The Truth Behind Why We Keep Screwing Up In Love
Sometimes I act like an absolute lunatic. This past week, I started a fight with my partner over a trivial matter, and then went on to delete photos of us on Instagram because I knew it would annoy him. I’m continually amazed that my partner, Tim, will not only endure my crazy but also embrace it with love.
After the sobfest, I finally came to my senses, and it occurred to me that I had been feeling exceptionally happy as of late, the kind of happy where it feels like you could bust into song while waiting in line at Starbucks, or rationalize purchasing a bedazzled blazer just because. It was like I had been feeling too good (there is such a thing), and deep down, somewhere in the very core of my being, I couldn’t contain it. The happiness was overwhelming, and so I unconsciously picked a fight with my partner, which I knew would knock me down a few rungs on the happiness ladder.
SEE ALSO: 3 Tips To Keep Self-Doubt At Bay
The Upper Limit Problem
This is the truth behind why we screw up in love – starting fights, sabotaging relationships or acting like a full-on drama queen. It can be difficult to experience happiness all of the time. There is a part of us that craves a good feud or the release that crying gives us, and so we create situations that will cause drama or tension.
Gay Hendricks calls this problem, when we reach our capacity for joy and then unconsciously create something that will bring us pain, the Upper Limit Problem. He says in The Big Leap that, “Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.”
This applies not just to our love life, but also to our careers, diets, and overall physical well-being. We have become conditioned to experiencing the world from a particularly emotional, physical, and spiritual state, which means that, potentially, we could have patterns around the foods we eat, fears and negative behaviors around intimacy, or guilt around our bodies, just to name a few.
We have become so used to being discontent that we sabotage ourselves right when things start taking off for us. We’re working out, dating someone perfectly agreeable, and meditating for 15 minutes each morning, when all of a sudden, the weekend comes and we binge on takeout, break up with Mr. Nice Guy, and decide meditating is an impossible feat only accomplished by Buddhist monks.
How to Shift Our Mindset
The good news is, once we become aware that we are sabotaging ourselves, we can shift our mindset and focus on the solution. Gay Hendricks says the first step to remedying the Upper Limit Problem is to commit to clearing it out of our consciousness. The simple act of deciding and making a commitment is half the journey.
Hendricks goes on to say the next step is to, “Dissolve it by shining a laserlike beam of awareness on its underpinnings-the false foundations that hold the Upper Limit Problem in place. When you shine the light of awareness on the underpinnings, they disappear.” In my case, I became aware of the fact that I had been feeling utterly blissful as of late, and there was an energy in me that wanted to stir up some chaos and indulge in a fit of tears. Maybe I had unconscious beliefs about not being worthy of so much love, and so I unconsciously wanted to start a fight.
Hendricks says another tactic for expanding our capacity to receive good (one that we can practice daily) is to dwell in a radical state of appreciation, meaning, we continuously seek out the good in our life, rather than focusing on areas where we feel unhappiness or lack. Part of the mindfulness journey is about surveying our internal worlds, meaning we look at the feelings we don’t want to pay attention to and notice negative patterns, and in doing so, we clear up space for more joy and love. When we punish ourselves or try to deny ourselves joy, often, it’s because there is a sneaky, unconscious energy shows up as a voice in our head, telling us to eat more ice cream, buy more expensive sneakers, or send our romantic partners mean texts with limited punctuation.
If we’re not conscious because we’re distracted by work stress, negative mind chatter, or the latest TV drama, the Upper Limit Problem can mess up our relationships, grow our waistlines, and leave us feeling dissatisfied and without a date on Friday night; but with a little bit of self-awareness and some radical appreciation, we can expand our capacity for joy and receive more love than we ever deemed possible.
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