Black Holes seem endless. I wonder how much people could accomplish in their lives if there wasn’t so much relationship anxiety. Trauma in relationship causes so much relationship anxiety around getting hurt that it impacts people’s ability to be the best versions of themselves. The anxiety impacts people’s ability to be able to actually pursue goals, passions, work, or to be creative in areas to help either reach their purpose, goals, or dreams.
Our brain is always and I mean always trying to protect ourselves. The conscious mind is always trying to protect ourself. The subconscious mind is always trying to protect ourself. The unconscious part of the brain is even more sending signals of red alert to protect its self - all the time. We can’t always rationally tell this is happening either. We need to be able to feel the emotional response our body is having. Most of us don’t have very high EQ (emotional intelligence) and most of us don’t know how to tell this is happening in our bodies. Most people’s “smoke detectors” are broken. The smoke detectors are constantly saying red alert, red alert, and ringing like a facet that won’t stop dripping. A smoke detector is similar to when the kitchen has smoke in it and the smoke detector starts going crazy (which is so annoying) but there isn’t actually a fire in the house, its just smoke. The point of the smoke detector is to protect you from a potential fire.
There are two important types of attachment. The first is genetic. This is the genetic bond we have with our blood relatives, starting with our parents, then our siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. That attachment is there no matter what the emotional bond is. The second type of attachment is the emotional bond. That is the friendship, the love, the emotional connection we feel towards our loved ones, friends, colleagues, public figures, etc. In love relationship this is the love bond. In another blog I will talk more about attachment and the science in depth. I like to think of the attachment like a cord that is holding the relationship together on two ends. For now, it is important to know that whenever this attachment is threatened at all, in any sort of way, fight or flight mechanisms happen in the brain. The red alert starts going full force! Code red, 1011!
Cortisol releases first in the body which can start to put us into fight or flight. Cortisol feels like when you stand next to a cliff and your body feels that pit in your stomach like you need to step back from the cliff or you could die. We start to go into shock whenever our attachments are threatened. Adrenaline also releases in the body if the response is to heightened. This further creates the fight or flight mechanisms. This is why the “smoke detector” is going crazy. Adrenaline also shuts down rational functioning in the brain. We can’t think clearly (rationally) until we have done something to cope and break our body out of fight or flight.
“We are never so vulnerable to suffer as when we love. “- Sigmund Freud.
When we are constantly fixated on our partner and ways that they will or can hurt us it is almost impossible to pursue goals. Furthermore, doing things to prove our love for our partners fears doesn’t allow us to pursue our dreams, goals, and passions as we should. The effect that our partners have on our health, wellbeing, and defensive properties in our body and mind are constantly impacting our ability to enjoy life the way we should. Cortisol and adrenaline are shutting down parts of the brain to keep us safe on purpose. It’s a massive problem, most of the time we are safe and not in danger, but just hearing smoke (get the pun?).
I truly believe we need to learn how to trust each other or heal so we can focus our energy on our dreams or maybe even our needs. People can be focused all day on all the ways their partner can hurt them - this doesn’t allow space for the mind to be creative. The brain struggles to focus energy to be creative and think about our dreams. Or to plan our dreams out and chase after them. We are so focused on making sure our partner doesn’t hurt us that we can’t make positive steps to grow.
Too many people stay stagnant in relationships and then it stunts them developmentally which doesn’t allow space for growth. If we are constantly planting and watering the same seed of trust and I’m not going to hurt you. How do we expect it to grow? Or I have to prove that I’m doing this to not hurt you. How do I plant another new seed for growth or change in my life? Or once I plant a good seed of growth, health, dreams, if my focus is on not getting hurt? How do I spend the necessary time to water and weed around that new planted seed and give it the attention it needs to grow like it should. More over, if I constantly dig up the seed I buried and watered to see if it’s still there or growing will it ever take root and actually grow?
