I have the thought that I’m not good at relationships, and I can see that the result is that I don’t have many close relationships. I’m married and have a young son, and I know right now I’m trying to do too much and putting too much pressure on myself, and while I’m a “good mom” with my son, and can listen, be sympathetic, loving, and caring with him, I don’t extend the same courtesy to my husband. He describes himself as sensitive, so my stressed out, snapping responses to simple questions perplex him and he says he’d rather not even talk to me because he doesn’t know what kind of response he’ll get…and I don’t always know either.
I’m somewhat self-aware enough to know that it’s not him, it’s me…but that reasoning doesn’t help things. I end up blaming myself and circling the drain with self-criticism and shame, and see it as more evidence that I’m not good at relationships. I don’t keep in touch with old friends, and I don’t have any super close friendships, and even my family relationships are a bit distant. (I’m not painting a very rosy picture, am I?)
I feel like I’ve been keeping to myself for so long, constantly looking inward for answers and actively avoiding interacting with people in a deep way, that I find it hard to know where to start and how to “get better” at relationships. I don’t know how to reach out and get closer to people without putting myself down in the process…I keep thinking that I have to say “I’m a crappy person because I haven’t been keeping in touch, but how are you doing now?”. And even in making new friends, I feel weird because most people have long-term friendships and people they’ve kept in touch with since childhood or college, and I just haven’t done that. I use this as evidence that there’s something wrong with me, and of course who’d want to be friends with someone who’s as messed up as me?
I guess it all comes down to my thoughts about myself, but I see all this evidence that I’m not good at relationships, and I can’t just switch to all of a sudden being fully confident in this area.
C: other people
T: I’m not good at relationships
A: withdraw, don’t reach out, think of all the friendships and relationships that I’ve let wither, blame myself for not being better at keeping in touch with people, don’t attempt to connect with people, do thought work but don’t take action, buffer with work and other distractions, keep interactions surface-level
R: I don’t cultivate better relationships
I’d like to be less judgmental about myself, and be more open in general…still, it seems like a stretch.
C: other people
T: I’m learning to build better relationships
A: I reach out to people with the genuine desire to get to know them better now, look at my past experience/relationships with curiousity vs judgment, question my thoughts about why I withdrew from people in the first place, investigate my judgments about myself and others, go deeper even when I want to stay “safe” and try to protect myself from getting hurt, question whether other people can even hurt me, or if that’s something I’ve been doing to myself the whole time. Let people be who they are and just be myself, “flaws” and all. Laugh more, question my negative assessments, lead with curiousity.
R: I build a better relationship with myself, and others.
Ok, that seems doable…But I’ll take any advice on how to stop judging my past actions, or any other thoughts that might be helpful…