Love can bring us great joy, but it can also bring us great pain. As much as we crave love, we fear the vulnerability and hurt that may arise. In fact, it frequently is this fear that prevents us from find and keeping the love we seek. We are quick to blame the situation, the date or bad luck, without looking at the unresolved concerns we carry. Frequently, people possess unnecessary shame that feeds a cycle of fear and avoidance that prevents us from keeping love.
Read on to discover eight ways this shame-fear-sabotage cycle manifests:
- Barrier to True Love
Shame creates a limiting belief we are unworthy of unconditional affection. This perpetuates negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Like a virus in our mental software, shame overrides our self-esteem and creates a compulsion to push people away from seeing our authentic self. We would rather hurt than get hurt. Or, having the false belief this relationship is doomed to fail, we may try to subconsciously quicken its demise so we hurt less in the long run.
- Poor Sense of Self
We truly are our own worst enemy. We all too often serve as judge, jury and executioner. This anxiety makes us believe we are undeserving of love and creates negative self-speak to advance these false assumptions and block us from receiving positive feedback. A healthy level of self-esteem has been scientifically proven to an effective predictor of a long-term relationship.
Guilt is anger turned inward. It causes us to feel like we don’t deserve success, joy or love. If we are able to enter a relationship, it is guilt that will prevent true intimacy from being fostered. We feel like if we reveal key elements of ourselves to someone then they will reject and ultimately, abandon us. It is important to work to fully forgive our transgressions and accept ourselves as we are. Only then can we move forward and feel deserving of affection.
- Need to Be Perfect
It’s ok to be flawed, and it’s those blemishes that give us our unique character. Perfectionism is a compulsion to attain and sustain unreasonable benchmarks. When we ultimately fail to hit these marks, we are left feeling anxious and despondent. It blocks us from seeing our value to society and promotes and overly critical view of self. When we focus on what is wrong or lacking, we prevent ourselves from being in the moment and enjoying the ride and unexpected blessings life provides. Instead, be willing to shed some of these unattainable expectations and notice how peaceful you can feel with be adequate or good enough.
- Having a Façade
Its ok to share with people how you really think and feel. If we live constantly behind a mask, sure we can’t be rejected, but we also can’t be celebrated. Being authentic is an attractive quality and allows potential partners to learn more about you, your needs and how to be successful in a relationship with you. Being yourself allows the other person to be themselves as well. This creates a culture for true intimacy to flourish and sets a relationship up for success. Plus, if you can’t be authentic with them, then they can never have the opportunity to surprise you by making your favorite meal or picking up your favorite flowers before a dinner date!
- Need to Always Compare
When you focus on the situation of others, you are preventing yourself from making crucial improvements to your own life. Yes, it might be painful to address latent issues, but if you don’t you can never grow as a person. Pay attention to if you feel the need to be superior to another person. This is a sign that shame is telling you that you aren’t enough. Instead, accept yourself and others as you are and choose to celebrate the unique “flaws” that gives a person their character.
- Distrust is Barrier to Love
Pay attention to your relationship with “trust.” Being too open can lead to you being taken advantage of, while a history of mistrust creates a wall that will shut people out. However, this wall won’t just keep out people who could hurt you, it prevents people from actively loving you. Sit with your feelings of rejection, abandonment and pain. Try to shift to a more neutral perspective to heal from past hurts. Understand what went wrong and work to prevent it, but be willing to give new people the benefit of the doubt.
Never sacrifice yourself to mold to the expectations of a partner. Rise beyond the fear of rejection or abandonment to be comfortable in your own skin. If we can’t align behavior to our standards and values, we create an opening for guilt or shame to settle in. By disconnecting with our inner compass, we jeopardize our sense of self and the ability to maintain a truly loving and supportive relationship.