How to Deal with Insecurity & Shame in a Relationship

How to Deal with Insecurity & Shame in a Relationship

Today’s post is my response, as a life & love coach, to a reader’s question regarding shame and insecurity during and after a relationship. Though it speaks directly to a romantic relationship, the same principles apply to any relationship and any situation where you’re holding on to feelings of worthlessness.

The tools below will teach you how to deal with insecurity and will empower you to restore your confidence and self-compassion.


Dear D: My Boyfriend Makes Me Feel Insecure

Dear D,

I was in a relationship with a man for three years that ended a year ago. It was a healthy relationship for the first two years, but we grew apart, and stayed together six months longer than we should have. Instead of getting out of the relationship, he stopped including me in his life. I’m almost certain he started dating his current girlfriend before our relationship ended.

I’m struggling with the fact that he was lazy and cowardly about ending our relationship. We had conversations that it wasn’t working, but he said he cared about me, and wanted to make it work. Nothing he did reflected that. Finally I told him it was done, and he then took six weeks to get his things out of our house.

In the dark place in my heart, I can’t conquer this feeling of worthlessness. It was easy for him to stop including me in his life, and he didn’t care enough about me to say ‘it’s over’. Why am I experiencing shame, and how can I move through this insecurity?

Thanks,
S


Hello S,

Thank you for reaching out, and I am so sorry for the pain and the sense of worthlessness and insecurity that you are feeling.

It hurts to be disappointed by someone you have made yourself vulnerable to. In the ideal world, you would tell him what you need, and he would give it to you.  He would try to make the relationship work.  (If it couldn’t, he’d respect you, and move out quickly.) He wouldn’t start a new relationship before exiting the existing one with you!

He did not live up to your expectations.

I invite you to think about  the “possible future”, and the possible YOU of that future…

Are you willing to be bold and believe that honest, happy, wholehearted love is waiting for you?

Are you willing to stand, fully committed to creating this radiant future, no matter what?

I hope so! Because when you do, you begin to be defined by the future more than the past.

What’s the first step in doing that, exactly?

YOU TAKE 100% RESPONSIBILITY.

You need to take FULL ownership for your love life in the past, AND the present –
the good, bad, and the ugly.

Right now, you’re probably thinking,
“But Danielle, it’s not MY FAULT…
I’ve done everything right…
I tried to make it work….
I even told him to finally leave….
Why should I take 100% responsibility?”

Excellent question.

First, let me explain that accepting “100% responsibility” is NOT:

X  Negating or EXCUSING a wrongdoing by someone else.

X  Taking the place of feeling REAL emotions like pain, anger, sadness, frustration, etc…

X  Taking on 100% of the “fault”.

  It IS about taking ownership of the role that YOU’VE played in your love life…
…including all the choices that YOU’VE made, and all of the events that YOU’VE contributed to.

If you continue to let yourself stew in feeling “wronged” (even if that other person was 95% at fault), you become blinded, and cannot see how you may have contributed to this circumstance.

When you have a strong, compassionate self-reflection practice, you can ask:

How did I co-create this?
In what ways did I allow this?
What red flags did I ignore because I didn’t want to rock the boat?

Who was I being that I stayed with a man who showed me he was unavailable and insensitive to me for over 6 months?

No matter what has happened in the past…today, YOU get to create a new story for yourself.

Tools to Overcome Feeling Worthless, Insecure or Ashamed

So…how can you take 100% responsibility for your circumstances around love? What can you do to banish feelings of shame and worthlessness?  

It’s a PROCESS.
But it starts with an exercise that you can do TODAY:

EXERCISE:

Journal:

How did I contribute to these circumstances?

What can I be responsible for in this situation?

What am I willing to try to appreciate about this relationship?

Write 3 times:

“I am willing to take 100% responsibility for all I create in love and life.

I realize that, while others may play a ROLE in my life, I am the CREATOR of my circumstance. I am in charge, and I am that powerful.”

