Attraction Answers

Never been in a relationship

Hello, Thank you for being open enough to share what you would like to see happen in your life. First I would like to say, that you are not alone. There are plenty of people that feel the same way that you do. It's really common for people to want to be in further along in their life than they are currently.  Since you didn't really ask a question, I can only assume that you would like to know whether you are doing something 'wrong' that is keeping you from finding a guy to be in a relationship with. For you to answer this question, you would have to become honest with yourself and take a look at your thoughts and beliefs that could be contributing to the results you're getting. This is not to say that it's your fault that guys don't approach you, but we tend to get what we think about most.    This would be something you talk with your therapist about but, my questions to you would sound something like: What thoughts do you have about yourself? Do you see yourself as worthy of finding the right guy for you? (You don't have to a be perfect person to be worthy of a healthy relationship with someone, but the way you view yourself influences how you act in relationships. Both romantic and platonic)   Have you addressed any unhealed trauma or hurt from past relationships or from your childhood that could influence the way you think about and interact in relationships? (Old habits and patterns that we have from those things, can really hinder us in our adult relationships if we don't pay attention to and deal with them)   Do you practice the type of love, attention, and happiness towards yourself that you are seeking from a guy? (No one can give us the happiness and validation that we seek. They can only add to it. So it's important for us to give those things to ourselves first, in and outside of relationships.)   Have you truly opened yourself up to meeting a good guy or are you operating out of a 'list' of what you want in a guy? (I ask this because you mentioned that you think you find a nice guy, but then they take advanage of you. Sometimes we only look for the things we want in a partner, and completely miss out on great people because they don't fit our 'list'. Or we may ignore the RED Flags that a person isn't for us, because they do fit some of the criteria we want most.)    I would definelty look more in to these questions and process them with your therapist. But most importantly, know that you are the prize. And you are worthy of having an amazing relationship with a guy that adds to you. Start showing up as the confident and 10x bolder version of yourself. And be open to finding the right type of relationship for you. Get outside of your comfrot zone, but listen to your intution.  And lastly, work on changing how you think. Where focus goes, energy flows. Keep thoughts on what you want to see happen, versus what you don't want to happen. Take care of yourself.   Wishing you all the best on your journey!  
Answered on 01/20/2022

What do I need to consider before marrying Mike?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with whether to marry Mike or not with the information you have.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have around being with him.       Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of difficult decision.       As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

how to deal with mommy n daddy issues both? tried to manage so far, but cant deal wit it anymore

Hello and thank you for sharing this question here.  You mentioned that you seem to keep getting into relationship with the same type of guy.  I like that you are considering that you are not attracted to the same (wrong) type of people, but rather these wrong people are attracted to you!  One reason might be that you have difficult initiating conversation or don't feel comfortable doing so.  Then, the only people you're talking to are the ones who approach you, and they may not be right for you.  It could be that when you get in the room with someone who could be the right person, or someone you might be attracted to, you don't take initiative.  Another thing for you to consider is, when you are dating, are you focusing on what you want vs. what you need?  Sometimes if we are focused on just the wants, we end up settling for the immediate attraction.  For example, you might 'want' someone who is financially stable, looks and speaks great so you settle for someone with these attributes even though what you need is someone who shares the same moral values (again, this is just an example).  Sometimes we can get caught up in how a person presents in the moment and how we 'feel' about the things they say too us and we neglect taking time to look deeper.  We don't consider long term because we are focused on the immediate gratification (does that make sense?).   So how can you begin to expand your standards when it comes to potential love interests?  You might need to begin to consider what is important to you (your values about work, play, family and spirituality).  If your end game is looking at building a life together with someone and having longevity, you need to look at a person's credibility and integrity.  Do you enjoy each other's company?  Is there equality (balance of power in decision making)?  Do you like who he is as a person?  Really begin to think about the qualities you need in a partner.  How you determine the qualities is think about what isn't working currently (or hasn't worked in the past).  Where has this specific type of partner gotten you?  You know that this type is not compatible so you have to do things differently.  Make a list of your non-negotiables if needed to remind yourself and re-evalute as the relationship moves from level to level. Just know that if the relationship has become frustrating to the point that it's taking over your mood and thoughts, then it is ok to take a break, re-evaluate, reset.....whatever you need to do to gather yourself.  Think about what is within your control.  That confidence is so key!!  Also while you are making your list, write down some things that you bring to the table.  Things you offer!   Now, I won't let you get away without addressing the statement you made about having some unresolved issues with your parents.  This might also be a contributor and for this you might need to being seeing a therapist / counselor more regularly.  If you have insurance, you might try psychologytoday.com and find someone there that is in your area and can begin meeting with you.  If you don't have insurance and money is tight right now, I encourage you to take a look at some of the local colleges / universities in your area.  They generally have a counseling department that is open to the public and they operate on a sliding scale.  You might even be able to see someone regularly for free!  It's certainly worth checking into and YOU ARE WORTH putting the effort into YOU!  You want to be able to make  the kinds of changes that lead to a happy, healthy, meaningful life!  I wish you well!  I hope something I have said has been helpful.
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to know if he 's right for being your life partner ?

