Relationships can break your connection to your family. Relationships can be the ultimate symbol of growing up. They represent starting our own lives as independent, autonomous individuals. This development can also represent a parting from our family. Much like breaking from an old identity, this separation isn’t physical. It doesn’t mean literally giving up our family, but rather letting go on an emotional level – no longer feeling like a kid and differentiating from the more negative dynamics that plagued our early relationships and shaped our identity. Love stirs up existential fears. The more we have, the more we have to lose. The more someone means to us, the more afraid we are of losing that person. When we fall in love, we not only face the fear of losing our partner, but we become more aware of our mortality. Our life now holds more value and meaning, so the thought of losing it becomes more frightening. In an attempt to cover over this fear, we may focus on more superficial concerns, pick fights with our partner or, in extreme cases, completely give up the relationship. We are rarely fully aware of how we defend against these existential fears. We may even try to rationalize to ourselves a million reasons we shouldn’t be in the relationship. However, the reasons we give may have workable solutions, and what’s really driving us are those deeper fears of loss. Most relationships bring up an onslaught of challenges. Getting to know our fears of intimacy and how they inform our behavior is an important step to having a fulfilling, long-term relationship. These fears can be masked by various justifications for why things aren’t working out—but we may be surprised to learn about all of the ways that we self-sabotage when we get close to someone else. By getting to know ourselves, we give ourselves the best chance of finding and maintaining lasting love. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
In the arithmetic of love,
one plus one equals everything,
and two minus one equals nothing.
Love is often unequal. Many people I’ve talked to have expressed hesitation over getting involved with someone, because that person “likes them too much.” They worry that if they got involved with this person, their own feelings wouldn’t evolve, and the other person would wind up getting hurt or feeling rejected. The truth is that love is often imbalanced, with one person feeling more or less from moment to moment. Our feelings toward someone are an ever-changing force. In a matter of seconds, we can feel anger, irritation or even hate for a person we love. Worrying over how we will feel keeps us from seeing where our feelings would naturally go. It’s better to be open to how our feelings develop over time. Allowing worry or guilt over how we may or may not feel keeps us from getting to know someone who is expressing interest in us and may prevent us from forming a relationship that could really make us happy. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
I feel it take over,
It knocks out my wind,
The feeling then lowers,
And it hits me again,
I feel like I’m falling,
This time it’s for real?
Or am I logically stalling?
Afraid to feel.
From “Time To Be Bold” by Dennis
Many of us struggle with underlying feelings of being unlovable. We have trouble feeling our own value and believing anyone could really care for us. We all have a “critical inner voice,” which acts like a cruel coach inside our heads that tells us we are worthless or undeserving of happiness. This coach is shaped from painful childhood experiences and critical attitudes we were exposed to early in life as well as feelings our parents had about themselves. While these attitudes can be hurtful, over time, they have become engrained in us. As adults, we may fail to see them as an enemy, instead accepting their destructive point of view as our own. These critical thoughts or “inner voices” are often harmful and unpleasant, but they’re also comfortable in their familiarity. When another person sees us differently from our voices, loving and appreciating us, we may actually start to feel uncomfortable and defensive, as it challenges these long-held points of identification. With real joy comes real pain. Any time we fully experience true joy or feel the preciousness of life on an emotional level, we can expect to feel a great amount of sadness. Many of us shy away from the things that would make us happiest, because they also make us feel pain. The opposite is also true. We cannot selectively numb ourselves to sadness without numbing ourselves to joy. When it comes to falling in love, we may be hesitant to go “all in,” for fear of the sadness it would stir up in us. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
Your greatest task
isn’t to find love,
but to discover
all the barriers
that you have
built against it.
