things, you desire, and focusing on what is essential to your overall happiness and health is an important piece of acceptance.   Keep Yourself Busy   Once you figure out what things you need to do to move forward, do them! Don’t sit around the house wondering where things went wrong and if you should try to get back together with your ex. That’s unlikely to help you get over them. Get out of the house! Spend some time with your friends and family, do things that you love, find adventure. You should feel free to embrace your feelings but be careful not to dwell on them. Instead, start piecing together your new life. A life much better than the one you had in the past. Don’t feel like going out to move forward? Homebodies need to stay busy too. Read a good book or take up a hobby. This is your time to explore and do what YOU want instead of taking care of a partner’s needs. Avoid the tendency to allow yourself to feel down; try choosing to make this an exciting new time of self-discovery. Whatever you do, don’t just sit around and dwell on things.  Below is a list of proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms: Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Often, the first things we do when we wake up are to check our emails on our phone/laptop or switch on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day. In order to break this cycle of anxiety and stress, researchers recommend that you start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day’s challenges. Source: rawpixel.com Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people are trying to juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety. To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety. Waking up early will give you some time for yourself and will help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace and quiet will greatly help you fight off anxiety. Praying: Apart from meditating, spending some few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies. Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, causes a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading to an even, like an exam, meeting or presentation, will cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all of these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease. Eating Breakfast: Mornings can be crazy – crazy enough for people to skip breakfast. People who experience anxiety disorders tend to often skip breakfast. Music: Listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to this Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy not only helped people cope with their troubles but also greatly helped reduce their body pain. Aromatherapy:  smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavendar, has been found to greatly help reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness. Socializing: Spending time with people whom you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety. Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety. Maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development. People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were found to be sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly relax stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression. Laughter Therapy: “I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing,” said Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children and relatives can be very therapeutic. Laughter has been associated with many health benefits and is known to be as effective as medication as it helps reduce stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, reduces blood pressure, brings about pain relief and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can trigger a sense of well-being. Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking. Rephrase your Thinking: Negative thinking, according to this study, is a major factor that attributes to anxiety disorders. Constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one’s behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety. Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking: If a student thinks, “I will fail my exam” and she is engrossed in worry, she could try to rephrase it to the following: “I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy and I am going to pass with flying colors.” If someone thinks, “Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die,” he could rephrase it with, “Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen today. Something good is in store for me.” Source: rawpixel.com Avoid overscheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly. Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge the negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat, powers up your system mentally and physically, so you can make an informed decision. Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day greatly helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain’s response to stress.  Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, it is important that your thoughts are positive and optimistic. The technique of visualization teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you are having anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you and the tropical air blowing across your face. Yoga: Practicing yoga, according to this study, is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure and heart rate. Hot baths: A hot water bath not only is soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bathwater can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly calm symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sunlight:  Exposing yourself to sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas where there is little or less sunlight, try getting a light box and expose yourself to its light for a few minutes each day. Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day,  greatly helps in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket and purchase some chamomile tea and to start enjoying its calming benefits. Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural a which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus and almonds are “brain food.” As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression. Sleep: Getting a proper eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body.  Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep. Source: rawpixel.com Taking a Break: Take a break from your regular schedule and go on a vacation  to reduce stress and anxiety.t Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity. ·                  Nature:  spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you are able to breathe in fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and healthy mind. ·                  Don’t be a control freak: Wanting to have everything under your control and run it perfectly, is asking for stress and depression. Studies have found that people who are control freaks are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While this can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all.     Talk To Someone   It is important to remember that you do not have to do this alone. If you’re having a hard time getting over your breakup or other things are going on in your life that are affecting your mental health, please reach out and talk to someone. It never hurts to talk, whether it is with a friend, a family member, or a new person you meet online. The more you talk about how you’re feeling, the less it will hurt.   An experienced counselor can help you get through tough times and teach you how to handle stressful times in the future. Reluctant to reach out to a counselor? Did you know that online counseling is now an option?   In 2020, more and more people are turning online in search of a convenient way to speak with a trusted therapist without having to leave the comforts of home. Recent studies show that electronically delivered cognitive behavioral therapy reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity more effectively than face-to-face therapy. The analysis considered 17 randomized controlled study trials, “evaluating the clinical effectiveness of CBT compared to face-to-face and considered a wide range of outcomes including severity of symptoms, adverse outcomes, clinically relevant outcomes, global functionality, participant satisfaction, quality of life, and affordability.”   On BetterHelp, you can get matched with a counselor right away based on your specific needs and preferences. You can easily connect from a smartphone, tablet, or computer and communicate in a variety of ways, including live phone, video, and chat sessions, as well as messaging. You can always feel safe talking with a BetterHelp counselor because they take your confidentiality seriously and are committed to upholding your privacy, no matter what. All correspondence between you and your counselor is secure, and you can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer.    There is hope, recovery is possible!  There is professional help should you need it.  A counselor can work with you on how you can reset your boundaries and attend to your anxiety by teaching you effective coping skills. I wish you much luck in getting past this and finding happiness in your life again. In Kindness, Gaynor   
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I avoid the woman who broke my heart coz she keeps on calling me? That we should talk

Dear U,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on the current situation you have with your relationship.   I'm glad to hear that you've been practicing self-compassion more and beginning to treat yourself with the kindness, compassion and respect that you'd give to others.   Setting up good boundaries definitely is a display of self-compassion and self-respect.   Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

why is my head always focused on the idea that someone i love (and who loves me) will leave me?

Dear helens,   Thank you for your message and sharing your thoughts regarding your insecurity. I can hear the pain behind your words of constantly battling these insecurities.   Through your words I think we have built a common understanding that we have this insecurity about ourselves that we are not good enough. We tend to overly-focus on our weakness and mistakes, as a result we feel inferior compare to others and we never give ourselves the validations that we deserve.   Meanwhile it seems that we look for validations through us being needed / wanted by others, does that mean that we don't know our values if we are not getting feedback from others?   Despite being extremely difficult, admitting your weaknesses can pay dividends in the end. Once you admit to your lack of confidence and overcome these insecurities, these aspects of your life will turn from monsters in your closet to facts that you’ve acknowledged and beaten.   Overcoming insecurities is no easy battle, as there are many factors that cause them, and they’re constantly reinforced by daily events. However the more we challenge these core beliefs that we have and the thoughts that generated from it, the more our self-image will change.   Here are some thoughts I have about how to approach insecurity and things that we don't like about ourselves. Please let me know if they make sense to you.    I'll try to be as practical as I can, maybe this approach can help us put something into practice and begin making some changes.   1- Find the root Think about where you are lacking confidence: Do you think you dislike yourself when you look into the mirror? Are you the last to talk to someone because you think you look bad? Do we feel awkward about ourselves because of the response from others after we have said something?   Consider where these thoughts come from. There may have been certain occurrences in your life that made you think less of yourself. Once you’ve found the root of the problem, it’s much easier to get a handle on the insecurity, because it was most likely created by one or two isolated instances that have no real importance on your current life. Recognize where that insecurity started, and it’ll seem more manageable.   2- Invalidate the problem Once you’ve pinpointed the specific incident that created the crater in your self-image, consider why that occurrence doesn’t prove anything about your life as a whole, and think about the times in your life that prove the opposite. We are often too quick to forget the compliments or positive reinforcements that we’ve received from friends or colleagues, dismissing the kind words as pity or politeness.   Don’t focus on your lack of achievement when your cube mate scores a big account at work. Instead, remember when your boss complimented your own work or just how far you’ve come since you were a bottom-feeder at your company. Recognizing your successes will remind you of how great you are and how lucky your company is to have you. This will help you celebrate your coworkers' successes — and remember that it can only be so long before your next big break.   3- Stop comparing yourself to others It’s easy to become insecure when you constantly compare yourself to seemingly strong, flawless people. For example, if you compare yourself to the person who seems to have a grip on socializing with others and appearing confident, you may come out feeling clumsy and awkward in your encounters with others. But, what you’re likely unaware of is that this person has his/her own set of problems that they have to deal with. Maybe they are covering up their fears of being abandoned therefore they need to keep seeking attention? Instead of focusing on how you stack up against them, focus on what you can do and your skills.   If you can’t measure up to your buddy, maybe you should measure up to your own strengths…   It can be equally as treacherous to compare yourself to your friends. For example, when you see your friend — whose downfalls and ineptitude you are familiar with — succeed, you might end up feeling threatened and insecure about your own abilities.    4- Consider your known strengths A lot of your insecurities come from focusing on the things that you have trouble with. The truth is that everybody has strong and weak points, but successful individuals have learned how to play up their good points — a skill that has helped them flourish. Despite your insecurities, you have achieved a certain level of success in your life because you have great qualities. It's your job to pinpoint and foster those qualities and build a successful life.   Take those qualities, learn to focus on them and remember that there are more ways to use your set of skills than you think. Perhaps you’re nervous about giving a presentation to clients because you’re not very good at making anecdotes or using metaphors. What you seem to forget is that you know the project inside and out; focus on that and answer all of your clients' questions before they ask them. Remembering what you can do will give you the confidence not to choke under pressure.   5- Put your insecurities behind you Once you’re aware that your strengths and weaknesses will balance out in the end, forget about what you lack and draw on where you rock the competition. If you fumbled today at the office meeting, remind yourself of your performance for the past three months. You can always enhance your weaker points at a later date.   If you find that you’re focusing on your insecurities, think of the faults that other people have and how they’re able to get around them or just remind yourself of all the things that you’ve achieved in life. The more you focus on your strengths, the more they’ll be visible to others. In the end you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more successful.   The bottom line for beating your insecurities is this: Everyone has them and the key to success is to identify them, invalidate them and move past them. Focus on your accomplishments and recognize that insecurities are usually irrational fears of inadequacy.   Your faults are no more visible or detrimental to your success than anyone else’s, unless you let them get the better of you. Failure tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you worry that you will fail, your performance will lack and turn your ruminations into a reality.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is this normal? Am I just very bad at socializing?