Dear Neat,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on perhaps how our boundaries have been violated by others, and that we have been not receiving the credits / compliments that we deserved.     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 01/20/2022

How should I navigate tough times when my partner has issues?

Dear Pynk2508,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on the dynamics between you and your partner.   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 01/20/2022

Hi, I don't know if I am attracted to my girlfriend anymore.

Hello Kel, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: I don't know if I am attracted to my girlfriend anymore.   I am glad you reached out with what you and your partner are struggling with at the moment.  It seems to me that maybe your relationship is in a post-covid rut, which seems to be a fairly common theme at the momemt for couples and beyond. I would recommend that you consider couple's counseling for yourselves to explore what might be going on for you and to create some positive changes for you both.  It maybe that your relationship just needs a 'healthy service reboot'. I will share some information with you about what you experience with the couple's counseling process. Even the most compatible couple’s relationship will probably experience its rocky patches. This is inevitable: all people have different outlooks, priorities, and values, and expecting your partner to conform to yours every time is simply not realistic.  Couples counselling can help you to understand your partner better. Talking frequently and openly about important issues is essential to a healthy relationship and counseling can be helpful with establishing or reestablishing healthy communication within a relationship. The Hidden Traps in Romance Whether from a desire not to hurt the other party’s feelings, emotional inhibition or for other reasons, we often don’t say exactly what we mean – even to a person we think we’re always totally honest with. Over time, these little gaps in communication can add up, leading to greater disconnection within a relationship. You may be thinking that involving a third person is the last thing you need to build a stronger relationship but remember that there is a world of difference between a qualified counselor and somebody you just happen to know. Pursuing couples therapy is not an indication that you are about to give up, rather, it is about acknowledging that issues are arising, and the relationship is important enough to investigate new or unfamiliar options that will help address problems in the relationship. Practical Couples Counseling Visiting a qualified, licensed couples’ counselor will likely open your eyes to many aspects of your relationship that you were previously unaware of. Aside from the major decisions such as marriage, having children or buying property together, any relationship is a tapestry of many interrelated factors that can combine to produce either a disastrous, unhappy couple, a way of living that’s more or less convenient but still mildly irritating, or a truly solid partnership that can navigate both simple and complex obstacles. Avoiding these issues or being unaware of them is a sure road to the dissolution of a relationship. Remember that the things that are crucially important to your partner might not even register in your mind, and vice versa. An experienced couple’s counselor is has expertise at detecting disconnection and steering the conversation towards areas you might not visit frequently or tend to avoid. The key to building a stronger relationship is finding or harnessing the motivation to understand your partner better, develop and build trust, and gain clarity about what is important to them. Sadly, simply loving someone doesn’t make any of this happen automatically, it takes work, and one of the most valuable tools at your disposal is couple’s therapy.  Getting Acquainted with Your Therapist Before you can go deeply into the workings of your relationship, you need to get to know a bit about your counselor. They will also ask questions to get to know you. They might ask how long you’ve been together, how you met, what drew you to each other, and what you most like about each other now. They might ask you questions that go more to the heart of the reason for the counseling, such as how long you’ve been dissatisfied with the relationship and where you see your relationship going in the future. By the time you’ve covered these subjects, you’ll likely have gained trust in the therapist’s abilities, and they’ll understand you and your issues well enough to begin therapy in earnest. Getting Support When people go into couples counseling, they often arrive with psychological bruises from the past or from the relationship itself. The first bit of therapy you both need is support and understanding for what you’ve struggled through on the way to this point in your life. Each partner needs to feel cared for within the counseling space. An experienced couple’s counselor typically shows no favoritism for either of you. They give understanding and acceptance fairly to each person within the bounds of healthy communication. Airline hosts offer a warning before each flight as they’re explaining emergency procedures. They tell passengers that if they need the oxygen mask, they need to put it on themselves first before trying to help someone else. Obviously, you can’t be much good to someone else if you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen. The same idea holds true for couples. You need to put your own mental health first. This may seem counterproductive when you’re trying to renew your commitment to each other. However, the truth is that you can be a better, more loving partner when you are at your best. For this reason, couples counselors may suggest that each of the people in the relationship see separate individual counselors to ensure that they stay on the right track with their mental health and get the support they need. Examining Behavior within the Relationship You probably wouldn’t be in couples counseling unless you love the other person and want to make your relationship work. What we often miss, though, is that our words and our actions don’t always convey that message to our partner. So, an important step in couples therapy is to take a look at the way you behave towards each other. You might bring up something your partner did that made you feel unwanted. They might bring up something you said that made them feel hurt. The key to learning to do better is to seriously consider what your significant other says. Take it in with an open mind. When you focus on what you can do to make the relationship better, you are far more likely to see those improvements. Pay more attention to what you need to do rather than what you want from your loved one. When you do, you tap into your own personal power to build the kind of relationship you want. Counseling Techniques to Promote Understanding Your counselor will likely use a variety of techniques to help you get into the other person’s perspective and see the relationship from their point of view. One of the most effective techniques that has been used widely by psychologists around the world is role-playing. This is an exercise in which you pretend to be your partner and they pretend to by you. The counselor usually sets up a scenario for you before you act out your parts. By this means, you can feel what it’s like to be on the other end of the types of words you use to them. You might also be able to identify communication errors you’ve been making. Another useful technique is letter-writing. You each write a letter to the other one, saying exactly what’s on your mind concerning the relationship. Some counselors have each person read their letter to their partner at the next counseling session. Because the therapist is right there, they can guide you through the conflicts that might arise when you and your partner hear each other’s letters. Other techniques involve using the imagination. For example, suppose you are angry because your loved one won’t try to get a better job. Your counselor might ask you to imagine and describe what your lives would be like if your partner took a job with better pay and higher status but one she didn’t like. How you fill in that blank is totally up to you. Couples counseling isn’t about playing games or getting gold stars. The goal is to try to see the reality of the changes you each could make and evaluate whether you’re asking for something that would be worth the effort. Find Out What’s Behind Your Disagreements, your Stuckness and so on   Are you wondering why you and your significant other always have to argue? If so, it’s a good time to begin couple’s therapy. You might find out that the answer is that you simply have different opinions, tastes, and viewpoints. No two people are exactly alike, after all. On the other hand, you might find out that the issues that truly divide you are hidden behind a smokescreen of petty complaints. The real issues may be much more profound than you ever dreamed possible. If so, the counselor can help you discover them and teach you to deal with them together. Reconnect Sometimes, couples counseling ends when one of the partners discovers that they no longer want to be in the relationship. However, for most couples, the goal is to overcome the problems and issues that separate them and rebuild the relationship better than it has ever been before. If you stick with therapy long enough to learn how to engage with each other in a healthy way, you can begin to reconnect on an emotional level. You can create a stronger, more satisfying union and reignite the passion you once shared. It isn’t easy, but those who have succeeded reap amazing rewards. 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 yourselves and your counselor is secure, and you can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer.   There is hope and there is help available for you.   I wish you both luck !   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

