Working on the relationship if you’re the only one trying can be difficult. You may feel like giving up or complain to your partner that they are not doing enough or are making you unhappy. You may sometimes find it so difficult to shake off the unfairness, why me, what have I done to deserve this, etc but this will get you nowhere. You must pick yourself up and dust yourself off and carry on.
I learned this lesson when trying to pass my driving test. On the morning before the test I would feel so strongly there is no point I am going to fail, I’d also feel disappointment and worry of what I would do when it doesn’t work out that for the test I was so nervous and panicked. When the dreaded reverse park was asked for I’d feel worry and disappointment inside before I had even started to try it. Hopeless was in me before I’d got into the action. Then after having a major mistake, I didn’t see the point in the rest of the test, done deal I’d failed. I then started the thoughts feeling super sorry for myself. Why does everything mess up for me, how much is this going to cost me, what am I going to say to my managers at work, my family, friends? I’m an idiot, I’m useless, I can’t cope with this anymore would go round and round in my head. Then when the failure was confirmed all the way home I felt so much hate for myself and annoyed at life that my stomach would be in knots. Churning and painful, too stressed for anything.
I wish I knew what I knew now. I wish I could go back to the 23 year old me and say – I love you, you can do this, believe it. I wish I had hypnotherapy tracks telling me I am going to pass and to believe in myself. I wish I could hold and hug myself and say that this negative thinking is a poison that you will have a great life, that your worthy of love and happiness, get into gratitude it’s the first step to retraining the mind, to go for your dreams and drop the self-criticism your get to where you want to go faster.
Sadly I didn’t have that knowledge then. So each test I’d go in with no confidence, dread, and fear. To my credit, I did keep trying though. I would not even wait an hour before calling the driving test centre to book my next test when I got in the door after failing. How many times did it take me, a lot, I will share at the end if you really want to know. The point is my goal was to pass my driving test, and even though it was not looking likely at many points in time, I kept going. I paid for more lessons, more guidance, more tests – I got back on the horse after falling off and tried again.
Creating your ideal relationship is kind of like this. You have to know what you want, be willing to learn new skills and seek the right guidance, and not give up hope, even when all the odds are against you. I finally passed because for me failing was not an option, I had to do it, come what may. My determination got me through… and the result I’m a very good driver now, even if I do say so myself.
So here is how you can help yourself through tough times, especially if you’re the only one trying.
1. Be kind to yourself
The way you talk to yourself is so important, especially if you find yourself in a difficult or demanding relationship. Take time out to repeat positive and caring words to yourself. Do this every time negative words come up. You will most definitely see the impact it has on your mood.
2. Practice breathing techniques
When you find yourself in a difficult situation calm the body and mind by focusing on it and taking deeper slower breaths– yes breathing may seem like the last thing on your mind when going through stress or sadness of relationship issues but it can influence your state quickly when you begin to focus on it. When you are calmer, your reactions will be calmer, you are less likely to be too needy or aggressive. It is also in calm states that we gain clarity and perspective on how to deal with things.
3. Take responsibility for you and you only.
It’s empowering to take responsibility for where we are and are part in situations. This is healthy and when you take responsibility you do not only acknowledge something you own it, by taking corrective actions. This also build confidence as taking action makes you feel good, knowing you are doing something rather than nothing. I get this feedback all the time from those I work with, they feel empowered and good about themselves that they are learning new communication tools and relationship building skills. Rather than staying in confusion or worry.
Sometimes when we love someone, we can feel some kind of responsibility for the way they behave and the way they treat us. We may self-blame or want to manage their life for them. If you can relate to this then you need to remind yourself that you are NOT responsible for anyone else’s behaviour or actions. Everyone has the power to control their own behaviour, to seek help if they need it. The question to ask yourself here is are you caring or care-taking? Caring is looking after someone because you care about them, care taking is where you are stepping in and doing something that that person should and could be doing for themselves. If you are making excuses for bad behavior, putting yourself last, you may think you are helping but in actual fact you could be enabling. Enabling harmful habits will not solve any issues. Boundaries are needed here.
4. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come
The journey to having a close rewarding partnership is not straight forward. We’re made to believe from childhood that you find the one, fall in love and live happily ever after. It doesn’t stop at Disney, modern day movies constantly still portray this. However there evitable are ups and downs. Become friends with your feelings, rather than push them away or drown them out with something else.
Journaling or talking them out can help many. As processing them in this way gives you the opportunity to get your thoughts out of your head and see them for what they are – a bunch of thoughts. That may not be true, may not have happened and may not be ever likely to happen.
Talking it through can also help to set a plan of action in place to deal with different emotions or situations.
I have had the opportunity to support people from all around the world to turn their relationship around by themselves. I will now share the story of Ben and Sylvie to show what is possible when you apply the right steps.
Ben had been married for 12 years to Sylvie who was super loving, caring at the beginning. A warm, affectionate person, over the past few years he noticed a change in her that got really bad the past few months. They argue more than ever and every time he tries to discuss the problem, they end up verbally attacking one another. It’s been months of this, and they haven’t come to a single agreement.
His wife Sylvie is fine co-existing and focusing on other things, like our kids, yoga and seeing family and friends. She does not see the problem and has no interest in making the relationship closer. She told Ben to accept it, as the new way of being and refused marriage counseling because she does not see a problem.
Ben was worried and frustrated as he couldn’t see how to change it. They had become like flat mates. Nicola I cannot have a sexless, emotionless marriage, I’m only 47. I miss her, there is no conversation even or companionship. It’s taking a toll on my health and if she doesn’t change, I will have to make some life changing decisions but I want to try everything first.
So this is how we got working together. You see he had read books, watched youtube videos, listened to podcasts and all the information was saying for him to talk to his wife and tell her how he felt. This was making things worse not better. He was stuck complaining, she found him more annoying and less attractive.
5. How I helped
Very quickly I realised Ben was behaving in a needy controlling and, in some cases, aggressive way. He attempted to bring the old Sylvie back by begging, pushing, arguing, demanding, crying and judging but none of these got the reaction he wanted. To help him stop these behaviours I guided him to release his own negative self-talk, anger and resentment.
I gave Ben the tools to rebuild the love in their relationship, reconnect with one another and build his own self-confidence and self-esteem so he was no longer the needy or clingy partner. As well as change anxious thoughts that kept him thinking the worse all the time.
We talked through all possible scenarios that Ben would find himself in and noted down the emotions he would feel and how he would react. We built his ability to self-soothe in the moment and then create a plan of action that was positive instead of fuelled by anger.
I gave Ben weekly tasks, that aided in him being more fun and enjoyable to be around. Fairly quickly Sylvie began to understand the value Ben brought to the relationship and they are now starting to have more interesting and meaningful conversations, planning activities together and are enjoying each others company again.
Nicola Beer is a Relationship and Anxiety Specialist US certified grief recovery specialist, life coach and hypnotherapist based in Dubai, UAE. If you would like to explore what the relationship and transformation programs look like you can book a free 30 minute consultation with Nicola Beer.