Ep. 133: Relationship Alchemy – How to Break Unhealthy Patterns

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This week we’re diving into what we can do if we find ourselves in an unhealthy dynamic in a relationship that feels stuck. This an apply to not just intimate relationships, but also friendships, relationships with siblings and other family members, and colleagues as well.

Remember that we often come from our default patterns of how we show up in relationships based on our attachment experiences in the past, which led to insecurities that have persisted over time (e.g. that we aren’t worthy or loveable or enough, that the world isn’t safe; that we can’t rely on others).

This means that we walk into a relationship with these wounds and these insecurities that form a default way of being in relationship. This affects the partners we choose, the way we approach conflict resolution, the things that activate us, and more.

This also means that things can really shift when we take on radical responsibility for our role in the dynamic we are in. When we stop blaming our partner for things that feel really true, and stop putting power outside of ourselves, then we can start to see what we’re bringing to the table and how we’re showing up…and the impact that has on the relationship.

This is not meant to gaslight ourselves or to tolerate abuse. This is to own our shit so that we can step into our power again.

Then we can slowly make changes and allow for something different to grow – to allow the relationship alchemy to take please. This can happen in the relationship even if the other person doesn’t participate in the same healing you do.

Why might this work?

Because how we see the world and respond to it impacts how we show up in the world and in our relationships, which impacts others in our life and also how they also respond and react. This is similar to the scientific experience of the observation effect, which basically means the very act of observing directly alters the phenomenon under investigation.

There’s also negativity bias, which is a cognitive bias that explains why negative events or feelings typically have a more significant impact on our psychological state than positive ones, even when they’re of equal proportion. So we come to the table with that too.

But that’s not all! Not only do we remember negative events more, we also have a filter through which we see the world, and are constantly scanning for danger and confirmation of our beliefs. So if we believe our partner will let us down, we scan for that. This is known as confirmation bias – the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of our existing beliefs or theories.

There are 3 types of confirmation bias:

  1. Biased search for information – we only look for evidence to support our current beliefs

  2. Biased interpretation – we interpret things according those beliefs, no matter what the data actually says

  3. Biased memory – we choose to remember things that fit our belief system


So taking all this into account, we can see what we bring to the table in a relationship, right? We can also see how when we work on our own thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, it can have a huge impact on the other person and our interactions with them – and how we act towards them.

It’s not always too late to address a red flag after we’ve chosen to ignore it. If we do the work, there’s the possibility of stepping out of codependency and into our power and create a healthier dynamic, where our emotional well-being is less dependent on someone else’s behavior or thoughts about us. From that place of alignment and connection to our true self, we can more effectively decide to stay or walk away.

And even if we don’t eventually stay, when we take the time to do this inner work, we are more likely to not repeat it in the next relationship to the same degree. If we do stay, even if it isn’t a total fix (which it won’t be), perhaps you still argue, but you can do it with more kindness, more groundedness, and less reactivity.

The key here is that the red flags only become opportunities to change after we become 100% accountable for them. Not blaming ourselves or someone else’s behavior, but owning our role in it.

This work is powerful and vulnerable at the same time. We need to go to that place where we were harmed in the past in order to heal. But when we do this work IN relationships, we can even heal older attachment wounds.

We have the chance to start rewriting our story and tell a new story and learn to open our hearts again. This is because we cultivate ziji – that radiant inner confidence where we know who we are, what we want, what we stand for, and that we will always have our own back.

This is easier to do when in alignment, so our nervous system is calmer and we are in touch with our true selves and have access to our wise mind. When the body is physically relaxed, it is harder to be emotionally agitated and out of alignment, and we can be more effective and compassionate and in integrity in how we show up.

I go into some techniques for calming the nervous system in the pod, and we also cover the thoughtwork that comes after we’ve gotten back into alignment.

It can be hard to do things differently even when we want to change, so here is a summary of the 4 steps we can take to break the pattern:

// First comes mindfulness – an awareness of our patterns in life, our default way of being, our default beliefs, especially in relationships. This helps us understand our past and why some situations are more activating and how we might be contributing to the dynami.

// Take radical responsibility – The only way we can make a shift without completely relying on someone else’s behavior is to step into our power. Then we can see how our filters and wounds led to this pattern and the part we had in it.

// Process only in alignment – This is a commitment we canall consider. It may take a while, which means yes, the processing can wait too. And it often first involves addressing our physiology when we’re activated and adding heavy doses of self-compassion.

// Step into thoughtwork, shifting beliefs and our default way of being. Here we start to play with the possibility that there’s a different way of seeing things, different perspectives, and different beliefs that are more helpful and healthier for us. This then impacts how we show up in our relationships – and the environment we create for the relationship to be in.

Our thoughts form our reality through impacting the way we feel, therefore the way we act, and the way we experience reality.

We can do this together, but let’s do the most work on ourselves. We can start there, and stay there. This is where our power lies.

We can shift the lens through which we see the world – which impacts how we show up and how we experience life and our relationships.

What you’ll learn:

// How and why radical responsibility can help us and our partner grow

// Whether it’s ever too late to try and fix things

// How an aligned nervous system can help us make changes

// 4 steps we can take to break patterns of belief

// How to handle moments of activation


// Episode 14: Cognitive Dissonance + How to Create New Beliefs

// Episode 132: Red Flags in Relationships

// Grab my free training on how to set boundaries that actually work – and how to do this from a place of kindness and compassion. www.BoundariesTraining.com

// Want to do a deep dive into this work on your own time? To study it and practice it together with a group of people with the same goals of freedom, adventure and purpose? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.

// Want to take things to the next level in a 6-month immersion program? Apply at AdventureMastermind.com Enter into the adventure of your life in a container where you’ll feel safe enough to explore your true self with altered states and adventures during this one precious life we have. We only take a small group of people every cohort, so apply now! There will only be ONE cohort in 2023 – the time is now.

// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist FB group, and tune in weekly when I go live on new topics.