Is it familiarity that keeps us trapped in a relationship long after its expiration date?
Consider this paradox: Your relationship feels deeply unfulfilling yet deceptively comfortable. After all, you've lived this way -- for years.
Lopsided love breeds heartache; we feel trapped and alone. And for reasons understandable but detrimental, it somehow seems insurmountable to reconcile or unravel.
What do states of intimacy deprivation lead to in the heart and psyche of a human being?
Too many people find themselves in loveless relationships or marriages that are lacking in intimacy, sometimes on all levels -- sexually, emotionally, intellectually. But we stay, with what's often an eerie unspoken truth looming. Are we expected to garner cherishment from our "mama-energized" relationships alone? How long is that sustainable?
The world is filled with people who are more comfortable being treated poorly vs. being treated well. We must consider the role we play in creating relationships that leave us feeling diminished. To be fair, being treated poorly is a subjective measure and it's not always a matter of blame. Much of the time people come to the table with the very best they have to offer -- that just may not be enough for their partner. Either way, we cannot plead victim when we allow our needs to be neglected. And what example does this behavior portray to our kids, and to others, and more importantly -- to our deepest self?
Why do we sell out? Why do we ignore the veritable translation of the messages we receive from our so-called "desired" mates? Why is it seemingly impossible to take statements or cues from our partner at face value? A satisfying love connection is not of one person's making. It's a natural bond, with some semblance of interchange, of reciprocity; it shouldn't be all that complicated.
Some of us report feeling loved while at the same time, peppered with feelings of dispensability when our partners can't fully commit -- a complex finding, but not all that uncommon. We defend our intensity to transform someone into our golden shimmering fantasy as a fixed measure of our personality, all while knowing the exact composite of who they are. And further, we ignore that tiny voice continually whispering into our ear, guiding us to exit stage left. But we stay. And we try harder. Only to find the outcome often opposes our hopes. And then we brood some more.
Swimming hard against the current becomes taxing, and while extending effort to stay the course is admirable, this shouldn't be about stamina alone. It also shouldn't be about drama or the fuss of pomp and circumstance. It should be about love, connection, respect and self-worth.
When we sell out in one place, it's worth investigating where else we renounce. We stay in soul-roasting jobs because we're under the impression that a default life is the best we can do. Are we at all connected to the motivation of what our business' sense of purpose is? It's refreshing to fight for a livelihood that gets you up in the morning -- if we have the courage to go after it, that is. And when considering various paths, did we take the time to inquire with seasoned professionals, to get a flavor of the good, the bad and the ugly of any given career?
A "job" can be like an angry lover, always wanting more and never giving enough. A "calling" is different. But in truth, many believe acting on a "calling" is pie in the sky, too risky, unable to be parlayed into an adequate livelihood, and most aren't all that clear on what their "calling" might even be. Yet look around. People are doing it. And some with great success. It is indeed possible.
Selling out is a choice. To make change often comes down to a steadfast decision to want more. Yes, it takes guts to take a stand for anything worthwhile in life, no doubt. But flexing those desire muscles feels Herculean once you make headway.
We've all sold out over the years, I certainly have. I've learned that being unfulfilled is tolerable, but only for so long. Ultimately, it brings one to the floor of their soul. It goes beyond dreams dashed. It's never too late though, to get a handle on where our energy should be directed to create optimum well-being. And know this: The next chapter will be better. We certainly owe it to ourselves to extend the effort to uncover "the who" and "the what" and "the why" of how best to serve our deepest desires. Isn't that what living is all about?
Desire is the most important ingredient, the catalyst that creates positive change.
-- Nancy Sherr, The Bravehearts Guide
If we don't take the time to inquire, to know our truest desires and act on what serves us best, we can't really become our finer-self.
Want some tips to help you take charge?
1. Inoculate yourself to the status quo.
Take on the mindset that you are meant to stand out, be unique, defy expectations, challenge the masses and be on the up end of the genre. Remember: Naysayers avoid risk all together. They like vanilla. You can step away from your comfort zone, create something exciting and feel expressed by what you're doing everyday.
Take me for example, I'm a coach and a published writer; I recently launched my first book. Expressing that creativity feels like I'm opening my kimono in front of the world. It's about being okay with being vulnerable. And it's about being okay with getting my ass shot off every once in a while for putting my views out there and having them deemed provocative. Overall, self-expression can be scary at first. But then it becomes fun. Really fun. I reached a point where I realized a vanilla life wasn't an option for me anymore. You will too. First commit to knowing yourself well, managing yourself well, and then leading yourself well. It works. I coach to it everyday.
2. Acknowledge your worthiness.
Perseverance and wanting more is a start. Step away from the chaotic breeding ground of self-deprecation. Redirect the energy you're sinking into a relationship or job you know deep within isn't serving you, and invest it in yourself and in a more thoughtfully designed future. Once you create distance from the toxicity and invest in YOU, you'll realize how smart you really are to have made the effort to shift. It's also entirely liberating.
3. Take a radical stand in relationships that don't serve you.
Reject the notion that that's what you deserve. Can you come up with three compelling reasons why it benefits you to stay? Remember: If you really are selling out, at the curtain call, you'll be grieving the dream -- not the mate. There's a big difference. Envision a loving relationship where your needs are being met, and don't settle for less. How would you best advise your kid or best friend if they explained a similar situation as being theirs? Be shackled no more; it's time to be cherished. Wholeheartedly. No more selling out in love.
4. Stay close to the passion. Emote it.
Passion is infectious. There's a reason why people like to be close to passion. Passionate people draw people to them without even trying. Passion is exciting. It's alive. It breeds positivity. You don't have to be an extrovert to be passionate about something. This is true in relationships and in business. Surround yourself with people who express love and enthusiasm for what they do. Hire them. Partner with them. Befriend them. Maybe even romance them! Passion is a good indication someone is on a healthy path. Instincts will guide you the rest of the way.
5. Smile more. Even if you don't feel like it.
Social psychologist James Laird, Ph.D. from Clark University says there's a decent correlation between making a face and feeling the emotion it normally signals. In other words, there's a lot of evidence that smiling for whatever reason, or no reason at all, contributes to a host of great feedback. When you smile at someone, you can change a person's entire mood -- and yours too. We register smiles, right down to our cells. If you put a smile out and you get one back, you feel connected. A smile actually does the talking for you. And hey -- that's a joyful start!
Life is not measured in a complicated game of mathematical precision. It's better to seek heartfelt clarity in what's true for you, in the parts of your life that matter most, and put that in play. Plan it out as best you can, and then go with your gut. Smile more. And listen to your intuition -- it's got your back, always.
Make a deal with yourself. Renegotiate no more. Don't sell out. Ever.
Nancy Sherr coaches Bravehearted Women Through Big. Life. Changes. A coach, speaker, and author of the celebrated The Bravehearts Guide to Navigating BIG. LIFE. CHANGES., she is also creator of the Society for Zestful Living group program for women. Sign up to get Nancy's free five-part eCourse: Fierce Grace for Bravehearts: a Practical Crash Course in Navigating Change.