Have you ever wondered why the same pattern of getting into relationships and then pushing the partner away occurs, or why some people seen to panic when they have the chance of a real relationship?
We all see it happen in every group of friends, and perhaps it’s happened to you at times. Months or years later you look back and wonder why you did what you did.
Whether it’s keeping friends and family at arms length or avoiding intimate relationships it’s the same culprits at work:
-Anxiety or traumatic (with a small ‘t’ most likely) programming –
I’ll explain both. First lets look at the Anxiety side, and I’ll post on the trauma part in a few days.
Anxiety is a word that is best described as ‘feeling worry about lots of things that aren’t dangerous’. The big feeling under that is one of ‘will I be good enough?’
If you go for a job interview and have a feeling of ‘I’m not good enough’, then you’re not at your best. You are worrying about how they’ll judge you on the basis of that half hour. Imagine now, being worried about people’s opinions in general and you’re considering how someone will view you – not just in the workplace but in a relationship. How much more fear is there in that?
On a deep level we can have so much uncertainly as to whether we’ll measure up, that it can trigger a strong fear response, pushing you to keep people out – to stop them from getting to see the real you.
What you feel though is just a nervousness, or a knot in the belly, a sense that drives you to over analyse the situation. Reacting as if it were a danger and responding by getting you to look over and over it for a solution. You simply feel stressed and worried. When people get closer to you, you start to feel panicky. Inside your head the negative voice nags away, ‘what would they see in me anyhow?”, ‘what if they find out what a loser I am?’, ‘they’ll find out I’m a fraud’, and so on.
This comes down to a deep underlying belief in not being good enough at some basic level. It’s a see-saw effect, usually you’d feel the need to be seen to be strong and confident and you’d argue if someone said you’re not, but inside the feeling is one of always being on alert and feeling the need to be seen to be confident to conceal the hidden feeling of a lack of self worth.
Anxiety can just build over the years from knock-backs, put downs, failures (real or perceived), or disappointments. It can also be learned as a very young child. If your mother is very nervous you may pick up that the world is a scary place based on her reactions, and that can get locked in as a foundation to build your interactions with the world on. Most people I meet with life long anxiety grew up with one or more anxious parents. It can travel through generations, passed in this way without having any genetic part.
If you don’t value yourself you can’t trust others to value you. Paranoia and jealousy can even occur, worried that they will leave you for someone better is an easy leap for the insecure. Too many people push others away to avoid the possibility of pain like this, and often at the expense of real happiness.
So, what can you do about it?
There are four things I recommend.
1. If it’s having a big impact in your life, see someone who is well trained who can help resolve it. Consider how important it is to your life path and happiness and seek out someone with experience and ability to tackle this. See a specialist. You have many options.
2. Mindfulness. For any reoccurring thoughts/reactions that are making life difficult, mindfulness meditation and mindful living can deliver a big change. In many cases it’s more effective than the best medication on the market, and it’s side effect free!
3. Exercise. All forms of anxiety can be made better by exercise. 30 minutes walking most days has been shown to cut anxiety by 37%.
Self awareness of the reaction and these questions can help.
Really notice what’s happening. When you get a bad feeling, stop and notice the physical element. Is there a churning in the stomach, a tightness in your chest, heart pounding, something else?
Notice it and pause. Ask yourself these questions. (Even write them down and answer them on paper if you like. It’ll help you focus. But just asking them in your mind will help too).
– What am I physically feeling?
– Why am I feeling this? What is going on at this time?
– Am I in danger or am I safe?
– What do I want to happen?
And then breath deep and relax. Focus on the physical element and in your minds eye see it slowing, easing, relaxing. Focus your mind on the outcome you want and see it. Continue to breath and ease it. Be comfortable with it. It’s a natural reaction, don’t beat yourself up over it, just take note of it and change it.
Doing so trains your mind to give more conscious control of your emotions. This can become a new habit making things better all the time.
Don’t keep suffering. Do something about it. Your life is important, live it and be happy. Work towards that goal and enjoy life!
Please comment or ask any questions below.
Change is easier than you think.