what is the best way to deal with jealousy and how can i start a “self love” journey.

Dear b,   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 01/20/2022

How can i know i’m into people as the same gender as me?

Steph asked: How can I know I’m into people as the same gender as me? I am in a relationship with a guy that I love, but I’ve always wanted to know if I’m into girls. when I was younger, I found myself sexually attracted to girls, but I have ignored it ever since. I feel sort of ashamed for feeling that way   Hi Steph, I’m glad you are reaching out.   First, as a counselor here on Betterhelp, I have seen many clients, especially those who are younger (Millennials and GenZ), identify their sexual orientation as Bisexual / Pansexual / Gay / Lesbian.  While the diversity in sexual orientation is as old as human is, this phenomenon shows a steady trend in our society that both gender and sexual orientation binary is no longer the only acceptable norm.  Younger people are not only open to accepting a much more fluid gender identity and sexual orientation, they are also more open to experimenting with their sexuality to see “what floats the boat”.  That said, a person can be attracted to people of both sexes.  The shame is often due to being socialized into thinking that anything sexual that is not binary is bad / evil.  Societal stigma both stems from and shapes religious doctrines, conversion therapy, military policy (“Don’t ask, don’t tell”), rejection / ostracization.  As if social stigma is not damaging enough, non-binary people also suffer from all forms of discrimination (housing, employment, etc.), harassment, assault, and even murder.  No wonder many people have felt ashamed about being attracted to people of the same sex.  Feeling ashamed could literally save their jobs, housing, etc., and sometimes, even lives. Luckily in the more open and acceptance atmosphere today, you can reach out and find support from many organizations founded by and to serve people just like you.  I include in here some of the websites of such places.  Here you can feel that you are part of a large and diversed community; thus decrease the feeling of shame and isolation.  You can find resources, groups and activities to participate in; you can also find opportunities to give back by organizing, educating and promoting awareness in general population about your community.  https://www.hrc.org/  https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ https://www.facebook.com/LGBTQ/ https://gaycenter.org/about/lgbtq/ https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/lgbtq https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI Warm Regards,  
Answered on 01/20/2022

Should I just keep my distance from her? Should i pursue this friendship?

