Relationships are an essential part of the human experience, yet this is the area of our lives that we often struggle with the most.
Do you feel misunderstood, lonely, or unsupported?
Do you find it hard to communicate your needs and feelings?
Have you been betrayed, lied to, or mistreated in an important relationship?
During arguments do you struggle with becoming overwhelmed by difficult feelings?
Do you notice that you never seem to find the ‘right’ person to commit to, or tend to partner with the same ‘type’ of person?
Do you want to experience more connectedness, fulfillment, and joy in your relationships?
Difficulties in our relationships cause us deep pain and suffering and reduce our overall well-being. Most of us saw our parents have a less-than-ideal relationship with each other, and often with us as well. As adults, we tend to get stuck in ways of relating that create distance and disconnection; without knowing an alternative way. It is hard to untangle the underlying patterns that cause relationship problems on our own because they were formed early on and the beliefs that drive these patterns remain largely outside of our awareness. This is why it can be helpful to work with a supportive, caring, and experienced professional. Working in therapy can help:
Overcome problems in your current relationship
Cultivate a fulfilling and lasting relationship
Improve your relationship with yourself
Get unstuck from unhelpful relational patterns
Relational challenges that we experience, whether they be problems in our current relationship; our ability to cultivate fulfilling and lasting relationships; or the way we relate to ourselves, are all rooted in destructive beliefs and patterns that we developed long ago. We formed these beliefs based on our earliest relationships; especially the ones we had with our parents. Compelled by these beliefs about what may happen to us in relationships, many of us engage in destructive patterns in an attempt to protect ourselves from pain, judgment, rejection, or abandonment. We may unconsciously rely on these patterns in any important relationship, but they are especially evident in our romantic relationship (or lack thereof). The three most common destructive relationship patterns are:
Fear-when fear is the dominating relationship pattern, it is hard to form a trusting and satisfying connection with others and to be fully ourselves in relationships. Fear can cause us to avoid getting into relationships in the first place; we may believe it is better to be alone than to face the possible heartache of loss. Fear can also cause us to hide our vulnerabilities, needs, and feelings which prevents closeness and growth in our relationships. In fact, fear can prevent us from even seeing our own needs and we may come to believe that we are so self-sufficient and strong, that we do not need others at all. Fear can lead to a pattern of ending relationships once they start to become more serious and require more commitment. Fear usually works outside of our awareness, so we may not even know that it is holding us back from connecting with others fully.
Focus on Others-we may put too much emphasis on meeting the needs of others rather than paying attention to our own needs. We may do this to maintain a connection with our partner or to gain approval. We may feel excessively responsible and overly guilty in our relationships, constantly trying to make sure that everyone around us is ok. A pattern of focusing on others can lead us to believe that we come second. This can wear down our self-esteem and can leave us feeling depleted, underappreciated, and resentful. After our resources have been ‘used up,’ we may end relationships because we believe this is the only way to create necessary space and bring the much-needed attention back to ourselves. Conversely, we may start to seek attention and fulfillment outside of our relationship and may start an emotional or physical affair. We may also do this as an indirect way of expressing our hurt about the way we feel we are treated. Finally, we may continue in the relationship but grow increasingly distant and hostile, fostering contempt.
Control-when control is the dominating relationship pattern, there is a lack of trust in what will spontaneously happen. We may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility and pressure to make sure everything doesn’t fall apart. As a result, we may try to control ourselves or others. When we are overly controlling of ourselves, we do not allow ourselves to express our real feelings, thoughts, and needs. We may come across as distant, cold, or robotic in relationships and feel deeply misunderstood, lonely, and disconnected. Our control may extend outwards and we may attempt to manage important decisions, future plans, and even our partner’s behavior. Control may cause us to spend significant amounts of time gathering information, thinking, worrying, and planning. We may feel that only we are responsible for ensuring that things go ‘right’ and we may feel a tremendous burden to keep things from falling apart.
Fear, external focus, or control can trip us up and prevent us from cultivating the authentic intimacy that we want deep down. The good news is that we can break through these destructive patterns and uncover our inner capacities for love, connectedness, and joy in relationships.
I offer my clients a unique approach to healing relationship problems. I use a combination of depth psychology, mindfulness, emotionally-focused, and body-oriented techniques that allow people to untangle old patterns and discover their innate abilities to form and sustain meaningful and fulfilling relationships. In my work and life I show up with warmth and authenticity. I believe that each one of us is naturally oriented towards growth, healing, and well-being and I help my clients reconnect to their core self and use their inner capacities.
You may be considering therapy to address relationship problems, but you may have a few hesitations…
“I should be able to deal with relationship problems without help.”
Our culture puts tremendous pressure on us to be perfect in many realms of our lives, including our relationships. It is not uncommon for people to feel that they “should know” how to be in a healthy and intimate relationship. But the truth is, relationships are incredibly challenging and we are not usually taught how to be in one. This leaves us relying on imperfect models of beliefs and patterns that we may have grown up witnessing. For most of us, these are blind spots which remain out of our awareness. A skilled therapist can help uncover these underlying beliefs and patterns and give you the tools needed to overcome them.
“I just have to find the ‘right’ person and all of these problems will go away.”
Relationships are a two way street, and when problems exist within the relationship, it is more than likely that both people contribute to creating or perpetuating them. Even if you are in a relationship with the ‘wrong’ person right now, you may continue to have a pattern of picking similar partners until you heal the underlying beliefs and patterns that keep you stuck. We are often better able to find the right person for us when we are more connected to our core values, needs, and feelings and more able to express them in relationships. Therapy can help you discover yourself and connect to what really matters to you so that you can cultivate the kind of relationship that you really want.
“Talking about this will just cause more pain.”
We do our best to protect ourselves so that we don’t get hurt, so it’s understandable that we would want to avoid talking about something that is emotional or painful. However, deep healing work that creates real and lasting change does brings us into contact with difficult feelings. We may have been able to keep these feelings under control through various strategies, but this usually comes at a price. When we deny our internal experience we are not able to be fully present with ourselves or with others, and we spend tremendous energy keeping the pain at bay. In therapy, we are able to work through and let go of difficult feelings so that they no longer burden us. By working through your pain in therapy, you can ensure that it does not continue to negatively impact you and your relationships.
If you are struggling with relationships, you are not alone. In fact, this is the most common reason that people come to work with me. I have helped many people overcome problems in their current relationship, understand themselves more fully, and learn how to develop the relationships that they want whether they be with their partner, friends, family, or coworkers- and I may be able to help you.
Start on a path towards meaningful, fulfilling, and lasting relationships. Call me today for a free phone consultation. You can ask me any questions that you have about treatment for relationship problems, my practice, and my unique approach to helping clients heal in a way that endures.