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5 Relationship Myths To Avoid

5 Relationship Myths To Avoid

Any long-term relationship that’s successful is really a myth that two people create together.” – Dan Savage

Writing this article was a wake up call for me in regards to looking at my relationship with my husband of 22 years. It is a wonder that we have survived. I had expectations about what I thought our relationship should be, and when things didn’t turn out how I expected them to I would feel frustrated and angry, especially in the early years of our marriage.

Now I know why there was so much frustration and anger. My expectations were based on beliefs from relationship myths that existed for the sole purpose of being myths. If I had known then what I now know about the fallacy of relationship myths, I would have saved myself a lot of grief!

I have chosen these five relationship myths because I believe you should avoid these at all costs. If you go into a relationship believing in these five relationship myths, your relationship is pretty much doomed.

Myth 1: Happy Couples Stay Together Forever

This myth is a dangerous one, as it creates the belief that happiness will last forever. The reality is that happiness at the beginning of the relationship is very different to the happiness couples experience at, say, 50 years of marriage.

Believing in this myth means that you are not going to be prepared for the minefield of dangers that couples have to manoeuvre their way through in order to stay together. Some happy couples don’t even make it through and sadly, their relationships end.

At the start of your relationship you are in an ecstatic state where you want to be with your partner 24/7. You love being around them, you love what they say and you love the feeling of being in love. Why wouldn’t you want that to last forever?

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You need to get real and understand that the state of love and happiness changes and it will never be the same as it was when you first were together. To maintain love and happiness in your relationship, you both have to work hard to sustain your happiness and your love for each other.

Get to know the minefield of dangers that you have to work through as a couple and be prepared to go to battle together to overcome these dangers.

Myth 2: He Is My Soul Mate, My World, My One And Only Love

I have always struggled with this myth, as I have never really believed it. I chose this myth because it has now become one that has an unbelievable following. The reason this myth has become so ingrained into people’s belief systems is because society leads us to believe that love, happiness and living a fulfilled life comes only from experiencing the passionate love of another.

This person – your soul mate – is the only person you will truly and deeply love and your whole being is based around their love for you. Without them, you are no one. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but if you truly believe that then you are in trouble.

In today’s society, we are constantly in the “pursuit of happiness and love” and have been brainwashed to believe that the source of love and happiness is found from external sources like, for example, our “soul mate”. We are nothing without this love. Well, I don’t believe this to be so.

Happiness and love comes from within us and the love of another person is really the icing on the cake. If we are disconnected from our own happiness and source of love within us, then no matter how fantastic our partner is, we will always feel dissatisfied with who we are.

Accept who you are, know that your happiness and fulfilment comes from within you and do what ever it takes to be the happy and loving person you desire to be. Once you have achieved this, then you will find that there is no limit to how wonderful and loving all your relationships can be.

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Myth 3: Romance and Passion Will Last Forever

Being passionately in love with someone is not enough to make a relationship last. The reality is that this glow of romance and passion fades overtime, and it can either disappear or. if you get it right, grow into a deeper more mature love.

The problem for us is, we make big decisions about committing to the relationship when we are in the throes of passion, lust and love. This person we are choosing to commit to at this point of the relationship can do no wrong and anything they do that does annoy us we accept because we love them so much.

When romance and passion disappear, we can end up believing that we are no longer in love and we are with the wrong person. The relationship sours and eventually disintegrates. When this happens, for many couples what was once a loving passionate relationship becomes a very painful and “unloving” one.

If love survives the passionate and romantic stage, it is still not enough to keep the relationship going. It is at this point, where a couple who want to be together, they should take the time to sort out what they need to do to “invest” in their relationship to keep it strong, loving and sustainable.

Staying together forever in a loving relationship takes hard work, commitment and a lot of compromise. The arguments, the conflict and the disagreements continue. However a couple who are realistic and love each other are not afraid of these challenges.

Happy couples know how to work through their challenges together. They have strategies that ensure their relationship survives. The romance and passion is still there but it is simply older and much wiser.

Myth 4: Having Children Will Bring Even More Happiness To Our Relationship

This myth is absolutely a load of rubbish. I have two young adult children and I love them dearly, however being a parent has been one of the most challenging things I have done in my life.

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I had no idea how tough it was to be a parent and to co-parent with my husband, who has a very different parenting approach than I do. When you put two different parenting approaches together, it takes hard work, huge compromise (yet again!) and a great deal of effort to keep the relationship strong and loving.

Having children also brings a different dynamic to your relationship and if you both are not vigilant, this can destroy your relationship and the love you have for each other. I don’t mean to be harsh, but don’t let this myth lead you to believe that just by having children, your relationship will miraculously be even more happy and loving.

Having children is really the “test” of the sustainability and strength of a relationship. Parenting challenges your beliefs, values, ability to compromise, ability to love, your ego, your fears, your anxieties and your differences.

If the both of you don’t keep on top of these huge challenges, then the chances of you having the happy loving relationship you desire are very slim. Although children bring us great joy and happiness they also create a distraction away from “investing” in keeping your relationship with each other intact.

Your children will always be to you both your number one priority, however you will find that if you let it, your relationship with your partner will slip away until it becomes forgotten. You will wake up one day and discover that you no longer love this person and then the painful journey of separation begins.

Myth 5: Love Will Conquer All

The phrase comes from the Latin phrase from Eclogue X by Virgil, although the myth originates from Greek Mythology. Love was a favourite topic for the Greeks and they wrote many love stories, and many of them were actually very tragic. In fact, I am sure if you went deep enough into Greek mythology, you would find a love story that relates to each of these five myths.

‘Love Conquers All’ is a common theme in many of the Greek love stories. Read the story of Alcyone and Ceyx and you will see what I mean – even though Alcyone and Ceyx were a loving and devoted couple, their story doesn’t end well.

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This myth about love being the end all be all has been kept alive in both song and in films. The band Deep Purple released in 1992 a song titled “Love Conquers All”. In 2006, a movie was released by Tan Chui Mui with the title “Love Conquers All”. So with love stories, songs and movies all promoting the belief that “Love Conquers All”, it is then no surprise that we believe this myth to be true.

The reality is, love alone doesn’t conquer all the challenges and obstacles a relationship faces. Love alone will not help you to overcome your partner’s imperfections, their annoying habits, their selfish ways or the unreasonable demands of their family.

Constant dialogue and conversation, respect for each other, the ability to say sorry, being personally accountable and responsible for your actions, being able to speak your truth without fear of reprisal or shame, celebration, appreciation, fun, lots of date nights and the ability to resolve disputes and conflicts quickly and in agreement are just some of the factors that, along with love, are the key ingredients to having a happy relationship.

Life is complicated and full of uncertainties. Likewise, relationships can be messy and are never perfect. If you believe these five relationship myths to be true, when reality sets in and the pressures of life present themselves to you and your partner, the chances of survival together are poor.

Paired with love, putting these key ingredients into action will ensure without a doubt that your relationships will be strong, loving and will likely last forever.

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” – John Lennon

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilence Coach who is passionate about thriving and growing in a complex world

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How irrational fears impact your life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why bother to fight the fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to fight your irrational fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why did this happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The tool kit

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m awesome

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out your emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge that you need to change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose your words carefully.

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe that you have the control power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up physical reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t go it alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

A little fear can be good

As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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