Stop making the same relationship mistakes
Have you noticed how you leave a bad relationship just to find yourself repeating the same patterns in the following? You’re not alone.
A recent study from the University of Alberta found that people tend to recreate many of the same patterns in their new relationships that they had in the old ones. Although a new relationship may seem better for a while, most of the same problems tend to reappear over time. But fortunately, a little effort and willingness to learn from the experience can help you become one of those “lucky” people who enjoy a happy and satisfying relationship.
With compassionate self-awareness (a combination of self-awareness and self-pity), you can successfully change relationship patterns, either in your current or future relationship. When you see yourself from a compassionate perspective, you will be less defensive and more open to appreciate your part in relationship problems, which will free you to solve them.
In trying to gain a complete understanding of your contribution to relationship problems, it is not enough to say: I have a problem with anger; or I like people who are not good for me. These are good beginnings, but general observations are not enough. You need to be more specific.
You can obtain a more complete self-understanding by directing your attention to 5 basic areas of self-awareness (STEAM), as shown below. (You may also find it helpful to print the Gain self-awareness through the STEAM worksheet.)
Sensations: In a quiet environment, direct your attention to your body. Consider the sensations in your body, such as muscle tension in the chest or tension in the throat.
Thoughts: Pay attention to the thoughts that go through your mind and the way you speak to yourself, observing any underlying beliefs that direct your thinking. For example, if you think you are inappropriate, you could quickly criticize yourself for any mistakes you make.
Emotions: It can be difficult to identify your emotions, and some people overlook their emotions using vague descriptions. For example, someone might say that he is upset, but does that mean he feels hurt, angry, jealous …? To really know how you feel, you must be more specific.
Actions: pay attention to your actions, including what they say about you and how they affect you. For example, you may notice how it degrades when someone compliments you. This could encourage more negative self-perceptions, and could encourage others to see you negatively as well.
Mentalizing: how you understand your own actions or those of another person based on thoughts, feelings or other internal experiences.
By looking at the first four areas of consciousness (STEA), you may be able to see how these aspects of your experience affect you in your relationships. For example, Jen noticed that her body became tense (feeling) after her partner Nicole spent time with friends. She was worried that Nicole was cheating on her (she thought), leaving her feeling jealous (emotion). With a continuous reflection, she noticed that she tended to avoid confrontations (action) because she feared that Nicole would leave her. He also realized that he repeated this pattern in previous relationships.
Self-understanding often helps people empathize and have compassion for their struggles. This clarity can also open it to a healthier and compassionate perspective of others. In Jen’s situation, she
The increase in compassionate self-awareness allowed her to understand her struggles and speak effectively with Nicole about how they could work together to help her overcome her insecurities.
By developing your compassionate self-awareness, you can better understand the dynamics in your relationships, and the role you play in those dynamics. Once you know your patterns, you can make changes in yourself that will allow you to create and maintain healthier relationships.
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