Trying to get these from the other person is not only impossible, but is a great way to drive that person away. It’s inundating, crushing, and suffocating to energetically saddle someone with the pressure to provide something no person has to give to another. Expectation is the enemy of love; we end up pushing partners away, because it is not only feels invasive and needy to the other person, but they can never “fix” us therefore they end up feeling inadequate, angry or betrayed.
Below are some of the things we tend to look for from a partner which are really found inside of ourselves.
“You complete me.” “He’s my other half.” “She’s the one I’ve been searching for my whole life.” Clichés like these permeate the American cultural ideal of love. Though we may see this concept as romantic, it is disempowering and can rob you of the ability to be satisfied with any partner who does not live up to your image of a mythical “soulmate.”
This idea truly is a myth, and it comes to us from ancient Greece. Plato’s Symposium contains a creation myth which tells of human beings who had four arms, four legs, two faces, were perfectly round and could roll all around the heavens. According to the story, the gods were threatened by the power of these beings and so split them into two.
Choosing to buy into this story is self-limiting; you define yourself and the other person as lacking, needy, and incomplete. The idea that another person is needed to complete us, or vice versa, keeps us in a weakened state. The truth is that you are already whole, complete, and powerful. When you are able to own that power, you bring much more to a relationship than you would as half a person.
Feeling “good enough”
A felt sense of inadequacy which may be difficult to put into words, but feels like being “not enough” or “not good enough” is familiar to most everyone. It is a very old feeling which comes from emotional injury at a pre-verbal stage of our development.
Though the frontal lobes of the brain complete development into adulthood, the limbic system is fully formed much earlier. The limbic system, also known as the limbic brain, is more primitive and is largely in charge of emotional responses. That limbic part of the brain is almost fully formed in vitro and completes in early childhood. Our blueprint for later relationships depends on what we get from primary caregivers at this stage. Since there is no such thing as perfect parenting, emotional injuries are going to happen!
As young children, we can only make sense of conflict, neglect, abuse, or any other perceived injury by feeling responsible for it ourselves. We don’t yet have the logical part of the brain to let us figure out that mommy and daddy have their own stuff to deal with.
Injuries take the form of deeply felt sense of being bad, wrong, or not worthy. This ancient and destructive feeling can be triggered in our lives by anything that seems to go wrong. Because the injury is preverbal, it tends to show up in the body as tightening in the chest, throat, or pit of the stomach. Whether or not we can put identify the feeling with words, we know it is painful.
As adults, we try to get healed by another person in a relationship. Trouble is, that old feeling that says you are not enough is and always has been a lie. We can never be healed by another person because the feeling is not about now. It is the feeling of a helpless child. You are no longer that helpless child, and the truth is you are and always have been more than enough.
There is a mental trap that is easy to get caught in, and it goes something like this: “When I have the right _________, then the emptiness inside will be gone and I will feel fulfilled.” Fill in that blank with anything from “the right car/ job/degree/home,” it is always a lie. Fill it in with “the right relationship,” and it is an even more dangerous lie which will keep that trapped and empty feeling just around the corner.
The fulfillment you seek is never outside of yourself. This does not mean you shouldn’t strive to be better, or set goals, or that you shouldn’t desire a healthy relationship that includes a sense of mutuality. It just means your happiness is not tied up in outside circumstances, achievements, or people. It means you can accept and enjoy the present moment while embracing who you are and where you are in life now. When you are in that place energetically, if you are single you attract a partner who is also fulfilled. If you are in a romantic relationship, you allow your partner to be responsible for their own fulfillment, and you create room for mutuality.
Humans are social beings! The need to belong, to feel accepted, is a deep-seated part of our nature. The great news is, you already belong, because we are all connected. We can talk about being connected by our shared human experience, which is very true. But we can also talk about being connected in a physical sense, which may be even more convincing. Mirror neurons are structures in the brain which connect us physically, even without our conscious awareness. Watch neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran discuss the implications of mirror neurons here. We react to others in a physical way, proving that we are connected. Part of the brain responds as if we were performing the action or experiencing the emotion. Understanding that sense of shared experience on a body level, we know we are not alone, and that has nothing to do with our partner or even being in a romantic relationship. Connection with a romantic partner is wonderful and can be a beautiful part of life. But it is not necessary in order to be connected. When you have self-acceptance, you take the sense of belonging with you. You will be more fully at ease with yourself, which will in turn allow others to be at ease in your presence.
That is where all the good stuff is. When you recognize, accept, and own your own power, you will see that what you have been seeking has always been available to you. When you create that space in your life, you are also making room for a healthy, loving relationship grounded in respect and mutuality.
About the author
Wendy Dingee is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor Supervisor, National Certified Counselor, Certified Integrative Body Psychotherapy Practitioner, and Board Certified Coach.
As a graduate of The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program and specializing in an integrative mind-body approach to therapy, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are depression, anxiety, addictions, life transitions, stress management, and life coaching.
To know more about Wendy, visit her website www.livewellnevada.com.