Rejection Answers

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

Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How to live after breakup? I am glad you reached for some guidance with what you are going through in your life at the moment.  Breaking up can be emotionally painful and can leave you with hurtful feelings.  There is hope, you can recover from this.  I will share some information and some practical  self-help tools you can implement for yourself to address your symptoms of anxiety.  I will then share some information about professional counseling support should you decide to take this step.   Like any loss, a breakup is an end to something that once existed and held value in your life. If you’ve recently gotten out of a relationship, you might be wondering how long it takes to get over the one you loved. The truth is that it can vary significantly from person to person – everyone grieves in different ways, on different timelines. The period of grieving also has a lot to do with elements of your relationship, like how long you were together and the circumstances surrounding your split. Regardless, getting over someone you love can be an ugly process, and it can hurt. It’s painful to think that someone who has been a huge part of your life and your relationship will be different now and that the future you imagined with them is gone. Let yourself feel those emotions and remember that they will fade over time, and you will eventually feel like yourself again.   In the meantime, there are a few things that you can do to speed up the healing process or, at least, make it go a little smoother. As M. Kathleen Casey said, “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”   How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Breakup And How Do I Do It?   Reaching Acceptance   The first step to getting over a breakup is to accept that it’s over. Acknowledging that your ex is unlikely to come back is important to move forward. To reach acceptance, most people move through a five-step grieving process after a breakup. Understanding what lies ahead is necessary so that you know what to expect so you can be patient with yourself along the way. Stage One – Shock and Other Feelings Even if you’re the one who did the ending, the finality of a breakup can send a shockwave through your system. During this stage, you’re likely to be filled with a hodge-podge of emotions: sadness, fear, disgust, loneliness, abandonment. In stage one, you might also be desperate for answers. Why has this happened? What could I have done differently? Deep down you may feel that by finding out your ex’s reasons for ending the relationship you can reverse the outcome. These are all primal emotions that you can sit in until you are ready to continue forward. Stage Two-Denial, Denial, Denial Denial is typically the second stage of grief. It’s not uncommon for jilted partners to deny to themselves and to others that the relationship has ended. Not possible. Didn’t happen. Can’t be real. Like stage one, falling into the zone of denial is totally normal. Although difficult, it’s important not to postpone your grief by staying in this stage indefinitely. Stage Three-Begging and Bargaining Like stage one, stage three is a place of desperation. You’ll likely be bargaining with your ex and with yourself as a way to make things right. You’ll replay moments, decisions, and actions, obsessing about what you should have done differently to prevent the breakup and what you can do to fix it all. What if you didn’t complain about their drinking? Maybe you shouldn’t have argued with them about their mother so much. In stage three, you then turn externally. If your ex would just take you back, you’ll be a much better partner than you ever were before. Everything that’s been wrong, you’ll make it all right—calling, begging, pleading, visiting, writing letters, sending smoke signals, sending pigeons. During this stage, it feels like nothing will make it better other than being back together. Stage Four– Relapse Even if stage three begging and bargaining works and you piece the relationship back together, the relief is usually fleeting. If the problems that drove you apart aren’t solved, you’ll likely end up back at stage one again sometime in the future, and the grief process will repeat itself. To avoid this, it is best to skip stage four whenever possible and instead work toward accepting that although things have ended for you and your ex, the future is still bright. Stage Five – Acceptance The final destination of acceptance is what led you to this article in the first place. By asking the question, “How long will it take to get over a breakup, and how do I do it?” what you’re really saying is, how do I accept that this is over, and how long will I have to hurt? There is no cookie-cutter answer to this query, but there are several roads toward acceptance.   Reaching Acceptance   Focus On You   If you did the breaking-up, maybe you need some time to explore and find yourself. Don’t feel guilty for having done what was right for you. You might discover why you felt the need to end the relationship (if you aren’t clear on that already) and what you need more of in your life now that it’s over. If the breakup wasn’t your decision, don’t dwell on the external ‘whys.’ Instead, look inward and figure out what you need to feel more at peace. Better self-care? Time to rest? Fun things to distract yourself? Remembering that you are worthy, giving yourself the things, you desire, and focusing on what is essential to your overall happiness and health is an important piece of acceptance.   Keep Yourself Busy   Once you figure out what things you need to do to move forward, do them! Don’t sit around the house wondering where things went wrong and if you should try to get back together with your ex. That’s unlikely to help you get over them. Get out of the house! Spend some time with your friends and family, do things that you love, find adventure. You should feel free to embrace your feelings but be careful not to dwell on them. Instead, start piecing together your new life. A life much better than the one you had in the past. Don’t feel like going out to move forward? Homebodies need to stay busy too. Read a good book or take up a hobby. This is your time to explore and do what YOU want instead of taking care of a partner’s needs. Avoid the tendency to allow yourself to feel down; try choosing to make this an exciting new time of self-discovery. Whatever you do, don’t just sit around and dwell on things.  Below is a list of proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms: Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Often, the first things we do when we wake up are to check our emails on our phone/laptop or switch on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day. In order to break this cycle of anxiety and stress, researchers recommend that you start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day’s challenges. Source: rawpixel.com Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people are trying to juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety. To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety. Waking up early will give you some time for yourself and will help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace and quiet will greatly help you fight off anxiety. Praying: Apart from meditating, spending some few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies. Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, causes a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading to an even, like an exam, meeting or presentation, will cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all of these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease. Eating Breakfast: Mornings can be crazy – crazy enough for people to skip breakfast. People who experience anxiety disorders tend to often skip breakfast. Music: Listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to this Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy not only helped people cope with their troubles but also greatly helped reduce their body pain. Aromatherapy:  smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavendar, has been found to greatly help reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness. Socializing: Spending time with people whom you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety. Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety. Maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development. People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were found to be sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly relax stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression. Laughter Therapy: “I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing,” said Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children and relatives can be very therapeutic. Laughter has been associated with many health benefits and is known to be as effective as medication as it helps reduce stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, reduces blood pressure, brings about pain relief and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can trigger a sense of well-being. Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking. Rephrase your Thinking: Negative thinking, according to this study, is a major factor that attributes to anxiety disorders. Constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one’s behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety. Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking: If a student thinks, “I will fail my exam” and she is engrossed in worry, she could try to rephrase it to the following: “I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy and I am going to pass with flying colors.” If someone thinks, “Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die,” he could rephrase it with, “Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen today. Something good is in store for me.” Source: rawpixel.com Avoid overscheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly. Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge the negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat, powers up your system mentally and physically, so you can make an informed decision. Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day greatly helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain’s response to stress.  Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, it is important that your thoughts are positive and optimistic. The technique of visualization teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you are having anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you and the tropical air blowing across your face. Yoga: Practicing yoga, according to this study, is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure and heart rate. Hot baths: A hot water bath not only is soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bathwater can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly calm symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sunlight:  Exposing yourself to sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas where there is little or less sunlight, try getting a light box and expose yourself to its light for a few minutes each day. Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day,  greatly helps in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket and purchase some chamomile tea and to start enjoying its calming benefits. Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural a which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus and almonds are “brain food.” As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression. Sleep: Getting a proper eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body.  Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep. Source: rawpixel.com Taking a Break: Take a break from your regular schedule and go on a vacation  to reduce stress and anxiety.t Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity. ·                  Nature:  spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you are able to breathe in fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and healthy mind. ·                  Don’t be a control freak: Wanting to have everything under your control and run it perfectly, is asking for stress and depression. Studies have found that people who are control freaks are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While this can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all.     Talk To Someone   It is important to remember that you do not have to do this alone. If you’re having a hard time getting over your breakup or other things are going on in your life that are affecting your mental health, please reach out and talk to someone. It never hurts to talk, whether it is with a friend, a family member, or a new person you meet online. The more you talk about how you’re feeling, the less it will hurt.   An experienced counselor can help you get through tough times and teach you how to handle stressful times in the future. Reluctant to reach out to a counselor? Did you know that online counseling is now an option?   In 2020, more and more people are turning online in search of a convenient way to speak with a trusted therapist without having to leave the comforts of home. Recent studies show that electronically delivered cognitive behavioral therapy reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity more effectively than face-to-face therapy. The analysis considered 17 randomized controlled study trials, “evaluating the clinical effectiveness of CBT compared to face-to-face and considered a wide range of outcomes including severity of symptoms, adverse outcomes, clinically relevant outcomes, global functionality, participant satisfaction, quality of life, and affordability.”   On BetterHelp, you can get matched with a counselor right away based on your specific needs and preferences. You can easily connect from a smartphone, tablet, or computer and communicate in a variety of ways, including live phone, video, and chat sessions, as well as messaging. You can always feel safe talking with a BetterHelp counselor because they take your confidentiality seriously and are committed to upholding your privacy, no matter what. All correspondence between you and your counselor is secure, and you can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer.    There is hope, recovery is possible!  There is professional help should you need it.  A counselor can work with you on how you can reset your boundaries and attend to your anxiety by teaching you effective coping skills. I wish you much luck in getting past this and finding happiness in your life again. In Kindness, Gaynor   
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to live after breakup?