Hello InuYasha2013, and thank you for taking the time to reach out for help and support with regards to the distress you are experiencing at the hands of the thoughts and feelings you are having towards this friend of yours. I can certainly understand how distressing it can be to feel "stuck" in a one-sided relationship, and the desire to have someone you like reciprocate your feelings when they are not giving as much as you. However, I assure you that you are not alone in this matter, as many individuals struggle with loving themselves and setting appropriate boundaries so as to reduce the likelihood of, or prevent altogether, unhealthy and negative relationships from occurring in their lives and you can do it too. In turn, you can also increase your self-esteem and overall mood and life satisfaction. Change can be and is often times scary, as it's the old adage "the devil that I know is better than the devil that I don't know," and while you may be experiencing distress and unhappiness/depression, the thought of what life might be like if you set appropriate boundaries or what might happen if you loved yourself and focused more so on those who appreciated you and reciprocated your engagements can be even more scary. If I were working with you long term I would have several follow-up questions that I would want information on in order to better understand and help you in your situation, such as if this is a pattern in your life (making advances towards others who are emotionally, or otherwise, unavailable as well as what it is about this friend of yours that attracts you so much to her? Is it her distance, her self-esteem and confidence, her social skills in how she communicates during your chats? Perhaps you are attracted to your conception of her, something that you have created in your mind, as opposed to who she really is, and this is resulting in the difficulty in detaching from her and accepting the relationship for what it is…one where you only have small chats?   That being said, here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful in coping with your situation of becoming attached to someone who does not reciprocate your actions/feelings.   1) Don’t be quick to take it personally It’s easy to think that there is something “wrong” with you when facing rejection, but the truth is that the reason your crush turned you down may have nothing to do with you at all. Maybe they aren’t looking to be in a relationship right now, or they have something else going on in their lives that they need to focus on. It could be that they do think you’re really great, but the timing is just off. If your crush needs that space, they are entitled to it. However, if the reason your crush turned you down really is because they simply are not attracted to you in the same way.   2) It’s not a reflection of your personal worth Just because your crush isn’t interested in a relationship does not mean your worth as a unique, amazing individual has diminished! It’s totally normal to feel bummed out that your crush doesn’t see how great you really are, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to change just to be the type of person you imagine they may be into. Ultimately, you want to be with someone that appreciates you just as you are!   3) You can’t force someone to like you back Don’t exhaust yourself trying to change someone’s mind. Trying to force relationships can be like trying to fit into a pair of shoes that are too small. As much as you like them, they just won’t work. It doesn’t mean that pair of shoes isn’t nice, it just means they aren’t the right pair for you. In that case, it’s best to move on. No one should feel required to be in a relationship, or pressured into dating someone. If you do decide to take those steps, both people should feel equally excited about it, not coerced into it.   4) Give yourself time to process how you feel In a perfect world, your feelings for your crush would be reciprocated, but life isn’t a fairytale. It’s totally normal to feel “crushed” when the object of your affection doesn’t feel the same way. Take time to take care of yourself while you work through the disappointment. If you need to vent, look for a listening ear in a trusted friend or family member. You can also look for healthy ways to keep busy, like focusing on your work or taking up a new hobby such as exercising or writing. Staying active can help you avoid unhealthy coping behaviors such as binge eating, or moving on to someone new too quickly out of spite. It’s ok to feel anxious, as you reported feeling regarding having the dreams about her. Process and explore those feelings….they’re completely normal.   5) Avoid these common social media pitfalls We all know how tempting it can be to scroll through your crush’s social media pages, but that will likely only allow your feelings of disappointment to fester.  Also, obsessively keeping tabs of someone’s social media, or wondering who the new person in all of their posts may be is not healthy. If you find yourself scrolling mindlessly,  it may help to take a break from following them as a way to take care of yourself. This can give you the time you need to heal and help you focus your energy elsewhere.   6) Moving forward Everyone goes through this experience at least once in their lives (if not more)! Remember that you will survive the fact that your crush doesn’t like you back. Use this as an opportunity to really think about why you were crushing on this person. Were they open and honest? Were they willing to lend an ear or shoulder to cry on? It could be a great opportunity to identify certain traits that are really important to you, like honesty and respect.   In the end, we all want to be in healthy relationships with people who enjoy all that we are. Even if this person wasn’t a good fit, it doesn’t mean you won’t find someone else who is – and that person can come around when you least expect it. So keep up those positive vibes, learn to love yourself first, and others will love you back, too. I hope you found my response helpful and that you find the resources I provided somewhat comforting and provide some insights for you in regards to the change you wish to experience. Should you wish to continue to discuss these matters and work further on them in individual therapy, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. Until then, I wish you all the best.
(LMHC, MCAP, TIRF)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to stop attracting toxic and playful guys