All my love,
Danielle

Comments

  1. Just went through this myself. Truthfully, what made it worse was he then refused to acknowledge me in public or even respond to any of my questions via email. As if ditching me for another woman wasn’t disrespectful enough, he had to continue the b.s. publically. And I knew that I would occasionally see him, as he works and lives within blocks of my workplace.

    And while yes, if I knew I wouldn’t have to see him again – I would completely cut contact. But the other day, when he once again tried to pretend he didn’t see me, I decided to approach him and engage in a short conversation. Weirdly, he suggested we get together (although I doubt he really meant that). But I wasn’t about to allow him to continue treating me like a non-entity. I didn’t do anything to him.

    Anyways, I’ll be maintaining a safe distance from him, because now the trust is shot. There was a lot that I liked and still like about him, but I’m glad I approached him. The best thing you can do, is take the shame he’s handed to you and deliver it right back where it belongs.

    I’m worthy of respect and certainly deserved better. So do you.

  2. Sorry but I actually don’t agree with this advice at all. I’ve gone through this (who hasn’t really) and the worthlessness, etc. doesn’t end from “making a decision” to not feel that way. It stems from an underlying root issue and feeling the feeling is the byproduct of it. Without addressing the deeper issue you can’t just “will” it away, because at the end of the day it wasn’t about this man or what he did in the first place. It was that it hit an issue within yourself. Everyone has issues, and sometimes things in life unearths them like this. It’s very normal. Suggesting that this reader just “make the choice” to “not feel this way” is like telling a gardener to remove the leaves of weeds in a garden without ripping out or killing them under the soil. It doesn’t mean having intensive therapy (though it could in some instances) but simply asking yourself, what is the single word I’d name the way I feel, then what is really causing it and why. Keep digging until whatever underlying issue arises. At the end of the day, someone leaving our lives is not usually something we can’t get over or even how they do it. It’s how it affects us on the inside and why because we know life is not over when something happens, we recover, move on, are happy again in the future, find other love. When it leaves a mark there is usually something else going on.

    • Hi, I like your reflections on this. I am going through a similar situation with an ex. With the following added twists: we only went out for 9 months, we work together and I see him on a daily basis (it is not a big workplace 40-50 people), he is 12 years younger than me (I am 39, he is 27), I don’t have children which adds to my feeling of panic (in the beginning he was all too eager in telling me he wanted to have kids and was ready). Even though I was the one who ended it, and he was the one who persued me, I feel like the looser and he already has a new girlfriend and is very clear about showing everyone that we were nothing. He has an amazing ability to play the role of the arrogant and indifferent asshole – or maybe it was never really a role, but who he is – at least this is the experience I have of him after we broke up. I never got what he wanted with me, maybe he just saw me as someone intensly vulnerable that he could easily manipulate and feel superior too – and as the co-dependent asshole I am, I was only to happy to play the submissive part. To be honest I felt like shit throughout the relationship, which is why I ended it -the problem is I still feel like shit every time I see him, and it is causing great anxiety. I know that this comes from deep abandonment issues and childhood trauma, but I feel locked in an endless wortex of the same bullshit, I know it is my own bullshit, I take full responsibility for it, but after 7 years of therapy on and off I have to ask when will I stop torturing myself, trying to connect with people who deep down are incapable of connecting with me and who end up reaffirming the sense of insignificance I have struggled with my whole life. People always talk about owning your feelings, well what if what you own makes you experience a constant sense of deep insecurity, neglect and pain – and what if I have created a monster (in this case an ex who couldn’t care less and flaunts his indifference in front of me and everyone) in my everyday life, that triggers immense fear, because it forces me to face the truth, that someone I deeply cared about and still deeply care about didn’t really give a shit about me. Not because I am worthless, to be honest I am a pretty interesting person, but because he was simply incapable of giving a shit…or maybe he did give a shit, but I was to insecure to receive the love that he was offering in the beginning. Either way I am trapped in an anxiety filled hell, and if it is of my own making, then please fucking tell me how to make something else….

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