Hello Skaartleta, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How to live after breakup? I am glad you reached for some guidance with what you are going through in your life at the moment.  Breaking up can be emotionally painful and can leave you with hurtful feelings.  There is hope, you can recover from this.  I will share some information and some practical tips you can do for yourself.  I will also share some information about professional counseling support should you decide to take this step. Like any loss, a breakup is an end to something that once existed and held value in your life. If you’ve recently gotten out of a relationship, you might be wondering how long it takes to get over the one you loved. The truth is that it can vary significantly from person to person – everyone grieves in different ways, on different timelines. The period of grieving also has a lot to do with elements of your relationship, like how long you were together and the circumstances surrounding your split.   Regardless, getting over someone you love can be an ugly process, and it can hurt. It’s painful to think that someone who has been a huge part of your life isn’t going to be around anymore and that the future you imagined with them is gone. Let yourself feel those emotions and remember that they will fade over time, and you will eventually feel like yourself again.   In the meantime, there are a few things that you can do to speed up the healing process or, at least, make it go a little smoother. As M. Kathleen Casey said, “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”   How Long Does It Take to Get Over A Breakup And How Do I Do It?   Reaching Acceptance   The first step to getting over a breakup is to accept that it’s over. Acknowledging that your ex is unlikely to come back is important to move forward. To reach acceptance, most people move through a five-step grieving process after a breakup. Understanding what lies ahead is necessary so that you know what to expect so you can be patient with yourself along the way. Stage One – Shock and Other Feelings Even if you’re the one who did the ending, the finality of a breakup can send a shockwave through your system. During this stage, you’re likely to be filled with a hodge-podge of emotions: sadness, fear, disgust, loneliness, abandonment. In stage one, you might also be desperate for answers. Why has this happened? What could I have done differently? Deep down you may feel that by finding out your ex’s reasons for ending the relationship you can reverse the outcome. These are all primal emotions that you can sit in until you are ready to continue forward. Stage Two-Denial, Denial, Denial Denial is typically the second stage of grief. It’s not uncommon for jilted partners to deny to themselves and to others that the relationship has ended. Not possible. Didn’t happen. Can’t be real. Like stage one, falling into the zone of denial is totally normal. Although difficult, it’s important not to postpone your grief by staying in this stage indefinitely. Stage Three-Begging and Bargaining Like stage one, stage three is a place of desperation. You’ll likely be bargaining with your ex and with yourself as a way to make things right. You’ll replay moments, decisions, and actions, obsessing about what you should have done differently to prevent the breakup and what you can do to fix it all. What if you didn’t complain about their drinking? Maybe you shouldn’t have argued with them about their mother so much. In stage three, you then turn externally. If your ex would just take you back, you’ll be a much better partner than you ever were before. Everything that’s been wrong, you’ll make it all right—calling, begging, pleading, visiting, writing letters, sending smoke signals, sending pigeons. During this stage, it feels like nothing will make it better other than being back together. Stage Four– Relapse Even if stage three begging and bargaining works and you piece the relationship back together, the relief is usually fleeting. If the problems that drove you apart aren’t solved, you’ll likely end up back at stage one again sometime in the future, and the grief process will repeat itself. To avoid this, it is best to skip stage four whenever possible and instead work toward accepting that although things have ended for you and your ex, the future is still bright. Stage Five – Acceptance The final destination of acceptance is what led you to this article in the first place. By asking the question, “How long will it take to get over a breakup, and how do I do it?” what you’re really saying is, how do I accept that this is over, and how long will I have to hurt? There is no cookie-cutter answer to this query, but there are several roads toward acceptance.   Reaching Acceptance   Focus On You   If you did the breaking-up, maybe you need some time to explore and find yourself. Don’t feel guilty for having done what was right for you. You might discover why you felt the need to end the relationship (if you aren’t clear on that already) and what you need more of in your life now that it’s over. If the breakup wasn’t your decision, don’t dwell on the external ‘whys.’ Instead, look inward and figure out what you need to feel more at peace. Better self-care? Time to rest? Fun things to distract yourself? Remembering that you are worthy, giving yourself the things, you desire, and focusing on what is essential to your overall happiness and health is an important piece of acceptance.   Keep Yourself Busy   Once you figure out what things you need to do to move forward, do them! Don’t sit around the house wondering where things went wrong and if you should try to get back together with your ex. That’s unlikely to help you get over them. Get out of the house! Spend some time with your friends and family, do things that you love, find adventure. You should feel free to embrace your feelings but be careful not to dwell on them. Instead, start piecing together your new life. A life much better than the one you had in the past. Don’t feel like going out to move forward? Homebodies need to stay busy too. Read a good book or take up a hobby. This is your time to explore and do what YOU want instead of taking care of a partner’s needs. Avoid the tendency to allow yourself to feel down; try choosing to make this an exciting new time of self-discovery. Whatever you do, don’t just sit around and dwell on things.   Talk To Someone   It is important to remember that you do not have to do this alone. If you’re having a hard time getting over your breakup or other things are going on in your life that are affecting your mental health, please reach out and talk to someone. It never hurts to talk, whether it is with a friend, a family member, or a new person you meet online. The more you talk about how you’re feeling, the less it will hurt.   An experienced counselor can help you get through tough times and teach you how to handle stressful times in the future. Reluctant to reach out to a counselor? Did you know that online counseling is now an option?   In 2020, more and more people are turning online in search of a convenient way to speak with a trusted therapist without having to leave the comforts of home. Recent studies show that electronically delivered cognitive behavioral therapy reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity more effectively than face-to-face therapy. The analysis considered 17 randomized controlled study trials, “evaluating the clinical effectiveness of CBT compared to face-to-face and considered a wide range of outcomes including severity of symptoms, adverse outcomes, clinically relevant outcomes, global functionality, participant satisfaction, quality of life, and affordability.”   On BetterHelp, you can get matched with a counselor right away based on your specific needs and preferences. You can easily connect from a smartphone, tablet, or computer and communicate in a variety of ways, including live phone, video, and chat sessions, as well as messaging. You can always feel safe talking with a BetterHelp counselor because they take your confidentiality seriously and are committed to upholding your privacy, no matter what. All correspondence between you and your counselor is secure, and you can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer.    There is hope, recovery is possible!  There is professional help should you need it. I wish you much luck in getting past this and finding happiness in your life again. 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

How to deal with heartbreak?

