Cindy Briolotta, President
Copyright 2006 by PartnersInLife.org All rights reserved.
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This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
How can I overcome jealousy? I have abandonment issues, which taint this situation, but also, my partner lied about several situations in the past. I'm having a hard time letting this go, and my fears have been exaggerated. How do I let this go and overcome my jealousy?
Issue #1: Abandonment
When we have experiences that lead to fear of loss, we become unattractive. Our thoughts, our body language, and our words suggest neediness. The person with whom we most want to be quiet and gentle flees from us! Then we find our self, once again, confirmed in our abandonment.
Break the cycle by working with a relationship coach. He or she will help you to unearth the underlying issues and help put them to rest. In the mean time, you might consider using an elastic band on your wrist. Snap it when you begin to feel needy and scared so that you can become aware of when this is happening. You may have moments of private anguish, but remember where they come from, deal with them and enjoy life, now. Break your cycle and he may break his as well.
When you reach a place of inner strength and inner self-sufficiency, then the feeling of abandonment will not have such a charge. When you come from a place of inner strength as an adult, as opposed to being an adult who is operating from childhood emotions of fear and abandonment, you will feel more solid in your relationship to yourself. As a result, you’ll automatically feel less fear of being "abandoned" by another.
Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D.
The first issue to come to grips with is the "abandonment issue" so that the pain from the past does not drive the present. Abandonment hurts. It chips away at self-esteem and can leave deep scars. It takes a lot of strength and commitment to do the necessary healing. If your partner is willing, I urge you to find a good therapist. In my experience with clients, sometimes that healing can take a long time. You can heal, but you need a professional who can help you do that.
If you have abandonment issues which you believe are keeping you from moving forward with your life, then congratulations for recognizing that fact. I urge you to talk to a therapist about resolving those issues so you can see life differently and create a new future. If you believe you have dealt those issues and that you’ve put those issues behind you, then look at the reality of this situation with your partner. A trained professional would be very helpful in surfacing these issues with you.
Nan Einarson | 905.728.5882
I would urge you to examine your abandonment issues by working with a trained relationship coach or therapist. Until you can feel to your depths that you are worthy of complete commitment from your partner, you will continue to attract abandonment into your life.
Issue #2: Jealousy
Jealousy is about our own sense of value and faith. If we hold ourselves worthy and valuable and have faith in what we can manifest in our lives, then jealousy has a harder time creeping in. I recommend continuing to heal the abandonment issues and working on raising your own sense of value. You might consider coaching, counseling, spiritual practice or your own internal process, whatever might resonate best with you. This will help you attract situations and people to your life that really value and honor you.
How does jealousy play out in your life? At the root of jealousy is your own insecurity about who you are and this ties into the abandonment issue. As you explore your history and discover what brings you to a place of feeling deficient or lacking, you'll be able to move to a place of inner strength and peace within yourself. Once there, you’ll be able to shed the cloak of deficiency and show up with a greater sense of self.
Jealousy is a tough master. It leads your thinking in circles and keeps you stuck in fear, distrust and unhappiness. I’m unclear about whether you’re separated from this person and are having trouble letting go of the relationship, or if you’re still together and can’t let go of his lies. You say your fears are exaggerated, and I’m not sure what the fears are or what makes you believe they’re exaggerated. Since you’re jealous, it would appear you believe your partner has been unfaithful to you.
Jealousy often results from a sense of insecurity in the person experiencing it. Their low self-esteem may not allow them to believe they’re worthy of the other person’s interest, and so they continually wait for the “other shoe to drop.” If that’s what they think and believe, that’s exactly what they’ll attract. A belief of unworthiness allows them to accept lies and deceit, because they believe they deserve nothing better. Is this the case for you?
Think about your stories -- your expectations of yourself, your partner, and the relationship. Below the surface of expectation, you'll find the beliefs that keep you stuck. You'll uncover the “not-good-enough” beliefs you hold. Once you ferret out the core beliefs causing you grief, and are able to release them, you’ll find that jealousy no longer plagues you. Once you know you’re good enough, jealousy has no place to live in your psyche and will dissolve.
Sandra Malbon | 801.998.8314
Issue #3: Lack of Trust
From a spiritual perspective, it appears you have attracted a partner like this to bring up the feelings of jealousy and the abandonment issues, so they can be healed. Imagine what it would feel like to be free from those feelings and to have trustworthy people in your life.
Imagine knowing from a deep place within that no matter who comes and goes from your life, you’ll always be fine and able to manifest the life you want. What would it be like to trust in that? In terms of your current partner, look at where your boundaries are and the level of honesty you require in the partnership. Do the lies really work for you? Is this partnership honoring and nurturing you? Is this truly what you want in your heart?
Holding honesty as a requirement and a boundary, and knowing what that means to you, will help you attract people who are more honest and trustworthy. If honesty is a requirement for you, then you deserve to have it. It sounds like you have some decisions to make here and I wish you light and blessings during that process.
