Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. If fear of rejection makes it difficult for you to get close to people, you may find yourself pushing people away before they can hurt you. Whatever form this pushing away takes for you, you can learn to get a handle on those behaviors before they destroy your relationships. Practice self-awareness and enlist the assistance of your loved ones in the process.
Knowing Your Patterns
One of the hardest things about pushing people away is that you often won't know you're doing it at the time. In the moment, the anger and hurt feelings seem real, and the impulse to reject others before they reject you can feel justified. In moments like these, it helps to you know your own patterns and triggers so that you can tell when you might be feeling upset because those close to you have hit on them. Spend time thinking about what sorts of things you're afraid others will say about you, or the kinds of behaviors you'd most be afraid to see from your loved ones. Understand that you may be tempted to push people away any time they do anything that may even hint at these things.
Because it's often so much easier to identify your own rejection patterns in hindsight, it's a good idea to cultivate a habit of waiting before you say or do anything that could destroy a relationship. When you're upset and feel an urge to say something cutting and hurtful or to make some other drastic display of rejecting someone, remind yourself that if it really needs to be said or done, it can wait. Giving yourself a day or even just a few minutes to let the first, strong wave of hurt and fear die down can make the difference between keeping people in your life and losing them.
When you're starting to get close to someone, you may want to let them know if you have a tendency to push people away. Depending on the relationship you have with this person and how comfortable you feel, you might even tell them some stories of times in the past when you've made this mistake. This warning won't prevent all problems in the future, but it can lay some groundwork for helping you explain and make up for pushing a loved one away in the future.
If you find that you're pushing people away or distancing yourself from them, apologize immediately once you know you've done this. Take responsibility for this mistake and explain your tendencies if you haven't already done so. Stress that this is your issue and that your hurtful behavior wasn't about them. Explain that you will work hard in the future to avoid doing this again, but that it's a process and will take you time to overcome the problem completely.
- "Fear of Intimacy"; Robert W. Firestone and Joyce Catlett.
- Psychology Today: Being Afraid Of Love
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