How To: Deal With Distressing yet Normal Doubts in a Relationship

How To: Deal With Distressing yet Normal Doubts in a Relationship

My OCD has a warped way of interpreting matters in my life. For instance, when I grow comfortable in relationships, it tries to persuade me that I’m just not happy – that I don’t belong with this person. Because God forbid my world doesn’t revolve around him each second.

In the past, it even made me break up with or pull away from guys out of fear of hurting them or leading them on. Thankfully, those mishaps led me to where I am today – with a man who understands these intrusive thoughts as much as I do now.

I’m glad I recognized this as a symptom of OCD (and simply being human) before I allowed it to destroy my current relationship. I must admit, it’s brought me close to a breaking point; and at times, I even think I’m better off alone because I can’t deal with the torment my mind endures.

The guilt. The shame. The terror for having one fleeting thought.

Everyone has questions and doubts in relationships. Everyone gets “bored” from time to time. Everyone wonders. It’s human nature for your mind to explore – but it’s what you do with these thoughts and emotions that defines you and your relationship.

If only I had known that people experience these fleeting notions every second of the day. Some thoughts just stick. They play on a loop, and the more attention you give them, the stronger they become, and the more real they feel.

For me, these “doubts” started as early as my first relationship. I didn’t realize it then, but I wasn’t losing feelings for the guy I was dating. Instead, I was developing stronger ones – just in a different sense. The butterflies had flown away, and I no longer wanted to spend every waking moment with the guy. I did, however, feel secure and content in his presence. But at the time, my OCD lied to me and tricked me into thinking that I no longer cared for this person, because why else would I not be over-the-moon while holding his hand?

Long story short, one simple fear of losing connection attracted a million others, my mind focusing only on flaws, until I was buried beneath my own shame.

I pulled away. He cut all ties. And it was then, in the midst of devastation, that I realized the doubts were meaningless.

Since then, I experienced these exact emotions in every relationship I’ve had. One night, I wasn’t in the mood to make out with my then-boyfriend. We were arguing a lot, and I didn’t feel the connection that night. But all of the sudden, I become overwhelmed with the idea that I was no longer attracted to him.

Another time, an image of me kissing another guy who wasn’t my boyfriend popped into my mind. It was a totally innocent thought – I have never cheated and I never will. But from that point on, I felt so much guilt, as if I had kissed someone else and not just subconsciously imagined it, that I couldn’t even look at my then-boyfriend. I felt like a monster for something I couldn’t control.

But what’s so important to realize is that you are still human, and your mind can still wander without it becoming an issue. You can’t decide what thoughts come into your mind, but you can help how you respond to them.

DO NOT feed these ideas. DO NOT give them more meaning than they hold, unless there is a legitimate reason to. And you will know if there is, because the thought would not be so distressing. You’d want to end things with the person so you can move on with your life. Sure, you’d likely feel disappointed in the situation or upset over hurting the person, but you wouldn’t spend all day worrying and obsessing over whether or not your feelings are valid.

There is a difference between normal doubts and concerning ones. If you genuinely feel that you are unhappy, that you aren’t being treated right, or that the relationship just isn’t working, it’s time to have a conversation with your significant other. You don’t want to put on a front and have your emotions build up until you make a rash decision or start an unnecessary fight. Communication can make or break your relationship. Never be afraid to ask for what makes you happy; but also know that you need to meet your partner halfway.

However, don’t allow yourself to become someone who only wants what they can’t have and never realizes what they have until it’s gone. That person hides in all of us, tempting and nagging, making us believe we will never be satisfied, that perhaps we don’t deserve to be. Acknowledging those ideas is OK. Acting on them or letting them control you – that’s when issues arise.

This isn’t easy. I struggle with it every day because of my ROCD. But there’s a reason I push through and stay in my committed relationship: because I truly do love my boyfriend, even if my anxiety wants to convince me otherwise.

You don’t have to feel guilty for having doubts. In fact, it’s healthy to have them, because it means you are taking your relationship seriously. So take a deep breath and understand that you are normal – and what you’re feeling is normal, too.

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How To: Create and Stick with a Personal Fitness Routine

How To: Create and Stick with a Personal Fitness Routine

So you want to work out. It seems simple enough. If all of those badass fitness models on Instagram can do it, then why can’t you? Buy new workout clothes, invest in a gym membership or at-home equipment, create a fitness board on Pinterest and you’re all set! Right?

