Is Your Love Story A B-Movie?

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As a concept, it’s a fantastic script. Two star crossed lovers wounded by a past littered with one failed relationship after another. Life gives them one last battle to fight: the battle to find each other.

It’s a sweeping, soaring, tear-fest of two people hampered by fate and shackled to a future they can’t yet see but which they both know lies somewhere just beyond their immediate reach. It’s Gable and Leigh, Bogart and Bergman, Tracy and Hepburn. It’s Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln in that scene in Love Actually. Except in your version, Keira doesn’t let him walk away.

You have the script and, because this is your love story, you have a ready-made cast. It’s an epic romantic blockbuster destined to smash all box office records.

The only problem is that your subconscious has been tasked with job of directing it.

As the director of your personal movie, your subconscious is more Quentin Tarantino than, say, Steven Spielberg. It’s opinionated and often comes with its own agenda, drawing on your past experiences to inform your present and future. If you grew up in a house of drama, your subconscious is more likely to push you toward dramatic love and tempestuous hit-and-run run hook-ups. 

More potent – and therefore emotionally dangerous – is that your inner Tarantino is also usually trying to resolve what is unresolved from your past. Your parents may have been emotionally unavailable, and so your subconscious will propel you towards unavailable partners in an attempt to heal the wounds of the past. And guess what? That just creates more pain.

It’s not uncommon for me to see clients who prove to be subconsciously trying to address abandonment issues by going out with a narcissist – the perfect representative cause of their traumatic or unfulfilling childhood experiences.   

So, your subconscious doesn’t necessarily see the script in the way that you do. In his (or her) version, there are high speed chases, car crashes, jealous rivals, angry protagonists, high drama and arguments. Lots of arguments.

Your head may be filled with an exotic, pulsating romance set in the Orient or the glittering nightscape of New York, but what your subconscious will instead make is a drama-documentary set in the ordinary context of real life. Your real life.

You see a Hollywood ending. Your subconscious sees the opportunity to resolve the unresolved. And what you get is a B-reel destined to go straight to video (or, in today’s money, straight to download).

Hollywood loves to sell us the 90-minute dream. We’re conditioned to believe that love really can be forged in the time that it takes to consume a big bag of popcorn. But the reality is that good things take time and if the relationship you’re in is heavy on drama then the chances are you’re not starring in the main feature.

Very few of us go into a relationship knowing it will end. What’s the point? Most of the time life’s too short. The sex might be great, but contrary to what your hormones might be saying at the time, it doesn’t necessarily buy permanence.

In the main, we commit to other people because we think there’s a future in it.

Forget the first few dates when we’re flush with excitement and promise. In those early days, we’re all walking adverts for ourselves anyway. We say, do and wear the right things. We crank up empathy, sympathy and compassion, while tenderness and consideration get dialled up to 11. But in the end, it always takes time to find out who the other person really is.

Problems in relationships often come when they start fast. You meet someone, and it feels like you’ve been hit by a train. You’ve found ‘the one’. I call these ‘cosmic relationships’ – but intensity is not intimacy and while fast-forwarding the future can be a fix for the emptiness of the present, true love rarely happens in two  days, even two dreamlike days. 

There’s also a danger that in putting the other person in a box labelled ‘Soul Mate’, you create a high level of expectation very quickly – and when that person fails to live up to it, the disappointment is that much greater.

When commitment is too fast the relationship doesn’t have the chance to develop the trust that’s needed for both people to be able to reveal their shortcomings and imperfections.

We all have those – the inability to see our role in past relationship catastrophes, our short temper, tendency towards guilt-tripping and other less than glossy aspects that we tend not to reveal in the first couple of months.

As British philosopher Alain De Botton says: “A standard question on any initial dinner date should simply be: ‘So in what particular ways are you crazy?”

In cosmic relationships launched on fantasy, the eventual appearance of our less-than-charming characteristics means the other person can feel as though they’ve been victims of false advertising.  

Intensity is like Styrofoam – it takes up lots of space, but it lacks substance. There’s no room for authenticity or intimacy. I see many clients who continually mistake intensity for intimacy, but intimacy takes time. By contrast, intensity is often instant – just as it is also often unavailability, too.   

The key elements of a B-Movie are drama, intensity, breathlessness, no boundaries, self-abandonment – the perfect ingredients for a super toxic relationship soup.

The antidote? 

It’s important to look at the subconscious issues at play and resolve them and that means understanding that it’s not down to being ‘unlucky in love’ or ‘not having met the right person yet’ or any of the other twaddle we are fed by the media

If you are continually attracting the ‘same’ kind of unhealthy relationship the chances are you’re playing a part in effectively re-creating your trauma in your relationships, and it’s vital to put an end to that negative pattern. That means finding a way of clearing out toxic beliefs about love and self in your past.  Yes this does take both work and time, but the alternative is an existence of emotional pain.