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: How to stop attracting toxic and playful guys? I will share some helpful time on what you can do to begin to address your boundaries within your relationships. BE UPFRONT IN YOUR DATING PROFILES.  If you already know there’s a certain type of guy that you definitely want to avoid, don’t waste your time and his with idle chit-chat when you know that you’re not right for each other. There’s nothing wrong with being straightforward about what you do and don’t want from a partner on dating apps. If you have dealbreakers, list them outright. This will hopefully weed out some of the guys that wouldn’t have worked out anyway.   DON’T MAKE EXCUSES FOR UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR.  The search for the “The One” can be exhausting and feel endless but no matter how long it takes, don’t let your eagerness to find someone allow you to tolerate less than what you deserve.  If a guy is exhibiting behavior that feels toxic, don’t let him think you’re okay with it. Tell him how you feel and let him know that he either needs to shape up or ship out. If you carry yourself this way, men will automatically get a feel for what you don’t put up with in relationships.   CARRY YOURSELF THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.  Confident, strong women don’t allow toxic men into their lives and they give off that energy everywhere they go. Walk with your head held high and an attitude that says that you think highly of yourself without being stuck-up. This kind of mindset will attract only serious and well-intentioned men into your life because the toxic ones will know that they don’t measure up   TRUST YOUR GUT. Always listen to your instincts because they can often sense or see something before you can. If something feels off or a guy you’ve just met feels like he’s hiding something or lying about something, the best thing to do might be to go your separate ways before things get messy. Toxic people often show you who they are pretty quickly after you meet them so, if it feels off, it probably is. Trust yourself.   DON’T LET YOURSELF BE A MAGNET FOR DRAMA OR NEGATIVITY.  Toxic people often thrive on things like drama and complaining about anything and everything. That kind of behavior is such a downer and will just drag you down to their level. You’re so above petty things like gossip and negativity and you don’t want to surround yourself with people who use it as entertainment. The best way to repel these people is by always holding yourself to a higher standard. Run from drama, don’t engage in gossip or rumors, and try to bring a positive attitude to every situation you can.   TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST.  It’s so easy to forget about self-care when you’re in pursuit of love but the truth is that we really can’t love someone else until we love ourselves. Remember to take the time to show yourself love and care by putting in the work on yourself. Do things that make you happy and work on cutting all of the negative energy out of your life. This will help you have a clear head and better judgment when it comes to picking a partner or passing one up.   DON’T BE AFRAID OF STANDARDS.  Whenever you’re getting to know someone new, make sure to remember your list of must-haves and dealbreakers. Think about the things that are most important to you in a partner, the characteristics, and behaviors. Don’t be afraid to stick to those standards and drop anyone who doesn’t seem like they could measure up. There’s a difference between giving someone a chance and settling for someone. You’re too good to settle.   AVOID CLONES OF YOUR EXES.  You might find yourself falling into a relationship with someone who has a lot in common with one or more of your exes. Tread very lightly in these types of situations and don’t let yourself fall prey to all of the things that went wrong with those past relationships again. Those guys are exes for a reason, so just make sure that you’re not gravitating to another toxic guy just because it feels familiar or you think you could handle it again. You deserve better than that.   TRUST THE OPINIONS OF THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU. The people in our lives who love us the most can often see things that we don’t when it comes to relationships. We might be ignoring warning signs or just blinded by our excitement for a new relationship that we can’t see the problems that are there. If your friends and family are voicing their concerns about someone that you’re seeing, letting you know that they see problems, don’t brush them off. They want the best for you and only want to protect you from getting hurt.     REALIZE THAT IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX ANYONE.  Toxic men often come in the form of people with a lot of problems or issues within themselves. Of course, when you love someone, you love them despite the difficulties in their life but, it’s also not your job to save someone who needs to work on themselves to fix their own problems. You can’t let your whole life be about fixing someone else's and not about focusing on yourself too. Toxic people will also try to guilt-trip you into staying with them because of their problems but you have to have the strength to walk away when a relationship is damaging to your life. They will learn to be okay but you have to make sure your needs are being met too.   THE BEST DATING/RELATIONSHIPS ADVICE ON THE WEB – SPONSORED.  If you’re reading this, check out Relationship Hero a site where highly trained relationship coaches get you, get your situation, and help you accomplish what you want. They help you through complicated and difficult love situations like deciphering mixed signals, getting over a breakup, or anything else you’re worried about. You immediately connect with an awesome coach via text or over the phone in minutes.    I hope these tips were useful as you begin to address what boundaries and rules you need to apply to your relationship choices. If in doubt reach out to a therapist so you can further explore why you are attracted to the more toxic guys. I wish you much luck!   In Kindness, Gaynor     
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What can I do to trust women again, to be able to overcome this relationship issue of mine? Thanks👍

