Updated: Jul 9, 2022
In my practice, I found that some people create high expectations through unhelpful beliefs about how things should work within relationships. As one grows, movies, social media, and even fairytales set many of the grounding beliefs for those expectations. When the reality clashes with them, one doesn't often understand how that could happen.
“The most important and most difficult thing
that you can change is your fixed false beliefs.”
Lack of flexibility and inability to adapt beliefs to evolving situations makes relationships difficult to last. Of course, these beliefs have been created over a lifetime. They may have been created at a point of life in which they have been helpful. But, later on, inflexibility around them begins to cause conflicts at work, in friendships, with families, and in romantic relationships. Unfortunately, deeply ingrained beliefs are difficult to break without becoming aware of them and consciously attempting to change them.
Unhelpful beliefs are very pervasive, and challenging them is not simple.
Following are 5 unhelpful beliefs that can contribute to ruining even the strongest relationship. Do any of these sound familiar?
1. Who loves me should know what I need.
We expect our friends or partner to be magically attuned to our needs. We think we shouldn’t have to ask for what we want or need, as the right partner or friend should “just know.” For example, should your partner magically “just know” you would like him to cook for dinner? Or should your friend "just know" what you like or not?
People aren’t mind-readers. Some people may be intuitive, but many are not. They mostly don’t know when something bothers you unless you tell them. Therefore, if you want to be understood and want them to do things the way you like, to maintain a healthy relationship, you need to be open with your expectations and voice them clearly.
Action step: Reflect on what you currently need that you aren’t asking for. Begin to ask for them and be very specific, as everyone interprets things through their personal experience. For example, if you want more attention from your partner, tell them precisely what the attention you want looks like for you.
2. I should manage to do everything by myself.
This belief leads to a high volume of stress in every relationship. The person who does everything better is also challenging for others; it’s frustrating never to be able to give back to someone, as to give to someone we love feels really good. Moreover, the idea of managing things alone better also sets the ground for perfectionism. It puts a lot of pressure, and once this belief is formed, and for you asking for help when needed can become challenging and perceived as a weakness. Relationships are meant to be reciprocal; they are about to give and take. Allow people in your life to share what they can give you and see the possibilities that open up.
Action step: Make a list of things you can tolerate to delegate; allow those things to be done by someone else in your life. Practice asking others for help and keep some tasks to yourself, but not enough to overwhelm you. This way, you will learn flexibility, others will learn to help you, and your relationships will improve.
"True freedom comes when you learn to choose
to change your beliefs rather than running on default.”
3. Setting boundaries or asking for what I need will give me what I want.
One of the most challenging life lessons to accept is that even when you ask clearly for what you need, others may not be able to give you what you want or need. But don’t panic: there are still steps you can take to make a relationships work under these circumstances. First, accept others’ limits; you may have boundaries, but so does everyone else. Some people simply cannot give you what you need, allow your expectations to become more flexible, this may allow you to appreciate differences and accept your and others' weaknesses. If flexibility is not an option for you in this matter, be aware that your only choice is to accept others for who they are or let them go.
Action step: While you should ask for what you need, make a reality check; the only person you have control over is yourself, and you cannot change or force change on others, but you can decide if that relationship could work for you or not.
4. Family and friends should always support my choices.
We all would prefer to have partners and friends who fully support our choices, but it is unlikely to find someone that shares our views completely. Individuality is what makes humans unique, and while you may share some views with families, partners and friends, there will be moments in which your belief of what is best for yourself clashes with others. When this happens, choosing according to your values is essential, and so is staying loyal to yourselves. Accepting that people you love do not always agree with your choices is part of any relationship. Likewise, you won’t always agree with your people's choices, but you can respect the choices that others make, even when you disagree with them.
Action step: Write down your goal and what is important to you according to your values, make a list of pros and cons about the decision you have to take, and support yourself with positive self-talk to keep your boundaries. Even though we would like others to share our perspectives, we are individuals with unique ideas and needs. Once you have heard others’ opinions, always ask yourself how those feels and trust your instinct.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy,
not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
5. The right relationship will feel easy.
Relationships, especially romantic relationships, require hard work. Even with the right partner, you will experience conflicting emotions, and things won’t always fall together perfectly. There are two individuals in any relationship, and there will be times when they will have different needs or perspectives, and it will get challenging. Good communication and working together on setting boundaries and limits that are working for all parties involved is part of building healthy relationships. The effort we put into our relationships to make them work, trying to understand each other perspectives, and accepting and appreciating differences make them unique over time. Therefore, just because the relationship with your partner or friend takes some work doesn’t mean that it’s not right.
Action step: Take a step back and see your partner’s perspective. Make open questions when something is hard for you to understand. Preferably, use questions beginning with how and what instead of why’s. Also, while it is ok to compromise in a relationship, remember that it is never ok to accept abusive behaviours.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Your beliefs can interfere with how you handle any relationship. For example, it can influence how you ask for what you need, accept love and commit to relationships. Of course, we all have relationship beliefs developed over our lives. Still, you have to decide if these beliefs are still helpful to you or not and what to do about them. Changing patterns can be incredibly difficult, it takes repeated effort, and the result is often unpredictable, as changes in ourselves end up changing people's reactions to us. Regardless, you can take the first step against these beliefs today; this will be the first step towards the person you want to be and the relationships you want. If that's too challenging to manage on your own, I suggest you look for professional help.
A professional can offer support, guidance, and solutions to help you grow and improve.
I offer 15 minutes of free online consultation to new clients to decide if we are a good fit.
Feel free to contact me with any further questions.