Do you feel like it’s hard to trust what people say even if there’s no reason to doubt?
And maybe you feel like you can’t fully be yourself, and are secretly terrified that they will leave at any moment.
When you let down your guard, do you struggle through intrusive thoughts, nagging you to find fault in them before they find fault in you?
If any of these experiences happen to you, please know that you’re not alone.
And when exhaustion seeps in from the continuous self-doubt, disappointment, and fears of rejection, it's time to redirect the energy back to self-healing and personal growth.
It's not uncommon to lose your perspective and authentic sense of self when situations don’t turn out the way you wanted them to. Anger, sadness, and resentfulness can overshadow positive memories and push our ego to self-protect, putting up walls so that we can avoid feelings of rejection, shame, and abandonment.
No matter how many distractions you use to avoid feeling the pain of a broken relationship or rejection and conflict at work, the most intrusive anxious thoughts will creep back in until you do transformative healing. This goes beyond just changing your attitude and mindset. It involves delving deep into the root cause of your lack of trust and exploring your past to understand how your attachment and interaction style was shaped by early life experiences. This work will form a more robust, mature emotional foundation within you so that you can navigate relationships with resilience and authenticity rather than fear.
Our journey through life is marked by the relationships we form, each with its unique influence on our personal growth and understanding of our inner self. By probing into past, current, and desired relationships, we can uncover critical insights about ourselves across seven key areas. These areas can hold both constraints that hinder our progress and potential stepping stones to robust, fulfilling relationships. The beauty of this exploration is that our deepest wounds often morph into our greatest superpowers. Once we come to terms with them and learn to wield them effectively, they empower us to navigate relationships with greater resilience and empathy. This, in essence, is our journey to self-improvement – turning adversity into an advantage and shaping our relational landscape in the process.
Seven Key Areas
1. Trust Examine your relationship with trust and mistrust. Trust is the basis for all relationships. If your early life experiences were positive, they allowed for the adoption of a trusting attitude. If your early life included difficult relationships and dynamics, perhaps because of instability, inconsistency, invasion of boundaries, or even actual threat of harm or alienation, you probably have blocks to trusting people.
Ask yourself: How is trust built for you? How is it broken? What are your golden rules for trusting other people? What characteristics do you look for in a new relationship? What behaviors or decisions in your past relationships didn’t work and damaged your trust?
2. Respect The word means “to look back at.” Interesting, since most of us would probably say that respect means having reverence for someone or something. But the origin of the word shows us it’s about the mutual mirroring of emotions, feelings, and beliefs. Respect predicates that “What I see in you, I hold just as important as what I see in myself.”
Ask yourself: What do you believe you do/exhibit that should be respected by others? What do you respect in others? How does this mirror your relationships? What does disrespect mean to you?
3. Commitment Once trust and mutual respect are established, your focus will shift to a decision to whom you will commit your full time, attention, and energy. If you want healthy, fulfilling relationships at work and in your personal life, you will reserve commitment for only those people who have proven that they are capable of being authentic, working out the hard issues with you, and are ready, willing, and able to share themselves and to have you do the same. Ask yourself: What have been your best experiences with commitment? What does commitment look and sound like at work? What does it look and sound like in personal relationships: familial, romantic and platonic? What blocks you from committing? How do you know when you are ready or not to make a commitment?
4. Empathy & Compassion While these concepts are synonyms, they are not the same. Empathy means being able to feel and understand someone else’s pain. Compassion is taking action to relieve the suffering of another with no agenda or asking for anything in return.
Ask yourself: How empathetic am I really? What did I learn in my early life about empathy? How was this modeled? How empathetic am I to people at work, in my family, and in intimate relationships? How could I be more empathetic and compassionate? What do I wish others would demonstrate towards me?
5. Communication “People are talking, but not really listening” is one of the most common complaints of people in conflict. Even shallow interactions are better where there is a foundation of trust, commitment to listening and understanding, and basic respect. In healthy relationships, there is a common purpose where it is safe to express feelings and beliefs free of judgment, criticism, alienation, and anguish.
Ask yourself: What do I do that is great communication? What could I do better? What habits do I have that were learned in my early formative years that aren’t great? What do I wish others would do more of when communicating with me?
6. Intimacy Intimacy requires vulnerability: you are willing to show parts of yourself that you are not so sure about or that you don’t love: your weaknesses, your neuroses, your wild dreams and fantasies that could be embarrassing, and the things you like least.
Ask yourself: Who are you the most intimate with and why? What does vulnerability feel like in your body? How much can you tolerate and what does it feel like when it might be too much? Historically, when do you hold back and feel you can’t be vulnerable? What does it look and feel like at work vs. in personal relationships?
7. Partnership At an early age, we observe (and make mental notes) about partnership, or the lack of. You watched caregivers, parents, teachers, and coaches interact with each other. You watched people get along without issues. And you watched some people carry more of a load than others. You watched and listened to people agreeing, disagreeing, forgiving, and holding bitter resentment. These imprints last a lifetime until we recognize and choose to replace the ones that aren’t serving us. Now, in your adult life, you are most likely looking for balance, commitment, flexibility, willingness to forgive, and compromise in your relationships.
Ask yourself: What does partnership mean to me at work and in my home? How do I rate myself as a partner? What would I like to see others doing more of or less of to make our partnership healthier? How flexible am I? How well do I compromise? Am I able to forgive myself and others? How well do I ask for what I need and for help? What could I do better?
To stay true to yourself no matter the external circumstances, it is important to do your transformative healing work. This journey will enable you to understand how your past has shaped your attachments and help you form a strong emotional foundation within you that is resilient and authentic. Ultimately, this process will lead you towards healthy relationships with trust as its bedrock.
If you are ready to start this journey of transformation, join our AVVI Collective Membership for resources, coaching, healing, and in-person retreats. We can walk with you as you experience breakthroughs and create the life you dream about.