I am going to assume that if you are reading this, you consider yourself ready to find love, are struggling with dating or building a lasting relationship and wonder what might be going wrong for you. Instead of pinpointing what you might be doing wrong, I want to explore how your thoughts, attitudes and cognitive beliefs may be creating barriers in your love life.
I am a huge believer that our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs shape our world and the way we see ourselves and others. What we focus on in our minds expands into our lives and therefore, as a psychotherapist, I am a huge advocate for my clients making healthy mind shifts to powerfully create the reality they seek. For you, this might mean shifting your focus away from what is not working as you date to what is possible for your love life. This might also mean reevaluating the beliefs that guide your behaviors and actions, as well as the expectations you set for yourself or others.
So how do your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs affect your relationship status? Our core beliefs drive the way we view ourselves, others and influence our interactions and relationships. We develop our core beliefs throughout significant events and experiences in our lives. We maintain our core beliefs by focusing on experiences and information that support them, while ignoring anything that contradicts them. In turn, these beliefs may become rigid, inflexible or increasingly negative if we are not aware.
Examples of core beliefs may include thoughts like, “I am not worthy of love. I always fail at relationships. Things don’t work out for me. I am invisible to men/women, or love is not in my future.” You will naturally begin to behave in ways that are in accordance with your core beliefs, so if your core beliefs about yourself and love are negative, you might be facing problems in the love department.
You may be familiar with the psychological term, “self-fulfilling prophecy,” or the idea that a false belief becomes a true reality when you believe it. Your dating expectations may cause you to behave in the very way that fulfills these expectations. For example, if you believe that all of your partners will end up being disloyal, you may be acting in a way that brings out exactly what you expect.
The good news is that a self-fulfilling prophecy can go both ways — positively and negatively. If you believe you are highly deserving of love and picture yourself attaining long-term commitment from a partner, you will act in ways that promote these beliefs. It is so important to remember that we construct our realities based on what we think and believe, which is why taking care of ourselves, developing our self-awareness, being mindful of our thoughts and feelings and treating ourselves and others with compassion are important to our health and wellness.
Some of my single clients looking for love speak about beliefs that are irrational or unrealistic in nature. A common one is, “I have not found The One yet, so I never will.” I hear this from younger clients who are in no way doomed forever, realistically speaking. However, this idea impacts their ability to be open to love, creating another possible roadblock. Someone operating on that belief may have high, unattainable standards for his or her dates, say no to dates with potential good matches and compare themselves to their married friends, ultimately believing that they will end up alone.
Again, your beliefs directly affect your dating behaviors and how receptive you will be to potential partners. We all develop stories about ourselves and how we fit into the world. These stories may become so ingrained in our minds that it is hard to see clearly, causing us to act in ways that promote this story to play out in our lives, actions, behaviors, choices and relationships. Our stories may not be rooted in reality, setting up potential blockages to what we want, especially in the area of love.
Spend some time getting to know the story you tell yourself about your life and your deservingness or ability to have love. Examine how your story affects how you date or how you feel about yourself in relationships. After some evaluation, ask yourself: Is my story working for me? Is it guiding me to the present and future that I dream of?
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!