Ultimately, it’s about learning to love yourself because the stronger we get, and the more we fill our lives with love, joy, and positive actions, the less we will enter these combustible liaisons. The more solid our sense of self-esteem and sense of self, the less we feel we need to fill an emotional void with the ‘fix’ of another person who comes on like a freight train in less than a hot minute. 

Trusting in our path and worth should give us the confidence and grounding to know that taking things slowly can and will yield everything we desire, eventually. And the more solid our sense of self-love and worth, the more likely we are to recognise who will be a good life partner, and have a relationship that really works 

But it requires the willingness to look at our own part in what we are re-creating,  setting the intention to make different choices combined with the patience to walk mindfully through the initial clumsy bit of dating to find out who we’re really giving ourselves to. 

If you’ve been lucky, you’ll end up with that Hollywood ending. If not, you may well just have to re-write your movie script.

Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Nourishing your heart involves making a practice of loving every aspect of yourself. This is about embracing all of your inner world too. This includes those parts of you that are responsible for some of your greatest challenges. Many people have parts of themselves that are closed down to love, push away opportunity and sabotage their best attempts to make positive changes in their lives. It can be tempting to attack these parts of your mind, making them wrong and blaming them for everything that is difficult in your life.  Unfortunately that only makes matters worse. If you do have parts of yourself that seem set against you, they are working on some level to serve you. They always are. Yes, those parts may be serving you in wholly destructive ways, underpinning any number of terribly limiting behaviours and beliefs but those parts will be doing that with your best interests at heart. Somewhere in the middle of their motivation is a desire to keep you safe.

Changing behaviour only works in a real and lasting way if we can get every aspect of ourselves into alignment. It is about negotiating with yourself so that every part of you comes into agreement. Then it no longer involves any will power. Will power is when one part of you wants one thing and another wants something else and you go to war against an aspect of yourself.  True transformation comes from realising on a deep level what truly serves you. This is not a chore, a duty or a loss. It is a gift of love. From there, there is no more struggle or effort required. So, how do you bring those parts of you into agreement? Continue reading…

Valuing Yourself In Business (& Why It’s So Important)

Valuing Yourself In Business (& Why It's So Important)

Having a healthy sense of self esteem and self value is important in all areas of life, and your workplace, whether you are working for someone else or running your own business, is no exception.

So what does valuing yourself in business mean?    Well, it’s helpful to break it down:

One of the most important ways we can value ourselves in business is financially.    Whether this is fighting for the payrise we deserve or ensuring that we are charging enough for our services, time and products, it’s absolutely essential.   In today’s economic climate it’s easy to go into fear, overcommit ourselves financially and timewise, but if you can’t afford it then it’s counterproductive.     When running your own business sloppiness around financial details will undermine you faster than anything else, whilst we don’t always have time to do all of this ourselves at the very least it’s important to keep a close eye on the details, or have someone you trust taking care of this.

The same goes for time.    Time is, of course, money and if you’re continually giving away your time for free, or undercharging for projects it will ultimately lead to underearning.    If you’re starting up it’s often helpful to take on pro-bono projects in order to make contacts, build your reputation and hone your skills, but it’s important to set boundaries around it.   Of course pro-bono projects can be highly enjoyable, especially if for a worthy cause, however it’s essential to ensure that you plan accordingly, and allow paying projects to fully support these.   The same applies when you are an employee, it’s easy to get caught in a ‘people-pleasing’ loop in a desire to get ahead, but it creates what I call the ‘domino’ effect in that you are continually playing catch up, struggling to get out of bed due to the late nights at work and, again, ultimately it is counter-productive as you under-resourced and simply cannot perform to your best ability.

Continue reading…

Abandoning Yourself….Are You Guilty?

Abandoning Yourself....Are You Guilty?

What does abandoning yourself mean?

Well it means saying yes when really you feel no, it can also be described as people pleasing, playing small or giving away your power. It’s when you override the protestations of your inner voice and allow yourself to be overly influenced by others opinions, evaluations and verbalisations. Or it’s when you give yourself up to avoid rejection or the fear of it. Turning to a myriad of mild, or not so mild, addictions is another all too common way of avoiding painful feelings and therefore abandoning yourself.  Many of us are guilty of some or all of these at some time or another, but for many it’s become a deeply ingrained habit, or worse still a way of life.

So what does it cost us? Well continuing to abandon yourself is deeply corrosive to your self worth as you are not only giving yourself the message ‘I don’t trust myself’ but you are also compounding it with ‘what I think and feel doesn’t matter, even to me’.

Ultimately, continuing to abandon yourself will leave you dis-empowered and resentful.

If you have abandonment issues from childhood then this subconscious wounding unfortunately increases the likelihood of abandoning yourself in adulthood – we often do to ourselves what was done to us – until we bring our attention and healing to this. The reason for this is twofold: firstly the subconscious seeks out what is familiar, no matter how uncomfortable and painful, in an attempt to resolve it and secondly if there are unresolved childhood abandonment issues self worth will have already been eroded, meaning you are much less likely to trust and listen to yourself, until you do the work to do that.

