Feeling perpetually insecure in our relationships sometimes says more about our own personal anxieties than it does about the actual relationship itself. This is why letting go of insecurity can be so important for the success of what may actually be a great partnership.
According to psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D in an article for PsycheCentral, some of us connect with others in what is called "anxious attachment," as opposed to in a more healthy and functional way. She noted that individuals with anxious attachment believe they're flawed and that it's just a matter of time before their partners leave them. She also noted that anxious attachment — and the insecurity that causes it — can cause unfounded feelings of jealousy, as well as lead to pushing one's significant other away in an attempt to lessen the hurt of a potential rejection.
The bottom line is that our own insecurities can be toxic to the health of our relationships, and they can even lead us to self-sabotage a good thing when we find it. If any of this sounds relatable — maybe you often feel yourself getting jealous, or always have a feeling that your relationship is just "too good to be true"— you could be letting your insecurities get the best of you. If this is the case, here are seven ways to let go of your insecurities and just embrace your partnership.
1. Stop Trying To Mind Read
According to life coach Marc Chernoff in an article on his website on ways to stop feeling insecure in your relationships, the first thing you must do is stop trying to be a mind reader. "Most relationship problems and associated social anxieties start with bad communication, which in turn leads to attempted mind reading," he said. "If someone says one thing, don’t assume they mean something else. If they say nothing at all, don’t assume their silence has some hidden, negative connotation. Likewise, don’t make the people in your life try to read your mind."
He also reminded us that we should accept that we actually aren't entitled to know every little thing that another person thinks, and should instead remember to respect their private thoughts. "Constantly asking, 'What are you thinking?' can provoke a person to withdraw from a relationship to find space," he noted.
2. Don't Invent Problems
Chernoff also stressed the importance of not inventing problems that aren't really there. "Inventing problems in our mind and then believing them is a clear path to self-sabotage." he said. "Too often we amuse ourselves with anxious predictions, deceive ourselves with negative thinking, and ultimately live in a state of hallucination about worst-case scenarios. We overlook everything but the plain, downright, simple, honest truth." If you're with someone you love, and they make you happy, just embrace those simple facts and don't try to overcomplicate.
3. Don't Seek Reassurance
In a piece for Psychology Today, psychologist Lisa Firestone said to avoid constantly seeking reassurance from your partner. Constantly checking in with another person and asking them things like, "Do you love me?" or "Are you still happy with me?" may drive the person away and illicit the opposite response that you're craving, making the cycle worse. "Remember, these attitudes come from inside us, and unless we can overcome them within ourselves, it won’t matter how smart, sexy, worthy or attractive our partner tells us we are," she said.
4. Go All In
Firestone also noted that having one foot out the door in a relationship in an attempt to protect yourself from potential hurt is surefire way for your fears to become a reality. "When we take a chance without letting our insecurities dictate our behavior, the best case scenario is that the relationship blossoms, and the worst case is that we grow within ourselves," she said. Accepting our partner's feelings for us at face value is a necessary and important part of this step.
5. Catch Yourself Saying "No" And "But"
In another article for Psychology Today, psychologist Marcia Reynolds said to stop yourself when you hear yourself saying "no" or "but." She noted that often times when we vent to a friend or voice an insecurity to a loved one, we'll disagree with their words and assurances regardless. "I know you say it's obvious he's crazy about me, but he doesn't call as much as he used to," or, "You say you're happy, but I'm worried that you're not," are examples of ways we do this. She stressed the importance of truly considering the other person's words and ideas instead of dismissing them in favor of our own.
6. Know Your Patterns
Becker-Phelps stressed the importance of recognizing your own patterns and the roots of your feelings. "How do you repeat similar patterns in different relationships or in certain relationships over time?” she asked. "How do these patterns reflect your inner experiences and your beliefs about yourself and your emotional availability to others?" Once we begin to realize that our insecurities likely have very little to do with the behavior of our partner and much more to do with our feelings about ourselves, it becomes much easier to break the cycles of behavior and self-sabotage we may have engaged in in the past.
7. Practice Self-Compassion
This one may sound hokey, but Becker-Phelps lists it as one of the most important parts of releasing insecurity. "With compassionate self-awareness, you will be able to nurture a stronger sense of yourself and a more secure way of connecting with your partner,” she said. She suggested trying to approach yourself and your emotions the way you would a friend or loved one — with support and care. Remind yourself why you feel the way you do and tell yourself it's understandable to feel that way given your personal set of experiences, and then separate your feelings from the reality of the situation.
Insecurity has the ability to take over our thoughts and make us see things that have no connection to the actual reality of our relationship. The key is to be conscious that what you're feeling has more to do with you than with anything else, and controlling patterns of behavior before they affect the health of your partnership.
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