On my vacation in August I had a profound insight about a pattern that has plagued my entire relationship life. Hiking with a friend we were chatting about relationships, life and emotional healing when he said, “it sounds like you make bargains in your relationships.” It stopped me in my tracks. While I’ve known for a long time that I’ve had a pattern of “shrink to fit” in my relationships, it never occurred to me that I was making bargains in my relationships!
Pausing to reflect on my long string of relationships, I realized that in every case, I made a bargain to be in the relationship. What I mean is that I made the decision either to deny some part of myself or to behave in a particular way to be in that relationship. Many of these “deals” with myself I made unconsciously, but a few were conscious choices. The consequence is that I’ve never allowed myself to be all of me in my intimate relationships.
How did this happen?
As a child I learned how to make bargains with my parents. We had a chronic habit of moving every 2-4 years from the house that my parents built to their next house-building project. As I grew into my teens, I was not so crazy about these constant moves. They would try to get me on board with their next project, but I was not thrilled. I decided to try to “strike a deal” with them. Boldly I announced I would be happy to move if they would give me a phone in my room (at that time the only “cell phones” were the communicator devices on Star Trek). It worked! They gladly fulfilled my request, and from then on I bargained to go along with these 2-year projects of living in a house under construction.
While this skill of bargaining might not appear so bad, it had detrimental effects when I applied it to my relationships. As a young girl I bought into the subtle expectation that to have worth I needed to be in a relationship with a man. If I wasn’t, it meant that I was not good enough to be chosen.
This very subtle but damaging notion unconsciously drove me to chronically be in relationship, striking conscious and unconscious bargains with myself so that I would feel worthy, leading to several of my relationships becoming unhealthy and even toxic.
When I combined the belief that I needed a relationship and my skill of bargaining, I wound up with the disastrous result of selling myself out to be in a relationship out of fear that I would be alone, confirming that I was unworthy. Unfortunately, at some point in the relationship I would become so unhappy from living a compromised version of myself that I would leave, either emotionally or physically.
After my last relationship became so toxic that I feared for my safety, I vowed to never get into another relationship until I healed whatever pattern was leading to this chronic disappointment.
I’ve now been out of relationship for several years, the longest stretch since I graduated from high school. The first year was torture for me as I came face to face with the deeply rooted unconscious belief that I am not worthy to be chosen. Fortunately, the Universe took my vow seriously and spared me the temptation to dive into yet another bargained relationship. Slowly I made progress to heal and release my belief that I need a relationship to have value. In the past few months, I’ve felt a growing feeling of joy, peace and completeness I don’t think I’ve ever fully known.
For years I have known and professed that we can’t truly be in a healthy relationship when we feel that we need another to complete ourselves or to be happy. I realize now that while I believed it consciously, there was a deeper belief buried in my subconscious that ran counter. That subconscious pattern has for decades kept me locked in bargained relationships that didn’t serve me celebrating and living the fullest expression of myself.
What I know about this pattern of worthiness is that it’s not uncommon. Many of the women I have coached, both executives and entrepreneurs, struggle with their own version of feeling worthy to live all of who they truly are. These deeply seated unconscious patterns keep us locked into less-than lives, never expressing the fullness of our unique gifts and purpose.
If you feel that you’ve been bargaining in your life, whether in your relationship or in your career, there is hope! You can break the unconscious patterns that keep you from living your purpose and fullest expression! It starts with stepping back, reflecting, and taking a hard look at the patterns in your life that have been leading to disappointment or struggle. Where are you bargaining with yourself to have the external security or validation that you are worthy? Where are you not fully showing up in your life? If you are ready to live fully, reach out and get support! Schedule a complimentary call with me and we’ll figure out a plan! You can only truly be happy and free when you know in your bones that you are indeed worthy with or without anything in your external world.