Finding Courage to Trust Our Choices.

Via on Apr 6, 2012

 

Photo: Jessie Romaneix

“There is no life as complete as the life that is lived by choice.” ~ Unknown

The problem with many relationships is that we don’t trust our own choices.

For many couples this lack of trust starts early on when we first encounter the difficulties of the relationship. Or, more challenging still, the foibles of our chosen partner. We question whether we have made a mistake in choosing our partner, and often this question comes in the form of pulling ourselves part way out of the relationship.

Look around and notice how many relationships you are in or that you are witness to, which are marked by one or sometimes both partners having one or both feet out the door.

The surprising irony in this lethal trend of relating is that more often than not, we choose well in relationships. If you consider your relationships as the most gentle and thorough education available for growing up and becoming your best self, even the most challenging dynamics in a relationship have something deep and transformative to offer us.

This is often an emotionally wrenching process. Our identity markers, our unresolved past pains and our often, inarticulate aspirations all mingle with that of our partners. It is easy for this messy process to feel like a mistake. We are forced to let go of things that we thought were essential and we are slowly taught how to hold things that seemed impossible.

We can’t do this work justice with only half our presence, and the part that is hanging back is not usually a cheerleader. The part that pulls away from the work often shows up as the small silent voice in your head that says it is impossible, it should be easier, which only confirms the mistake you fear. The piece of our heart that remains is torn before the work even begins, and the result is that we are unable to bring full courage to this essential work of growing up.

I have engaged in this futility for years myself. I was indignant and at times even belligerent about having to deal with my in-law dynamics. It was too painful to bear with only half of me holding it. It took me years, and it is something that I am still coming to understand that choosing it fully is what changes the experience inside.

The often unseen oxymoron of successful relating is that our tendency towards self-protection is better served by subjugating our individual needs to the needs of the relationship. The more that we focus on what the container of our love needs, the more our own needs get met.

Conversely, when standing with one foot out the door, assessing our ability to meet our own needs in the relationship, we create a hole, through which all of the good intention for the relationship leaks out. It is an invisible, slow leak that will undoubtedly drain the relationship’s potential.

The degree to which you hold yourself out of your relationship is proportional to what you are able to get out of it. This is true not only with intimate partners, but with all of our relationships relating to work, family, even our hobbies. It is a tendency that easily and invisibly replicates itself because remaining comfortably disengaged evolves into a mental habit and before long is a personality characteristic.

Moreover, this habitual way of halfway relating often leaves us stuck in the no man’s land of not being able to truly choose when to leave or how to stay. Like the holding pattern of a jet over a landing strip, you are stuck, waiting for a message from the tower, outer clearance that will let you take off or land.

The wisest choice we can make in any circumstance is having the courage to trust our choices and give ourselves fully to the life we have chosen.

This practice will transform all of your relationships, beginning with the one to yourself. There is no halfway in matters of the heart, and living from this space cheats you out of the best life has to offer.

Shakespeare, of course, said it best when he wrote, “See first that the design is wise and just; that ascertained, pursue it resolutely.”

~

Editor: Brianna Bemel

About Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy, she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook, as well as in paperback online. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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13 Responses to “Finding Courage to Trust Our Choices.”

  1. [...] Flipping the perspective allowed me the ability to share in her joy and to be grateful for her gift. I was putting negative energy out into my world and it was coming right back to me like a magnet because what you reap you sow. [...]

  2. Sherri Rosen says:

    Thanks Wendy. Enjoyed this article. Felt good to hear the choices have been good, but people get scared and backout of their commitment with one another. This is the first time I have looked at it that way. We all begin with great intentions.

  3. [...] me, the idea of letting people get closer and really get to know me fills me with trepidation and brings out every defense mechanism I have. [...]

  4. Lakendra Demik says:

    An excellent post and video presentation Dr. Busch!

  5. melissa says:

    love this post. thank you
    "We are forced to let go of things that we thought were essential and we are slowly taught how to hold things that seemed impossible."
    warmly,
    fellow EJ contributor,
    Melissa

  6. [...] Finding Courage to Trust Our Choices. (elephantjournal.com) To be able to have a sustained intimate Relationship, you must respect your partner’s borders, adhere to each other’s privacy, not pressuring your partner and be faithful. A healthy practicable intimate relationship is founded on equal rights as well as respect, but not power nor command. Filed Under: Understanding Men Tagged With: Dating, Intimacy, Intimate relationship, Relationship, Relationship Advice, Relationship Tips [...]

  7. [...] I am the one who will show you [...]

  8. [...] you just have to step into the unknown and trust yourself. Waiting until the next step is in place is not always possible. Sometimes you just have to let go [...]

  9. [...] may know change is the answer. But it’s scary. We know the partner we have keeps us company. We know the job may make us miserable but it is a job. It’s safer to stay [...]

  10. twomoonsrising says:

    Thank you for inspiring me, I've felt so much "one foot out the door" lately in many aspects of my life, I see now that the places I find happiness are the ones that I have fully given myself over to- surrendered and embraced the outcome of. Being conscious of that feels like an easy and almost immediate fix. I enjoy reading all of your posts, wish we could have coffee and chat!

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