THE BLOG
09/05/2012 09:09 am ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

A Lesson in Affection: Taking the Garbage Out

Why is it that after finding the love we have been looking for, we run through it like a dog with muddy paws running through a clean house?

Therapists will often point out to us that it is typical for people to work out their longstanding emotional issues in their intimate relationships. For example, if someone had a disapproving parent -- a parent who let them know that no matter what they did and how perfectly they did it, they just never measured up -- they will find themselves repeating this dynamic in their intimate relationship and a spouse or significant other will mirror the disapproval of their mother or father.

The voice and critical words of the disapproving parent live in the person's head, intermingling with their own thoughts, and they feel that nothing they do is good enough. Such a person may be overly critical to their partner while at the same time desperately craving their approval. The relationship then becomes the potential vehicle for this person to begin working with their need for approval, and with self awareness and the proper tools, this issue can be brought into balance and the relationship will begin to reflect a new level of healthy interaction.

Operating from a place of sincere introspection and self-analysis, such a person can begin to hear and see themselves when they get off track and fall back into old patterns of inappropriately criticizing and blaming others, and they now have the opportunity to self-correct their behavior. When this process occurs with mutual respect, empathy, and compassion the connection between the two people is strengthened and their friendship and partnership is enriched.

Too often, however, we use our relationships as a dumping ground for our issues and "act out" and make poor choices due to our unacknowledged insecurities. So if this same person with the disapproving parent remains blind to how this experience affected them, they carry the dysfunction into their relationships. They may have a tendency to complain about or criticize their partner even when it is unwarranted, and the issue really lies with them and their negative internal dialogue. Conversely, they may be overly sensitive to constructive feedback and take it as disapproval when their partner simply communicates his or her needs. Hence, they bring all of their emotional baggage and plop it down in the middle of the relationship, and like a sack of garbage it begins to stink and cause other problems.

The issues we can bring into the space of our relationships are many: insecurities about our worthiness and fear of not being good enough, fear of being rejected or abandoned, fear of being used or abused, fear of letting our inner light truly shine, fear of being better than others... yes this is a fear too -- many people who are talented, beautiful or super smart are afraid to embrace it because it makes others uncomfortable. And the list goes on.

The quest to find and maintain the relationship of our dreams begins with us. When we become self-aware and take strides to correct the imbalances we see by addressing our insecurities and other issues resulting from a painful past, we give ourselves a chance to enjoy rewarding intimate relationships. When we finally find the love of our lives, we can protect and cherish this gift much the way wealthy people protect their money.

How do we do this? In my opinion, we clean ourselves off before we step into the sacred circle of the relationship. In other words, deal with your baggage. Go to a qualified therapist or life coach to face and begin to heal your wounded inner child. Take a self-help course or go on a personal development retreat. Pray to your Creator to ask for guidance and then meditate to connect with your Source and hear the divinely-inspired answers to your questions. Then, most importantly, put into positive ACTION what you learn and discover.

When we leave our issues at the door and treat the relationship as a sacred space that is to be honored, cherished and regarded with the utmost respect and care, we give our relationship the priority it deserves as something we value. By putting ourselves first and taking care to resolve (re-solve) our own emotional garbage before we dump it into our relationship, we clear a space where love can live.

Listen to Akoshia's prescriptions for improved relationships every Saturday at 7 p.m. EST on WHCR 90.3 FM New York, or streaming live at www.whcr.org when she presents her segment "Today's Lesson" on the Urban radio show "A Lesson In Affection." Airing Saturdays from 6 - 8 p.m. EST with host Mark Lo playing only the best in love songs, podcasts are available at http://lessoninaffection.podomatic.com.

For more by Akoshia Yoba, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.