An accomplished, smart, beautiful woman sits across from me in my office. She tells me about her relationship, the one she appears to be in but her boyfriend doesn’t. She has tried to leave him, she assures me (and herself) but every time she manages to walk out that door, he gets to her. She turns around and walks right back in again. Once she’s back, he acts like a jerk. Again.
Leave. Get sucked back in. Repeat.
Who can’t relate to this scenario? God knows I’ve been there. Before meeting my husband-to-be I was in a relationship with a guy who would only show interest in me after I decided to break up with him. To get me back into his orbit he would swear I was the love of his life. As soon as I accepted him back he would go cold as a dead snake on an iceberg.
What made me take him back more times than was healthy for anyone’s tender self-esteem?
We give ourselves a lot of reasons but the bottom line is that once we allow a guy to treat us as less important than we really are our self-esteem is critically injured. Once our self-worth is low it’s too easy for the ex to come over the wall of our lowered healthy defenses and pillage what’s left of our confidence.
What remains is fear. Fear that this jerky guy is as good as it gets. Fear of never finding love again. Fear of being alone with a dozen hungry cats for the rest of your life.
This fear is so awful we make excuses (cognitive distortions) to stay in a bad or even a ‘not good enough’ relationship. After all he’s a known entity, right? Result? The discomfort of sticking with him doesn’t feel as scary as what your distorted thinking imagines life without him is like. So you stay put.
What’s a girl to do? Fight back those nasty, distorted, self-esteem abusing thoughts with empowering, righteous, badass goddess thoughts!
5 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Here are some typical distorted thoughts and suggestions for strong self-esteem building self-talk to combat them like the Wonder Woman you are!
1. Instead of “I’m afraid of being alone.”
Tell yourself “I’m not alone. I’m with Me. I am good company. If I get lonely I can check out meetup.com or connect with friends I haven’t seen in ages. Most importantly, this time is an opportunity to dive into the world of Me and, for a change, listen to My Heart instead of someone else’s.”
2. Instead of “But the sex is so good!”
Tell yourself “Sweetie, it’s time to grow up. The toxic effect he has on my self-esteem when we’re not in bed is not worth the price. If I am that horny, I might just explore the exotic, erotic world of self-stimulation. A lot of people say their best orgasms are experienced alone!”
3. Instead of “I’ve invested five years in this guy. I’m going to start all over now?”
Tell yourself “Imagine yourself at 50 and you’re thinking, ‘Why didn’t I get out when I had spent only five years with this jerk instead of twenty-five?’”
4. Instead of “He says all he needs is some time to [fill in the blank] before he makes a commitment.”
Tell yourself “What is this? A relationship or sofa purchased on a layaway program? In the service of self-respect, I will not wait for you unless we have a mutually agreed up, reasonable plan. Without that, tataa! You can look me up when you’re done crossing all your t’s and dotting all your i’s. You take your chances that by then I will still be interested.”
5. Instead of “He’s as good as it gets.”
Tell yourself “No, baby girl, he’s not. If being with him does not make me feel great about myself, I won’t settle! This experience, as bad as it was, has not been a total waste. It had some good moments but more importantly, it’s made me wiser so that when a guy who is true and kind and worthy of me does show up I will recognize him.”
I’ve counseled a lot of women who came to me to help them get unstuck from a hurtful relationship. Once they took the leap and faced their fears they find the power to break up a bad relationship for good. Result? A whole new level of happiness and pride because the engine of their self-worth is fueled, not from the outside-in, but from the inside-out.
Clever and creative Photo by Braden Hopkins
Words of wisdom about love and relationships by:
Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO
Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.
Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.
Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.
Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.
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