Dear Levol,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on perhaps how our boundaries have been violated by others in relationships, resulting in your struggles with trust.   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 01/20/2022

How can I help myself get over a breakup?

Dear Fushka,   Thank you for your message and I am sorry to hear about your break up. Thank you for your courage in sharing with me your pain.   “If you are brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paul Coehlo   Closure is something everyone would like. We would like validation and understanding after a relationship has ended.   We can accept that someone doesn’t want to be with us. We can accept that the relationship has changed or that they want something else. What we can’t accept is our partner’s inability to communicate that fact effectively and tell us what went wrong.   Unfortunately, sometimes your partner does not have this same need, or they may have the same need but they’re better at hiding it and pretending they don’t. They would rather just push you, and their feelings, away.   In my experience, people can’t always be honest with you because they can’t be honest with themselves. It isn’t about you. We always want it to be about us and our flaws and failures, but it isn’t.   Many people don’t know how to deal with the emotions that come with a breakup, so they prefer to avoid their feelings altogether, and this is the most likely reason they won’t talk to you. It has nothing to do with you or the relationship or something you did wrong or that you weren’t enough.   I’ve dealt with trying to get closure a few times, and it’s awful. No one likes to be ignored, and no one likes to not get answers to their questions. But, what you have to learn is that any answer you get won’t change anything, and it may or may not be the truth anyway.   I can only control myself and my actions and how I deal with the ending of another relationship that I thought could mean something.   If people want to be in your life they make an effort. If they don’t, then you are better off without them.   If you are struggling with getting closure with an ex, ask yourself why you want to talk to them. Is it to get them back? Is it to get them to validate the relationship? Is it to try to get some type of reaction, or any type of reaction?    If you are making up reasons why you need to talk to them, then perhaps you need to get closure from yourself. If they won’t talk to you, reaching out will likely cause you more pain and frustration. So instead, I suggest the following:   1. Write a letter.   Write one every day if you need to. Don’t send it; just get the feelings out there. You can write them here if you would like. :)   2. Write out reasons why they may be avoiding you that have nothing to do with you.   We all create explanations in our heads as to why our ex won’t talk to us. We imagine they think bad things about us, they don’t want us, that we weren’t enough, or that everything was our fault. Thoughts in your head are just your interpretation of what happened, and they are usually incorrect.   What if what they are really thinking is this? Do you think they are going to tell you?   I’m afraid to be open and be hurt again. I don’t think I can give this person what they need. Being vulnerable is too scary. He/she is too good for me. My abandonment issues have triggered my unconscious need to be alone.   3. Unless this was your first love, remember that you loved before and you got over it.   You control whether you move on. And you can decide if you want to wallow in self-pity and misery, or pick yourself up off the floor and be the spectacular, amazing person you are and get out there and show yourself to the world.   4. Take your feelings and write them on little pieces of paper.   “I am hurt.” “I am angry.” “I am sad.” “I am devastated.” “I am heartbroken.” “I feel rejected.”   Get a fireproof bowl and fill it with some sand. Put all the little pieces of paper in the bowl and light them on fire. Watch the words burn and with them, let the feelings go.   5. Be alone.   Be still. Cry and be sad over the loss. Accept that what once was, is no longer, and what you thought would be will never be. If it’s meant to be in the future, it will find a way to work itself out. Maybe now is just not the time.   6. Live in abundance.   They are not the only person in the world. There are literally millions of single people in the world. If you had love before, you will have it again. Stop thinking that you’ll never find someone else so wonderful. If they were so wonderful they would still be with you. They aren’t. They’re gone.   What is it you are really hoping to hear? Do you think most people can admit their fears? Of course we all would like our partner to care enough to tell us the truth no matter how much it hurts.   There are a million reasons that relationships don’t work and tons of reasons why your ex won’t talk to you. Don’t take on their issues and make them your own. Realize that we all have insecurities, and not all of us can understand how they impact us.   I’m sure you would love for your ex to say, “You are truly amazing and wonderful, but I don’t think we are a match.” The reason most won’t say this is that they don’t want you to come back at them with all sorts of reasons why you are a match, so they’d rather avoid the topic altogether.   For whatever reason, your ex has chosen to cease all communication with you. The best thing you can do is take it as a sign from the universe that it’s time to move on, and that any person worthy of being your partner would never leave you in the lurch like that.   Remember this saying, “If not this, something better.” These words sound stupid and irritating when your relationship has just ended, but they are true for a reason.   We don’t’ always get what we want, but we get what we need. Change is inevitable. Change is good. If it was meant to be, it would have been, and if it is meant to be, it will be.   Unfortunately, life does not always go along with our pre-conceived notions of how things should be, and people aren’t always what we want and need them to be. Life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow on top.   Sometimes you get closure and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the lack of closure is the very lesson that you needed to learn. Maybe you needed to learn to validate yourself and accept yourself.   Consider seeing this person as a gift sent to you. They were brought to you as a reflection of yourself. Thank them for being a part of your journey and send them on their way in your mind.   Lastly, if you are waiting for your ex to give you closure, it might be time to dig deep inside and give it to yourself.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What can I do in this situation since she never imagined a life with a girl and now she fell in lov

