I used to think relationships had to always be hard.
Full of strife, jealousy and distrust. Subject to harsh words, crossing the line, anger and resentment.
And I found myself in relationship after relationship, whether friendship or romantic, that only confirmed this.
I was convinced I would always have to either suffer in silence or fight for myself. Fight to be heard, fight to escape control, fight to be seen for who I am.
I remember being in one romantic relationship where the fighting seemed endless. It reflected everything I didn’t want in my life, but it also reflected my subconscious beliefs. Beliefs that relationships can’t ever feel easy, that they had to hurt, that they had to weaken us. Beliefs that I wasn’t good enough to expect something better. I knew it was those beliefs that brought that relationship into my life. Eventually, I just couldn’t take it anymore…
I wanted peace. I wanted understanding. I wanted my relationships to feel calm, nurturing and, most of all, respectful.
I wanted relationships that brought the best out of me, not the worst.
I wanted relationships that I knew I could count on, even when I was at my worst.
I wanted relationships that I could nurture whole heartedly, without worrying about the repercussions of exposing my vulnerability.
And so I began to make changes that would ultimately fill my life up with these relationships.
I nurtured the friendships that gave me the feelings I longed for, and set boundaries with those that didn’t. And I fell in love with a calm, peaceful partner to share my life and home with.
These relationships aren’t perfect, nor am I perfect within them. They require work, commitment and dedication. They include bickering and frustration. And within them I sometimes lose my patience, get grumpy or don’t give my best.
But they are always respectful. They never cross the line. They don’t hold grudges. And they feel like a gift to my life every single day. And when things get thrown off course, both parties are always willing to try harder, to communicate more openly and to love more generously. It’s never about proving who’s right or wrong, it’s about working together towards solutions.
If you’re struggling to attract relationships that feel peaceful, whether friendships or romantic, here are a few things that helped me along the way…
Recognize the subconscious beliefs that sabotage you
It’s often said that our outer life is a reflection of our inner life. I believe this to be true.
I knew I held beliefs that were causing me to attract the types of relationships I didn’t want. And until I got really clear on those beliefs, and chipped away at them, I would always relive them.
If you constantly find yourself in relationships full of emotional chaos, you likely have subconscious beliefs that are playing a role.
Those beliefs can’t be ignored, or they will fester and continuously sabotage you.
Face those beliefs. Get clear on what they are and where they came from. Figure out how they’re leading your life without you even realizing it.
If you don’t want your subconscious beliefs to continue to sabotage you, you must become very clear on all the ways they permeate your thoughts and actions.
Believe that peaceful relationships are possible
Despite living through one rocky relationship after another, I choose to believe that longterm peaceful relationships were possible. And I held tight to that belief.
I looked for evidence of this belief wherever I could find it. I found role models to admire and created standards for myself to live by. I held tight to the friendships that made me feel the peace and security I longed for. I let go of relationships that felt too hurtful.
Slowly but surely, my belief in what was possible, changed my actions. And changed who I attracted into my life, and who I was attracted to.
In the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest study on adult development ever conducted, Robert Waldinger, a Clinical Psychiatry Professor at Harvard Medical School, determined that the key to staying happy and healthy as we go through life, isn’t money or fame (as most people assume), it’s healthy longterm relationships. It’s not about the number of people in your life, it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. Staying in high conflict relationships is even more harmful to our health and happiness than going through a divorce.
That knowledge alone, is worth changing your beliefs for.
Determine exactly how you want to feel
If there’s one thing that changed things for me the most profoundly, it’s being extremely clear on how I wanted to feel every day. I had no ambiguity, I knew exactly what I didn’t want, and exactly what I did want. And so I knew what to run away from, and what to run towards.
So often we get so used to something that we don’t think of there being a different way. If we’re used to being treated a certain way, we end up in relationships that mirror that. It’s what we’re used to, it’s habitual, it’s a pattern we recognize, it’s life. And so we stay stuck, feeling crappy and wounded everyday. Feeling like everything has to be so hard.
But if you believe that there’s a better way, and determine exactly how life will feel like once you achieve it, you can slowly start to live your way towards it.
All you have to do is envision it, in as much detail as you can. Make your vision come alive, expect it to enter your life, and then settle for nothing less.
Know that you’re worth it
When we don’t believe in ourselves, we stay stuck in relationship that hurt us. We don’t believe we have a voice. We don’t believe we can do better. We don’t believe we have other options.
To change things, you have to know your value. You have to love yourself as generously as you want others to love you. You have to hold your life to higher standards.
If you struggle with self-confidence, this isn’t always easy to do. I know.
But you have to make the choice. The choice of knowing that you’re worth it. Because trust me, you are.