“It’s okay to care what people think. Just know that there’s a difference between respecting someone’s opinion and needing their approval.” ~ Lori Deschane
My date, an attractive student in his twenties, was excited to tell me, but all I could think of was this.
“How can I make her like me?”
“How can I impress her?”
“How can I make her laugh?”
Every word I said, every response from her, every moment of our interaction agonized over, pouring out every detail I could find or imagine under the microscope of my mind…and suddenly , the date is over!
As I said goodbye and left the cafe, I remembered our conversation. hang on. what did we talk about? what did i say?
To my horror, all I remembered were anxious thoughts. I said the wrong thing! She frowned! Tweeted! Even more awkward!
In that moment, I felt trapped in my own hell. And I had no clue how to get out.
For years, I was stuck in a seemingly eternal loop of social anxiety and failed relationships.
I almost failed to create new romantic connections. If there was a chemical spark, it was gone by the end of the first date.
And when did I have a girlfriend? I sacrificed my needs to please her as much as possible.
Seeking change, I embarked on a years-long journey of learning and reflection…
I have read dozens of books on relationships and communication. Take multiple mindfulness courses. Journal and meditate daily. I asked my therapist for advice.
After 4 years, 4 things I’ve learned about worrying less and loving mindfully.
To love mindfully is to accept your insecurities.
Whether you feel like you’re not successful enough, wealthy enough, smart enough, or attractive enough.
what is your biggest fear?
That may be at the core of your social anxiety.And when you’re socially insecure, you sensitive to judgment—especially if it concerns your deepest insecurities.
For example, if you feel insecure about your appearance, a comment about acne may feel like a criticism of your overall appearance. Anxiety amplifies criticism, making it bigger and stronger in your mind.
Stakes?When you are unaware of and unacceptable to your insecurities, they can shape the entire dynamic of your romantic relationship. may even please or hide their true nature
Renowned clinical psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Black calls this the worthless trance. in her words:
“Basically, the familiar message is,”your natural way is not okayto be accepted, you have to be different from who you are. ”…
When we are in this trance, we live in a trapped awareness of who we are.When strong, our beliefs and scarcity It prevents us from being intimate and authentic with anyone. We feel that we are inherently flawed and others will find it. The fear of failure is so constant that it’s hard to let go of your hypervigilance and just relax. Instead, we obsess over hiding our flaws or trying to be a better person. “
My biggest fear, and still is, is that I haven’t had enough success. As a result, I felt compelled to “win” my partner’s affection and make up for what I lacked, so I said and bought things to please my partner. When I shared this with my dear friend Laz, she said something profound:
“You can date more successfully.”
The Power of What She Said Is Psychological Flexibility: Embracing Your Anxiety and Your desire to improve without straying from romance. Focus on “this and that…” rather than “either…”.
Mindful love is accepting disagreements and disappointments.
For someone like me who is socially anxious, disagreements and disappointments can feel like a threat to end the relationship. It can be seen as a sign that you are ignorant or need to change your mind.
For example, if you like dancing and your date says, “No, I don’t want to try dancing,” you start thinking, “Are they implying that we’re not compatible?” maybe. “Actually, I don’t really like dancing.”
Fear of disagreement or disappointment often results in conflict avoidance and over-tolerance. Over time you lose your sense of self in a relationship. You are no longer the complete and vibrant you. It’s a tragedy, isn’t it?
I know all of this very well as this has been my default interaction mode for many years. I have come to serve my partner’s needs and preferences rather than being an equal romantic partner. Now, I am learning to accept that it is okay to let others down and that doing so makes me feel bad.
The truth is that even the best relationships experience disagreements and disappointments. The reason is simple. You can’t agree 100% or always meet each other’s needs.
Mindful love is accepting and respecting their choices.
Codependency recovery coach Haley McGee defines codependency as:
“Codependency exists between partners who rely on each other primarily for their values and goals. There is a tendency to neglect oneself.The result?a painful and visible loss of ego.”
Sounds like a people pleaser if you ask me.
In fact, there is a lot of overlap between pleasing and codependence, at least based on my experience. If you are a people pleaser, you put your romantic partner’s needs before your own, and your happiness depends on theirs.
In my case, I took too much responsibility for my girlfriend’s feelings and problems. If something went wrong in her life, I tended to make my own mistakes and did my best to make her feel better.
I’ve learned over time that love isn’t about helping your partner solve their problems or make them feel better all the time. Instead, support and encourage when needed, but don’t be a babysitter. what do you mean? “
- It’s not about “fixing your emotions” (as clinical psychologist Aziz Gazipura, Ph.D., who I highly recommend learning from, by the way).
- Don’t give unsolicited advice (the persuasive phrase is “should”)
- not make decisions for them
Mindful love is accepting the possibility of a breakup.
When your partner breaks up with you, it can feel like a blow to your ego. For many, it is the ultimate form of rejection. You may be so afraid of the possibility of a breakup that you spend all your time with your partner looking for signs of breakup and trying to prevent it.
You may also settle for good but not great relationships.Eliora Porter, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was suggested:
“…Socially anxious people may tend to stay in fewer homes Optimal relationships for fear of having difficulty finding new partners if they end the relationship.
So how do you accept the painful possibility that your relationship may one day end? Accept that relationships don’t have to be permanent to be successful. It won’t last forever, but we can enjoy each other’s company and help each other learn and grow. Adopting this mindset allows you to get out of your head and appreciate the relationship in the moment.
See also the broken heart silver lining. If a relationship ends due to incompatibility, you are given another chance to find a better mate.
In the past, I kept unsatisfying relationships going way longer than I wanted because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find someone else. ? I was on Tinder when I was single, and I got more matches than I expected.made me realize that “Hey, I’m not or Not attractive after all.
In summary, mindful love looks like this:
- Accept your anxiety.
- Accept disagreements and disappointments.
- Accept and respect their choices.
- Accept the possibility of separation.
And above all…
Mindful love is a dance between your needs and your partner’s needs.
You are always acting from a foundation of self-awareness and compassion, balancing both with empathy.
About Ian Chu
Founded by Ian Chu deeper conversationDespite his social anxiety, he has spoken to over 10,000 people and has been featured in top media outlets such as CBC, Inc. Magazine and TEDx.