Have you experienced challenges in your adult relationships? Really, if you are alive on this planet…you have. You may have wondered “what is wrong with me” or “why are relationships so hard” or “I don’t know if I am able to trust again”. Learning to love again after heartache, betrayal, rejection, or even abuse as a child or adult can leave you feeling stuck in moving forward with healthy partners/friendships. You may notice that you are on the defense more times that you like. Always waiting for something “bad” to happen. For instance, even if you are in a healthy relationship now, your body/mind holds memories of past mistreatment/pain and sends a signal which initiates a fight/flight/freeze or fawn response. It is an automatic response based on past experiences. It’s the beauty of our biological system to keep us safe and secure. Therefore, it can be incredibly difficult (feels impossible) to LET IN LOVE. What does letting love in look and feel like? And why would we want to do that?
First off, let’s identify a just a few traits of healthy relationships. These traits can be applied to various types of relationships. You can add more to your list and I encourage you to do so.
· Assertiveness: feelings and needs are expressed directly and in timely manner
· Individuality, freedom, and personal identity are enhanced
· Each enjoys doing things for self, as well as for the other
· Feelings/thoughts shared are genuine and trustworthy
· Play, humor, and having fun together is common place
· Each does not attempt to “fix” or control the other
· Acceptance of self and other for their real selves
· Self-confidence and security in own worth is enhanced
· There is balance between closeness and separation
So, back to letting love in. You can also think of it as letting the goodness in. Allowing it in to your body. Step back from the thinking/analyzing part of the brain. When your friend/partner says kinds words to you, offers a warm gesture, is present with you when you need them to listen, can you too be present a bit more fully? Can you feel the goodness in YOUR nervous system? You may observe more expansion and deeper breathing or soft sensations. Notice all the sensations, the energy, the feelings that stir, the closeness which occurs. It is an intimate experience to share the warmth and love. It is a practice to do this. If it feels too much to “take in” all of it, allow yourself just the right amount in to your system. Your nervous system may be primed for fear of rejection or shame. Your attachment system may lean more towards anxious, disorganized or avoidant. However, it IS possible to transform to a more secure attachment base with extra focus on healing these younger parts of yourself. Therapy that focuses on attachment healing can help you get there.
Let your body/mind know that RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW this is goodness and it can be trusted. Vulnerability is hard as shit. Of course it is going to shake up all the old memories of when you were embarrassed, hurt, ignored. Be compassionate with yourself around this. Notice when the defenses are creeping up and take an intentional breath and step back. Thank them for their duty and tell them it’s time to go on a break. Can you choose to believe that you deserve love and kindness? Yes, yes you can.