Around Valentine's Day the focus for many of us zooms in on love. But before you sign up for a dating service or cast carbs aside forever, give Cupid a nudge in your direction in a new way. Check out your love beliefs.
These are the beliefs we all adopt as we go through life. They represent an assortment of conclusions we come to, things we have been told and have had no reason to doubt, assessments and judgments we make along the way. These beliefs affect our lives in many ways because we live by them whether they are true or not.
When it comes to relationships your love beliefs play an important and overlooked role.
In over thirty five years of working with people to change self-defeating and limiting beliefs, I have gathered examples of these beliefs like a squirrel gathers nuts for the winter. Because what you believe about love may determine what happens to you far more than who you meet or how much you weigh, your net worth or any of the factors we so often struggle with in the search for a loving relationship.
It is the hidden beliefs, the ones you don't even know you have that usually cause the most trouble. But once you know what they are, you can begin to change them.
When you change a belief you have held, the private version of reality you live by can change too. You will seek different experiences and be attracted to different people. In a world filled with people wanting to love and be loved some wonderful potential relationships await on the other side of limiting or self-defeating beliefs.
Here are some commonly held beliefs about love that can ruin a relationship and block the hapiness that comes with sharing love with an open heart:
"I'm not good enough to be loved." Very few people go around saying "I am not good enough to be loved," but this belief shows up in a variety of ways. People who harbor this belief astound their friends and family by how little they will settle for in a mate and how much abuse they will take. Another clue that this belief is in effect is the inability to accept love when it is freely offered.
"Letting go is hard to do." Anyone with this belief suffers long and hard at the breakup of a relationship. Changing your focus from loss and pain to what you want to experience instead will help you to create that experience. The best way to let go is to reach for something else.
"Until I have the romantic love-of-my life I am not a success." Those for whom this seems true fail to enjoy the other wonders in life, friendships, family, and the glory of nature. The pride and pleasure of mastering new challenges mean little or nothing as long as this believer is not romantically involved.
"Love is scarce." This myth causes people to latch on and hold tight at the first hint of a budding relationship. They do not have relationships; they take hostages. When their "prisoners of love" struggle and sooner or later break free, it reinforces the belief that the potential for a loving relationship is slim.
"Rejection has to be painful and is to be avoided at all cost." This belief limits the ability to risk finding out what a relationship can withstand. Avoiding rejection at all cost actually keeps relationships from growing in intimacy and strength.
"I wasted my love on him/her." As if there were some huge rotting garbage heap of wasted love somewhere! The bitterness that accompanies this belief robs the believer of most of the sweetness of life. Although you may not like the results of choices you made,that does not mean that the experience of loving was a waste.
"Love is something you acquire and trade like a commodity." Because it results in constant calculation and evaluation, this belief ends in shallow exchanges and loneliness. For the man or woman who operates from this belief, it also seems real that others view them the same calculating way.
"If you loved me, you would _____ (fill in the blank)." Those who suffer(and suffer they do!)from this conclusion measure how loved they are by how much their lovers give in to their demands. The demands escalate until they drive loved ones away or create a living nightmare instead of a loving partnership.
"Love takes away unhappiness." When someone looks at love through this lens any upset signifies a failure of love. Ironically, when you actively love yourself or someone else, you usually will feel happier. It just does not work when you try to put someone else in charge of your feelings.
Once you identify a self-defeating belief, asking these questions about it can help to unravel it.
1. First, write the belief down so you can focus on it. Ask yourself, "Is that true?" Write your answer down. Don't worry if your answer surprises you. For now, the goal is simply to determine if you really think that particular belief is true.
If you see for yourself that something you have believed, maybe for years, is simply not true, you can begin to change the seeming reality that goes with living by that belief.
2. Why do I believe that? What seems true about this belief?
3. What might happen if I did not believe that? Let your thoughts and imagination go with this one. Write freely. A masterpiece can come later. Right now give voice to the response that comes when you ask the question.
4. If that belief disappeared, would that be ok? The answer to this might surprise you. It often leads to the discovery of some fear you may need to work through.
If you uncover even more beliefs, you can question them as well.
Question your love beliefs and give Cupid a chance! What lies on the other side of limiting and self-defeating beliefs? Infinite opportunities for a life filled with love and happiness.