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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 Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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