Hello Eevee, I really appreciate this question you've asked and the picture you've painted here of your experiences in relation with others. This can be a really vexing problem for a lot of people, and it's my experience that many people struggle with different versions of what you're describing - feeling uncomfortable in conversation with others, or like they are somehow "coming up short" in social situations. So to your first question - "is this normal?" - I would say yes, assuming we're defining "normal" in this case to mean "common" or "something that many others experience." That said, I know this makes it no less frustrating or confounding to deal with. It seems to me from what you say here that part of what you're wanting out of social situations is to feel able to connect with people in meaningful ways, beyond just being seen by others as "a good person" or someone who "means well." And you're wanting to be able to forge relationships with people that last. I'd be curious, if we were in conversation, to know what trips you up in these interactions - as specifically as you can, what does it mean to "flop?" What are the thoughts that go through your mind before, during, and after these kinds of interactions? What are the bodily sensations you experience? For most people who struggle in social situations, their experience early in life in relation with their primary caregiver(s) was imbalanced or deficient in some way or ways - their emotional needs were not sufficiently attended to, and their attachment with these primary caregivers became characterized by insecurity, anxiety, and fear rather than security, safety, and comfort. Here I'm not meaning to make assumptions about your early life experiences with the adults in your life; I am speaking based on my familiarity with attachment theory, my experience with a number of clients, and my own life experience. If any of what I've said here resonates with you, the good news is that these kinds of social anxieties can be alleviated, through different forms of "talk therapy" including cognitive-behavioral therapy (among other approaches), as well as through body-based or somatic work. Were we in conversation, I would also be curious to know if you do have any lasting relationships in your life - for instance with friends, or with a significant other. If so, I'd also be curious what has helped you to feel connected in those relationships and has helped them to be developed and sustained over time. How did these relationships start? What kinds of things have helped you to feel comfortable in this person's or these people's presence? If you can't think of such a relationship, then I'd ask you to imagine the kind of relationship(s) you want - you might even be able to find a guided visualization exercise for this - and to identify as specifically as you can what you're wanting your interactions with people to look like. How do you want to feel as you're talking with someone, or responding to something they're saying or asking you? How do you want to feel after the fact, when you're in your head and replaying a conversation (or do you want to be doing this at all)? One thing you can do in these situations, to the extent that anxiety is what you're experiencing here, is, as basic as it sounds, to slow down your heart rate by reminding yourself to breathe. Oftentimes when we get anxious - in social situations, in professional or academic settings - the first thing we do is swallow our breath - it's the first thing to go. We do this unconsciously of course. So, the next time you're in any kind of situation that gives you anxiety - it doesn't have to be a social situation, but it could be - I would encourage you to remind yourself to take a conscious breath. It doesn't have to be the deepest breath you've ever taken, but just take a second to breathe in slowly, and let it out slowly. This has the benefit of calming your nervous system, and slowing your heart rate, which allows blood and oxygen to flow more easily to your brain, making it easier to avoid freezing up and not knowing what to say. (And by the way, another good thing to remember is you can always ask people questions. People usually love talking about themselves. You might even develop 1-3 questions you can fall back on when you do freeze up - "How do you like your job?" or "What brought you to __(X city or state)__?" or "What kinds of things do you do for fun?" And if you don't remember them, it's okay. Maybe you will next time. Like most things, this all takes practice and repetition.) I hope what I've shared here has been helpful in some way. I wish you well in your efforts to form stronger and more meaningful connections with people. And try to remember that you are enough just as you are.   My best to you, Chris
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Relationship Jealousy

Thank you for reaching out. I hope to provide you with some answers to your questions.  It sounds like from what you are describing you are experiencing anxiety and insecurities regarding this relationship. Also, think about your trust in your partner. Has she ever done anything to indicate she has been unfaithful? What is the evidence that either supports or refutes your thought? If you have not evidence to support your thoughts or jealousy then you can then begin to understand that your thoughts are irrational and need to be restructured into healthier once. There are several treatment modalities that can help reduce or resolve some anxieties. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we learn that we have automatic thoughts and core beliefs related to situations and events that happen in our lives. Once the event occurs, we have an automatic thought about it. That thought then influences our emotional state and then that emotional state influences our behaviors and this can develop into a pattern. Having said this, it is important to understand if and when we are having irrational or unhealthy thoughts (also known as Cognitive Distortions). Our thoughts directly impact our emotional well-being and our behaviors. If our thoughts are unhealthy/ irrational, then our emotions and behaviors will be as well. Therefore, if you are having unwanted emotions and behaviors, it is important to go to the root of the problem and take a look at your thoughts to determine if they are healthy or not. Once you are able to identify those unhealthy thoughts that are negatively impacting your mood, try to challenge those thoughts. Try to restructure the thoughts so that they are rational and healthy. This is something that will need practice and attention but over time it will become easier to do. In addition to therapy, there are other activities and interventions that can be used to reduce anxiety. Exercising is a great way to help burn up some anxious energy in your body. Deep breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and Meditation help reduce anxiety as well. Also consider other self-care activities that you find relaxing like a bubble bath, a nice meal, or socializing with friends. There are many different ways to enjoy life while distracting yourself from worrisome thoughts.
(MSW, LCSW, LCAS)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do you mend trust that is broken?

Dear Zee,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the struggles you're experiencing in your relationship, resulting in not being able to trust.   Trust is a word we hear a lot. Recently I heard a story on the radio about investment fraud In which one of the victims of the fraud said, "I'll never trust anyone again." A strong statement about trust and one worth exploring.   What is trust anyway? The definitions of trust indicate that trust in another person imposes upon him a duty of care that asks him to be someone we can rely upon to do what we have asked of him. It seems straightforward to understand when we read it, but what happens when we examine the way trust works? Trust requires a relationship between two people, and all relationships are complex.   As we experience relationships, we come to realize that in a relationship, two people never fully know one another or can expect that the other person will do exactly what we want to have done. This is particularly true if we ourselves are not certain what we want and need or how to ask for it.   Where do we learn to know what to expect of our relationships? To know how to relate to another person we start with knowing the only person we can really know, ourselves. If we want to trust someone else, we begin with first learning who we are, what we want and what we know about ourselves as we grow and change. We explore our strengths, boundaries and limitations. Knowing who we are and what we are capable of, we learn how to trust ourselves.   One of the key approach in our work here is to help folks who are sensitive to go from feeling vulnerable in their sensitivity to feeling powerful in their sensitivity. We may not be able to change how easy we feel sensitive about things due to our past experiences and traumas, however we can continue practice making choices that would empower ourselves even when we feel sensitive.   When we are able to create this "inner peace" within us and feel grounded, we will see ourselves being more capable to take care of others, because we have taken care of ourselves. We'll go through this process together. :)   One of the keys to make that transition is to start feeling safe & comfortable in your body and to create that safety for yourself wherever you go.   Situations that can trigger a feeling of unsafety   When we are sensitive, many situations can trigger a feeling of unsafety. For example, we can feel unsafe when:   We feel judged and/or rejected   Our finances are unstable   We feel conflict between people (even when it’s not about us)   A situation reminds you of an earlier situation that felt unpleasant or unsafe   We get ‘triggered’ and our old wounds/hurts come to the surface   We feel threatened by our surroundings / environments that remind us of our past   You can even run your life in a default setting of feeling ‘unsafe’ just because of all the energies you feel around you.   The result is that you leave your grounding and that you feel unstable, worried, uncomfortable and out of balance. You move from your heart back into your head.   How can we feel more safe?   Feeling safe is partly an inside job and partly an outside job. If you are in an environment that just isn’t right for you, where you don’t fit and don’t feel a connection with people, it will be hard to feel safe and comfortable there.   This is not as easy as it looks.   In the context of our every day activities and familiar circumstances, we may assume we have done this and already know ourselves. We may apply labels to ourselves and say we are “fierce” or “shy” or “lazy”, but labels do not invite knowing. They make categories. Do we actually know ourselves? Unfortunately not much may challenge our assumptions about ourselves until a major shift in our lives comes along. Then in the face of a significant change we may understand we have not looked as closely as we might.   If the change is physical, we may begin to look deeply at our physical patterns of expression for the first time. We may have been unconscious of the ways in which our movement patterns, strengths and weaknesses are unique. Now we ask: How do I get things done? What are my strengths and limitations? How do my strengths work with my unique movement patterns? How will I negotiate around my limitations?   If we don't know what to expect of ourselves, it can be very hard to trust the people helping us. After a sudden change in our physical abilities, we may feel deeply invaded. We all have boundaries - places where we feel vulnerable and want to keep ourselves separate from someone else. Where are our boundaries, and how do we protect ourselves if we cannot walk away? This is vital to discover at a time when we may need assistance in ways we have never needed it before and would prefer not to admit this need.   If we have a financial problem we may look at the decisions that led to the problem and judge ourselves harshly for making a mistake - not remembering that hindsight is 20/20. We may not realize that there were things we assumed and didn’t challenge or examine or learn that we had better learn now. Being critical of ourselves, we may be reluctant to look at our actions clearly and learn from them.   Building trust in ourselves requires us first to look closely at ourselves, being honest about what we discover. Then we must practice compassion for and acceptance of the person we are discovering ourselves to be. Being willing to know is not the same as harshly judging. Harsh judgments close us off to ourselves. Compassion, forgiveness and acceptance open us up and allow us to learn.   If we know and accept our limitations without fighting that knowledge, we can learn to communicate what we know and don't know about what we can and cannot do. We come to understand that everybody has limitations. We see that we and our relationships are always transforming - never remaining static – giving us endless opportunities to keep on learning.   Building a relationship with another person is done a step at a time as we explore the ways we can interact and care for one another. When we know ourselves, we do not expect that simply because someone is an expert, she knows what is best for us. She will know many things we do not know and will have much to teach us, but she doesn’t know us. We are the only ones who can have that specialized knowledge. In a relationship, each person can regularly communicate what he knows to the other and both can learn where to trust the other. Perhaps that also goes with building relationship with ourselves and our inner being?   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono  
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do you know if a relationship is worth fixing?