Hi, I'm sorry you're dealing with this. That's a long time to be in a relationship, and then to feel betrayed by the person you cared so much about, that only makes it harder. I guess the first part of dealing with heartbreak is giving yourself permission to feel heartbroken. Like when someone passes away, there is grief. There are things that you miss, and it's OK to miss them. There are also stages of grief, like shock, denial, and anger (I'm guessing with her being unfaithful during the relationship anger is especially present), and you may go back and forth through the stages. It's not your job to just get over what happened, and it's not your job to act like you're OK. Holding in how you are feeling can keep you stuck. So here are some other suggestions: 1. Try to identify what feelings you are experiencing. Putting a label on them can make them more approachable and easier to cope with. I'd imagine you're experiencing a number of feelings at the same time, and noting what they are can be helpful. 2. Express yourself. It's hard when there's a breakup because often the person we expressed ourselves to the most was the person with whom we are no longer speaking. Reach out to support (even people who maybe you hadn't been as close with recently). If you don't have support, or even if you do, therapy can be a great opportunity to talk about how you are feeling and process the situation. Having an unbiased third party can be advantageous.  3. Take care of yourself. Now more than ever you'll want to make sure you are sticking to a healthy routine. Keep up with your hygiene and give yourself fun activities to look forward to. Try to be around people who make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy nature, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise (doing so can help release some stress and can also improve mood), watch media that is uplifting and that is not triggering, journal, read a good book, etc. 4. Have balance. You don't want to focus too much on the breakup (so you will want to stay busy), but you also don't want to pretend it didn't happen either.  5. Avoid substance abuse. Drinking or using drugs can make you end up feeling worse. Alcohol is depressant after all. 6. If spirituality is important in your life, look at how you can incorporate it into your routine even more right now--whether that's going to church, praying, etc. 7. Focus on what you like about yourself. Being cheated on can certainly affect one's self-esteem, so be mindful of your self-talk and replace negative self-talk. 8. Don't personalize. You didn't deserve to be cheated on, and what happened was probably much more to do with her than with you.  Again, I suggest participating in therapy, especially if you have limited support or if you feel that it's becoming really difficult to bounce back from this, or if you're noticing that your self-care is suffering. I would be happy to work with you--just let me know if I can help, and take care. Nick 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I feel from a divorce

Hi Taylor, Thank you for reaching out, it is nice to meet you. I am sorry to hear that you are going through this right now. It must feel like your entire world has been turned upside down. If we were working together in therapy, I would want to help you process the shock and trauma of your husband coming to you, saying he does not love you and wants out of the marriage. Eventually, and it will take time, you will start to feel better, feel stronger and more hopeful. But, that will take time. That is okay. This is a process.  A divorce or break up is very much like a death. It is the death of a relationship. There are stages of grief and loss. You are in shock right now, which is very normal and to be expected. With that often comes a feeling of denial, disbelieve that this is actually true and is happening to you.  You mentioned that you continue to keep contacting him and trying to reach out and connect, that you are begging him to come back. That has to feel devastating for you. Some things to think about and consider are - you do not have control over anything he (or anyone else) says or does. We only control ourselves, our words, our behaviors, our actions. Focus on the things that you do have control over in your life, such as how you react and respond to him. I would guess that after you reach out to him, you feel worse because he has once again let you done and is turning away from you.  Think of it as not allowing him to have that power over you anymore. Try to take one day at a time and keep yourself active and busy. What are your hobbies and interests? Lean on your friends, family,  coworkers. If you find that you are withdrawing and isolating yourself, that just sets you up for more unhappiness. Find joy in your life, your new life without him in it.  I hope you find peace in this journey and I wish you all the best. I hope this information was helpful for you and provided you some hope for the future.
Answered on 01/20/2022

What are so good was to help me move forward and feel better?

I understand that it may be challenging to identify things that are meaningful or gratitudes when supports are limited and you have experienced a break-up. It is helpful to recognize that the end of a relationship is a loss, and you must allow yourself time to process and experience the grief that occurs.  It can also be a time of reflection about things you may want to accomplish as a part of your personal growth. Among friends is there a person whom you have been able to recognize as being emotionally supportive to you? What other ways could you practice expressing the emotions you are experiencing separate from talking to someone about them? What opportunities do you allow yourself to experience emotions centered on the end of the relationship? While it can be hurtful to encounter emotions of sadness, loneliness, and anxiousness and likely other feelings associated with the break-up acknowledging these feelings and avoiding suppressing them can be a part of the steps you take towards healing. Allow yourself time and be compassionate to self as you encounter the varying emotions and responses to memories positive and negative or uncomfortable. Take time to identify what you need to move toward forgiveness and acceptance. Whether you initiated the break-up, it was a mutual agreement or it was counter to what you wanted, there is still the processing of the loss and finding forgiveness and acceptance to begin moving forward. There is not a set timeline by which you should progress through healing, factors that are important is to be clear about finding what is helpful and healthy for you in coping and in response to what you are experiencing.  Directing yourself to care and love for self can be a helpful part of maintaining mental wellness as you move through processing the loss. What things would you want to do for self that you may have been overlooking or not as intentional about focusing on? What if any lessons can be learned from what led to the end of the relationship? Are there things you would do differently in future relationships? The lessons may come with more time and not immediate thoughts, that is ok.  Prioritizing your needs, focusing on love of self, being aware of and expressing emotions appropriately, and confiding in a trust person can all be a part of your healing. Additionally, starting therapy can be another step. 
(LPC-MHSP, NCC, ACS)
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

how do i stop loving someone who is to scared to love me back.

