I used to think that I had “issues” with romantic relationships.
No matter how hard I worked on myself and the relationship, it somehow did not work out. When I looked at how I do relationships closely, I was able I identify certain patterns that showed up as the core way I function. I may not have a full picture of all my set of behaviors and patterns, but recognizing a few big themes surely helped enlighten my path quite a bit.
The hardest part was to get to a point where I knew I had to look deeper into me and how I play into those patterns that lead to pain and unhappiness. I had to overcome a lot of inner resistance to reach that point. Sometimes, becoming fully aware of our emotional patterns can bring up feelings of shame. We may tell ourselves, “There must be something wrong with me if I have these issues” and live a life that affirms that feeling of unworthiness. Life can get very heavy if you don’t know what to do with these feelings of shame. Our reaction to it can be anything from isolation to unconscious self-destructive behaviors. The shame prevents us from taking responsibility for the part we play because it is too hard for our sense of self to face our mistakes and refrain from labeling them as failures.
I struggled with shame for many years. It skewed my perception of events and life in general. I felt inferior to other people who didn’t seem to have my issues. Living with shame fueled my addictions and justified my isolation. It robbed me of enjoying life and prevented me from accepting and loving myself just as I was. I needed to change. It was time for me to lovingly shine a light on those areas where I knew I could grow. This process starts with naming the behavior (pattern), accepting it without judgment, and working towards transforming it.
In my case, giving one’s self away in order to keep a relationship has been a pattern of behavior among the women in my family. It was passed on from my great grandmother to my grandmother, then to my mother and on to me. And although I am the most educated woman in my family, that didn’t prevent me from making the same mistakes, ignoring my intuition and putting my relationship before myself.
So, a pattern is a pattern; it has nothing to do with how smart or great we are.
Once I realized the cost of shame in my life and holding onto my, “There is something wrong with me” belief, I felt motivated to change my perspective about my issues. This new way of looking at my behavior greatly helped to relieve the feelings of inadequacy and restore love for myself.
Here is my empowering new take on what I previously considered was wrong with me:
Instead of seeing my past behavior in romantic relationships as a defect I need to hide away from the world, I view it as an outdated pattern I am working on transforming. This issue is here to be healed because it no longer contributes to the evolution of humanity.
I came to understand that our “issues” are actually our assignments for spiritual growth.
Finding this pattern in the previous three generations of women in my family allowed me to see its progression over time; how one generation did better than the one before. Considering that these women did not have the access to the information on personal growth abundantly available to us now, I’ll say they did great! I honor them for their efforts and for laying the groundwork for me. I am even grateful for the mistakes that I have an opportunity to learn from.
This shift in perception has provided many benefits to me, including peace of mind and increased self-love. I have identified the top three benefits from this change in my perspective:
Since many generations of women have been working on my particular pattern, I can pick up from where they left off. All I really have to do is make my own mistakes, learn from them, and reach a level of awareness to not repeat them again. Looking at it from this standpoint reduces shame, normalizes my experiences and takes the pressure off of having to do it perfectly (another reason why we may not want to acknowledge it in the first place!)
This doesn’t mean that I just fold my arms and consider it done. In fact, as I continue my inner work with intention, the quality of my relationships and my life increases. Working intentionally to develop a stronger emotional platform for the next generation may not be the easiest path, but I believe it to be a worthy one.
Opportunity for Freedom
The belief, “There is something wrong with me” is replaced with, “I don’t need to be fixed. I am working on an energy pattern that my soul took on.”
That feels more empowering, doesn’t it? Taking on the challenge in this way makes me feel like a spiritual warrior rather than a broken person who doesn’t deserve love. I now find pride and a sense of service in doing my inner work. I am much more compassionate towards others and far less critical and spiteful of myself. This shift in thoughts, beliefs, and actions has proven to be a recipe for my happiness, and something I can knowingly pass on to the next generation.
The Generous Connection Opportunity
When I share my story and experiences authentically, I find that I connect with people who are working on updating the same pattern. It is as if we are meant to cross paths or have been drawn to share in each other’s stories.
Additionally, thinking about the millions of people I do not know who are working on this pattern makes me feel connected. Whether or not I get to meet them and shake hands or swap stories does not even matter much. I am comforted in knowing that we are all teammates. And we have our own little teams within teams.
When we see our “issues” as our assignments for spiritual growth, they become a real opportunity for our souls and the evolution of humanity.