Whether you’ve joined the 5 million Canadians who’ve found themselves suddenly single during the pandemic, or thriving in a relationship, one thing is for certain – healthy relationship patterns are hard to form, and our patterns follow us wherever we go.
Our patterns, from who we choose as romantic partners, to how we handle conflict, are deeply rooted in our patterns and subconscious beliefs. The good news is, thanks to neuroplasticity, we can shift the old habits that no longer serve us.
Stop letting your ex take up real estate in your head and heart
If you’re still blaming, analyzing, or hoping to change your ex, you’re still in a relationship with them. The emotional charge keeps you hooked. Sometimes we hold on to the pain because that’s the last part of the relationship we have left. Let it go. Create space for the new energy to come in.
While this might sound easier said than done, the first step, catch yourself when you’re about to talk about your ex, or if you’re going down a rumination spiral. Do something that can snap you back into the present moment. Doing a state change could help, such as doing a few minutes of jumping jacks, or shaking your body or putting your hands in cold water. Then change the topic of focus. If you’re with a friend, talk about a project or something that lights you up. If you’re by yourself, you can look around and start listing everything you see that you’re grateful for and why. This will help your mind change it’s train of thought. It’ll take some practice at first, but by committing to yourself that you’ll stop talking about your ex and letting them take up the precious real-estate in your head and heart, you’ll start to notice it becomes easier and easier.
Try this self-soothing hack
You texted 5 hours ago and still haven’t heard back. The anxiety starts to intensify. While not hearing back from your new beau isn’t necessarily a threat to your survival, your body sure thinks it is. When faced with extreme emotion your body is flooded with cortisol and adrenaline. Your body prepares itself for fight/flight and blood flow rushes to the major muscles of the body to prepare you for action. Instead of absorbing the energy, try shaking your entire body for a couple of minutes to metabolize the excess stress chemicals. Afterwards, take long, deep breaths to calm your nervous system down. Make sure your exhales are longer than your inhale.
Learn how to become more securely attached
Attachment theory suggests that by the age of 2, we develop an attachment style that determines how we will relate romantically as adults. There are three main attachment styles, secure, avoidant and anxious. Securely attached are not afraid of intimacy and are also not codependent. Avoidants subconsciously suppress their attachment system and tend to squelch intimacy when someone gets too close. Anxiously attached have a deep-rooted fear of abandonment and rejection. When they perceive a threat to their connection, they cannot calm down until they get reassurance that the bond is safe. Being aware of your attachment style is the first step, and the second is learning tools to become more secure. You can get a free attachment style quiz by signing up for the Renew newsletter.
Courtship is a waltz, not Zumba
If you have a history of being codependent in relationships or relate to having an anxious attachment style, you likely rush into relationships. Taking things slowly and playing in the gray area causes anxiety and causes you to either put your foot on the gas pedal or self-sabotage. If this resonates, it’s important you learn the art of matching.
The matching approach requires you to give a little, receive a little, and eventually through time, both people are investing and valuing each other in a natural rhythm and flow.
The courtship process is a dance. You take a step and the other person takes a step. It’s a gradual building of rapport and connection. When I say dance, think waltz, not Zumba. There’s a progression of steps that escalate in vulnerability and commitment and you take one step, see how it feels, take stock of how your new romantic interest is showing up, and if the conditions feel positive, then continue.
Matching means taking the time and space to nurture a spark into a flame. It means when you initiate, you also give space and time for the other person to initiate. It means you don’t reveal your deepest darkest secrets on the first date, and allow trust to build before a tell-all memoir. It means if you’ve texted and don’t hear back, you don’t rapid fire five more texts and escalate your emoji game.
If you want to learn the tools to become more secure in your attachment, and create healthier relationship patterns, check out the workshops offered at Renew Breakup Bootcamp.