It is a cruel and unforgiving world out there. Dog eat dog, survival of the fittest and to the victor go the spoils. Sometimes we feel safe behind fortified walls; we shelter in a safe harbor away from the fierce and uncaring sea. Sometimes we do this in our relationships out of fear, doubt, anger or shame. We fear being hurt, again and again. We doubt our own self-worth or that anyone could ever love us. We are angry that we are not where we thought we would be in life or who we thought we would be with. Sometimes, we are even ashamed of our failures and missteps along the way.
These emotions and feelings build thick defensive barriers between us and everyone else. These walls may keep us safe, but then again, so does a cage. We can only live a truly fulfilling life through accepting some risk and acting decisively when the time comes to do so. A ship is safe at anchor in a protected harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.
Here are five ways to break down the walls in your relationships that are holding you prisoner:
1. Overcome Fear with Courage
We fear being hurt. We fear missing a golden opportunity. We fear failure. Fear is our greatest enemy and always has been. Fear will prevent you from acting decisively when you need to. Fear will cloud your judgment and push you to make false assumptions about people. Courageous people do not lack fear. They are scared out of their minds like everyone else. The key is not letting the fear guide your actions. Push the fear to the back of your mind. Act. Act in spite of your fear.
You would be surprised at what you can accomplish even when you are afraid. That beautiful woman/man that you want to approach and talk to but can’t seem to muster the courage? Well, get over there and talk to them. What have you got to lose? Rejection? Well, you aren’t with them now so what does it matter? And if you do manage to talk to them, you could win their heart. You can’t win anything without courage. The courage to try.
2. Banish Doubt with True Grit
Everyone has doubts. We doubt our ability. We doubt our partner. We doubt our attractiveness. We doubt our worth. If we have doubts and we know ourselves the best, then why should anyone else believe in us? Be honest about your abilities and your weaknesses, and then use your courage to try something. Keep trying until you succeed. The act of perseverance when all the odds are against you is a mark of true grit. True grit is the ability to keep going no matter what. I am sure you have heard it from your father when he said “Suck it up and keep going.” That is what it means to have true grit. You take the punches and keep moving forward. You keep moving forward because that is how winning is done. Sometimes all your partner wants you to do is try, not to succeed, but to make the effort.
3. Release Shame and Embrace Acceptance
There are things in everyone’s past that cause shame. Sometimes, we are ashamed of who we are inside. Sometimes we are ashamed of our job or education. Sometimes we are ashamed of our circumstances or mistakes. The key thing is that shame holds you down in a pit that is hard to escape. The only way to escape is to accept yourself and your circumstances. Accept your partner and all of their baggage as well. Once you accept all of that, then you can start moving forward. Do not hold mistakes or events in your past against yourself or your partner. Today is a new day. Yesterday is gone and done. There is nothing you can do to change the past, but you can start changing your future.
4. Refuse Judgment of Others or Yourself
Once you have accepted your past and your partner’s past, you can refuse judgment of your self and you can refuse to judge them. Being overly critical of past mistakes is counterproductive and damaging to a good long-term relationship. If you find yourself keeping score or holding onto grudges, then you are part of the problem. People screw up, even you. Sitting in judgment of them is not your place and does nothing to strengthen the relationship. That is not to say you should not have standards or that you should embrace unacceptable behavior, but if someone is honestly trying to start fresh and better themselves, including yourself, then reminding them of their failures does not move the relationship forward. It moves it backwards.
5. Let Go of Resentment and Embrace Love
We resent people or situations because we are angry with them. Being angry all the time wears you down and adversely affects all of your relationships. No one wants to be with someone who is angry and resentful all the time. Let go of it. Let go of it because you refuse to judge others for their past and you have released your own shame and accepted yourself the way you are. Embrace your love for yourself and others. Use that love to build yourself up, build up your partner and build up the foundation of the relationship. Eventually, you will build up that foundation so much that you have buried the walls between you.