Are you emotionally unavailable?
If you’ve been hurt before it can be easy to hold back from meaningful relationships and real emotions. But being emotionally unavailable can hurt you just as much, says Rebecca Perkins
‘If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.’ – Sydney Banks.
Many of us deny ourselves the thing we long for most. As humans, we’re built for love and connection; it’s how we started life. Yet, as we grow, fear sets in and we can slowly shut ourselves down. This is often a misguided attempt to protect ourselves from getting rejected or hurt, and we can feel that we don’t deserve a real connection.
This is what I hear from clients, or rather, this is what comes to light during confidence coaching sessions or when we talk about writing their dating profile.
Fear of being hurt and being heartbroken is the one thing that I hear the most – it literally terrifies both men and women. They long to find a partner, to love someone and be loved in return, yet their fear looms large. People love at a distance and by doing so, instead of protecting themselves from hurt, they end up denying themselves and the person they ‘love’ a real connection. It’s as if they’re afraid to truly love. Superficial connections feel safe but letting go, being vulnerable, and living life fully is too great a hurdle to overcome.
We hold people at arm’s length in order to protect ourselves from the rejection that we ‘know’ is coming our way. However, this is only true in our thoughts. Yes, you might have been rejected before, in relationships and in friendships, but you don’t have to let that become your story.
We often long for love and connection but feel that we don’t deserve it. We feel that it’s better to stay shut behind our own walls, and yet, that doesn’t make us feel fulfilled or satisfied. Deep down we know that something very important is missing – feeling connection is a deeply human experience.
The thing is; rejection doesn’t kill you. It bruises you, yes, but it’s not fatal. Rejection and heartbreak isn’t the end of the world, even though at the time it feels as though it is. Trust me, I’ve been there too, I’m not making this stuff up!
So what can you do if this sounds like you?
Firstly, understand that you’re simply caught up in some unreliable and out of date thought patterns. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable when we lean in to being available. You can choose to be available or unavailable. You may well have learned coping strategies when you were younger but those aren’t set in stone; you can decide to change and no longer believe those thoughts.
Many people feel that they don’t deserve love for some reason and they go out of their way to deny themselves joy and pleasure. Begin to understand and know that just because you’ve believed something for a long time – whether it’s something you’ve made up or something that someone told you a long time ago – it doesn’t have to be your truth right now. You don’t need to believe it anymore. You can choose to live a happier and more connected life.
It might seem easier to be unattached and emotionally unavailable, but avoiding intimacy like this only leads to loneliness. We all want connection and a deeply loving, fulfilling relationship, whether that’s with a partner or with our family and friends. Keeping someone at arm’s length sabotages this. No man or woman is an island after all. Start by deepening your relationships with your family and friends and put yourself out there a little more, step by step.
Opening yourself up to emotions might seem so terrifying that it stops you developing relationships. Knowing that no emotion or experience can harm you is important. Trust that you can feel a whole range of emotions; joy, excitement and exhilaration as well as anger, fear and frustration. All of these emotions pass through us and they only affect us if we allow them to.
When a relationship ended I was utterly heartbroken; for a while I really did think that my world had come to an end. I even believed that I’d never smile or laugh again. That felt very real for me for a time. But yes, time passed, I pulled myself back up again, and eventually I felt stronger for the experience.
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