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And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few …
Dating & Relationship Lessons I’ve learned along the way
I’m a firm believer in walking my talk so I thought I would share with you some insight, and key learnings, that I’ve uncovered as a result of my many years of making dating and relationship mistakes, as well as a result of going through my relationship coaching certification training. I’m sharing this with you because, in honesty, what I’ve learned has completely radicalized my approach to dating and relationships. I’m pretty darned sure that this will help you, too.
If any of you have attended my webinars, you’ve heard me talk about these mistakes I’ve made a long the way. I have nothing against making mistakes. Mistakes are great learning laboratories. The trouble was that I felt like shit about myself after I made them. I want to love and be loved – just like 98.6%* of us here on Earth – and there I was, careening around like a runaway train. From beer goggle mistakes, to “mini-marriage” mistakes, “physical attraction” and “scarcity” dating trap mistakes*, I made such bad decisions, and got myself into more compromising situations, than I care to admit. And I’m not kidding when I say some friends confessed their aspirations to get me on a dating reality show. I could’ve been Snooki!!
I dated (as well as impulsively and rashly got physically involved with) not-so-great-for-me guys for a variety of reasons, such as: they had a particular job title and I needed their social status to show the world that I had “arrived” … OR … there primarily was a strong physical attraction and rationalized that this strong attraction was a sign that we were “meant to be” … OR … I was tired of being single … OR … I was afraid that, as an introvert who didn’t like the bar scene, I was running out of options … AND/OR I was growing weary of being asked why I was still single.
I then decided that I wasn’t going to pursue a relationship at all, convinced that if I felt even a modicum of attraction toward someone, I was going to invariably give up the farm and wind up in my own mental and emotional dog house. That strategy wasn’t overly healthy either.
Now, however, my attitude is much different as a result of my coaching for transformation training, as a result of my conscious dating® coaching training, as a result of coaching others, and as a result of continually being coached.
When I first sat down to write this post, I thought I would share ONE big breakthrough lesson – but as I reflected on this and began to write, I have to say there were several. Here are the lessons I’ve learned.
- Exposing My Limiting Beliefs: One of my greatest achievements is recognizing, articulating and engaging with the sabotaging beliefs I adopted as a result of my childhood experiences and working continually to remain aware of this conditioning (with the understanding that these negative beliefs are false). Based on the feedback I continually received from my mother, I came to believe that I Can Do Nothing Right … and I’m Not Good Enough. Trying to do anything in life, while carrying around these beliefs, is like driving a car with the emergency brake on. I also began to see how my patterns reinforced these beliefs. I would date someone who was not right for me, and then when the relationship failed, I would castigate myself and beat myself up for not being smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, successful enough, gregarious and confident enough. What a vicious cycle.
- Letting Go of the Blame Game: Understanding on a deep and authentic level, that my erroneously adopted and internalized beliefs are not anyone’s fault. “She made me feel like a failure” – and other similar statements – is a sentiment that just doesn’t fit in anymore. Most people behave the way they do and say the things they do because they lack insight and skills – they are merely acting in a way that corresponds with their own inner programming as a result of their upbringing. At the same time, we tend to interpret things said and done through our own filters of pain. As I moved into becoming the Architect of my life, and away from a “victim” mentality that blamed everyone and everything else for my unhappiness, I realized that I have a choice in terms of how to respond. Granted, when in the middle of an encounter with someone who lobs a cutting remark at me, it sometimes takes the strength of Hercules for me to remain centered but as a result of my coach training, I’ve been given some nifty exercises to separate fact from fiction.
- Avoiding Dating Traps: I came to understand that my self-sabotaging, limiting beliefs were fueling my tendencies to fall into dating traps (damaging, frustrating and confusing relationship choices that I made because I was “unaware”, disempowered, and unconscious). These dating traps are so pervasive that I am going to offer a special webinar on this topic in the New Year.
- Articulating my Top Values and Relationship Requirements: Probably the most tangible of all exercises but still equally as hard. I came to understand that the long list of traits I expected my ideal partner to embody was bogus and that the magic lies in the qualities that my ideal relationship must demonstrate. That I had to articulate the 6 or 7 non-negotiable requirements – or the events that I must experience in my relationship – to date smarter and up my odds of relationship success. Once I identified those, I had greater clarity in differentiating them from my relationship needs and my relationship wants, which made the screening process easier. I know what I can compromise on, and what I can’t. There’s no guesswork involved anymore. Knowing my requirements, based on my top values, also fueled me to seek out people in general – not just potential partners — who equally love Nature, Creativity, Child-like Joy and Expression (those being among my top values). When my social network is strong and vibrant and congruent with what I love, I know I am strong and vibrant; therefore I’m less likely to make decisions out of desperation. Because this was such a revelation for me, I’m offering a webinar on this topic, too, so you can express yours once and for all, and gain the peace of mind that comes with clarity.
So these are the biggies in my eyes. As a result of all of this, I feel so much better about myself. I’ve accepted myself, and I’ve accepted where I am in my evolution as a person. I am no longer desperate for a partner – and I’ve got the clarity of my values sparkling like a beacon in my life. What about you? How might you be able to apply these lessons in your life?
* I made that statistic up. 🙂
** There are 14 common dating traps that “unconscious” singles (or Zombie singles, as I like to call them) fall into, including the Marketing trap, Packaging trap, Mini-Marriage trap, Sex trap, Fairytale trap and Magical Thinking trap. Before my training as a coach and as an empowered single, I routinely made 9 out of the 14 mistakes. If you’re interested in discovering how to avoid these dating traps, too, please stay tuned for my upcoming webinar, Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot, scheduled for February 4, 2014. Or consider joining me for my daylong Relationship Readiness workshop intensive, scheduled for January 19, 2014. Registration information coming soon. Sign up for my newsletter to receive upcoming announcements.
Conscious Dating® – Relationship Coaching Institute