Hello and thank you for posting this question!  I think you said three things in this question. 1) Your relationship, it  has been on and off.  2) It can be super toxic. 3)  It has also been really positve and you have grown.  So the first thing I would think to look at is are both parties interested in fixing this relationship?  That would be a first. You would be setting yourself up for a lot of angst if your partner is not interested.  If you are the one who is being asked to fix the relationship; you have to figure out the  if the toxicity outweighs the postives ; or if it is the other way around? I think it is important to remember that you have said that you have both grown.  So that indicates that the relationship can keep maturing and growing.  As for the toxicity  I would ask; is it the lack of communication?  Do you spend  your time together arguing or discounting one another ? Or is it something else like jealousy or not being able to let go off the past. These are issues many couples have faced.   If you both think the relationships is work fixing; going to couples therapy would be to your advantage and  you can find a good therapist through Better Help and the partner site Regain.    As for the really positives areas you have mentioned;  in what areas have the two of you grown?    Do you enjoy the time you spend with each other?  Do you miss each other when you are not in each others company?  Perhaps you can list the positives and see how far you have come.    It might even be an exercise you both can do! Do you share similar interests and have things in common? Consistency and dependability  in a relationship also counts. You did mention that your relationship is on and off.  So the question you have to answer is why? These are all things worth considering as you decide if the relationship is worth fixing.  Remember, relationships are hard work and they are always evolving.  They also  involve a give and take from  each partner.  Finally do you see this person with you in the next five years? Consider all these things as you decide
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I stop my man from cheating

Hello Lubcy,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do I stop my man from cheating? I am glad you reached out for some support with what you are struggling with in your realtionship at the moment.  I will share some information about the "why and how' you can address this as a couple so that you can have a healthier relationship and ultimately a happier life.   Why Did Your Partner Cheat If They Love You? Trying to Understand Infidelity   Having someone cheat on you is one of the worst possible things that you can experience. It can make you feel like there is a weight on your chest when someone that you love betrays your trust. The worst part of cheating is the fact that it often doesn't make any sense. Many people wind up asking questions such as "Why did they cheat if they love me?" Discovering the answer to that question isn't always going to be simple.   The truth is that people cheat for many different reasons. Figuring out exactly why the person in your life cheated on you isn't going to be something that can be determined without more information. Regardless, it is possible to go over some common reasons for cheating. Take a look at some of the reasons why people cheat on their partners below in order to come to a better understanding of what might be going on.   They Aren't Really in Love If They Are Cheating   One difficult possibility to consider is that your boyfriend or husband may not truly be in love with you.Individuals sometimes cheat on their significant other due to the fact that they aren't truly happy in the relationship. This can sometimes mean that they aren't really in love and are looking for a way out. Whether or not this is the case in your situation is impossible to determine without knowing the facts.   It's simply important to recognize that not everyone who says they're in love is truly in love. People can deceive you, and aren't always going to be strong enough to tell you the truth to your face. Sometimes people use infidelity as a way to exit a relationship when they can't initiate a breakup on their own. Hopefully, this isn't the case in your situation. It's definitely sad to find out that someone that you love never really felt as strongly as you did.   Some People Find Cheating to Be Exciting   You'll actually find that many people find cheating to be exciting. As deplorable as it is to cheat on someone that you love, there are individuals who are excited by the thrill of potentially being caught. Doing something wrong makes what they're doing more enticing and it seems to be something that they can't get enough of. Chronic cheaters seem to fall into this camp more often than not.   There are even people who can't seem to stop cheating even when they feel terrible about their own actions. It's a very odd situation, and you would think that they wouldn't do this if they truly cared. Sometimes cheaters like this might even have emotional problems or mental health struggles that are forcing them to seek cheap thrills or satisfaction from strange sources. This doesn't forgive the act of cheating, but it is something to keep in mind.   Someone who is cheating on you and finds the act of keeping it secret exciting might not really love you. If they do love you, then they certainly aren't showing it by doing the things that they're doing. Coming to terms with infidelity isn't always easy. Most relationships where the cheating is motivated by some type of excitement or arousal will end up failing.   Their Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met     People generally have their own sexual desires and needs. If those needs are not being met inside of their normal relationship, then it's possible that they may seek satisfaction elsewhere. You have to be careful when approaching cheating from this standpoint, though. It should never feel like the person who has been cheated on is in the wrong; because their partner should have discussed their needs before doing something so hurtful.   If you're in a relationship where communication is failing, then it's possible that certain things may have slipped through the cracks. Your partner may have certain desires that they haven't been able to properly communicate to you. In this case, it might explain why they chose to cheat. They found it easier to seek sex elsewhere, instead of discussing their desires or needs with you.   This is a huge sign that your relationship is not where it needs to be. It also means that there were problems in your relationship before the infidelity occurred. Some people will not be able to forgive infidelity no matter what. It's up to you whether you want to try to meet your partner in the middle to work on things. If you really do love him, then you might be able to finally have a discussion about your sex life and what is holding things back.   It's simply important not to feel like you're to blame for the cheating. If you didn't know something was wrong, then you couldn't have worked on fixing it. Even if there were issues, your partner should have ended the relationship if they knew that they weren't happy. It's now up to you to decide whether to work with them on building a stronger bond, or move on.   They Have Some Type of Sex Addiction   Another possibility is that your partner might have some type of sex addiction.  Sex addictions are a real thing that can actually ruin people's lives. These types of addictions make it difficult for people to quit seeking sex from others. They might even feel a deep sense of shame, but will still be compelled to seek out sex wherever they can find it. This is a terrible addiction for someone to have and it can potentially destroy your relationship. Getting over a sex addiction is not going to be simple. This is a very complex case that isn't unlike a drug addiction or an eating disorder. There are certain types of therapists that know how to help people cope with a sex addiction problem.   Therapists will need to work with patients extensively in order to help them overcome sex addiction. This can involve many different techniques, and people will often need to abstain from sexual contact for a long period of time in an attempt to "get it out of their system." If you suspect that your significant other may have a sex addiction, then you should encourage them to seek help. This could wind up making their life more difficult, and some people even lose their careers due to problems like this.   Sex addiction might even present itself as a problem with compulsive masturbation or excessive pornography viewing. Issues like this can progress to people seeking out sex from other sources. It can also wind up just being a fixable issue that won't have anything to do with sex with other people. It's a complex topic, and people suffering from any type of sex addiction need to seek professional help.   Your Partner Has Trouble With Commitment   There are many people who get scared when it comes to commitment. Committing to others is not always easy, and some people see it as losing a part of themselves. It isn't uncommon to hear of people getting "cold feet" before a wedding. Your partner's cheating could be related to something like that.   Many people simply aren't good at maintaining monogamous relationships either. Monogamy is the most common type of relationship that you'll come across in the United States. There are people who are entering into polyamorous relationships or open relationships due to not wanting to be tied down to having only one lover. Even if someone is more interested in this type of lifestyle, it doesn't excuse cheating on someone that you're supposed to love.   They Made a Huge Mistake   Finally, it might also be the case that your boyfriend or husband simply made a huge mistake. Everyone has probably heard of situations where someone got too drunk and did something that they regret. This is not uncommon, but that doesn't mean that it isn't hurtful. When something like this happens, it's usually going to be an isolated incident that they're going to feel very sorry about.   People do make mistakes, and it's up to you whether or not you want to forgive this type of transgression. Cheating is a very problematic thing for a relationship. Even if someone wasn't in their right mind when they did it, you're still likely going to be very hurt by it. You might need to consider couples counseling to try to get through this type of issue. It also might be good to think about whether or not someone needs to get help with a drinking problem or a substance abuse issue.   Consider Online Couples Counseling   If you want to try to move forward in your relationship, then couples counseling may be a solid option. This is going to be a good way to work on rebuilding your relationship after someone has cheated. It is definitely tough to work through cheating issues, but some couples are able to come out stronger than ever before.   A growing body of research suggests that online therapy platforms can provide effective couples counseling for people dealing with a variety of relationship issues, including infidelity. In a wide ranging study performed by the University of Miami, the effectiveness of several different forms of online couples counseling in helping distressed couples were examined. In the report, researchers state that online therapy is an efficient and accessible form of treatment, particularly due to the lack of geographical constraints, lower overall costs, and fewer logistical concerns. The report concludes that online couples counseling can successfully treat symptoms of individual mental health issues, and increase overall relationship functioning and communication. These findings are in line with the majority of research, which shows that online therapy is a useful option for those who may not feel comfortable seeking treatment in a face-to-face setting.   As considered above, if you are going through hard times because of infidelity in your relationship, online therapy can be a valuable tool. If you are concerned with privacy, BetterHelp allows you to remain completely anonymous—simply select a “nickname” when registering. Licensed counselors are available when you want to begin the healing process after your partner has cheated.    I hope you are able to consider that your next step is to reach out for support with your realtionship.   There is hope and there is help available for you!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is this for me?

