Are you making a big deal out of nothing, or attempting to fix problems by ignoring them?
It’s a question worth asking yourself in any area of your life.
And it’s especially important to ask about how you’re showing up in your romantic relationship.
Are you making a big deal out of things that don’t really, in the greater scheme of things, matter all that much?
Or are you downplaying your concerns? Are you trying to pretend that something that bothers you a lot isn’t a big deal?
Some of us have a pretty strong tendency to do one of those two things more than the other. Some of do a little of both – or maybe a lot of both!
It’s hard to build and sustain a satisfying romantic relationship if you’re prone to freaking out about every little thing that happens that you don’t like.
But on the other hand, continuously disregarding your sense of what’s right for you for the sake of keeping the peace or going with the flow or not causing a stir is no recipe for long term happiness with your partner.
Sometimes we’re afraid the world (or maybe just our relationship, which, actually, might seem like our whole world) will end if we don’t have things the way we like them all of the time. And sometimes we’re afraid the world/our relationship will end if we state our preferences and advocate for our own needs.
These are not unusual fears! Our romantic relationships are usually pretty important to us – sometimes, they’re the keystones of Life As We Know It. Our partner may be our primary source of love and connection. We may share children or pets or extensive, cherished collections of rare items with them – and may be terrified by the thought of splitting these precious creatures or items up. We may share a household and finances and endless bureaucratic and logistical responsibilities. So the stakes of things going wrong in our relationship may, reasonably, seem pretty high.
But that’s all the more reason to connect with your core sense of self and what’s really right for you and important to you, not a reason to abandon those things.
It may seem inconvenient or messy or scary, but you’ve got to make friends with your fears. When you feel the urge to control or manage or criticize every aspect of a situation, or blame someone else (like perhaps your partner) for what you think is going wrong, what’s going on? What are you afraid might happen if things don’t go exactly the way you want them to?
The assignment is the same when you notice yourself remaining quiet when a part of you knows you have something to say. What are you afraid will happen if you speak up and share your truth?
At first, all you have to do is acknowledge your fears. That’s it! Be aware of their presence. This might sound like a tiny step, but even if it’s simple, it isn’t necessarily easy, and it’s a powerful shift. It’s a lot different from resisting them or ignoring them – and if you’re in the habit of doing either one of those things, “just” noticing your fears with kindness may feel like a very big deal.
If you want to go a little further, you might ask yourself how your body feels when you notice yourself feeling afraid. Does your heart race? Do your palms sweat? Does your chest feel constricted? Does your left big toe tingle? See if you can breathe into those sensations, and let them pass. If you let yourself experience them, they will pass. If you don’t let yourself experience them, they’re more likely to stick around and plague you in unpleasant and unexpected ways.
Then, once the rush of the bodily sensations has subsided, ask yourself what you’re thinking about the situation at hand.
If you’re pissed off because your partner did something that you don’t like and you’re on the verge of chewing them out, see if you can pause before you speak (or write them a scathing text message, or begin mentally drafting the speech you plan to give them later). What do you believe is going on? What, specifically, are you afraid will happen if things don’t happen the way you want them to?
Or, if you’re hesitating to speak up about something that’s important to you, what’s going on?
What are you afraid will happen if you speak up and share your wishes or your thoughts? Before you just shut down and tell yourself, “it doesn’t matter,” ask yourself why it DOES matter. And ask yourself why you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t share this. Be specific about your reasons. Being honest with yourself about this may be scary, too.
This work isn’t necessarily easy, but it sure is important. If you want some help working with your tendency to make mountains out of molehills or molehills out of mountains, let’s talk! I can help you identify and communicate about what’s most important to you. Book a free consultation with me today and we'll get started.