It can often be a very difficult thing when friends cross over (or try to cross over) from a friendship into a romantic relationship. It must also be tough for you to be around someone as often as you are, and not be able to talk openly about your feelings. I'm not sure what led to the relationship taking more intimate step, but whatever that was, it seems like maybe he wasn't prepared for how it was going to make him feel. We have a natural reaction in our body that tells us to fight or flight. In this case, "fight" would be to address the issue head on while "flight" would be avoiding the issue and running from it. It sounds like this person's natural response was to run. Many times we often try to interpret others behaviors and we aren't always correct. You may have interpreted his avoidance in a certain way, but sometimes people just avoid because they fear facing an issue head on.  I'm glad he was able to come back around and have a discussion with you about how he would like to move forward. I recognize that you were hoping the outcome would be different, but at least you had a bit more closure on the situation once he talked to you. Do you think he is flaunting his girlfriend, or could he possiblity be feeling a lot of fear at having been unfaithful to her, not wanting her to find out, and also wanting to make it clear he is choosing to stay with her? Again, how we interpret someone's behaviors can really impact our perspective on the situation. Just because we interpret someone's behaviors, doesn't mean we are accurate. I'm wondering if he has other reasons for the behaviors he's demonstrating that don't necessarily have to do with you.  I understand you don't want to lose this person as a friend, but will you be comfortable enough to be in his life while still having these feelings for him? Creating distance with a person doesn't have to mean the friendship is over, but maybe just spending a bit more time away from each other. Time may help the relationship go back to where it was (if that's what you want).  Many times in my career, I've worked with people that end up exploring a same sex relationship after desiring it for so long, only to feel disappointed or let down after they engage in it. This has very little to do with the person they were intimate with, but rather, it has to do with the expectation we set in our mind about how the experience will feel. Maybe your friend felt something he wasn't expecting after you two were intimate, and it changed his mind about exploring it further. Again, nothing to do with you but with him and what his experience was.  When someone tells me that they don't have a lot (or any) support people to talk to, I sometimes suggest journaling, joining an online support group (sometimes they have anonymous ones) or using creative outlets for your feelings (art, music, etc). Best of luck!
(LCSW, CCTP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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

Hello JTH,   Thank you for reaching out to The BetterHelp Platform with your question:   I would like to ask is there a pattern for my relationships issues.   I am so glad you reached out with your query.  I am so sorry to hear that you are having problems in your relationship.  I do not see any significance in the 'time frames' of what your relationships are not working out for you.  I do wonder if there is a pattern of what 'goes wrong' for you in your relationships.   For example, do you notice you have communication problems with your partners, are there patterns of intimacy issues, are you always fighting about the same topics eg finances?  The patterns are more revealing verses how long your relationships last. I will share some valuable information about what are considered important for a healthy relationship to flourish. I would also encourage you to reach out for relationship counseling if you can do that or consider professional counseling for yourself.   Healthy relationships are not always exciting, passionate, and glamorous like they show in movies. There are happy times, but there are hard times too. What sets healthy relationships apart from unhealthy ones is that healthy couples stick with each other through thick and thin. Even if they fight, they can cool down, talk about it, and work things out.   Wondering about the characteristics of healthy relationships vs unhealthy relationships? Healthy couples love and support each other even if they don't always see eye-to-eye about everything. Unhealthy relationships, not so much.   Wondering if your relationship is healthy or unhealthy? Sometimes you can be so trapped in a negative relationship that you don't even know you're in one. You may feel guilty for thinking that your relationship is unhealthy. You tell yourself that your significant other is loving sometimes, but what about the times when they aren't? They might always apologize but are they willing to change?   Talking to a counselor can help you gain clarity about your situation. You can search for a local counselor or sign up for BetterHelp, an affordable online counseling service where you're quickly connected with a qualified counselor matched to your needs. A counselor can help you decide if the best solution is to try and work on things or move on.   Top 10 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships   Love Healthy couples love and care for each other. If the relationship is still in the early stages, a healthy couple at least likes each other (in a way that's more than just lust). Healthy relationships are built on more than just physical intimacy, popularity, and other trivial things. Solid relationships take work and real connection. Love isn't always easy, but it's worth it. Ask Yourself: Do I love my significant other? Would I still want to be with them if they were poor or sick? Is there a deep connection between us? There's a big difference between puppy love (or lust) and true love. Once you experience it it's usually easy to tell if you've fallen for someone or if it's just a crush. If you feel like the love is fading in your relationship, it might be a warning sign. When this happens, it's important to address it to see if these feelings are temporary or not. You may be able to rekindle your love with a little effort.   Affection Most healthy couples are affectionate, in a good way. They kiss, hug, hold hands, and enjoy cuddling on the couch to watch a movie. This may change a little over time but if you can't stand to touch each other, that's usually a sign that something's off in your relationship. In a healthy relationship, you can have days or weeks where you don't feel like being close physically, but those periods usually pass.   Ask Yourself: When was the last time you kissed your significant other? Does one of you tend to cringe or back away from physical contact? If you've been drifting apart from each other, did something happen to bring on this change? Relationships go through hot and cold periods, but if things have been especially cold between you lately, something might be up. It's possible that one or both of you have lost your attraction for each other or an underlying problem in your relationship is causing you to avoid being affectionate. Either way, it's important to talk about it if you want to get things back to normal.   Trust Trust is a huge part of healthy relationships. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to tell each other everything, since you know that secrets have their way of coming out eventually. Healthy couples spend time together, but they also have parts of their lives that are separate from work, hobbies, and spending time with certain friends. That's where trust is extra important.   Ask Yourself: Do you trust your significant other? Do they trust you? Are you telling any lies in your relationship? If so, why? When your significant other does things without you, do you get jealous or suspicious? Healthy couples can spend time together and apart without being overcome by jealousy or suspicion. If these feelings do come up, healthy couples are more likely to talk about it and smooth things over before it becomes a bigger issue. Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, allow these feelings to get worse until an inevitable blow-up occurs.   Communication Part of maintaining trust in a healthy relationship requires putting the focus on communication You need to be able to communication with your partner if you want your relationship to be healthy. Remember that your partner can't read your mind, even if you think that your feelings should be obvious to them. You need to tell each other how you're feeling if you ever want to get along. Ask Yourself: Are you comfortable telling your significant other when something good OR bad happens? Do you fear judgment or criticism when you open-up about things? Do the two of you tend to avoid confrontation? Healthy couples aren't afraid to tell each other things, good or bad. Even when life gets hard, healthy couples are willing to talk things over and find solutions to problems instead of letting them stew. This is because healthy couples know that avoiding little issues causes bigger problems, whereas in unhealthy relationships avoidance and miscommunication happens often.   Friendship If you're in a healthy relationship, you probably consider your partner to be one of your friends, if not your best friend. Maybe you were friends before you got together, or maybe not, but over time the two of you have developed a special connection. You know things about each other that no one else does and sometimes they seem like the person you're most 'yourself' around. Ask Yourself: Do you enjoy spending time with your significant other? Are you an important part of each other's lives? Have things suddenly become awkward between you or do you find you have nothing in common? Sometimes when you jump into a relationship without getting to know the person first, you realize after the fact that you don't have much in common. This can put a strain on a relationship because these couples usually struggle to find things to talk about or do together. If you aren't friends, it can be hard to enjoy spending together and prevent you from building a solid relationship.   Bonding What do friends and healthy couples do? They bond! If you want a relationship that's strong like glue, you need to spend time together and nurture your connection. Even when things are busy, you should take the time to check in with each other at least once a day. Couples in healthy relationships remember to plan dates and solo time together and make plans 'together' with other people. Ask Yourself: When was the last time you made spending time together a priority? What are your favorite things to do together? Do you always seem to argue when you try to do things as a couple or with friends? If bonding time always ends in bickering time, your relationship might not be healthy. A healthy couple makes time for each other, and they're able to enjoy that time without letting little differences of opinion get in the way. Healthy couples know that quality time helps keep their relationship strong, which is why they're always making plans and trying new things together.   Commitment Speaking of glue, commitment is one of the things that holds healthy relationships together. For a relationship to feel secure, both partners need to know where they stand. If you feel the need to cheat on your significant other, it probably means something is missing from your relationship. The mature thing to do would be to talk about it, see if you can work things out and end it if you want someone else. Ask Yourself: Have you talked about your relationship status and agreed not to see other people? Do you ever notice your significant other flirting with other people? Is commitment something that is important to both of you? When someone has cheated in a lot of relationships in the past, it can be hard for them to stop the pattern. You might think that you can make them change, but these habits may have been learned. This means it will take time for them to unlearn those habits if they're willing. For a relationship to be healthy, both people need to be committed and willing to work on any problems that come to the surface.   Disagreement Yes, that's right. Disagreement is part of a healthy relationship if it's handled in a certain way. All couples argue or disagree with each other from time to time, that's completely normal. The difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one is that in a healthy relationship couples can talk through their disagreement and come to a compromise. Ask Yourself: When you disagree do you talk about it calmly or do things usually get heated? Are you and your significant other able to come to compromises? Do either of you hold on to grudges when you don't get your way? If a small disagreement sends you and your partner into larger arguments where name-calling and other abusive behaviors ensue, your relationship might not be as healthy as you think. Healthy couples can resolve disputes maturely, even if some harsh words are said in the heat of the moment. Unhealthy couples tend to leave things unresolved or always bring up past issues in new arguments.   Change/Flexibility A couple of other characteristics of healthy relationships are change and flexibility. If you're in a long-term relationship, you need to be aware that the two of you are going to change over time. You can't assume someone is going to stay the same forever, and acting that way can hold a person back. This stops them from growing and becoming their true selves. Ask Yourself: When things change in your relationship, does it cause a lot of tension? Does your significant other always bring up things from your past that you're trying to put behind you? Do you support each other's dreams and goals, even if they change over time? Couples need to embrace at least a bit of change and flexibility. When you're in a committed relationship, you're sharing your life with another person. Things aren't always going to be perfect and you're each going to have to 'go with the flow' sometimes. The important thing is that throughout all the changes that life throws at you, you have each other.   Fun The last characteristic of healthy relationships is fun! Yes, there are going to be plenty of times in any healthy relationship that isn't fun, but the balance is important. Making sure you incorporate regular fun and relaxation time into your relationship is a powerful way to keep things interesting and remind you why your significant other is so important to you. Ask Yourself: When was the last time you had a good laugh together? Do you ever do anything spontaneous and exciting to change things up? Are you stuck in a pattern of going to work and staying at home all the time? When couples fall into a routine where they are consumed by their work and barely make time for each other, the relationship usually suffers. It's important to make time to reconnect and remember why you're working so hard in the first place. When couples forget how to have fun things get boring. It starts to get difficult being around each other because stress builds up and you don't have an outlet for it.     Conclusion If you're in a healthy relationship, chances are you're familiar with one or more of these characteristics. Healthy relationships take place between friends who enjoy spending time together and agree to love and support each other through thick and thin. Healthy couples are willing to work through hard times and celebrate good times together. Think you might be in an unhealthy relationship? Online or in-person counseling can help you start to see things clearer and come up with a way to get out of the relationship if and when you are ready. No one deserves to be in a relationship that is unhappy. You need to decide if it is worth sticking around and working on it or if you're determined to find something better.   I wish you much luck with your next step and encourage you to seek progessional support!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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

