Have you ever said the words ‘what is wrong with you?’ to your partner? Do you struggle against feelings of anger, fear or upset, wishing it away? Do you beat yourself up or blame yourself or your partner when things go wrong? Are you scared of being left, rejected, criticised or all alone? Do you find it hard to tolerate the bad parts of your relationship, the ‘worse’ in ‘for better, for worse’? Do you find that you miss the good bits you used to have?
You’re not alone, in fact, you are in good company. We all struggle in our relationships, and in our lives. It is easy to lash out or blame our partner, but then we miss an opportunity to fully understand why they are acting the way they are, and we may not have considered that what they are doing may not have anything to do with us at all.
We are all a product of our early learning history, and are shaped by things which we largely do not control or choose for ourselves. We do not choose our genetic makeup, as we have nothing to do with getting our parents to meet and create a new life. We have little to no control over how we grow up and how that environment will influence us. We just find ourselves here, in the flow of life shaped by evolution, doing the best we can. It is not our fault.
But these early experiences do shape us by giving rise to fears and beliefs we have about the world. These fears cause us to seek protection – we do everything we can to not make the fears come true. So like a suit of armour which we can put on for protection, we navigate life armed with strategies aimed at protecting us from harm. There is one problem though – this suit of armour may protect our safety, but it does not help us develop safeness. It’s also kind of heavy. By wearing this clunky protection, keeping people at arm’s length, we miss the opportunity for connecting with others, for truly daring to be vulnerable and authentic with another person.
Our experiences also affect how able we are so reach out to others, to show them kindness and compassion. If we have been hurt before, we may expect to be hurt again. We might struggle to figure out which kind of partner would be a good match for us, by seeking to replicate relationships we have been in previously. Or we may hold off making a commitment to someone, as doing so would mean getting really close and vulnerable.
Have you ever wanted to know why we do all the odd things we do? Learn more about the tricky brains we have, and understand why we get so caught up in overthinking and reacting impulsively, or struggling against difficult feelings. This book explains why we act in ways which we may regret in relationships, how we can make sense of them by developing compassion for ourselves and our partners, so we can connect on a deeper level. Using Compassionate Mind Training, we can become sensitive to our own suffering and that of our partner, so we can help alleviate it. It takes courage to dare to be vulnerable with others, to dare to look at ourselves, to lower our guard and really listen. But this way you can create a lasting connection and move towards what is important in your life.