It is instinct a lot of times to protect ourselves but we need to learn how to differentiate between anxiety and fear and or the truth or at least rational truth. Most people can come up with very rational situations in which they can be hurt. That doesn’t mean they are true! If we focus our mind, attention, on these hurts (or potential hurts) how then can I focus on my own needs? We need to appreciate and see the love our partners has for us and not just see all the things they could do to hurt us. If people don’t love you the way you want to be loved and aren’t helping you to grow and achieve your goals what are they there for? I know that sounds harsh but seriously, what are they doing for you? Sometimes a good gardener will prune a branch that is impacting the whole vine so that way the whole vine can continue to grow.
A lot of people in relationships have so much trauma and pain compartmentalized that it is constantly being projected onto their partner. It is true once you let someone in or trust them that they could now hurt you. But it also is true that they could not hurt you. It also is true that someone could hurt you whenever they want actually.
Trying to control our partners from hurting us doesn’t actually work either. For example, I need sleep but I can’t sleep because I am obsessing about my partner hurting me while they are out at the bar - so I can’t fall asleep. Now I wake up tomorrow tired and not functioning like I should because I didn’t get any sleep. Again, the relationship anxiety kept me from meeting my basic need of sleep. These moments in time continually drain our emotional love tank with each other. More over, my relationship anxiety is impacting my ability to meet my needs. Staying up anxious all night didn’t prevent or stop my partner from doing anything they shouldn’t have done in that moment at the bar. Most of the time, the fear actually just hurts us. Too much anxiety from one partner leads to the other feeling controlled, micro managed, judged, hopeless, defeated, unseen, and tons of other negative emotions. Futhermore, people let out that anxiety or fear on each other (which is very unhealthy). This continues to create even more toxicity and hurts in the relationship and drains the love we have for each other. It is healthy to express or communicate the emotion, expectation, or need but not to let it out negatively on each other. It is never healthy to let out a negative emotion on another person (I will talk about this more in future blogs.).
I want you to ask yourself some questions. I want you to be really honest with yourself and weigh these questions with truth and honestly. Don’t just look at the negative of them but both sides the best you can.
Does my anxiety in this relationship actually help me or hurt me?
How often do I spend thinking about my partner hurting me? Honestly, most people its so much thought life they can’t quantify it.
How often am I thinking about ways to protect myself from my partner hurting me?
Can I actually stop my partner from hurting me with my anxiety?
If I learned to control my anxiety and fear in this relationship how much more focus could I have on other important areas in my life?
Back to question 2. In that amount of time how much effort and time do we spend working through or fighting about ways in which my partner has hurt me in the past or will hurt me again?
Do you actually resolve the fighting in question 6?
If I spend just 1 hour a day focused on the negative aspects of the relationship, what could I accomplish if that 1 hour was spent on being creative or working for myself to better myself? To grow positively.
If I used my time to better myself and make myself better how much more do I think I could have a healthier relationship? Or maybe even a happier self.
Would you be more in love with your partner or more content if you didn’t have so much relationship anxiety?
How often do you retreat into yourself for protection against your partner? How does this negatively impact the cycles in your relationship? How does this impact friendship and both your moods in the relationship?
If I knew my worth and knew how to communicate my needs and boundaries and then found out my partner broke my boundaries what would I do?
The anxiety I am sure protects you some but how much does it actually protect you or actually stop your partner from hurting you?
Do you deserve to be honored and loved in life?
Do you deserve to get your needs met?
Do you deserve to meet your own needs?
If my partner continues to cross my boundaries what do I need to do to get them to honor me and meet my needs around safety or love? If they can’t meet those needs what should I do?
Healthy communication around boundaries, expectations, and needs is huge when it comes to helping bring joy and peace to the relationship. We need to learn our own trauma and how we’ve been hurt. We need to learn from the pain to grow and understand what hurt us. Then usually we can communicate what the boundary or expectation is that we need to feel safe. When we don’t learn from our trauma and just focus on the negative in it, we just obsess on all the ways we got hurt. More over, we ruminate on all the similar ways in which we could then get hurt again, in the future. The goal should be how can I(we) learn from it and communicate what we need out of that pain or situation we went through for the future. Before long, our partner can understand the needs and try and meet the needs. Then in healthy relationship being able to communicate what that healthy boundary or expectation is. When people actually love us they want to honor us and meet our needs more often. Most people attack each other over their fears (not needs) and criticize each other instead of effectively communicating the needs that they have.
