I’m worried that I sabotage my happiness when it comes to relationships. I am always tossing away the “good” ones. Most recently, I broke up with Peter after six months of dating. We were perfect for each other in many ways. He is kind, funny, intelligent, and we share many interests. The problem was that he adored me and his kindness made me uncomfortable. I know this is unhealthy, but I prefer men that are emotionally distant. A part of me is hoping Peter will give us another chance, and I don’t want to mess things up again. Any advice?
Embrace the Divine Female
One of the most fundamental keys to life is knowing that within us there are countless “parts” that conflict. Some of these parts act consciously based on past experiences and others do not. All of these parts serve us well and protect us from pain. It sounds as if you are making positive steps forward as the man you describe is not distant. Take some time to journal these different parts of you and hear their fears. Know in your sacred heart that you deserve the very best of a relationship in this lifetime. Begin to connect to the divine female woman in you. Get her to talk/put an arm around those fearful parts and keep walking forward. When you are standing in your adult divine female, there can be no sabotage.—J. Kersel, London, England
The Elephant in the Room
It seems to me you’re avoiding the obvious fact that you don’t like Peter. He is not for you. You must take some time to analyze why you would want an emotionally distant man. Is it the challenge? Is it fear of intimacy? Why wasn’t your last relationship with an emotionally distant man successful? While someone may seem right for you because all the boxes are ticked, this does not necessarily mean that he moves you or is your soul mate. Perhaps you felt uncomfortable with Peter’s adoration as you knew you did not feel the same for him. This does not mean you will not like a nice, caring, intelligent man. You just need to find one whose feelings you can return.—L. Reich, Denver, Colorado
Carl Jung described the part of us that keeps us from the truth of our whole selves as the “the inner saboteur.” I love this term. When I think of my inner saboteur, I imagine a matador with a crimson cape who comes sweeping into the ring of my life, hacking away at everything I think I want. He demands that I wake up and look at painful areas of my life and ask, “What is the lesson here?” With consciousness and awareness on my part, he then exits (with much less drama), leaving behind the gift of awareness, which is choice.
With conscious awareness, Jung taught that we regain our power over ourselves and our lives. He wrote: “The archetypes are living psychic forces that demand to be taken seriously, and they have a strange way of making sure of their effect. Always they’ve been bringers of protection and salvation, and their violation has as its consequences the ‘perils of the soul.’”
It helps to give your inner saboteur (also called an inner critic), some kind of costume or character. In her work with the shadow side of archetypes, author Debbie Ford’s book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, asks clients to list parts of themselves that they don’t like or suppress, and give them silly names and characters. This character can be masculine or feminine. Take a moment and name the part of you that keeps you from happiness in relationships. What does he or she look like? What is he or she wearing? What function is he or she serving? In doing this quick exercise, you will gain greater awareness of this part of you, and with awareness comes freedom and the ability to embrace and transform this aspect of yourself.
London based psychologist Naomi Shragai believes that self-sabotage may help people avoid risk or rejection as it keeps them locked into a safe and repetitive, but unsatisfying, behavior pattern. It is not uncommon for fear of any kind to drive self-sabotage. Fear of success, fear of happiness, fear of having what you want, fear of intimacy, and just fear in general can keep behavior locked into place. To some extent, these fears are based on past experience. If you were raised to expect that relationships included emotional distance, and then experience closeness, this creates conflict. Sabotaging what has the potential to be an emotionally healthy relationship keeps you “safe” because it is what you know. But does it make you happy? Is it in your best interest? Can you bring parts of yourself into alignment and wholeness, into conscious awareness, and start making healthy choices for yourself?
This can get a bit tricky. On the surface most of us would answer a resounding “yes.” Yet a client of mine asked me yesterday, “if I really embraced all aspects of myself and went for the best of life’s possibilities, that would leave me with nothing to complain about. Where would I be without that as a crutch in life?” I have repeated this with her permission and I think it is a great question for you. Where would you be in your life without the drama of rejecting the men that are kind to you? What would you do with all that extra positive energy? Can you greet your relationship saboteur, get his or her message, learn from and integrate it into who you are, so that you no longer need to act out behaviors that don’t bring you happiness? This is the gift in your question—in time for the holidays and just waiting to be unwrapped.
I find that I fail to assert my needs. In most of my relationships, I’m the one to initiate talks but don’t seem to assert, or at times, know what I want. My pattern is to then withdraw or communicate with too much anger. I am often left feeling like I have failed. Any tips on helping me find the middle ground? My problems with communication are affecting all areas of my life and I’d like to start 2008 off on a positive note.—Maria
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