This is a common occurance for people with a history of trauma or abuse. Despite not having much detail about your childhood experiences, I could estimate a few factors that may be at play with your relationships.    Given what you shared about your adopted parents, it sounds like it was not the best experience for you. I assume there were moments where you didn't feel loved unconditionally or maybe they were very strict. Either way, it is likely you have become accustomed to their unique expressions of love. And these actions and behaviors may have affected your own self-image. I am not sure if they communciated with you very clearly, or ever indicated that you were a difficult child, but that may have affected how you felt about yourself. As such, they may not have been aware of how to set emotional boundaries with others, and teach them to you. Emotional boundaries include respecting someone in giving them space, yelling at them and not keeping calm, and calling them up at random times without notice, or barging into their room without notice. Some parents assume that boundaries don't apply to them as they are the authority figure, but these actions are considered crossing the line.   With the relationships you have, it's fair to assume that you may not have met a guy who loved you unconditionally and communicated clearly what is expected in the relationship. Often when a partner cheats on the other or physically or emotionally abuses them, they claim that the other "drove them" to cheat on them. They may point out various reason like they made them mad, or they didn't do what they wanted them to do. This is common method to dodge responsibility of their wrong doing and make the other feel bad. It's a terrible form of maniluplation that others sometimes fall for.   If you do not want to let them go because you are afraid to make them feel bad, I think it would be better to assert yourself more and set these standards for yourself. Even though you care for them, they are responsible for how they respond and care for themselves. If they get angry, they need to cope with it. It is supposed to be a partnership, not unbalanced as such. It all starts with you respecting and loving yourself enough to believe that you deserve better. As you regularly set these boundaries with them, they will either change their ways and respect you more, or they will continue their stubbonr ways. If that happens, it would be preferrable to leave the relationship.   This brings me to the next point. If you are afraid of being alone, maybe you need more time being okay by yourself. Consider the possibility that you have more resilience that you think you do. Sure it is easier to support yourself with a partner, but you still deserve a good partner than build you up, not tears you down. Maybe you need more time to figure out what you want, or learn skills that make you more independent. This is because if you do separate from someone, it woun't be a big deal as you know you can support yourself.   I hope these tips were helpful. I know some areas are vague as I don't know specific details, but you do matter. Your feelings matter. If someone says they don't or you are a problem, look at the evidence. You don't have to stay in a bad relationship if you don't want to. And if you need assistance in buinding assertiveness, communicating your feelings, or reading red flags, consider counseling for yourself. Someone can assist you with that. Thank you for your time.   On the other side of this coin, the person being cheated on or abused understands what it is like to feel neglected or abused. This usually leads to the victim being desperate to please their partner or not make them feel mad or sad. It often leads to the one being abused to neglect their self-care and focus on the well-being of their partner. It could also be because it's more intimidating being alone without being supported by somebody. I imagine that your relationship with your adopted parents does not feel secure enough where you feel comfortable being alone. 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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