Skills to manage and control anxiety, defensiveness, and fear are essential to have in life and in relationships. We need self-esteem and self confidence. You need multiple coping skills to deal with your anixety and your relationship anxiety. Without this skill set we will constantly be riddled with fear, anxiety, and defensiveness. When we attack our partner in our defensiveness we also hurt our partner! If we continue to hurt our partner trying to protect ourselves from getting hurt how much are they gonna feel loved, accepted, trusted, honored, valued? Will it continue to create another pattern where they are just going to start acting like you because they are hurt. Being able to control our protective nature is essential to healthy relationships.
A very healthy strategy for controlling the anxiety is to give up control. It will feel paradoxical at first. Apart of giving up control is understanding how much control we actually have and then going to focus on something you can control. Something in this that you can control is meeting your own needs. Say you want to be a nurse but never feel you have the energy or desire to study that entrance exam test for nursing school. You know deep down that is what you are suppose to do but keep putting it off and off. If you spend all your energy all day protecting yourself from potential harm how are you ever going to improve yourself for the future? For example, a healthier option is to notice your cooking and while you are cooking you are thinking about the ways your partner is or can hurt you. Once you notice this, stop yourself. ”Self, stop giving them so much energy. I’ll deal with that if it comes. I don’t have to worry about that in this moment.” Reframe the thoughts, something like that then say, “I am going to focus on something healthy for myself.” For example, that potential nurse could say I am going to focus on studying for the exam that I want to take here in the future. Doing that more often will allow space for you to grow and also will help with your anxiety tremendously. If the person actually hurts you or breaks your boundaries there wasn’t anything you could do to stop it anyways. Now, you must decide what you are going to do, after the boundary is actually crossed.
The anxiety loop is an endless - a black hole of darkness. It doesn’t actually help you like the darkness wants you to believe. It just sucks you into a void - a vortex of toxicity and turns your frequency to negative energy. That negative energy usually gets wasted away and isn’t turned into love, joy, or peace which are essential things we need in relationship. They are the water, sunshine, and soil to help the seed to grow. Using the instinct and want to not get hurt as motivation to love yourself and honor your partner with healthy communication of boundaries and expectations is way healthier and way more effective. It also allows more room for you to grow and reach more of your goals. It fights codependency. It allows us to be closer to our purest self which is our best forms of self. You need to be able to be in the world and be the best version of yourself - everywhere. And believe it or not the world and people around you need you for your talents and powers and the good inside you.
Welcome to the Belief Center For Family Therapy’s blog posts. This blog post is free, I hope you enjoyed it. This is one of many posts that you will have access to with a subscription of $25 a month. You will get access to 2 blog posts a month similar to this. The blog is a discipleship program.
Do you yearn to grow? The blog is meant to be a discipleship for both men and women. The blog will be overflowing with modern psychology, science, spirituality, mentorship, life coaching principles, healthy living habits, response cost, and tons of seeds for growth. I have a Masters degree in counseling psychology with years of service. I am a mental health profession. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist. My purpose on this earth is to help people reach their goals, to empower people to live the healthiest life they can live.
Some topic areas are: personal growth, parenting, relationships (with healthy sexual content), self awareness, anxiety, depression, mental health, and hope. The blog will have practical examples that I teach everyday to all my clients in therapy. This will help you to walk in your divine spiritual purpose. To live in your heaven and create possibilities for choice to grow and impact the world for better. Plant a seed, water it, and watch it grow into a tree. That tree turns into another tree, then eventually a forest, that forest now turns into an ecosystem for many different plants but also animals as well. The beautiful ripple effect of one seed!