What parts on you on the fence about? How did your parents respond before? How long were you in therapy, was it helpful, what do you feel and think that you got out of it? How have things been going recently? Why do you feel you would have to go to therapy in secret? What things would you hope to gain from future therapy sessions? What do you feel making more friends or starting a hobby would change? What do you want to change in your life? What sort of things have been making life more difficult recently and how has the last 18 months altered things in your life? What kind of therapy did you do before and how long ago was it? What things are you open to trying in therapy? What is your relationship with your family like currently? Do you live with them or on your own? What are you currently doing and how do you feel about it? How are your social relationships currently? What does your daily life look like? Do you have any hobbies currently that you do not engage in anymore or are struggling with keeping up? What did relationships look like in the past? When do you feel like you noticed a shift? Have you ever been on any medications for mental health? At any point have you ever had suicidal ideation or homicidal ideation? What troubles have you had previously in life? Sorry, it makes me type 350 words so gaining as much information as possible seemed like the best way to go. Have you ever had any obsessive thought patterns or compulsive like behaviors? Would you say that you have experienced depressive or anxious symptoms? If so, How often and what are they like? Would you say that you have ever struggled with motivation? If someone else were to describe you who knows you best how do you feel they would? Once again, I am sorry that is it so much but I do not have a choice to be able to answer your question. I look forward to hearing from you and hope this has helped with some reflection.
(MS, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to deal with heartbreak?

Hi, I'm sorry you're dealing with this. That's a long time to be in a relationship, and then to feel betrayed by the person you cared so much about, that only makes it harder. I guess the first part of dealing with heartbreak is giving yourself permission to feel heartbroken. Like when someone passes away, there is grief. There are things that you miss, and it's OK to miss them. There are also stages of grief, like shock, denial, and anger (I'm guessing with her being unfaithful during the relationship anger is especially present), and you may go back and forth through the stages. It's not your job to just get over what happened, and it's not your job to act like you're OK. Holding in how you are feeling can keep you stuck. So here are some other suggestions: 1. Try to identify what feelings you are experiencing. Putting a label on them can make them more approachable and easier to cope with. I'd imagine you're experiencing a number of feelings at the same time, and noting what they are can be helpful. 2. Express yourself. It's hard when there's a breakup because often the person we expressed ourselves to the most was the person with whom we are no longer speaking. Reach out to support (even people who maybe you hadn't been as close with recently). If you don't have support, or even if you do, therapy can be a great opportunity to talk about how you are feeling and process the situation. Having an unbiased third party can be advantageous.  3. Take care of yourself. Now more than ever you'll want to make sure you are sticking to a healthy routine. Keep up with your hygiene and give yourself fun activities to look forward to. Try to be around people who make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy nature, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise (doing so can help release some stress and can also improve mood), watch media that is uplifting and that is not triggering, journal, read a good book, etc. 4. Have balance. You don't want to focus too much on the breakup (so you will want to stay busy), but you also don't want to pretend it didn't happen either.  5. Avoid substance abuse. Drinking or using drugs can make you end up feeling worse. Alcohol is depressant after all. 6. If spirituality is important in your life, look at how you can incorporate it into your routine even more right now--whether that's going to church, praying, etc. 7. Focus on what you like about yourself. Being cheated on can certainly affect one's self-esteem, so be mindful of your self-talk and replace negative self-talk. 8. Don't personalize. You didn't deserve to be cheated on, and what happened was probably much more to do with her than with you.  Again, I suggest participating in therapy, especially if you have limited support or if you feel that it's becoming really difficult to bounce back from this, or if you're noticing that your self-care is suffering. I would be happy to work with you--just let me know if I can help, and take care. Nick 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I recognize that I can be emotionally unavailable, how can I address that?

Thank you for asking the question about being more emotionally available. Being emotionally available is part of what is called Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence is our ability to understand and use and manage our own emotions, as well as empathize with others. We learn from our experiences how to manage our own, and others feelings. It sounds like having conflict (or a breakdown as you called it) in your parents relationship has inadvertently taught you to remove yourself from emotion as much as possible. Here is what I can say when it comes to emotional boundaries.  Healthy emotional boundaries means having a healthy relationship to others emotions and being able to manage your own.  Porous emotional boundaries means you are overly absorbant of others emotions (taking them on as your own).  Rigid emotional boundaries means creating distance from your own emotions and the emotions of others.  What you describe as emotionally unavailable is what we call having rigid emotional boundaries. It sounds like you have developed this as a means to protect yourself from dealing with heavy emotions and uncomfortable situations. Rigid emotional boundaries can make us come across as 'cold' or 'dismissive' or 'standoffish'. If this is something you want to work to change, you have to become more comfortable with feelings and expressing feelings. One way to do this is to start including feeling words in your every day language. This can be as simple as - instead of saying "good" or "fine" when someone asks how you are today, identify a true feeling. Something like "I feel really optimisitic today", or "I feel rather defeated today". I encourage people to also print out a list of feeling words or a feeling wheel to help identify different feelings.  Also remember that when others are expressing their feelings, you don't have to understand what they feel, in order to show support for them. Sometimes we get stuck on the fact that we just don't understand why someone feels a certain way. Remind yourself that you don't have to understand it, just listen. When you feel uncomfortable with emotions (your own or others), just ask questions. Here are a few: "What can I do to help you right now" "Help me understand what you are feeling right now" "Why is this situation bothering me so much" "What is making me feel the way that I feel right now"   These are really just exploration questions to help understand our emotions or the emotions or others better. Lastly, there are a ton of articles out there with ways to improve emotional intelligence, so don't forget you have a world of information right at your fingertips. Good luck! 
(LCSW, CCTP)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is 13 months too long to be obsessed with a guy?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: Is 13 months too long to be obsessed with a guy? I am glad you reached out for help with what you are going through at the moment.  It sounds like you are having difficulty letting go of something that your intuition is telling you is not helathy; not working how you want it too. I will share some information and practical tips on what you can do to lessen the hold and help you move on if this is not going in the direction you desire. Maybe it's a crush you can’t shake. Maybe you've fallen head over heels for someone who is already in a committed relationship. Maybe they’re part of your crowd or part of the workplace. Maybe you see them nearly every day and can’t keep your thoughts off of them when you don’t. Maybe you have already tried it a couple of times with them, and you know it never works. They’re the partner of your dreams, but, for whatever reason, you feel there's no hope of being with them. Coping with these feelings can be difficult, but you can get over them, no matter how impossible that might feel.     It Happens To The Best of Us   Unrequited love is part of the human experience. Everyone has at least one. We see it in countless storybooks. Consider the story of Beauty and the Beast. Gaston has a crush on Belle and the barmaids have a crush on Gaston, but there's no real future for either longed-for relationship. While this is just a children’s story, the same thing happens in real life every day. It is natural to be attracted and develop feelings for another individual, just like it is natural not to. However, if they do not feel the same way, these feelings can quickly turn sour as you try and decide if it’s worth pining over this person or trying to move on. If you’re choosing to try and move on, it can be a challenge.   Maybe you’re trying to move on from someone who does feel the same way. Maybe it’s an ex you just can’t seem to forget. Acknowledging that it's time to move on because you see no hope of a future relationship is the first step to opening yourself to new opportunities.   We'll share some tips for how you can begin to get over him. It will likely include some personal work and maybe some behavior shifts. You may have to do some self-reflection and work on growing yourself. You may even need the help of a professional, but in the end, you can trust yourself that you can move on and meet someone wonderful.   Where To Start   One of the best ways to start moving on is to try to limit his presence in your life or yours in his. This may mean you involve yourself in activities or social groups that don't involve him. The less you see him the less space he literally occupies in your life. Picking up a new hobby or inviting some friends over for a movie-watching binge can be a great distraction. Strengthening other relationships can remind you to focus on the positive things you do have in your life, instead of what you feel you are lacking.     What Did You Like about Him?   If you like him enough to need to get over him, you probably know why you’re so attracted to him. If he has a lot of positive qualities, it can be tempting to keep him around as a friend. Or maybe he already is a really good friend, so you don’t know how to distance yourself if you rely on him in this sense. It may be difficult to navigate at first, but if you're able to let go of the idea of having a passionate relationship, you might find your friendship is able to benefit you both again.   If you discover there actually were not that many qualities about him you really liked, getting over him may have just gotten easier.   There's Nothing Wrong With You   Just because you like a guy that doesn't want to be in a relationship with you doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It’s part of being human to desire things, and it’s not always in our control if that thing desires us back. Sometimes your interest might even be enhanced by the fact that you can’t have someone. It can be tempting to romanticize about what is unavailable. Be careful to not sink into thinking that there is some flaw in you just because it’s not working out. While there’s always room for growth, you are enough where you are right now. Everyone has different things they are attracted to. This varies tremendously in looks, size, height, personality, and interests. He might not be attracted to you right now, but someone else will be.   How To Move On   It may seem impossible to get over these intense feelings you have for someone if they don’t reciprocate. It will be much more fulfilling to pursue a relationship with a partner who is available and ready to be with you. Here are some actionable steps you can take to help you move on:   Write It Out   Journaling can help you sort through your thoughts and decipher your true feelings. It allows you to be completely honest with yourself and figure out exactly what characteristics you are attracted to so you can look for them in future partners. Putting your thoughts on a page can also make you feel like you’re releasing them. You might find they have less control over you as they are no longer bottled inside.   Change How You Think About Him   The only noticeable way to reduce feelings of love towards someone you’re not with is by changing the way you think about them: namely, thinking about them negatively. By recounting some of their negative qualities or the negative parts of your experience with them, you can push yourself along the heartbreak recovery period.   Cut Off Physical Contact   Unless you have to work together or you’re close friends, it can be helpful to try and avoid crossing paths for a moment. By preserving your personal space, you can do some of the healing needed to invite him back if you choose to later. You can take a mental inventory of the places you frequent and consider how likely it is you’ll see him there.   Unfollow On Social Media   It's easy to get sucked into cyber-stalking someone you care deeply about, but for your own sanity, consider hitting unfollow (or even the block button) on social media. It can be a temporary fix, or you may find it serves you for a long time. Taking away your access to their activities can help you from feeling engrossed in their life and will give you the time and space you need to move on.   Focus on Yourself Moving on often requires focussing on yourself. Focusing on yourself doesn’t have to mean sitting by yourself feeling sad. You can try going out and doing something fun just for yourself or with a dear friend. You can try something you’ve been meaning to get around to, like getting a facial, trying out a new hairstyle, taking a new fitness class, or visiting a museum.   Meet New People   Take the opportunity to go out and meet new people without any expectation of developing a romantic connection. Simply making the effort to get out of your comfort zone and talking to new people you haven’t before can broaden your horizons. You may feel more invigorated and less lonely. Be Kind To Yourself   It's important to come to terms with your feelings, but there’s no need to beat yourself up over them. You don’t have to judge yourself if you aren't healing as fast as you think you should. Getting over such intense feelings can be difficult and take time. Be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace.   BetterHelp Is Here To Help   Working with a counselor can help you understand and work through this situation. You can explore why you developed these feelings, what it is you're drawn to, and what you should look for in your next partner. Your counselor is an objective third party that isn't going to judge you. Everything you say will be private. Beginning to work with a therapist online can be a great, comfortable step forward.    Counselor Reviews   "I would totally recommend Christine. She was very supportive and assertive when counseling me. I like that she was attentive and always kept the communication and the conversation flowing. The information that she gave me was very useful and I would have love to keep in her counseling. She is excellent at romantic relationship issues. :-)"   You Owe It to Yourself   It can be hard to have someone you care about deeply not feel the same way, but it's not the end of the world. As difficult as it may seem, you can overcome these feelings and grow as an individual in the process. Give it some time, try the tips mentioned above, and you will eventually find the fulfilling, lasting relationship with a partner who truly loves and supports you. Take the first step and reach out for support.   I wish you much luck with getting to where you want to be in your life.   In Kindness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I get detached from someone I’m in love with .

