How my bad habits were fixed by my broken heart

I  took a quiz online once titled “How Dateable Are You Actually?” I have had my fair share of breakups, so I was curious. The results: You’re a total catch. I gave my computer the side eye for a second. It went on to give me details of just how much of a catch I was:

“Grade “A” dating material.

The epitome of #relationshipgoals.

The total package from head to toe.

Like, are you even human? You are THAT perfect.”

I called bullshit. And the fact that I am currently single further solidifies the inaccuracy of that quiz.

Love has failed me, repeatedly.

Love has not been patient with me. Love has kept a grocery list of my wrongs. Love ultimately left me and I am now left with my broken heart. But, I had also failed love. I was not hopeful in love. I was fearful in love. I was selfish at times in love. I was jealous in love. And I was not always supportive in love. But why? From an outsider’s perspective, I appear confident, almost cocky, with high self-esteem and a lot going for myself.

So why was I so walled off when it came to relationships? Why do I feel unworthy of another person’s love? 

bad habits - couple

I came across a quote from Donald Miller that states…

“Those of us who are never satisfied with our accomplishments secretly believe nobody will ever love us unless we are perfect.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! This is why I have spent so many years loving fearfully. I have a fixation with perfection, and if I see flaws or imperfections within myself, and with my accomplishments, surely my mate sees this, and this will cause them to never truly love me.

It was about control to me. I felt like not having these great accomplishments made me unstable. Instability meant lack of control and not having control made me a failure, when it was actually the complete opposite! Allowing myself to be free spirited, to be easy going, to be worry-free, to be relaxed and at ease was the true accomplishment.

I had subconsciously been openly inviting every heartache I had ever experienced. I put so much pressure on myself to be the breadwinner and the runner of the household. I am not a male by any means, but I felt myself take on the male role at times. By doing so, I was almost making myself above my partner when in fact we were and should always have been equal. I chose to put myself in that role because I felt like that was where I was supposed to be. I was mentally a watered down male chauvinist! That is disgusting to even think about! But that is the reality of my past mindset.

bad habits- woman in yard

So what were the traits within me that needed to be dealt with? Pointing out the things about me that were off-putting to another person was not easy to stomach, but it was essential.

I picked the top five habitually bad habits about myself that were undesirable and vowed to change them if I ever wanted to have a successful relationship.

1. Letting go of control.  There is very little that we can control, but so much that can control us. When we obsess over things that we can’t control, it actually makes us act out of control. I did not know how to let someone else take the reins. I did not know how liberating submission could be. I was a consistent control freak. I need to relax.

2. Selfishness. This is a big one for me. I have a tendency to be incredibly selfish and most of the time I don’t even realize that I am doing it. I had an ex tell me that I did not love them correctly. I said I love you. I showed that I loved you. I did everything that, to me, constituted love. And then I found this little book entitled “The 5 Love Languages” and quickly realized that I loved them the way I needed to be loved, not how they needed to be loved. My love was selfish. I am also incredibly OCD, which enables my selfishness like you would not believe. This all goes back to the control factor.

3. Fearing pain. Pain is a necessary evil. It grows you. It refines you. It progresses you. In the moment, it can almost destroy you. But we have to be able to envision the other side of pain, which is joy and growth. Most things in life are temporary. That goes for the good and the bad. Pain will not last forever.

4. Allowing others to define my worth. I have always had a bad issue with needing another person to define my worth. If I felt rejected, I equated that to not being good enough. I have actually told someone that I could not live without them. The fact of the matter is that I could and I did. But I needed that validation from another person, validation that I was worthy. If someone criticized me, I would self-analyze until I had picked myself apart so badly that I was unrecognizable. My worth was being determined by everyone but me. I had to realize that I was valuable, and that not everyone was going to accept what I was capable of and willing to give. And just because they did not or could not accept it did not mean that what I was offering was invaluable. People should complement you, not complete you. We should be complete on our own.

5. Being too busy. I give life and the world most of me, and offer my partner what is left, all the while expecting them to give themselves completely. My busy life tends to make my love life uneven. Make room for other people in your life and accept the room they have made for you in theirs. I missed so many moments because I was too busy trying to create them. 

Romantic relationships are some of the greatest things, yet can also be some of the worst. Breakups make us defensive, they make us second-guess, they make us reexamine our bad habits, and they make us angry and upset.

Heartache can breed humility if you allow it. It can break through the “woe is me” attitude, which only fosters a realm of conceit and selfishness around you. Allow humility to break through that crowd. Find the better you that will be ready for the next person. Offer yourself some constructive criticism. There is beauty in the breakdown, and instruction in the pain.

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