Real love makes us feel vulnerable. A new relationship is uncharted territory, and most of us have natural fears of the unknown. Letting ourselves fall in love means taking a real risk. We are placing a great amount of trust in another person, allowing them to affect us, which makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Our core defenses are challenged. Any habits we’ve long had that allow us to feel self-focused or self-contained start to fall by the wayside. We tend to believe that the more we care, the more we can get hurt. When we enter into a relationship, we are rarely fully aware of how we’ve been impacted by our history. The ways we were hurt in previous relationships, starting from our childhood, have a strong influence on how we perceive the people we get close to as well as how we act in our romantic relationships. Old, negative dynamics may make us wary of opening ourselves up to someone new. We may steer away from intimacy, because it stirs up old feelings of hurt, loss, anger or rejection. As Dr. Pat Love said in an interview with PsychAlive, “when you long for something, like love, it becomes associated with pain,” the pain you felt at not having it in the past. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
Love takes off masks
that we fear we
cannot live without
and know we cannot
James Arthur Baldwin
There are some who might argue that falling in love is by its very nature a sign of mental illness. It’s not natural to develop such deep emotional bonds and passionate feelings so quickly, and the expression of those feelings can often border on the irrational. The need to be in the company of a loved one can override physical pain or all sense of propriety. That person can almost fulfill the role of a drug or any other addictive substance. Society appears to encourage some irrational behavior when it comes to passionate romance, but there is clearly a line between passion and obsession. After the initial rush and excitement of a new romance has had time to cool a bit, one partner may notice that the other’s behavior has changed significantly. Petty arguments become much more heated quickly or expressions of affection become more serious. He or she may seem to be demanding more and more of your time and attention, to the exclusion of other friends or family members. If this is the case, you may be caught in the unhealthy throes of an obsessive relationship. Sometimes an obsession will burn itself out and the relationship returns to normal, but other times the obsessed partner will exhibit signs of true emotional instability, love addiction, and codependence. From an article by ichael Pollick, http://www.howtodothings.com/family-and-relationships/a1953-how-to-recognize-an-obsessive-relationship.html
Just because something is addictive
doesn’t mean that you will get addicted to it.
But . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
if your stomach ties up in knots while
you count the seconds waiting for a phone call
from that special someone . . .
if you hear a loud buzzing in your ears
when you see a certain person’s car (or one just like it) . . .
if your eyes burn when you hear a random love song
or see a couple holding hands . . .
if you suffer the twin agonies of craving for
and withdrawing from a series of
unrequited crushes or toxic relationships . . .
if you always feel like you’re clutching at
someone’s ankle and dragged across the floor
as they try to leave the room . . .
welcome to the club.
Ethlie Ann Vare
Just as you have choices about how to interpret an event, you also have options about how to express those feelings you experience. Often we limit the range of our expressive options by erroneously believing that there are only two options: either directly expressing them to someone else (e.g., in a personal confrontation), or “swallowing” the feelings and keeping them to ourselves. In actuality, there are many ways to respond to your feelings and express yourself. To some extent, you express a feeling any time your behavior is influenced by that feeling, but the way you express that feeling, and the intensity of that expression can vary widely. This is where decision-making comes in. First, consider what your options are. For example, if a close friend is planning to move away, you may feel very sad about that. You have numerous options here. For example, you can tell your friend how much you will miss him/her. Also, you can make a special effort to spend more time with him/her. These options may be painful at the time, but they give you the opportunity to express your feelings to your friend. On the other hand, you can avoid the friend until he/she leaves town so you won’t have to say good-bye. Or you can stay busy making other friends so you won’t miss this particular friend as much after he/she leaves. These choices may allow you to postpone or avoid painful feelings at the time, but they do not provide the opportunity for closure with your friend. The point is that you have options, and it’s your decision. Here are some useful questions to consider when deciding how to respond to your feelings:
– Does the intensity of my feelings match the situation?
– Do I have several feelings that I need to pay attention to?
– What interpretations or judgments am I making about this event?
– What are my options for expressing my feelings?
– What are the consequences of each option for me?
– What are the consequences of each option for others?
– What result am I hoping for?
– What do I want to do?
– What if I do nothing?
Even doing something like taking a deep breath or going for a walk to think about it can be a way of responding to your feelings. Remember that you have many options when it comes to expressing emotions. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
The best and most beautiful things
in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.
Feelings are an important part of you. In order to live fully and effectively, you need many sources of information (e.g., your senses, your thoughts, your perceptions) to guide you, motivate you, and help you make sense of things. Your emotions provide one such source. Often, there is a strong relationship between the events in your life and your feelings–for example, to feel sadness in response to loss, or to feel happiness in response to something desirable. Feelings may also be related to past events or even to expectations of the future. For example, sorrow about a recent loss may evoke sadness from past losses. These feelings can be an important source of information as well. Rather than ignore or exaggerate your feelings, it is helpful to be able to take your feelings as they are, accept them, think about them, and learn from them. When you are feeling something consider asking yourself the following kinds of questions:
What is this feeling?
What is this feeling telling me about this situation?
Why has this feeling come up right now?
Raise your words, not voice.
It is rain that grows
flowers not thunder.