Hello Angela,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do I get detached from someone I’m in love with . I am glad you reached out to explore the health and condition of your realtionship.  I think what you are referring to is 'setting healthy boundaries' with your partner. I will share some information and some helpful tips for you to implement.   How to Set Boundaries in Your Relationships   Boundaries can help you retain a sense of identity and personal space, and they’re easier to create and maintain than you might think.   You’ll find boundaries in every kind of relationship — from friends and family to colleagues and brief acquaintances. You can’t see them, but these lines help you stay “you” and provide a sense of mutual respect, protection, expectations, and support. While they’re important in all areas, boundaries come up a lot when it comes to romantic partnerships.   Spending so much time with — and investing significant amounts of emotional energy in — one person can sometimes cause those lines to blur, especially in those heady early days where excitement and aiming to please levels are high.   So what do boundaries in this type of relationship involve, and are there organic ways to re-seed them?   All healthy relationships have boundaries   When it comes to your life as a couple, consider that there are actually three entities involved: yourself, your partner, and the relationship itself — and boundaries need to be defined for each.   Each of those three parties needs to be sustained, nourished, and feel respected.   Examples of healthy boundaries in relationships   The following examples apply to romantic partnerships, but also any frequently communicative relationships where there’s responsibility and expectation on both sides, like business partners, co-parents, or in-laws. In healthy relationships, both people:   ask permission take one another’s feelings into account show gratitude  are honest give space for autonomy and avoid codependence   show respect for differences in opinion, perspective, and feelings sit with the other person’s communication of emotion take responsibility for their actions   Good relationship boundaries   While there are some basic rules to consider when building and maintaining healthy boundaries (as noted above), what works for one person might not be so ideal for someone else.   Everyone’s got their own space and comfort levels when it comes to boundaries -  It’s [about] respect, and showing them ‘I love you for who you are, and I’m going to give you the space you need.'   It’s important to remember, he adds, that “before you find a partner, you’ve got your own patterns of behaviors that you become used to. Respecting people's personal space is a very important boundary in itself.   Boundaries come into play in all aspects of intimate relationships, though you may find they are more important or require a bit more attention in some circumstances than in others.   Texting is a very common one.  When one partner constantly checks in because they’re worried the other person is going to lose interest in them.  Yet frequent texting can lead to lower perceived relationship quality, so this is an important area in which to set some boundaries.   The amount of time you spend together is another key one to consider, and this is likely to change throughout the relationship. Whereas you might set a boundary early on in the relationship around how many days you see each other, later on, you have to ask: When do you become the priority? Are they always seeing their friends over seeing you?   Money is another notable relationship boundary, as are sex and relationship agreements. Do you believe in monogamy? If so, what constitutes a breach of trust? If someone feels their partner is really flirtatious, and that causes them to feel threatened, that [boundary] needs renegotiating.   Boundaries that don’t work   While it’s a good idea to set some boundaries, some don’t work and can ultimately have a negative effect on one or both partners. These tend to be founded in control, when one person tries to restrict or command the actions of the other — and there are some definite red flags to look out for.   'Anything that limits a person’s options' is an unhealthy boundary.  It could be around time, the way they act, even the way they dress.  Crossing these lines can be dangerous.   We shouldn’t confuse boundaries and control —– they’re not the same thing.  If someone feels a partner is putting up boundaries in a controlling way — ‘These are my boundaries, and this is what you must do’ — then there’s a problem with communication around boundaries being established.   Boundaries also shouldn’t be implemented to try and change a partner.   It’s not about trying to manipulate the negative stuff.  Accept them for who they are. If they’re not right and you’re not compatible, set them free to meet someone else.   Setting better boundaries starts here     How to set boundaries in a relationship   There are a variety of different ways you can go about setting boundaries. Here are four approaches to get you started:   Begin early   It’s much easier to introduce boundaries at the start of or earlier on in a relationship, rather than years down the road — especially once habits and routines have been established and both partners are more emotionally invested.   But if it’s a little late for that tip, don’t worry. Installing boundaries at any point is still better than imposing upon each other until it frays your bond completely.   Conversation is key   No matter how awkward you might feel talking about your emotions or brining up trickier subjects, a two-way discussion is vital in boundary setting.   Communication is key to relationships and you do need to have [conversations], even if they’re really difficult things to talk about, like sex.   Not only do these discussions help both partners understand the extent and rules of the boundary, but they provide an opportunity to explain why you value a particular boundary.   Couples who check in regularly and open up experience greater relationship satisfaction overall.   These conversations can also help nip concerns in the bud before they boil over into a full blown argument.    They don’t need to happen every week.  The important thing is that you’re communicating with each other and recognizing when you need to have that conversation.   Use ‘I’ statements   As the old saying goes, it’s not what you say but how you say it — and this definitely applies to boundaries.   I think all communication should start with ‘I feel. If you lead with superlative or accusatory statements (like “you always” or “you never”), then “you’re going to be hit with a brick wall of ‘That’s not what I think.’”   Nobody wants to be criticized or rejected.   And once those defensive barriers come up, it can be hard to get the conversation back on track. Treat others how you like to be treated, so aim to set boundaries with kindness.   Giving more specific examples can also help support your point and make it seem less of an overarching attack.   Examples of ‘I’ statements done the right way I felt really ____ when this happened I feel ___ when you If feel like ___     ‘I’ statements done incorrectly I know that you ___ You made me ___ You always ___ to me or at me   It’s OK to ask for space   Whether you’re just starting out with a partner or have been with them for a while, it’s totally acceptable to desire —and ask for — some me time.   It might be that you have a really demanding job, and you need half an hour of debrief time when you come home where you don’t talk. t’s about ‘This is what I need, how can we make it happen?   There’s a chance your partner might see this request as a form of rejection, so it’s important to take their feelings into account and explain this isn’t the case.   Talk about why you need it and why it’s meaningful to you. Recognize how the other person may feel, and work with them [through] that.   Here is a recap   Having boundaries is an expected and healthy aspect of good relationships — so don’t be afraid to determine where they lie for yourself, for your partner, and as a couple.   Think of them as a framework rather than rigid guidelines.   Nothing is set in stone. Everything is flexible, and every relationship is different, — although it’s always important to remember you should never do anything just to please someone else. Only do things you want to when you’re ready.   Events can occur throughout your relationship that’ll cause boundaries to shift including:   moving home having children starting a new job experiencing a loss   Ultimately, it all comes down to how you handle these changes together: You deal with it because you’re a team, and you respect each other’s side.   I would encourage you to reach out for some professional counseling advice.  Talk with someone who can guide you through this process.    Relationships can be chaotic, and it is difficult to know how to address them if you are a participant in the chaos. An online counselor can provide an objective, outsider’s perspective and help you develop coping skills and attachment styles that will lay the groundwork for healthy relationship patterns. You are not destined to a string of failed relationships! Online counseling can help you with your relationship issues today.   There is hope and you do not have to do this on your own.   I wish you much luck!   In Kindness, Gaynor     
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I would like to ask is there a pattern for my relationships issues