Hello, Thanks for reachingout on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: What can I do in this situation since she never imagined a life with a girl and now she fell in love? It seems that your girlfriend has some concerns and quesitons about how to navigate her life with someone of the same sex.  I get it.  She fell in love; then the reality kicks in... how and what will I say to people?  My family, friends, people at work?  What about kids?  How did this happen?  What if I am not gay?  How will I live my life as a gay woman?  What will that mean?  Ugghhh and loads more questions and confusing thoughts.   Feelings of not knowing where to start, what to say, do, how to be can quickly become overwhelming and leave you feeling like you want to run away and hide away, maybe deny your feelings because it is just too scary; too much to bare. I would encourage you both to consider relationship counselling for you both so that you get help as a couple; support each other through this process.  Have someone to support and guide you through the concerns and 'the how too do's'.   Look at any fears together so that you can find a way to untangle the many, many confusing thoughts. I will share some information and tips on what you can do aobut thes confusing thougths and feelings. If you feel very attracted to members of the same sex, but need to feel like you have accepted it within yourself, here is a guide to help you. You have found out your sexual orientation, and you are perfectly normal. Accepting who you are–and being proud of who you are–is the next step on the road to coming out and, eventually, to having a successful relationship. Some people have difficulty in accepting their sexual orientation, either because of personal or societal discomfort or pressure. Most people in the LGBT community know from experience that accepting your sexuality will lead to you becoming a happier, more open person.  Remember, you didn’t choose to be attracted to members of the same sex, and that attempts to change your orientation are usually painful and pointless. When talking with heterosexual friends or family members, it’s sometimes tough to help them understand this, because they have no frame of reference for your experience. Try to encourage others to see your sexual orientation in the same way as they see your eye color–it is something you were born with and did not choose. It is something that is simply a part of your being and not something you can change. There isn’t any need to. Being gay is just another way of being, and there is nothing wrong with it at all, neither is there anything wrong with you for being gay. Some people in the world will tell you that your sexual orientation is a choice.  But the only choice you have is whether or not to accept your orientation. If you do feel that you want to make the choice to accept your sexuality, it would be best to find friends and loved ones to support you, but do not feel–or let yourself be–pressured into believing that you should “change your ways”. If anyone tries to force an opinion on you that you do not agree with, such as that your sexuality is unnatural, sinful or symptoms of a mental disorder, look elsewhere for support. There is no evidence that “helping homosexuals to become heterosexual” is possible, and treatments to “change” sexual orientation are very damaging to those patients who undergo them and affected no change in their sexual orientation. Develop and express your individuality.  If your identity strays from the mainstream (whatever it may be), then be proud of it. You are the one and only you. Understand that a person who is gay is no different from any other person. Like everyone else, gay people have dreams, goals, and want companionship and love just like anyone else you know. Strive every day to be the best person you can be, and remind yourself of the positive qualities and attributes that make you uniquely who you are. For people to accept you, first you must accept yourself.  If you can’t accept your sexual orientation and feel comfortable and confident in your own skin, then other people find it harder to fully accept you. It’s your right to love; no one has the right to tell you otherwise. Tell yourself: “I am a person with feelings and intellect and a life, just like everyone else. I am unique and individual, and no one has the right to choose my life for me. The fact that I am gay is just another facet of who I am, just as being creative, optimistic, or having brown eyes is. I may not be like many of my friends, but I choose to live my life authentically and happily. It’s my life, and I choose to be happy.” Remember that you are not alone.  There are many, many gay people in all sorts of communities, and there are many people there for you when you need support. There may be agencies, groups, advisers, family members and friends that you can turn to, even if it is just someone to inform of your feelings. Find a group or a hangout where you feel comfortable and where there will be other gay people to talk with. Make some new friends, and, by doing so, you will establish a new network of supportive and encouraging people around you. Use good judgement if you choose to come out.  Sadly, not everyone in the world is a modern, accepting person. Don’t broadcast this information to your entire community if you live in a small town or an area where LGBT persons are less likely to be accepted and where you are likely to be harmed physically or emotionally. If it is very likely or if you feel intuitively that your coming out will have a bad outcome, then don’t. As long as you know who you are, that’s plenty for the short term. In the end, your sexual orientation is your business. Eventually, people may figure it out, and you will need to decide whether to stay in that situation or move on to a place that is more accepting. If you are still being supported by parents whom you are quite sure would disown you for being gay, it may be prudent to wait to tell them until you are independent. It may be vital for your survival to hold off on coming out until, for example, you have graduated high school or college or you have moved into a place of your own. Show people who you are.  Coming out of the closet is the boldest step in accepting your sexual orientation, but once you begin to live “out,” it does not mean that you have to change who you are or what you like. Don’t go trying to change yourself or wishing that you were like the other people in your life to cater to the comfort levels of others. You can’t please everyone, and those who care about you will still love you for who you are. If someone can’t accept the one small facet of who you are and can’t still respect you for the person that you are, then they aren’t worth your time or letting it bother you. It’s not your fault if other people can’t accept it.   I hope you are able to consider your next step is reaching out for couples therapy - to deal with the many powerful and overwhelming and confusing thoughts.  It can really help to have someone there with you to process each and every step of the way as you wade through this.   I wish you both much luck!   In Kindness. Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I'm realizing I'm a lesbian, but I'm married to a man.