Your values about honesty will help your decision-making. If you can accept that a lie was intended to protect you rather than to hurt you, you may be willing to understand and forgive it. On the other hand, lies may never be acceptable to you. If you believe it was intended to deceive or trick you, then that’s another story. If you’ve discovered a pattern of lies, then your distrust is reasonable, and your fears valid.
Once you believe you’re worthy and deserving of a partner who is honest with you, and you find that person, you’ll discover that your fears and jealousy are unnecessary. If you develop a mutually honest relationship where no deceitful behavior exists, yet you continue to feel jealous and fearful, then those feelings are unwarranted, and the problem is likely yours. At that point, you might consider finding a therapist to help you stop repeating harmful patterns.
I hope you can come to realize that jealousy, resulting from being deceived and manipulated, is an opportunity for you to self-explore and seek help in discovering strategies and solutions that will allow you to enjoy happy, trustful relationships in the future.
It seems your issue here is less about jealousy and more about the fact your trust was betrayed when your partner lied to you, not just once, but several times. You don’t say what’s triggering your current feelings, but it takes time to rebuild trust after it has been betrayed -- and a large part of that must come from your partner. It is his responsibility to re-earn your trust—not yours to give unconditionally. Working together with a coach would be helpful in resolving this issue.
Lack of trust, because of betrayal, is a challenging emotion to overcome. The good news is that trust can be rebuilt if you are both committed to working through this together. Your language indicates that you are willing to be responsible for your own emotions, and that you’re hoping to bring about change within yourself rather than in your partner. That's even greater news! With that attitude, real healing can occur.
Healing requires processing. Consider looking at your stories. Each of us has a myriad of stories, but mainly they boil down to the "he said/she said" story and the "what does this say about me?" story. Beyond the stories is where the healing can take place.
Why did your partner lie? Did your partner lie to avoid your anger? Did he lie to avoid some sort of shame? Or is this happening as a matter of course?
It is important for you each to hear and “to get” each other. If your partner hears the pain of your abandonment wounds and understands your jealousy is an effect and not a cause, and if he truly cares for you, he can choose to stop the lying. He can help you to overcome the jealousy.
If you listen to understand what fears or shadows led him to lie, you can choose to support him in learning not to lie to you. Together you can create an emotionally safe space, where each of you can support one another. However, unless you are both willing to "get into the canoe" and work together to heal these parts of each of you and your relationship, your relationship is not likely to last.
By Linda Marshall
Why are we so strongly attracted to, and feel such chemistry with certain people? "Chemistry" is involuntary and unconscious, influenced by our biology, genetics, and emotions. A strong emotional force at work when you are attracted to someone is your attraction to someone who is familiar.
Early in a relationship when a couple is infatuated with each other, they see only their similarities and often say, "I feel as though I've known you all my life." And the truth is, in some ways you have.
Even though you may be determined not to, you will unconsciously be drawn to someone who is like significant people from your past (parents, grandparents, childhood caretakers, siblings, teachers, etc.) or someone who recreates for you the experience you had with these significant people. Author, Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., calls this unconscious partner choice the "imago," the Latin word for image.
Without knowing it, we are attracted to certain positive and negative personality traits that represent our image of the perfect partner for us. The personality traits of the significant people from our past and what we experienced with them is familiar. And what we are familiar with we are also comfortable with, even if we didn't like it. As a result, we will often repeat unproductive patterns from the past and experience the pain of failed relationships.
OPPOSITES WILL ATTRACT
We come into the world whole and complete, fully alive and curious about our new world. We have the capacity to give and receive love. We are open and accepting. And then Life happens to us.
Even the best of parents cannot meet all of our needs perfectly. Social experiences outside of our home and family also tend to put a damper on our full aliveness. And the way human beings deal with unmet needs is to build a wall of protection around our feelings in order to anesthetize the hurt. We begin to shut down our full aliveness. The more painful the experiences, the thicker the wall. We can't choose which feelings to have and which to turn off, so if we build too thick a wall, we eventually become numb even to our happiness and joy.
To survive emotionally we compensate by cutting off some of our capacities and emphasizing others. If feelings are painful, we will deaden them. If thinking is valued and encouraged, we will develop that capacity If we are discouraged from being active, we will learn to behave in acceptably quiet and demure ways. If we are shamed for enjoying our senses, we will shut down our sensuality. When we feel threatened, some of us will learn to express ourselves strongly and others will have a tendency to get quiet or withdraw.
What is very interesting is that we are usually attracted to someone who was hurt to the same degree that we were, at about the same age, and who developed opposite character traits and capacities from those we developed. If we have shut down our feeling self, we'll be attracted to a feeler. And feelers will be attracted to thinkers. If we turned off our sensuality, we'll be attracted to someone who possesses it. If we learned to be quiet, we'll be attracted to someone who is active. Expressive folks tend to be attracted to quiet folks and quiet folks tend to prefer someone who is expressive.