Hello JTH,   Thank you for reaching out to The BetterHelp Platform with your question:   I would like to ask is there a pattern for my relationships issues.   I am so glad you reached out with your query.  I am so sorry to hear that you are having problems in your relationship.  I do not see any significance in the 'time frames' of what your relationships are not working out for you.  I do wonder if there is a pattern of what 'goes wrong' for you in your relationships.   For example, do you notice you have communication problems with your partners, are there patterns of intimacy issues, are you always fighting about the same topics eg finances?  The patterns are more revealing verses how long your relationships last. I will share some valuable information about what are considered important for a healthy relationship to flourish. I would also encourage you to reach out for relationship counseling if you can do that or consider professional counseling for yourself.   Healthy relationships are not always exciting, passionate, and glamorous like they show in movies. There are happy times, but there are hard times too. What sets healthy relationships apart from unhealthy ones is that healthy couples stick with each other through thick and thin. Even if they fight, they can cool down, talk about it, and work things out.   Wondering about the characteristics of healthy relationships vs unhealthy relationships? Healthy couples love and support each other even if they don't always see eye-to-eye about everything. Unhealthy relationships, not so much.   Wondering if your relationship is healthy or unhealthy? Sometimes you can be so trapped in a negative relationship that you don't even know you're in one. You may feel guilty for thinking that your relationship is unhealthy. You tell yourself that your significant other is loving sometimes, but what about the times when they aren't? They might always apologize but are they willing to change?   Talking to a counselor can help you gain clarity about your situation. You can search for a local counselor or sign up for BetterHelp, an affordable online counseling service where you're quickly connected with a qualified counselor matched to your needs. A counselor can help you decide if the best solution is to try and work on things or move on.   Top 10 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships   Love Healthy couples love and care for each other. If the relationship is still in the early stages, a healthy couple at least likes each other (in a way that's more than just lust). Healthy relationships are built on more than just physical intimacy, popularity, and other trivial things. Solid relationships take work and real connection. Love isn't always easy, but it's worth it. Ask Yourself: Do I love my significant other? Would I still want to be with them if they were poor or sick? Is there a deep connection between us? There's a big difference between puppy love (or lust) and true love. Once you experience it it's usually easy to tell if you've fallen for someone or if it's just a crush. If you feel like the love is fading in your relationship, it might be a warning sign. When this happens, it's important to address it to see if these feelings are temporary or not. You may be able to rekindle your love with a little effort.   Affection Most healthy couples are affectionate, in a good way. They kiss, hug, hold hands, and enjoy cuddling on the couch to watch a movie. This may change a little over time but if you can't stand to touch each other, that's usually a sign that something's off in your relationship. In a healthy relationship, you can have days or weeks where you don't feel like being close physically, but those periods usually pass.   Ask Yourself: When was the last time you kissed your significant other? Does one of you tend to cringe or back away from physical contact? If you've been drifting apart from each other, did something happen to bring on this change? Relationships go through hot and cold periods, but if things have been especially cold between you lately, something might be up. It's possible that one or both of you have lost your attraction for each other or an underlying problem in your relationship is causing you to avoid being affectionate. Either way, it's important to talk about it if you want to get things back to normal.   Trust Trust is a huge part of healthy relationships. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to tell each other everything, since you know that secrets have their way of coming out eventually. Healthy couples spend time together, but they also have parts of their lives that are separate from work, hobbies, and spending time with certain friends. That's where trust is extra important.   Ask Yourself: Do you trust your significant other? Do they trust you? Are you telling any lies in your relationship? If so, why? When your significant other does things without you, do you get jealous or suspicious? Healthy couples can spend time together and apart without being overcome by jealousy or suspicion. If these feelings do come up, healthy couples are more likely to talk about it and smooth things over before it becomes a bigger issue. Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, allow these feelings to get worse until an inevitable blow-up occurs.   Communication Part of maintaining trust in a healthy relationship requires putting the focus on communication You need to be able to communication with your partner if you want your relationship to be healthy. Remember that your partner can't read your mind, even if you think that your feelings should be obvious to them. You need to tell each other how you're feeling if you ever want to get along. Ask Yourself: Are you comfortable telling your significant other when something good OR bad happens? Do you fear judgment or criticism when you open-up about things? Do the two of you tend to avoid confrontation? Healthy couples aren't afraid to tell each other things, good or bad. Even when life gets hard, healthy couples are willing to talk things over and find solutions to problems instead of letting them stew. This is because healthy couples know that avoiding little issues causes bigger problems, whereas in unhealthy relationships avoidance and miscommunication happens often.   Friendship If you're in a healthy relationship, you probably consider your partner to be one of your friends, if not your best friend. Maybe you were friends before you got together, or maybe not, but over time the two of you have developed a special connection. You know things about each other that no one else does and sometimes they seem like the person you're most 'yourself' around. Ask Yourself: Do you enjoy spending time with your significant other? Are you an important part of each other's lives? Have things suddenly become awkward between you or do you find you have nothing in common? Sometimes when you jump into a relationship without getting to know the person first, you realize after the fact that you don't have much in common. This can put a strain on a relationship because these couples usually struggle to find things to talk about or do together. If you aren't friends, it can be hard to enjoy spending together and prevent you from building a solid relationship.   Bonding What do friends and healthy couples do? They bond! If you want a relationship that's strong like glue, you need to spend time together and nurture your connection. Even when things are busy, you should take the time to check in with each other at least once a day. Couples in healthy relationships remember to plan dates and solo time together and make plans 'together' with other people. Ask Yourself: When was the last time you made spending time together a priority? What are your favorite things to do together? Do you always seem to argue when you try to do things as a couple or with friends? If bonding time always ends in bickering time, your relationship might not be healthy. A healthy couple makes time for each other, and they're able to enjoy that time without letting little differences of opinion get in the way. Healthy couples know that quality time helps keep their relationship strong, which is why they're always making plans and trying new things together.   Commitment Speaking of glue, commitment is one of the things that holds healthy relationships together. For a relationship to feel secure, both partners need to know where they stand. If you feel the need to cheat on your significant other, it probably means something is missing from your relationship. The mature thing to do would be to talk about it, see if you can work things out and end it if you want someone else. Ask Yourself: Have you talked about your relationship status and agreed not to see other people? Do you ever notice your significant other flirting with other people? Is commitment something that is important to both of you? When someone has cheated in a lot of relationships in the past, it can be hard for them to stop the pattern. You might think that you can make them change, but these habits may have been learned. This means it will take time for them to unlearn those habits if they're willing. For a relationship to be healthy, both people need to be committed and willing to work on any problems that come to the surface.   Disagreement Yes, that's right. Disagreement is part of a healthy relationship if it's handled in a certain way. All couples argue or disagree with each other from time to time, that's completely normal. The difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one is that in a healthy relationship couples can talk through their disagreement and come to a compromise. Ask Yourself: When you disagree do you talk about it calmly or do things usually get heated? Are you and your significant other able to come to compromises? Do either of you hold on to grudges when you don't get your way? If a small disagreement sends you and your partner into larger arguments where name-calling and other abusive behaviors ensue, your relationship might not be as healthy as you think. Healthy couples can resolve disputes maturely, even if some harsh words are said in the heat of the moment. Unhealthy couples tend to leave things unresolved or always bring up past issues in new arguments.   Change/Flexibility A couple of other characteristics of healthy relationships are change and flexibility. If you're in a long-term relationship, you need to be aware that the two of you are going to change over time. You can't assume someone is going to stay the same forever, and acting that way can hold a person back. This stops them from growing and becoming their true selves. Ask Yourself: When things change in your relationship, does it cause a lot of tension? Does your significant other always bring up things from your past that you're trying to put behind you? Do you support each other's dreams and goals, even if they change over time? Couples need to embrace at least a bit of change and flexibility. When you're in a committed relationship, you're sharing your life with another person. Things aren't always going to be perfect and you're each going to have to 'go with the flow' sometimes. The important thing is that throughout all the changes that life throws at you, you have each other.   Fun The last characteristic of healthy relationships is fun! Yes, there are going to be plenty of times in any healthy relationship that isn't fun, but the balance is important. Making sure you incorporate regular fun and relaxation time into your relationship is a powerful way to keep things interesting and remind you why your significant other is so important to you. Ask Yourself: When was the last time you had a good laugh together? Do you ever do anything spontaneous and exciting to change things up? Are you stuck in a pattern of going to work and staying at home all the time? When couples fall into a routine where they are consumed by their work and barely make time for each other, the relationship usually suffers. It's important to make time to reconnect and remember why you're working so hard in the first place. When couples forget how to have fun things get boring. It starts to get difficult being around each other because stress builds up and you don't have an outlet for it.     Conclusion If you're in a healthy relationship, chances are you're familiar with one or more of these characteristics. Healthy relationships take place between friends who enjoy spending time together and agree to love and support each other through thick and thin. Healthy couples are willing to work through hard times and celebrate good times together. Think you might be in an unhealthy relationship? Online or in-person counseling can help you start to see things clearer and come up with a way to get out of the relationship if and when you are ready. No one deserves to be in a relationship that is unhappy. You need to decide if it is worth sticking around and working on it or if you're determined to find something better.   I wish you much luck with your next step and encourage you to seek progessional support!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why can’t I let go of people even if their toxic.

