Emily was despondent over her most recent love relationship. She and Jim had started seeing each other several months ago and at first Jim seemed different than other men she had dated. They had many more things in common, he was a good listener, and because he had a great job, he took her out for expensive dinners and events.
In the beginning she didn’t mind Jim occasionally cancelling dates at the last minute because of work obligations. It didn’t even bother her when, after making weekend plans, he backed out; she understood that his job was important to him and he was serious about his future with the company.
Then Emily began noticing how often he was distracted, not really asking her any questions about herself or her day but focusing the conversation on his latest project. The fun they used to have disappeared as quickly as his work struggles grew.
As Emily thought about her frustration about Jim, she realized this wasn’t the first time she experienced similar behaviors in past relationships. The men in her life all turned out to have work, not love, on their mind.
At the end of the day they were bright, determined men focused on their job and defined by their work. Their commitment was to being successful in their career, not in their relationship. She had to admit she was attracted to men who were financially successful because she liked the finer things in life they brought her. She wanted them to see her as supportive and loving so she willingly accepted their late minute cancellations. She hesitated out of fear they would get mad to let them know she wanted them to be more attentive to her and more engaged in the relationship.
A pattern weaving through her all her love relationships was becoming clearer to Emily. She saw her role and her boyfriends’ roles in keeping the pattern alive and well.
If the pattern wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t getting her where she wanted to go, what did she want? What kind of man? What type of relationship? In truth, she didn’t know. She certainly knew what she didn’t want; she just wasn’t as clear about what she did want.
Too often we are so focused on the things we don’t want; it’s hard to define what we do want. And sometimes, let’s admit it; it’s much more fun to complain about the bad things than turn our attention to the good things, the events that would bring joy and pleasure into our life.
Yet, the irony is, we get what we focus on so even though we don’t want the undesired person, relationship, or pattern in our life, we tend to attract them like flies because of where we put our focus.
It takes courage…
It takes courage to shift from whining to wishing. To look with clear-eyed vision at the truth of our relationships. It takes courage to define what we really want and shift our focus from problems to possibilities.
Eight Ways to Grow Your Courage for Breaking Old Patterns and Creating New Relationship Patterns:
1. Identify your old pattern.
Write it down in all its ugly truth. Picture it. Give it a name that aptly describes it (humor works here by giving it a name that makes you guffaw).
2. Say goodbye.
Send the old pattern off with a farewell ceremony. Tear up or better yet, burn the paper you’ve written the old pattern on. State your intention to break the old cycle and move on to a healthier one.
3. Identify new patterns.
Dream big. Expand your thinking. Let your imagination go wild and write down everything you want in your work, significant relationships, family, interests and hobbies, personal growth, financial, spirituality, physical health and well-being, and friendships.
4. Keep the focus.
Create a goal book with a page for your each of your dreams. Fill the pages with pictures representing what you want and how you want to feel. Devote five minutes every day to looking at your goal book and imagining yourself with the man, relationship, job, etc. of your dreams.
5. Take one inspired action every day to do something that moves you closer to what you want.
6. Pay attention to people, things and situations coming into your life that match your vision.
7. Surround yourself with people (a life coach, therapist, etc.) who will support you in doing the internal work needed to break old patterns and creating new ones.
8. Go lightly on yourself.
While you’ve been involved in and allowed unhealthy patterns to exist in your life, you’ve certainly learned valuable lessons that you will use to create healthier relationships in the future. Forgive yourself and others so you can release the past and move on to create what you want.
Megan Raphael is an Advice Blogger for mylifecompass.com, a personal development company for women. Known as The Courage Coach, Megan is the award-winning author of The Courage Code, an inspiring book for any woman looking for courage and wanting to live from a place of authenticity. She is a certified life coach and public speaker. Megan is also an enthusiastic Compass coach. Megan is Founder of Courage Project, an initiative helping women find THEIR courage to dive into life. She has over 30 years of experience working as a leader, consultant and trainer in business and industry. She served as Health Director for one of Michigan’s largest Indian Tribes. She is the developer of “Beachcoaching”, an innovative personal development program for women. Megan is living a life of her dreams along the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan with her husband of 35 years, and 2 young adult children.