Does this sound familiar? You are in a tumultuous relationship and you are often made to feel as though you are at fault. So what do you do?
You agree that something is wrong with you because, well, clearly something is, right? Look at the pain that you’re inflicting on this other person. Sure, you’re not totally sure that they’re right and you do feel the tendency to defend yourself. But at the end of the day, you’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt.
And you will do it until the day your threshold for pain is breached. Then you will pack up and leave and finally give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Are you right to leave? You’re not totally sure. But what you do know is giving them the benefit of the doubt hasn’t worked at all.
You may even remember other times you left and it worked out for you. You have history on your side. Weird how you never considered it before, but at least you remember it now. You’re willing to roll the dice because you’ve suffered enough. Now it’s time to leave.
And yet, you never really leave. Because you will find someone new and repeat this dynamic until once again the suffering is too much and you end that relationship.
Or how about this. You’re getting to know someone and you think they are incredible. Unconsciously, you’ve put them on a pedestal and you don’t realize that there is a dangerous power differential at play.
This person is externalized happiness for you, and the fact that they are giving you attention is validating your sense of self.
But eventually, distance is being created for some reason and you feel it acutely. Why? Because your source of happiness is leaving, which means your positive self-worth is making a hasty exit too.
The pain of low self-esteem is settling back in and it’s much more violent because you had a taste of high self-esteem and lost it.
If these scenarios sound familiar, there may be a self-love problem. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty likely. However, have you ever considered that you repeat this relationship dynamic because it’s comfortable?
Comfort is a double-edged sword because comfort is all about what we know. If what we know is adequate, then there’s no problem. But if what we know isn’t enough, we will be frustrated.
When I was on the cusp of my twenties I remember reading Neale Donald Walsch’s quote that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I hated it and ignored it for years.
In a life where things were hard enough, the idea of adding more weight, stress and strain was not a welcome notion. Intuitively, I knew it to be true but it was an inconvenient truth.
Technology has made life easier, businesses are modelled in a way to make things more convenient for customers. It is natural for the human to seek comfort, but that is not where growth resides.
When life stagnates, unease and disease is sure to follow. That’s why as much as we try to run from change, we never escape it. Life will always facilitate growth. Death will always facilitate stagnation.
When it comes to relationships, we have a tendency to repeat our pasts. Why? Because it’s what we know. Our subconscious is always aware of who will love us and hurt us in the ways we are accustomed to. We then go to these people, complain about getting hurt, leave and repeat the dynamic somewhere else.
So what does this mean for those of us who treat others better than we treat ourselves? It means that because we minimized our likes, dislikes and needs for the sake of others in the past, we continue to do so in the present because even though we don’t like it, it is what we know. It is our comfort zone.
Furthermore, the reason you can’t be with the person who could actually love you is because such a thing is too amazing, and therefore uncomfortable.
If I gave a poor man $20, he wouldn’t flinch. If I gave him $2 million, he will give a completely different reaction. He might say that that amount is too much and refuse it; he might grab it and run. Either way, he has shown that $2 million is out of his comfort zone.
If I gave $20 or $2 million to a billionaire, she wouldn’t be very animated. She’d just say thanks. Why? Because she’s comfortable with either amount.
It’s the same here. It is possible that people are giving you the love that you want, but you can never be with them because their love is too great. Either you will reject it or you will seize it in joy and sabotage it.
The solution is that we must first change our attitude to discomfort. Former Navy Seal David Goggins often talks about being comfortable with discomfort. He said, “I realized for me to find growth, I had to face all of these things that made me very, very uncomfortable.”
Anytime something in life is eating at me, I know that there is something I have to pay attention to. I’m being called to grow in some aspect and if I embrace it, I will be better and life will be better. That has always rang true.
By doing this, you are increasing your threshold for what is comfortable. Imagine yourself in a loving situation and allow yourself to feel the discomfort. It will be awkward at first, but you will see that if you can’t allow the mere thought of being loved to live in your mind, how can you expect it in reality?
Just like the poor man who goes into his shell or goes berserk in the presence of a lot of money, the potential for being loved is too great for some of us. But if we go into the discomfort, we will be increasing our comfort zone.
We will get more out of life because we know what we deserve and we will be less triggered by the natural variance of life because we took the time to embrace the highs and the lows, the light and the dark.
Allow yourself to grow in this process and reclaim the respect you may have squandered over the years. That pain led you to realize that you deserve better because deep down you know that you deserve better.