Hello Caro,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How can I over come fear of rejection, I have been rejected many times in my life, at home, school? I am glad you have reached out to request support with what you are struggling with at the moment.  It sounds to me as though you are describing your attachment style which I would consider might be anxious-avoidant. I will share some information and some practical tips with how you can manage this situation. I would also suggest you reach out for some professional support which I will also discuss later.   Understanding The Anxious Avoidant Attachment Style One of the most defining personality traits for any given individual is their attachment style.  Attachment style refers to the relationships people establish with one another. Some styles are healthy than others, and some styles are more or less social. We're going to take an in-depth look at each one. By the time you have finished reading, you will hopefully have procured a deeper insight regarding yourself and those around you. There are two schools of thought concerning attachment styles. The first one consists of three theories: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant attachment. This model is an excellent place to start because its rigidity makes it easier to understand. The drawback, ironically, is also its rigidity. The simplicity with which it addresses so complicated a question limits its accuracy. The prevailing theory is one that incorporates the use of a spectrum. There are categories, yes - and you will end up in one of them - but there is a difference. This model considers the degree to which one meets the criteria of a category, as well as the degree to which one meets the criteria of the others. As a result, you get a complete picture of the attachment profile. The category you are placed in is your dominant style, but it will not adequately describe you. This model consists of two variable axes, labeled "self-esteem" and "perception of others," or something similar. Your results on each measure will place you in one of four quadrants: secure, preoccupied, dismissive, or fearful. The "fearful" quadrant is also known as "anxious-avoidant," and that is what this article will cover. What Is Anxious-Avoidant Attachment? Secure individuals score high on both measures. They can form healthy relationships and have no aversion to pursuing them. The other two are less healthy, with preoccupied individuals trusting people recklessly and dismissive individuals being apathetic toward relationships altogether. Someone with a fearful attachment style has placed on the low ends of both the "self-esteem" and "perception of others" spectrum. You might describe this person as someone with negative affect and high levels of neuroticism. Not only are they unable to trust other people, but (perhaps more importantly) they are unable to trust themselves. You can imagine how difficult it would be to have this outlook. Fearfully attached individuals are unable to reach out to anyone, and anyone that tries to reach out to them is promptly denied. As social creatures, we humans suffer when we are unable to make connections with others that we inherently need. Some will try to explain this phenomenon as a simple tendency toward introversion. This is not the case, however. Introversion, defined by the comfort found in solitude, is not affected by self-esteem and perception of others. Because low metrics on those spectra characterizes anxious-avoidant attachment, it can be easily separated from an introverted personality. In fact, that explains why this attachment style is so painful to have. These people do not want to be left alone. They are deprived of affection from themselves and others, and they know they need it. They are just too afraid to take the risk. This can have serious implications depending on the severity of the anxious avoidance. Those on the far end of this spectrum may find themselves struggling to feel fulfilled. They may have trouble finding a job, relaxing, or feeling happy at all. Extreme isolation has been known to cause depression or even hallucinations. Someone closer to the center, however, might only experience negligible effects. This person could still function and find happiness in their lives. While a secure attachment style is always the best-case scenario, being in the middle is better than being incredibly anxious avoidant. For example, Edward Scissorhands, from the movie of the same name, is anxious avoidant. He wants to be loved and accepted but is so mortified of rejection that he becomes a hermit and suffers anyways. You can see how this differs from secure attachment, where one pursues relationships, and the ones they have are healthy. How Is This Attachment Style Formed? When I first learned about attachment styles, my immediate reaction was, "I don't want to be anxious-avoidant." It sounds incredibly difficult to live with. This begs the question: what determines someone's attachment style? It is generally accepted that attachment styles are formed in early development. A child's relationship with their parents sets a precedent for what relationships are like in the world. Young children are continually learning, and what their parents teach them about love is sure to stick. Children who spend a healthy amount of time with their parents and learn to trust them will eventually score higher on "perception of others." Likewise, if the child is allowed to explore, take risks, and learn through trial and error, they also will learn to trust themselves, scoring higher on "self-esteem." It follows, then, that those who score lower on these measures when they grow up did not have a foundation of trust for themselves or others. Children can behave in ways that are very indicative of the attachment style they will grow up with. This can be observed at any time a child's parent leaves them alone, such as dropping them off at school. Depending on their style of attachment, they will react to being separated from their guardian in different ways. Securely attached children are likely to cry at first, but they will eventually learn to make friends and be social. Kids with a preoccupied attachment style will cry incessantly, desperately wishing for the parent to return. Dismissive children will not even care - they will just find some toy to play with and seem overall apathetic about being on their own and meeting new people. Anxious-avoidant children, though, have it the worst. They will be very shy and emotional. They will want to make friends, but their hesitation to talk to new people will be very apparent. While the other kids play together, they will sit on the outside, waiting to be invited but too afraid to jump in on their own. This is why we call it fearful attachment - it is characterized by a persistent fear of relationships and their worst possible outcomes. Does this mean that all shy children are fearfully attached, and all the outgoing ones are secure? Certainly not - remember, this is evaluated on a spectrum. These are examples of the most extreme conceivable cases. Most children will probably exhibit some mixture of all these behaviors and traits. Can I Change My Style? This question is similar to the infamous "Nature v. Nurture" debate, which has no simple answer. As such, there is little consensus on this in the scientific community. It is important to evaluate both sides' arguments and form an individual opinion. One side says no, you cannot change your attachment style. The experiences you had as a child have already had their effect on development, and your tendency toward this attachment style is set in stone. The best option, then, is to employ strategies that allow you to cope with this disposition. The other camp says yes, you can. New experiences are very much able to influence your brain today, just as they could when you were younger. We have seen both good and bad events change people we know completely. Why would attachment style be any different? The correct answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Early experiences certainly have their permanent influences, but new ones cannot be completely discounted either. In any case, the question has yet to be definitively answered. It is worth considering that your parents, while they set the stage for your social future, are not the only people you have relationships within life. There are grandparents, brothers, and sisters that may be present when you are young as well. We cannot neglect the friends we make as children, either. Could good experiences with family and bad experiences with peers lead to a strong in-group bias that this model does not account for? What about the opposite? Attenuating The Effects Regardless of whether or not attachment style can change, someone who is extremely anxious avoidant probably wants to make an effort to be more socially at ease. There are steps you can take to make your life better. One of them might be seeing a therapist. As we’ve discussed, it is very difficult for people with the anxious-avoidant attachment style to build relationships with anyone. It is essential for these people to find someone they can trust. Once they can let down their walls, the weight of the world will come off their shoulders. Psychologists understand the human mind and have certainly had to break down these sorts of barriers on more than one occasion.   For hundreds of years, psychologists have studied human behavior, trying to determine exactly why we do what we do. Time and time again, the question of “nature versus nurture” has arisen: do genetics govern how we think and act, or is the environment in which we're raised the deciding factor? Scientific evidence seems to suggest that, in most cases, it's a combination of both. When it comes to our relationships, however, nurture seems to play a greater role. For example, individuals who grow up in healthy households tend to develop secure attachment bonds and attachment styles that typically lead them to have stronger, longer-lasting relationships in adulthood. On the other hand, if you grew up in a household with inconsistent or unreliable parenting, you may have greater difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships. People in this category may have experienced insecure attachment bonds to their parents or primary caregivers. "Therapy can accelerate the healing process and help you shift your attachment style, in order to create a more secure attachment bond." Insecure attachment is a negative, fear-based relationship style—the deep, even unconscious fear of abandonment or unmet needs. This fear-based style is based on the formation of an insecure attachment bond in early childhood, and it's surprisingly common. Living with the weight of a fear-based attachment bond can be very frustrating and feel overwhelming, but there is hope. While some experts believe that attachment styles and the original attachment bond remain consistent throughout the lifetime, recent research has actually found that individuals with an insecure attachment style can actually form secure bonds through intimacy-building activities. In this article, we'll discuss the characteristics of insecure attachment, the effects of insecure and secure attachment bonds, and strategies to break a negative attachment bond and create a more secure attachment style. This information may help you recall relationships and experiences that contributed to your attachment style in the past, but you'll also learn how to strengthen your bonds with others in the present. Understanding Insecure Attachment As mentioned previously, an individual's attachment style appears in early childhood and is the result of the formation of an insecure or secure attachment bond; infants and young children develop a secure attachment through repeated positive experiences with caregivers. This secure attachment bond gives infants an early outlook on life. Early in life, they learn that their needs will be met on a consistent basis, and as children, they don't live in fear of being neglected, abused, or abandoned. When caregivers fail to provide consistent care and emotional support, an insecure attachment bond and insecure attachment style form. Babies and young children who are insecurely attached learn to expect inconsistency in relationships, leading them often to operate from a place of fear. This is especially true of children who have been left by their caregivers (by choice or by death) and those who were abused or neglected. It can be difficult, but not impossible, to overcome the effects of developing an insecure attachment bond. Even if their physical needs are met, children whose caregivers are distant or cold also tend to form an insecure attachment bond. In some cases, children also can develop an insecure attachment because their primary caregiver swings back and forth between being nurturing and acting detached. Children with insecure attachment bonds tend to behave differently toward caregivers than kids with secure attachments. Depending on their circumstances, a child may act aloof or overly clingy toward their caregivers. In addition, the child may easily show anger, irritation, or fear, and they may exhibit extreme reactions to stress. Unfortunately, the problems that arise from forming an insecure attachment style do not end in childhood. For adults, insecure attachment often manifests as anxiety or codependency. Some individuals with insecure attachment styles avoid relationships altogether. Here are some ways to create a Secure Attachment Later, we'll share how therapy can help individuals who are living with an insecure attachment style break a negative attachment bond and create a secure attachment bond, but first, we'll talk about strategies you can use to help you form and maintain strong, lasting bonds. 1.    Focus On Healing Childhood situations and experiences that promote insecure attachments also tend to create shame and self-esteem issues. Living with shame can result in self-neglect (focusing on everyone else's needs while ignoring your own), self-criticism, self-sabotage, and even self-destructive behaviors. Beginning to heal from these symptoms will help you lay the foundation to form secure attachments. These feelings and behaviors are often connected to a deeply rooted, self-imposed belief that an individual does not deserve happiness or healthy relationships. While healthy guilt can help an individual make better choices, the shame and self-loathing that often accompany an insecure attachment style can make a person feel perpetually stuck in insecurity. Many people wonder how to forgive themselves for mistakes they’ve made in the past. While the process of self-forgiveness is a highly personal one, the following steps are a great place to start: Evaluate your past decisions. Were some of the factors involved out of your control? Did you do what you felt was best at the time? How do you see your actions differently today? Earn your forgiveness. Steps toward forgiveness include taking responsibility for your actions, apologizing, and making amends. If you find that forgiving yourself is difficult, try writing out a meaningful apology to yourself. You can also apologize to anyone else who may have been hurt, and you may be able to identify actions to make things right. Finally, vow to move forward. Aim for progress, not perfection. If this process seems easier said than done, use self-compassion exercises to keep you moving through the healing process, such as Build Self-Esteem Self-forgiveness provides a fresh start. Once you're no longer bogged down by the pain of the past, you can work on building yourself up. You might have years of experience with negative self-talk, shame, and criticism, so it's time to turn things around. Here are some practical ways to build self-esteem and help create a secure attachment style: Make yourself a priority: People with low self-esteem tend to neglect themselves. They can ignore their health, hygiene, and emotional wellbeing because they don't feel worthy of self-care or self-compassion. If you're in the habit of neglecting your personal needs and desires, make a list of the things you've neglected. Do you need to go to the dentist? Does your diet need adjustments to keep you healthy and satisfied? Would you like to give up drinking or smoking? Once you have a list, commit to tackling these issues one by one, and practice self-compassion if you find yourself falling into old patterns. Remember, it’s not about perfection.   The three compliments journal: This exercise is included in a great self-esteem building.  You'll need a blank notebook and a pen or a pencil to get started. Then all you have to do is jot down three compliments to yourself each morning. Looking in the mirror can be part of the ritual, but if this practice seems awkward or uncomfortable, a mirror isn't required. The goal here is to acknowledge your positive attributes on a regular basis. This practice will help you see yourself in a more positive light.  Try a new hobby: Part of learning to value yourself is finding activities you love and pursuing them wholeheartedly. If you enjoy taking photos, take up photography. Try a new sport or physical activity or settle into a crafting activity that calms you. Not sure which hobby to try? Check out the world’s largest list of hobbies to discover an activity you love! Practice positive self-talk: For individuals who have spent their lives filled with negative self-talk and shame, this process can seem daunting, but it's worth the effort. Whether in a journal or just in your head, remind yourself of your talents, positive attributes, and accomplishments, big and small. When negative thoughts creep up, make a conscious effort to combat them with positivity. For example, you may think, "I can't do anything right." Stop yourself by stating, "That isn't true; I'm great at a lot of things, including ______ and ________." By fighting off negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, you'll build self-esteem and begin to create a secure attachment style that will allow you to trust yourself and others. 3.    Acknowledge Your Attachment Style A third way to flip your type of attachment is by confronting the negative aspects of your insecure attachment style. If you're an anxious, insecurely attached person who is overly focused on your partner and his or her needs, try shifting your focus inward. By acknowledging your own needs and building your own self-esteem, you'll feel more content, which will help you to form and maintain healthy relationships. If you consider yourself insecure avoidant, meaning that you tend to shy away from meeting the needs of a partner, child, family member, or friend, make a conscious effort to begin meeting your loved ones' needs (without sacrificing your own). If you feel an urge to pull away, acknowledge the feeling, and open up to someone you feel comfortable confiding in. Silence exacerbates shame, so it's important not to keep your feelings bottled up inside.     Helpful Resources to Create A Secure Attachment Style Many free and low-cost resources can help you on your healing journey. Here are a few: Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion.org is a great resource for anyone in need of extra self-compassion. Neff offers seven well-structured guided meditations that are completely free. Attachments by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy is an eye-opening resource for people who struggle to form and maintain close relationships. Attached by Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller is a user-friendly guide that explains the science behind attachment and how to find love based on attachment style. This book is particularly helpful for individuals who seek a lifelong partner.   Of course, you’ll work with your therapist to develop the best approach for you, but you probably want a sense of how likely therapy is to help you, right? One common type of talk therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (which is one of the most effective treatments for social anxiety disorder. CBT can be used to treat so many things including attachment issues.   I hope you are able to apply some of these tips I have shared and reach out for some professional support from a mental health therapist.     There is hope and there is help for you.   I wish you much luck! In KIndness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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