Wrong. It’s all fun and games until you end up sitting on some random machine, wondering how to work it and what to do next–until you’re lacking motivation three weeks in and fall back to square one.

So how do you start? By creating your own workout regime.

Figure out what you want from your fitness journey–to lose weight, gain muscle, tone up, build strength, etc. Keep in mind that you can achieve all of these goals with the correct regime. Once you set your priorities straight, conduct some research online (sites like LIVESTRONG and MyFitnessPal are super helpful!) and collect exercises that are relevant to your objectives.

Next, be sure to divide your days into your targeted muscle groups. For example, I exercise my legs and glutes on Mondays and Wednesdays, my arms on Tuesdays, my abs on Tuesdays and Thursdays; I do cardio each of those days; and I dedicate an extra day to full body HIIT workouts. If I skip a session, I simply shift my routine to the following day.  While I am not a physical trainer, I have found that this routine works well for me.

Whether you go to the gym or work out at home, set a few days aside for trial periods. Test some exercises out, try using weights, figure out which form of cardio is your favorite. Make sure to choose activities that excite you, ones that motivate you to get up and get going each morning. For instance, if you hate running like I do, don’t force yourself to do it. There are plenty of other ways to burn calories, like swimming, biking or playing soccer.

Inspiration is another key to staying on track. Follow fitness bloggers on social media and look up new and exciting ways to stay in shape regularly.

By adhering to a schedule, you hold yourself accountable. When you’re comfortable in your routine, make some changes. Increase reps or sets. Add some new workouts. Change your location. Record (and reward!) your progress.

Overall, just ensure that you are enjoying yourself in the healthiest way possible, physically and mentally.

 

How To: Say Goodbye to Guilt

How To: Say Goodbye to Guilt

 

I harbor guilt. Lots of it. In fact, that’s basically all I feel 24/7. Having OCD makes it even worse; I dwell on my mistakes (ones that most people wouldn’t even consider mistakes in the first place) and obsess over them until my stomach is in knots. I wake up every morning with painful cramps from the shame and anxiety. It is not a good feeling.

I am sure I’m not the only one with an over-active conscious. We all mess up, say words we don’t mean, start petty arguments, allow our feelings to take control. Why? Because we are human. We feel. We love. We hurt.

Feelings are not a sign of weakness, no matter what anyone says. In fact, they are quite the opposite. Admitting to emotions makes you strong and confident, while hiding them only proves insecurity. Be proud of who you are and what you feel rather than wearing a facade.

That being said, emotions can be messy. You’ll often find yourself torn, unsure of how to handle a situation. You can ask as many friends as you want for their advice; but in the end, it is you who makes the decision. It is you who has to deal with the consequences, and only you who knows exactly what you want and what you don’t want. So quit caring what others have to say; they don’t know your situation or your needs. Sure, you can turn to others for support, but learn to make your own decisions–and learn to accept yourself along the way, mistakes included.

There is no guide to life. You are going to have mishaps. You are going to get hurt by someone and you are going to hurt someone. That’s life. Move on from the shame, the doubts, and the guilt because they will only cloud your future judgement. You will walk on eggshells for your entire life if you don’t learn to forgive yourself. You will settle for less than what you deserve if you’re too hard on yourself.

This ties in with false guilt. In the article “Healthy Guilt vs. False and Harmful Guilt,” Paul Coughlin says, “False guilt has nothing to do with what’s true and accurate, nor is it related to true repentance. Rather, it is usually the fear of disapproval in disguise, and this problem especially hounds people who have a hyperactive or malfunctioning conscience.” In other words, this type of guilt is misleading. You may feel shame for reacting a certain way, even though you had every right to. Your actions were justified, yet you feel the need to seek acceptance or reassurance from others; and if anyone disagrees, you automatically assume you were wrong, and therefore plagued with guilt.

False guilt is extremely daunting. Everyone handles situations differently; not everyone will agree with you all of the time. But that doesn’t mean you are wrong, and you should not beat yourself up over human emotions.

Now, if you do or say something you aren’t proud of, something that you know was out-of-character or irrational, apologize. That is all you can truly do. You can’t go back, so replaying it over and over will only lead to more problems, like irritability or sensitivity. Simply try writing down your thoughts in a journal or in your notes on your phone, and then never think about it again. Wake up the next morning and move on.

Dwelling on the past does not make you smarter or stronger; it benefits you in no way. Set yourself free, forgive yourself, and love yourself–unconditionally.