This is a common occurance for people with a history of trauma or abuse. Despite not having much detail about your childhood experiences, I could estimate a few factors that may be at play with your relationships.    Given what you shared about your adopted parents, it sounds like it was not the best experience for you. I assume there were moments where you didn't feel loved unconditionally or maybe they were very strict. Either way, it is likely you have become accustomed to their unique expressions of love. And these actions and behaviors may have affected your own self-image. I am not sure if they communciated with you very clearly, or ever indicated that you were a difficult child, but that may have affected how you felt about yourself. As such, they may not have been aware of how to set emotional boundaries with others, and teach them to you. Emotional boundaries include respecting someone in giving them space, yelling at them and not keeping calm, and calling them up at random times without notice, or barging into their room without notice. Some parents assume that boundaries don't apply to them as they are the authority figure, but these actions are considered crossing the line.   With the relationships you have, it's fair to assume that you may not have met a guy who loved you unconditionally and communicated clearly what is expected in the relationship. Often when a partner cheats on the other or physically or emotionally abuses them, they claim that the other "drove them" to cheat on them. They may point out various reason like they made them mad, or they didn't do what they wanted them to do. This is common method to dodge responsibility of their wrong doing and make the other feel bad. It's a terrible form of maniluplation that others sometimes fall for.   If you do not want to let them go because you are afraid to make them feel bad, I think it would be better to assert yourself more and set these standards for yourself. Even though you care for them, they are responsible for how they respond and care for themselves. If they get angry, they need to cope with it. It is supposed to be a partnership, not unbalanced as such. It all starts with you respecting and loving yourself enough to believe that you deserve better. As you regularly set these boundaries with them, they will either change their ways and respect you more, or they will continue their stubbonr ways. If that happens, it would be preferrable to leave the relationship.   This brings me to the next point. If you are afraid of being alone, maybe you need more time being okay by yourself. Consider the possibility that you have more resilience that you think you do. Sure it is easier to support yourself with a partner, but you still deserve a good partner than build you up, not tears you down. Maybe you need more time to figure out what you want, or learn skills that make you more independent. This is because if you do separate from someone, it woun't be a big deal as you know you can support yourself.   I hope these tips were helpful. I know some areas are vague as I don't know specific details, but you do matter. Your feelings matter. If someone says they don't or you are a problem, look at the evidence. You don't have to stay in a bad relationship if you don't want to. And if you need assistance in buinding assertiveness, communicating your feelings, or reading red flags, consider counseling for yourself. Someone can assist you with that. Thank you for your time.   On the other side of this coin, the person being cheated on or abused understands what it is like to feel neglected or abused. This usually leads to the victim being desperate to please their partner or not make them feel mad or sad. It often leads to the one being abused to neglect their self-care and focus on the well-being of their partner. It could also be because it's more intimidating being alone without being supported by somebody. I imagine that your relationship with your adopted parents does not feel secure enough where you feel comfortable being alone. 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how can i over come fear of rejection,i hav been rejected many times in my life,at home,school