Who Am I?

I can understand the questioning of yourself because the way they responded to you was very passionate-in a negative sense and they also shamed and labeled you with terms that are degrading. I would like to challenge you to ask those questions to yourself and find evidence to support that response. From what you shared, you have honored your parents as well as yourself in respecting not allowing just anybody to do anything to you. You have maintained boundaries that would allow you to not be in a space where you would fall to the games to "get in your bed". This one seemed to be different and you connected with him in a way that the others did not have the opportunity to do. You are coming into young adulthood and this a pivotal time in your life because you are now creating your own ideas of what you would like to engage in at this time. You are not flying off the handle. It was one guy and that is far from being promiscuos. Your parents did well with raising you and providing you with a moral foundation that will ultimately help you make certain choices and decisions when dating. If you are living at home with them, then you respect their standard in their home. Accept the position of your parents and understanding that, at this time, it may not be a safe space to share these ideas or relationships with your parents and that is fine. However, you are not your parents and you have to decide what you would like to maintain from your and what things you would like to shift a bit. Solidify and consider what your boundaries will be. As long as you trust yourself and stay true to who you are, everything will work itself out. Whatever choices you make-good or bad-learning is a part of life. You big up yourself when you hit the mark and you forgive yourself when you miss the mark. Either way as long as you take from it what did or  did not work for you in the experience, you will be able to make an informed different choice the the next time. You are not a whore. You are a human experiencing and exploring life. Release the shame. Declare who are you to yourself, because that is what matters most!
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I deal with someone who was the LOML a month ago and now is ignoring me and treating me badly