It sounds as though you have been in a very devastating situation, as you still love your husband, but you cannot change the core of who you are in an effort to keep someone else happy. It is overwhelming frightening to come to terms with who you really are and put that person first, and in the long run allowing that person to trhive rather than merely survive. It sounds like you are also an incredible mother and while it may feel like you need to stay in a situation that is not right for, it is helpful for your son as well. The most incredible thing a boy can have is the love of his mother and a mother who is strong enough to know how to love herself and be true to herself.  While you are showing him and your husband how much you love them, you are putting yourself last and you deserve to be first in your life. It must be heartbreaking because it is not like you are leaving because you are making a choice, you are leaving because you are not attacted to your husband. Not only do you deserve to have a healthy and fulfilling sexual life, so does your husband. You deserve to be with someone who you want to touch and to to kiss, someone who you want to have touch you. You deserve to have romantic and sexual love in your relationship, you just cannot force yourself to be someone you are not.  While I know that you are scared of being alone, it sounds as though you are alone now, simply there out of obligation and love for the people in your life. I know that being alone is hard, but being alone may also help you to decide for yourself what it is you want and who it is you want to be with.  It may help to think about it if the situation were reversed. Imagine if you were sexually attracted to your husband but he was the one who was coming to terms with being gay. It would be very hard yes, and you may not want him to leave, but asking him to stay would be asking him to stop being who he is. To shut off that light switch in that internal room he just found that answers the questions he has about why hee feels differently, to shut that door and keep it closed. It would be asking him never to find out and discover his own happiness In that event you would be the one who would need to be set free to find somone who can give the sexual attention you deserve, and your husband desrves the same thing. It may not feel like it now, but both of you will be much happier in the long run. It will take time, but once you are comfortable with your sexuality and are in a dating relationship with somemone you do sexually desire, you will no longer feel like you are being less than honest with yourself and no longer living a life that was not right for you. Your husband can find someone who wants to have sex with him, who is arroused by him in a sexual way and can give him a fulfilling sex life. And then you can both have what you need to be fulfilled, your son can see you both living happy lives without this sadness and disconnect. He can learn from both of you how to have a healthy relationship and how to love himself, no matter who he is.  You may not think so, but you are most definitely strong enough to do this. Your happiness matters just as much as everyone elses. 
(MA, LPC, LLP)
Answered on 01/20/2022