What we talked about in Part 1:
// Attachment theory and mindfulness of emotions and thoughts
// How patriarchal society predisposes us to certain thoughts + beliefs and filters our relationship experiences
// How it makes sense that anxiety leads to crazy thoughts and actions
// Why those actions could end up leading us to lose ourselves in a relationship
// The FIRST step in healing: offering ourselves self-compassion
This week, we’re going to dive deeper into more tools and concepts. The first is cognitive bias, which is a function of our brain that searches for evidence of what we already believe to be true instead of what is actually true.
It’s like when you’re in a moment of anxiety and you completely forget those other times where you were anxious, and nothing was wrong. For me, I remember experiencing moments of complete panic in my relationships, and a partner would text me something super sweet like, “Hey, thinking of you and missing you,” and I would just think, yeah right. They’re just saying that to appease me, but they don’t mean it!
Cognitive bias explains why it’s pointless to try to change how other people behave so that we can feel better. Because our brain will still have the same filters and thoughts. It will interpret it in a way that supports what we believe.
The other reason trying to control others is a bad ideas is because they often actually don’t do it… and we also feel a bit ashamed about how needy and desperate we’re being. We’re just trying to control them to make ourselves feel better about what’s in our heads.
Instead, imagine feeling Ziji – radiant inner confidence no matter how other people behaved. Feeling secure attachment, no matter what.
This doesn’t mean we should say in a relationship with just anyone. What it DOES mean is we can have a sense of security no matter what. We are grounded in ourselves and know what we want, which allows genuine love and connection in our relationships.
Even when we have disagreements and conflict, we don’t experience that anxiety or feel insecure as a result.
The hard part is that most people aren’t born with these skills. We need to learn them.
Another aspect that affects how we tend to lose ourselves in relationships is perfectionism, which contributes to anxious attachment styles in particular. If you think about it, perfectionism and anxiety go hand in hand. We think we need to be perfect in order to be worthy and to be loved.
And what’s more of a place to run into that fear head-on than in a romantic relationship? Of course, it can be seen in any type of relationship – familial or friendship – but there’s something about intimate or romantic relationships that really brings this up for people.
Intimacy involves being vulnerable and human and messy and not perfect. If you’re a perfectionist, you judge and reject yourself for being that messy human, and when you start getting intimate with someone, you project onto them your own constant self-evaluating and analyzing.
If you catalogue your faults, then your partner is, too. If you compare yourself with others’ looks and personality, then your partner is, too. And then you want your partner to reassure you about something they can’t possibly fix because it’s your own thoughts about yourself.
Perfectionists (and black and white thinkers) also don’t have much of a sense of healthy balance or limits or how to construct a relationship they want.
They also may not know how to take it slow. They don’t know how to gradually develop a relationship and integrate it into their life.
Something I briefly touched on in part 1 is that those with an anxious attachment style tend to subconsciously pick someone with avoidant attachment patterns. Part of it is because it activates their kind of anxiety and they get caught in a cycle, but it’s also because they don’t know how to moderate themselves as an all-or-nothing thinker.
The funny balance of this type of relationship is that while you keep wanting more, they set all the limits. When you’re used to rejecting and judging yourself by what others think you should want and how they react to you, that pattern can feel totally comfortable.
On the other hand, I also don’t think dating someone with a secure attachment style is the answer. It’s like encountering emotional sobriety. You can clearly and sometimes painfully see how much you create this drama in your own brain. So those with an anxious or avoidant style tend to reject the secure attachment people because they’re addicted to the drama of anxiety and relief.
At the end of the day, though, all of this is about your relationship with yourself and your capacity to believe your inherent self-worth and lovability which has been 100% since DAY 1 of your existence.
Here are just a few additional tips to help you not lose yourself in a relationship (I talk about so many more in the full podcast Episode!):
- Live an amazing life without a partner and realize that you can have a fulfilling life with just you.
- If someone says they aren’t ready, believe it.
- Do the work of believing you deserve a kind, respectful, amazing partner… BECAUSE YOU DO!
And remember to get yourself a really supportive and loving community of people around you that is unpacking the same patterns as you in growing in the same areas. Don’t just isolate yourself with people who will complain with each other and focus on the bad.
This community of open, honest growth is really what it’s all about in Freedom School. If finding a partner is on your bucket list, or if you see a lot of commonalities in your relationships from the past two Episodes, then it’s time to get started on healthy and permanent change for the better. Check out more at joinfreedomschool.com.
In this Episode you will learn:
// What cognitive bias is and why it’s useless to try to change someone else
// How to stop people pleasing and feel strong and confident telling the truth in ALL your relationships
// Why avoidant and anxious attachment styles tend to attract each other and run from secure attachment styles
// 5 practical tips on how not to lose yourself in a relationship
// Episode 79 – How Not to Lose Yourself in a Relationship, Part 1
// Episode 14 – Cognitive Dissonance and How to Believe New Things
// Episode 18 – How to Coach Yourself – Applied mindfulness
// Episode 2 – How to Not Care What Other People Think About You
// Check out my newest Elephant Journal article on setting boundaries like a Buddhist… and how to deal when people don’t like them.
// If you’re loving what you’re learning in this podcast, you have got to come check out Freedom School. Freedoms School is the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.
It’s also where you can get individual help applying the concepts to your own life. It’s where you can learn new coaching tools not shared on the podcast that will blow your mind even more, and it’s where you can hang out and connect over all things thought work with other freedom junkies just like you and me. It’s my favorite place on earth and it will change your life, I guarantee it. Come join us at JoinFreedomSchool.com I can’t wait to see you there.
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the starter kit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll get access to the private Facebook group where you can ask me questions! Once you join, there’s also a weekly FB live called Wake the F*ck Up Wednesday, where you can ask questions that come up as you do this work – in all parts of your life.