THE BLOG
09/28/2015 01:32 pm ET Updated Sep 28, 2016

Overcoming Love's Invisible Barriers: 12 Helpful Preparations

Has it ever occurred to you that love may be staring you in the face, but you just can't recognize it? Maybe the person is too easily taken for granted, too available, doesn't push your old insecurity buttons. Or maybe s/he doesn't match up to some antiquated high school ideal about what a good catch is.

Some people have been hurt so many times that they've come to confuse insecurity with love. They get drawn to the hard-to-get and become addicted to the love chemicals of conquest. People with this pattern are called abandoholics. They are attracted to the unavailable; when someone wants to be with them, they become bored and lose interest.

This can take the extreme of pursuing the completely unattainable. People with this pattern are called abandophobics. They pursue the illusion of love rather than seek a realistic relationship. Pursuing a long shot is their way, albeit unconscious, of avoiding relationships altogether in order to avoid the risk of abandonment.

Some pursue hard-to-get lovers to avoid triggering the panic of intimacy. When someone gets too close, it triggers this fear of engulfment -- the flip side of fear of abandonment -- a panicky state that causes the walls close in and we emotionally shut down.

Insecurity is the universal lover's gremlin. It can sabotage our attempts to bring love into our lives. Instead of being self-assured, cool, calm and collected, it short-circuits our relationships with neediness, desperation and a lack of confidence.

At the bottom of love's barriers is universal abandonment fear. This fear, no matter how intense, is not the problem, but how we handle it. When we're ready to overcome our patterns, here are some steps to prepare for this change.

1. Create a life-changing internal connection based on unconditional self-acceptance and self-love. Abandonment Recovery provides hands-on exercises to help you do this. Self-love is prerequisite to allowing yourself to be loved by someone else.

2. Take a personal inventory of all of your patterns of self-sabotage. The 100 Item Outer Child Checklist can help you see facets of yourself that might be hidden.

3. Come clean about these traits with at least one other person, i.e., a sponsor, friend, therapist.

4. In the meantime, begin a journal devoted to your goals. Put pen to paper to list the patterns you are breaking and the goals you are working toward.

5. Use your journal to maintain a daily routine of self-reflection. Your pen is a tool for staying focused. To increase motivation, rewrite your goals daily and chart your progress.

6. Get into the moment whenever possible during each day. For instance, go alone for a walk to consciously take in the sounds and sensations for a designated period, i.e., 20 minutes. Staying in the moment builds internal strength and helps you practice your ability to take in life as a separate person -- good preparation for developing the independence necessary for a healthy relationship.

7. Use your imagination -- a powerful change agent -- to create a mental image of your goals as if you've already achieved them. Picture yourself taking baby steps to achieve your goals, and also feeling good about making these changes, as if the changes are already accomplished. This exercise creates a mind space for goal achievement.

8. Share these images with others to strengthen their mental impact.

9. Rather than hold out for the perfect catch, take it up a notch: Increase your emotional presence and positive energy with your friends and coworkers.

10. Extend this vibrancy to others by stepping outside of your comfort zone to explore new activities. Volunteer at an animal shelter, try a yoga class, join a hiking group, Start a support group, explore opportunities on meetup.com.

11. Initiate one-to-one contact with at least three new people. The purpose here is not to find the perfect match, but to help you explore your alter egos -- different aspects of your personality that may not have found expression before, to help you expand.

12. Stay on the path to becoming your higher self. As you share your higher self with new and old people in your life, you increase your capacity for creating a healthy new connection.