Hello Caro,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How can I over come fear of rejection, I have been rejected many times in my life, at home, school? I am glad you have reached out to request support with what you are struggling with at the moment.  It sounds to me as though you are describing your attachment style which I would consider might be anxious-avoidant. I will share some information and some practical tips with how you can manage this situation. I would also suggest you reach out for some professional support which I will also discuss later.   Understanding The Anxious Avoidant Attachment Style One of the most defining personality traits for any given individual is their attachment style.  Attachment style refers to the relationships people establish with one another. Some styles are healthy than others, and some styles are more or less social. We're going to take an in-depth look at each one. By the time you have finished reading, you will hopefully have procured a deeper insight regarding yourself and those around you. There are two schools of thought concerning attachment styles. The first one consists of three theories: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant attachment. This model is an excellent place to start because its rigidity makes it easier to understand. The drawback, ironically, is also its rigidity. The simplicity with which it addresses so complicated a question limits its accuracy. The prevailing theory is one that incorporates the use of a spectrum. There are categories, yes - and you will end up in one of them - but there is a difference. This model considers the degree to which one meets the criteria of a category, as well as the degree to which one meets the criteria of the others. As a result, you get a complete picture of the attachment profile. The category you are placed in is your dominant style, but it will not adequately describe you. This model consists of two variable axes, labeled "self-esteem" and "perception of others," or something similar. Your results on each measure will place you in one of four quadrants: secure, preoccupied, dismissive, or fearful. The "fearful" quadrant is also known as "anxious-avoidant," and that is what this article will cover. What Is Anxious-Avoidant Attachment? Secure individuals score high on both measures. They can form healthy relationships and have no aversion to pursuing them. The other two are less healthy, with preoccupied individuals trusting people recklessly and dismissive individuals being apathetic toward relationships altogether. Someone with a fearful attachment style has placed on the low ends of both the "self-esteem" and "perception of others" spectrum. You might describe this person as someone with negative affect and high levels of neuroticism. Not only are they unable to trust other people, but (perhaps more importantly) they are unable to trust themselves. You can imagine how difficult it would be to have this outlook. Fearfully attached individuals are unable to reach out to anyone, and anyone that tries to reach out to them is promptly denied. As social creatures, we humans suffer when we are unable to make connections with others that we inherently need. Some will try to explain this phenomenon as a simple tendency toward introversion. This is not the case, however. Introversion, defined by the comfort found in solitude, is not affected by self-esteem and perception of others. Because low metrics on those spectra characterizes anxious-avoidant attachment, it can be easily separated from an introverted personality. In fact, that explains why this attachment style is so painful to have. These people do not want to be left alone. They are deprived of affection from themselves and others, and they know they need it. They are just too afraid to take the risk. This can have serious implications depending on the severity of the anxious avoidance. Those on the far end of this spectrum may find themselves struggling to feel fulfilled. They may have trouble finding a job, relaxing, or feeling happy at all. Extreme isolation has been known to cause depression or even hallucinations. Someone closer to the center, however, might only experience negligible effects. This person could still function and find happiness in their lives. While a secure attachment style is always the best-case scenario, being in the middle is better than being incredibly anxious avoidant. For example, Edward Scissorhands, from the movie of the same name, is anxious avoidant. He wants to be loved and accepted but is so mortified of rejection that he becomes a hermit and suffers anyways. You can see how this differs from secure attachment, where one pursues relationships, and the ones they have are healthy. How Is This Attachment Style Formed? When I first learned about attachment styles, my immediate reaction was, "I don't want to be anxious-avoidant." It sounds incredibly difficult to live with. This begs the question: what determines someone's attachment style? It is generally accepted that attachment styles are formed in early development. A child's relationship with their parents sets a precedent for what relationships are like in the world. Young children are continually learning, and what their parents teach them about love is sure to stick. Children who spend a healthy amount of time with their parents and learn to trust them will eventually score higher on "perception of others." Likewise, if the child is allowed to explore, take risks, and learn through trial and error, they also will learn to trust themselves, scoring higher on "self-esteem." It follows, then, that those who score lower on these measures when they grow up did not have a foundation of trust for themselves or others. Children can behave in ways that are very indicative of the attachment style they will grow up with. This can be observed at any time a child's parent leaves them alone, such as dropping them off at school. Depending on their style of attachment, they will react to being separated from their guardian in different ways. Securely attached children are likely to cry at first, but they will eventually learn to make friends and be social. Kids with a preoccupied attachment style will cry incessantly, desperately wishing for the parent to return. Dismissive children will not even care - they will just find some toy to play with and seem overall apathetic about being on their own and meeting new people. Anxious-avoidant children, though, have it the worst. They will be very shy and emotional. They will want to make friends, but their hesitation to talk to new people will be very apparent. While the other kids play together, they will sit on the outside, waiting to be invited but too afraid to jump in on their own. This is why we call it fearful attachment - it is characterized by a persistent fear of relationships and their worst possible outcomes. Does this mean that all shy children are fearfully attached, and all the outgoing ones are secure? Certainly not - remember, this is evaluated on a spectrum. These are examples of the most extreme conceivable cases. Most children will probably exhibit some mixture of all these behaviors and traits. Can I Change My Style? This question is similar to the infamous "Nature v. Nurture" debate, which has no simple answer. As such, there is little consensus on this in the scientific community. It is important to evaluate both sides' arguments and form an individual opinion. One side says no, you cannot change your attachment style. The experiences you had as a child have already had their effect on development, and your tendency toward this attachment style is set in stone. The best option, then, is to employ strategies that allow you to cope with this disposition. The other camp says yes, you can. New experiences are very much able to influence your brain today, just as they could when you were younger. We have seen both good and bad events change people we know completely. Why would attachment style be any different? The correct answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Early experiences certainly have their permanent influences, but new ones cannot be completely discounted either. In any case, the question has yet to be definitively answered. It is worth considering that your parents, while they set the stage for your social future, are not the only people you have relationships within life. There are grandparents, brothers, and sisters that may be present when you are young as well. We cannot neglect the friends we make as children, either. Could good experiences with family and bad experiences with peers lead to a strong in-group bias that this model does not account for? What about the opposite? Attenuating The Effects Regardless of whether or not attachment style can change, someone who is extremely anxious avoidant probably wants to make an effort to be more socially at ease. There are steps you can take to make your life better. One of them might be seeing a therapist. As we’ve discussed, it is very difficult for people with the anxious-avoidant attachment style to build relationships with anyone. It is essential for these people to find someone they can trust. Once they can let down their walls, the weight of the world will come off their shoulders. Psychologists understand the human mind and have certainly had to break down these sorts of barriers on more than one occasion.   For hundreds of years, psychologists have studied human behavior, trying to determine exactly why we do what we do. Time and time again, the question of “nature versus nurture” has arisen: do genetics govern how we think and act, or is the environment in which we're raised the deciding factor? Scientific evidence seems to suggest that, in most cases, it's a combination of both. When it comes to our relationships, however, nurture seems to play a greater role. For example, individuals who grow up in healthy households tend to develop secure attachment bonds and attachment styles that typically lead them to have stronger, longer-lasting relationships in adulthood. On the other hand, if you grew up in a household with inconsistent or unreliable parenting, you may have greater difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships. People in this category may have experienced insecure attachment bonds to their parents or primary caregivers. "Therapy can accelerate the healing process and help you shift your attachment style, in order to create a more secure attachment bond." Insecure attachment is a negative, fear-based relationship style—the deep, even unconscious fear of abandonment or unmet needs. This fear-based style is based on the formation of an insecure attachment bond in early childhood, and it's surprisingly common. Living with the weight of a fear-based attachment bond can be very frustrating and feel overwhelming, but there is hope. While some experts believe that attachment styles and the original attachment bond remain consistent throughout the lifetime, recent research has actually found that individuals with an insecure attachment style can actually form secure bonds through intimacy-building activities. In this article, we'll discuss the characteristics of insecure attachment, the effects of insecure and secure attachment bonds, and strategies to break a negative attachment bond and create a more secure attachment style. This information may help you recall relationships and experiences that contributed to your attachment style in the past, but you'll also learn how to strengthen your bonds with others in the present. Understanding Insecure Attachment As mentioned previously, an individual's attachment style appears in early childhood and is the result of the formation of an insecure or secure attachment bond; infants and young children develop a secure attachment through repeated positive experiences with caregivers. This secure attachment bond gives infants an early outlook on life. Early in life, they learn that their needs will be met on a consistent basis, and as children, they don't live in fear of being neglected, abused, or abandoned. When caregivers fail to provide consistent care and emotional support, an insecure attachment bond and insecure attachment style form. Babies and young children who are insecurely attached learn to expect inconsistency in relationships, leading them often to operate from a place of fear. This is especially true of children who have been left by their caregivers (by choice or by death) and those who were abused or neglected. It can be difficult, but not impossible, to overcome the effects of developing an insecure attachment bond. Even if their physical needs are met, children whose caregivers are distant or cold also tend to form an insecure attachment bond. In some cases, children also can develop an insecure attachment because their primary caregiver swings back and forth between being nurturing and acting detached. Children with insecure attachment bonds tend to behave differently toward caregivers than kids with secure attachments. Depending on their circumstances, a child may act aloof or overly clingy toward their caregivers. In addition, the child may easily show anger, irritation, or fear, and they may exhibit extreme reactions to stress. Unfortunately, the problems that arise from forming an insecure attachment style do not end in childhood. For adults, insecure attachment often manifests as anxiety or codependency. Some individuals with insecure attachment styles avoid relationships altogether. Here are some ways to create a Secure Attachment Later, we'll share how therapy can help individuals who are living with an insecure attachment style break a negative attachment bond and create a secure attachment bond, but first, we'll talk about strategies you can use to help you form and maintain strong, lasting bonds. 1.    Focus On Healing Childhood situations and experiences that promote insecure attachments also tend to create shame and self-esteem issues. Living with shame can result in self-neglect (focusing on everyone else's needs while ignoring your own), self-criticism, self-sabotage, and even self-destructive behaviors. Beginning to heal from these symptoms will help you lay the foundation to form secure attachments. These feelings and behaviors are often connected to a deeply rooted, self-imposed belief that an individual does not deserve happiness or healthy relationships. While healthy guilt can help an individual make better choices, the shame and self-loathing that often accompany an insecure attachment style can make a person feel perpetually stuck in insecurity. Many people wonder how to forgive themselves for mistakes they’ve made in the past. While the process of self-forgiveness is a highly personal one, the following steps are a great place to start: Evaluate your past decisions. Were some of the factors involved out of your control? Did you do what you felt was best at the time? How do you see your actions differently today? Earn your forgiveness. Steps toward forgiveness include taking responsibility for your actions, apologizing, and making amends. If you find that forgiving yourself is difficult, try writing out a meaningful apology to yourself. You can also apologize to anyone else who may have been hurt, and you may be able to identify actions to make things right. Finally, vow to move forward. Aim for progress, not perfection. If this process seems easier said than done, use self-compassion exercises to keep you moving through the healing process, such as Build Self-Esteem Self-forgiveness provides a fresh start. Once you're no longer bogged down by the pain of the past, you can work on building yourself up. You might have years of experience with negative self-talk, shame, and criticism, so it's time to turn things around. Here are some practical ways to build self-esteem and help create a secure attachment style: Make yourself a priority: People with low self-esteem tend to neglect themselves. They can ignore their health, hygiene, and emotional wellbeing because they don't feel worthy of self-care or self-compassion. If you're in the habit of neglecting your personal needs and desires, make a list of the things you've neglected. Do you need to go to the dentist? Does your diet need adjustments to keep you healthy and satisfied? Would you like to give up drinking or smoking? Once you have a list, commit to tackling these issues one by one, and practice self-compassion if you find yourself falling into old patterns. Remember, it’s not about perfection.   The three compliments journal: This exercise is included in a great self-esteem building.  You'll need a blank notebook and a pen or a pencil to get started. Then all you have to do is jot down three compliments to yourself each morning. Looking in the mirror can be part of the ritual, but if this practice seems awkward or uncomfortable, a mirror isn't required. The goal here is to acknowledge your positive attributes on a regular basis. This practice will help you see yourself in a more positive light.  Try a new hobby: Part of learning to value yourself is finding activities you love and pursuing them wholeheartedly. If you enjoy taking photos, take up photography. Try a new sport or physical activity or settle into a crafting activity that calms you. Not sure which hobby to try? Check out the world’s largest list of hobbies to discover an activity you love! Practice positive self-talk: For individuals who have spent their lives filled with negative self-talk and shame, this process can seem daunting, but it's worth the effort. Whether in a journal or just in your head, remind yourself of your talents, positive attributes, and accomplishments, big and small. When negative thoughts creep up, make a conscious effort to combat them with positivity. For example, you may think, "I can't do anything right." Stop yourself by stating, "That isn't true; I'm great at a lot of things, including ______ and ________." By fighting off negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, you'll build self-esteem and begin to create a secure attachment style that will allow you to trust yourself and others. 3.    Acknowledge Your Attachment Style A third way to flip your type of attachment is by confronting the negative aspects of your insecure attachment style. If you're an anxious, insecurely attached person who is overly focused on your partner and his or her needs, try shifting your focus inward. By acknowledging your own needs and building your own self-esteem, you'll feel more content, which will help you to form and maintain healthy relationships. If you consider yourself insecure avoidant, meaning that you tend to shy away from meeting the needs of a partner, child, family member, or friend, make a conscious effort to begin meeting your loved ones' needs (without sacrificing your own). If you feel an urge to pull away, acknowledge the feeling, and open up to someone you feel comfortable confiding in. Silence exacerbates shame, so it's important not to keep your feelings bottled up inside.     Helpful Resources to Create A Secure Attachment Style Many free and low-cost resources can help you on your healing journey. Here are a few: Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion.org is a great resource for anyone in need of extra self-compassion. Neff offers seven well-structured guided meditations that are completely free. Attachments by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy is an eye-opening resource for people who struggle to form and maintain close relationships. Attached by Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller is a user-friendly guide that explains the science behind attachment and how to find love based on attachment style. This book is particularly helpful for individuals who seek a lifelong partner.   Of course, you’ll work with your therapist to develop the best approach for you, but you probably want a sense of how likely therapy is to help you, right? One common type of talk therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (which is one of the most effective treatments for social anxiety disorder. CBT can be used to treat so many things including attachment issues.   I hope you are able to apply some of these tips I have shared and reach out for some professional support from a mental health therapist.     There is hope and there is help for you.   I wish you much luck! In KIndness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Advice on infidelity and dealing with the emotions

Dear Cutie malz,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand the situation between you and your husband, that your boundaries were violated.   Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I get over a broken heart from a person and being confused with God.

You say that they are engaged which means they have not finalized the choice in marriage.  Anything could happen between now and their marriage date.  I wouldn't hope for him to break his engagement or pray for that.  What I would do is start by praying to God that if he has indeed made an error (the man) in reading what God wants for the two of you that God assist him in learning what God's plan is for him.  I would also wonder if God did ordain this man for you or choose him for you or perhaps you might have misread God's intent.  I would deeply pray and ask if you read the cues you saw correctly and ask God more for an answer than a confirmation of what you believe from the past.  Perhaps God didn't ordain him or choose him for you and his choice of anc engagement to another is a visual sign that what you thought you read in signs from God were really miscues.   I know that this is not an easy things to hear.  No-one wants to hear that they person they set their heart for is meant for another but we must always be open to the possibility that our interpretation of signs  is not accurate.  There are many instances in the Bible where people went through great trials and tribulations believing that they were indeed doing what God wanted them to do only to find out that it was not God's wish and to even find out that God's wish was not what they wanted to experience in life. Even Christ as a man asked his Father to take the walk up Calvary away but said he would do his Father's will if it was so ordained.  I would consult a Christian Counselor and/or the clergy you had intended to marry you (perform the ceremony) for some guidance to discern what is accurate and God's will.  Your clergy would be able to, knowing you and this man, what may be God's likely intentions with regard to the two of you.  
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 01/21/2022