Hello, I am sorry to hear about the predicament you are in. When you have/had a relationship with someone it's sometimes hard to let go even when that person is acting out in a negative manner and that is what this sounds like on the surface. If they are going through something it does not give them the right to treat you poorly. The best thing for you to start healing is by accepting the reality and imitations of reality that you have at this time. You only know that she is treating you differently but not the WHY and honestly the WHY doesn't matter 9 times out of 10. You can not force anyone to treat you in a certain type of manner if the dynamics of your relationship have changed. There is a multitude of coping skills that you can use to start the healing process. Losing someone is similar to the grief process and the ultimate goal in that is ACCEPTING and RESTRUCTURING of your life without this person. The only person you have control over is you, no one else. You can control your REACTION to the change but not the actual person that is changing. So we can't expect for someone to remain the same at all times. This goes for you as well. Some changes need to be made as soon as possible. Some things you could do is give yourself permission to grieve, take care of yourself holistically, lead the way in letting people know what you need at this time and for the future, write down what you need, go outdoors, read self-help books or listen to podcasts for a distraction and the opportunity to grow, and try a feel-good activity. In addition to that don't try to suppress the pain, practice self-compassion, and create space in your schedule for you. Don't dwell in the negativity. A journal could also help you within this process so you can actually "see" your thoughts written down-it makes a world of a difference. Remember you deserve more than what you are receiving right now. I hope this helps with your journal of healing.
(MA, LMHC, MFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

how to fix/maintain my current relationship with my partner

  Thank you for your question; seeking to understand and protect your marriage. I have identified the following red flags in your current relation (marriage). You have severe insecurity and self-esteem issues “she is a very attractive woman, but I am just an average guy,” “overthinking into her behavior.” Both of you have severe past unresolved biological family issues, poor relationship issues growing up, and unsettled core beliefs. There is some cognitive distortion that is influencing your marriage. It is my professional opinion that your communication is not good; you may be talking from a winner-loser point of view. This is usually a recipe for disaster in any relationship. May I also remind you that there are significant differences between discussing in daily life and marital communication, something I believe is lacking in your relationship? May I take this opportunity to let you know that while sex or intimacy is the source of marital bonding, both parties must continuously work on this? There will be problems if you see sex as something I want versus what is necessary for our marriage. Let us focus on some points that you wrote, and your wife is on Agomelatine, which is a first-line treatment prescribed by some doctors for the treatment of depression. This medication is vital to understanding your current issues because it influences activities in the brain, and therefore, her whole system is affected.   Our brains make sure we have enough of the chemicals that are needed for our daily functioning. However, depression can affect several brain chemicals too. The chemicals include dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin; depression acts in a way that reduces the levels of these brain transmitters. Depression is known to affect a chemical called melatonin. When melatonin is reduced, the individual usually has disturbances in their sleep patterns. Agomelatine is an antidepressant known to increase melatonin activity directly by acting like melatonin at the target sites (melatonin receptor). When melatonin activity is improved, Agomelatine also directly improves the activity of noradrenaline and dopamine. There are some side effects when the activity of serotonin is increased by blocking the 5Ht2c site where serotonin is taken up. Side effects of using Agomelatine may include anxiety, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, abnormal dreams, dizziness, insomnia (sleep problems), drowsiness and fatigue, increase in weight. It is also known that antidepressants cause sexual dysfunctions in patients who use these medications. Studies show that Agomelatine has demonstrated antidepressant properties in comparative studies with sertraline, fluoxetine, and venlafaxine as active controls. This can be measured using the International Index of Erectile Function and a Visual Analogue Scale for desire, arousal, time, the Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale, and intensity of orgasm and vaginal lubrication. This is to let you know that the decrease in libido is likely possible, and your wife needs care. However, studies have concluded that Agomelatine has a lesser effect on sexual dysfunction than other drugs. There are issues that should be tackled in counseling: self-esteem, personal insecurities, communication, challenging negative thoughts, past relationships (biological family and friends) and their influence on you, intimacy issues, and cognitive distortions. If you were my client, these are the areas I would consider to provide you with the best state-of-the-art therapy. You will need couple counseling and individual counseling too. Some of the issues are best handled in couple counseling. 
(Masters, Clinical, mental, health, counseling, CCMHC)
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

I am gay, why am I becoming infatuated and upset when I get rejected, I’ve been out for years now?

I am gay, why am I becoming infatuated and upset when I get rejected, I have been out for years now? I read where you shared that when a guy rejects you, or a guy you really fancy does not take notice it upsets you more than normal. You shared that you almost become obsessed or infatuated. You shared that it becomes even worse when the guy is super attractive and has a good career and ambitions. You also shared that you are also struggling to separate the difference between you wanting to date the guy or you wanting to be more like the guy. You are asking for help. You questioned why are you becoming infatuated and upset when you get rejected since you have been out for years at this time. Based on your statement, I would highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health professional therapist to discuss your thoughts and feelings regarding how you can stop feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health professional therapist can help you discuss and process what triggers you to experience feeling emotional distress due to your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else.  After receiving therapy, I would also highly recommend that you a referral to a professional psychiatrist and or medical provider for medication after they assess what your specific mental health needs are in regards to sharing that you are experiencing emotional distress due to your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of your emotional distress due to your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else your past relationship ending. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those individuals who only take medication in regards to dealing with emotional distress due to your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else at this time. Emotional distress and traumatic events do not look the same for anyone; therefore, a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can support you in discussing what your emotional distress due to your past traumatic experiences looks like in your own words. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health therapist can effectively assess your needs for mental health treatment in reference to your current symptoms and they can also provide you with assistance with medication management once you are prescribed medications to take for your symptoms from a licensed professional psychiatrist and medical provider. Emotional distress is a huge factor in possibly adding to some of your current thoughts of feeling down and miserable that can easily manifest into depression. It is quite beneficial to have a licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health therapist to discuss your specific thoughts and feelings in a safe and conducive environment of your choice. Taking the time to find the proper licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health therapist is very important, so you can feel comfortable in working to making the necessary changes to improve your mental well being as a means of decreasing your emotional distress at this time that may have manifested emotional distress due to your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else. Emotional distress, anxiety and or depression can be treated with the use medication and therapy combined. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with emotional distress due to feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else. A licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist can provide you counseling in a safe and confidential setting without feeling judged or ridiculed. A licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist can also introduce you to deep breathing techniques, stress relaxation techniques, calming techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, positive interpersonal social skills and imagery as a means of decreasing your thoughts of emotional distress due to your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else at this time. In an effort to decrease your thoughts of emotional distress, you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate increased thoughts of feeling about your past relationship. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are not feeling emotionally distressed outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing thoughts of not being productive in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well-being at this time. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist to properly assess your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else in regards to your current emotional distress at this time. Emotional and mental distress can look different for everyone because mental health is not a one size fits all. Therefore, it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in regards to decreasing your feeling angry when you are rejected and infatuated with someone else which is currently causing you emotional distress at this time. Best regards to you!                                               
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
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