In our attractions, we are trying to recapture the parts of ourselves that we shut down. We are trying to get our needs met and return to our original state of wholeness and completion.
FALLING IN LOVE VS. FALLING IN NEED
This process of coping and adapting emotionally to early hurts happens to all of us to one degree or another. But at some level we never forget how fully alive we once were. Nothing fuels this longing quite so much as falling in love with someone.though unbeknownst to us, we are really falling in "need."
We begin to fantasize about how this "perfect person" is going to meet all of our needs at last. And just as the significant people in our past failed us, our idealized partner is destined to do the same. Hence the repeat of past unproductive patterns and the pain of failed relationships.
THE LOVE DRUG
In the early stage of a relationship, we are often blinded to reality because of a hormone called phenylethylamine (PEA for short) which acts as a "love drug" stimulating feelings of euphoria which results in our being blinded to unattractive characteristics and behaviors (hence the saying "love is blind").
This altered state of infatuation supresses the part of our brain designed to warn and protect us from danger. We put our best foot forward, not just to impress, but because it is a magical time in our life when we are transformed into our best and most powerful selves.
FROM INFATUATION TO POWER STRUGGLE
It seems like it would be wonderful if this would last forever. And when you are under the influence of the love drug, you think it will. However, when you become a couple, the love drug begins its decline. As the danger-alerting area of your brain awakens from its slumber, what you begin to see is how differently this person sees the world and does things. These differences are interpreted by your brain as dangerous because they are reminders of some of your most uncomfortable, unpleasant, and hurtful experiences from your past.
At this point, you will each most likely try to get the other to do and see things your way and you each will, of course, resist. We call this the "Power Struggle" stage. You will each find your most unattractive selves emerging once again with all your protective strategies in full force as you experience yourself under attack. And you will each be wondering, "What happened?!?"
This is a most disorienting time, and it is normal. The intensity with which you experience this post-infatuation stage is directly related to how unsatisfactory your early significant relationships and experiences. You will think it is because of your partner's personality and behavior. It is really because of how you interpret your partner's personality and behavior and the intensity with which you experienced hurt in your past relationships.
THE GOOD NEWS
There is good news to this seemingly bad news development. A couple can experience extraordinary bliss with each other if they are willing to work through the challenges of the power struggle stage. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.
This information may be a relief if you've experienced the perplexing demise of a relationship. As your high hopes and dreams shatter, you may wonder what is wrong with you. We are here to tell you that there may be nothing wrong with you. You just have never been shown how to get through this stage. It isn't taught in schools, is rarely written about in popular magazines, and parents, entertainers, and peers don't model it. There are very few places to gain this information and learn, practice, and master relationship skills.
FROM CHEMISTRY TO CONSCIOUS MATING
When you find yourself in a pre-committed relationship you have a better chance of remaining conscious if you understand how your past relationships impact your emotional attractions and how the "love drug" is affecting your perceptions and behavior. Knowing this, you are better equipped to be as objective as possible about whether this relationship is a good long-term choice for you.
While it isn't possible or even desirable to avoid attracting someone who recreates hurtful experiences from your past, you have the opportunity to choose someone who is emotionally mature enough to learn about this dynamic and work with you through the power struggle to a lifetime of relationship bliss together.
Copyright © Linda Marshall. All rights reserved.
by Glen Cohen
Safety is the most important element of an emotionally mature relationship. If either partner experiences untrustworthy actions from the other partner, this can cause abandonment fears to be triggered and sensitized. You can help restore safety to the relationship by following these steps:
The partner whose behavior is untrustworthy needs to own the fact that he or she lied, and convey this in a sincere and genuine way. Safety can be restored, over time, by accepting absolute personal responsibility for untrustworthy words and actions.
Next, the partner who has been betrayed must be able to express how the situation affected him or her and how it reminded them of past abandonment wounds. Whatever time is necessary must be available for the release of the negative energy associated with this situation.
The offending partner must be present and willing to listen, understand, validate and to have empathy for all the thoughts and feelings expressed by his or her partner.
The untrustworthy partner must commit to honoring the way in which their actions have wounded their partner. He or she must agree to never say or do anything that would pour any more salt on to that wound
The betrayed partner must understand his or her wounds and the associated fears of abandonment. He or she must also try to see how these fears have affected them and the relationship with their partner.
All of these steps take time, understanding, and a willingness to work on the relationship. If both partners come together to work through their issues, these steps can be very helpful in healing the relationship and restoring safety.
Copyright © Glenn Cohen. All rights reserved.
PartnersinLife.org, is a resource for couples offered by Relationship Coaching Institute, a worldwide relationship coaching organization dedicated to helping singles 'find the love of your life AND the life that you love'; to helping new couples 'make a wise choice in a life partner'; and to helping any couple 'fine tune and keep their relationship healthy and fulfilling.'
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Linda Marshall, M.Div. | Director of Couples Programs Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
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