Continue reading…

Are you your own personal bully?

Are you your own personal bully?

I imagine most people would agree that bullies are a nuisance, and that’s putting it mildly. I’m sure at some point in our lives, we have all experienced being bullied, intimidated, coerced and victimized, and I think we would also agree that it doesn’t feel good. In fact, it can stir up some very uncomfortable feelings, ranging from indignation, fear, sadness and hurt. Some of us will come out fighting, and other’s may retreat and just hope that the person responsible will eventually leave us alone. As a way of coping with the stress posed by this external threat, albeit an individual or group, we may try to be overly nice to compensate, or seek ways of remaining safe, by being hyper alert and trying to anticipate their behaviour. In doing so, we end up compromising ourselves, creating incredible stress and living in a state of anxiety. If our exposure to this level of anxiety continues, and panic ensues, then our self esteem is compromised and damaged. Once our self esteem starts plummeting, then most areas of our lives are negatively influenced. Over an extended period of time, we become a shadow of our former selves, unless we find a way to cope by seeking support, help and advice.

Continue reading…

Are You A Validation Addict?

Are You A Validation Addict?

When we feel the need for constant external validation, maybe it is time to start asking ourselves why that is. This applies specifically to women, who may regularly elicit attention from men to feel special, worthy and attractive. In fact, some of us can take this to an extreme, where we seek validation, using our feminine charms and sexuality to be ‘seen,’ noticed and approved of. This feeling of power gives us an instant feel good ‘hit,’ which never lasts, because ultimately it doesn’t reach in and validate who we are as people. So, we are off on our search again, longing and yearning for that magical person to give us something that for some reason, we are unable to give ourselves. That search will eventually lead us back to ourselves, because it is a dead end on a road going nowhere. We are solely responsible for determining, deciding and creating our level of self esteem that doesn’t require anyone’s stamp of approval.

Being centred and grounded in our authentic selves is not easy if we have low self esteem, we need propping up, we need to be noticed, and this need originates from a core wound that no amount of validation can heal. However, that doesn’t stop us jumping from one relationship and sexual encounter to the next, in the hope that this person and ensuing distraction will take our pain away. We are living on the periphery of our lives, orbiting our core wounding with an astute cleverness that has become our default defence mechanism. Unfortunately there is not a man walking on the earth who has the power to reach in and love all the hurt away, that belief belongs in the fairy tales with the likes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. In real life, Sleeping Beauty would wake up out of her 100 year stupor, dust herself off and tell Prince charming to take a hike, while she gets on with the business of discovering the Queen that she is, and not the ‘princess’ that she’s been conditioned to be. True, authentic transformation evolves out of the pursuit of self discovery, an innate potential that resides in us all. Low self esteem, with all its highs and lows, does not feel good. This offers a momentary reprieve, but it will never offer the one thing that we truly need, and that is healing. We can become so immersed in our story that it is hard to imagine that life could take on new meaning, that we could create a reality that would be deeply satisfying, in a way that drama, addiction and another pair of shoes, could never match and never equal.

Continue reading…

When You Risk Nothing, You Risk Even More

When You Risk Nothing, You Risk Even More

When I started my career as a Therapist, I was always on the lookout for a model of therapy that was safe, effective and relatively fast. I wanted to find a way to work with clients that didn’t require endless costly hours of psychotherapy. I knew there was intrinsic value in talking therapies, for self reflection, support and awareness, but in terms of deep healing at a core level, I was unsure. In my own experience I know how enticing it can be to ‘talk story.’ Talking story allows you to stay in a safe, familiar place, without risking vulnerability, exposure and feeling those difficult challenging feelings that, let’s face it, we would all rather avoid.

We can go to great lengths to avoid feeling, from overeating, taking drugs, alcohol, drama, dysfunctional relationships and fast living. Our bodies can be in a constant state of fight or flight, causing untold stress, challenges to our self-esteem and wellbeing and in some cases, physical illness. Somewhere down the line, something has to give. You have to drive yourself pretty hard to keep one step ahead of any deep seated issue that has remained hidden up till now. However, these deep issues are never quiet; they are like old tapes constantly running their programmes in the background of your life.  Erica Jong said “When you risk nothing, you risk even more.” I believe her. I believe there is profound value in taking the risk to delve into your feelings, into a new way of being and addressing difficult issues at a subconscious level. This is where those deep issues ‘hang out.’ The subconscious runs your life by default, and your level of self esteem, as you remain unaware on a conscious level. Your conscious mind is the part of you that likes to avoid, that can reason and justify allowing you to live in a state of denial. Therefore, your conscious mind cannot solely be relied upon to make significant and profound changes that will give you the relief and results that you deserve.

Continue reading…

Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.