WHAT WE BELIEVE TO BE TRUE ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIPS (AND EVERYTHING ELSE) BECOMES TRUE FOR US.
I remember a client once sitting in my office and telling me how much he loved his wife, how great she was and how much he really wanted things to work out between them. The fact that his relationship had been falling apart for quite some time, much like it did in his first marriage, told me that something else a bit more insidious was at play. Then he leaned in, as if someone else might be listening, and said, “Don’t tell her I told you this … but her hair is falling out.”
Yes, his biggest fear — having more hair than his wife — was slowly coming true. And then the shocker of all lines: “Look, I could understand if she was going through chemo, but she is healthy and I am just not sure how to play this.” Mind you, my role is not to pass judgment on anyone regardless of what might come out of their mouths — but this was pushing it, even for me.
I decided to give him a long leash, let him run with this thought and trust that he would take me exactly where he needed to go, and where I could provide him the aha moment he was really paying me for. Within five minutes of his rambling monologue, which flashed back to his first girlfriend in college, otherwise known as “the one who got away”; to his twice-divorced father, who was cheating on his third wife; to all of his divorced friends, who were getting more sex now than they did when they were married, the gem we were both waiting for rolled off his lips …
“Well, you know, Mitch. Relationships have a shelf life. They don’t last forever.”
I cracked a half smile, which he picked up on right away, and without missing a beat he said, “Did I just say that?” I told him I was actually happier to hear that truth than his suggestion that chemo was an acceptable form of hair loss and a reason to stay in the relationship.
Here’s the bottom line: What we believe to be true about ourselves, the world, God, sex, money, relationships, marriage and, yes, hair is our foundation for truth. It is how we have made sense of our world since we took our first breath. There really isn’t a problem until we find ourselves stuck, helpless to achieve a particular goal, be it in business or in a personal relationship. The stuck place is where what we want is in conflict with what we believe.
Feeding versus starving our relationships with beliefs
If you are determined to re-create what you fear the most in your partner and in yourself, you will do it. And if you want to stand up and step into your relationship, then you are going to need to leave some stuff behind. People may not have a full head of hair, but more than likely they have a heart that is filled with love. They may be unconscious around money, but they may be conscious enough to admit it. If we want to keep things alive, then we have to start feeding our relationships, not taking nourishment away from them.
So, how do we shift out of this malignant patterning and gives ourselves a fighting chance to keep the flames alive?
Get clear on what you want. This means honestly assessing what is most important to you, not what you may have been told needs to be important for you; what really resonates strongly from your heart, not your head.
Get clear on what you believe. Look at what upsets you or causes you to judge your significant other or yourself as the window into the things you believe. If you hear yourself “shoulding” a lot, then you have come to the land of what you believe. Notice the inconsistency between want and believe. Unless the two are in alignment, you can trust that what you believe will win out every time.
See the future; then seize it! Your relationship is an endless source of and opportunity for loving and connection. In the moments when yucky sets in, you’ll need to be able to see beyond the sticking points and know that whatever it takes, you’re not going anywhere.
My client opted to speak his truth to his partner and tell her what he believed about relationships having an expiration date and that he was using her sudden hair loss as an opportunity to get out of the relationship. He didn’t sidestep his attraction issues with respect to her condition, and he also didn’t run. Somehow the truth, as painful as it can be to say and to hear at times, is proving to be the glue that holds their connection together.