Before you can kick a bad habit — you first have to identify the habit. And for many single women, that bad habit often revolves around relationships. Can you think of any dysfunctional, destructive, difficult beliefs you might have about love and relationships?
1. Do you choose men who are incapable of meeting your emotional needs?
2. Do you chase men who aren’t interested in you?
3. Do you think that a man will fix all your problems?
4. Do you think love have to be difficult, painful, hard?
Regardless of what your bad love habit is, you can kick the habit for good with the following 12-step program:
Step 1: Acknowledge the problem
It’s important to not only identify what your limiting belief is, but to acknowledge how it sabotages your romantic relationships. For me, being addicted to bad love meant that I was drawn to men who were not capable of meeting my needs and then getting upset when they failed to meet those needs. If you’ve identified your bad love habit, now’s the time to acknowledge it.
Step 2: Hold yourself accountable
I used to think that my only problem in relationships was that I chose the wrong men. I thought they were the real problem. And that was an easy cop out. The truth is, I was drawn to the drama of bad relationships. Ultimately, I was dooming any chance at a good relationship because I was unhealthy and therefore attracting unhealthy partners. And until I acknowledged my participation in those failed relationships, nothing was going to change. It was a painful realization, but a necessary one to my recovery. So, what actions can you hold yourself accountable for that will aid your “recovery?”
Step 3: Let go of old patterns and habits
This step can be hard because it means we have to let go of our limiting beliefs about love and relationships. For me, I realized that the only kind of love I thought I deserved was bad love — the kind that hurt, the kind that made me chase it. In order to let go of those destructive notions, I had let go of my limiting beliefs about love, and trust that the right love would find me when I was ready for it … when I was capable of loving myself in healthy, happy, grown-up ways. What old pattern, habit or limiting belief can you let go of that will help you in your pursuit of healthy love?
Step 4: Believe you deserve to be happy
Are you trapped in the notion that, “My life will be better when …” and then fill in the blanks? Whether it’s paying off debts, losing weight, getting a new job or finding the love of your life, putting off happiness until some external thing happens is a vicious cycle. The truth is, we’re all worthy of love just as we are right now. Can you embrace and work that into your belief system today? What, if any, resistance pops up?
Step 5: Live/Love Your Life
Just like we’re not sure we deserve happiness in the here and now, we may also be unsure how to love our lives as they are. Maybe you want to get married and it’s just not happening. Maybe you want a baby but you can’t find a partner. Maybe you hate your job. And while there are some things in our lives we just can’t change, it’s important to still find ways to love your life in the here and now. If you’re stressed about finding Mr. Right, how would you feel to put the search on hold while celebrating the fabulous single life you already have? If you’re feeling the tick, tick, tick of your biological clock, what would happen if you turned down the volume and focused on other areas of your life? If you hate your job, look for another one. And if you’re not going to do that, then make peace with the fact that your career isn’t going to fulfill you — and find something else that will. Volunteer. Take a class. Plan a much-needed vacation.
The key to loving your life is to LIVE your life, as it is right now, in this moment. You don’t need to meet Mr. Right in order to be happy. And whether you do or don’t find him is not a reflection on the quality of your life. What would happen if you let go of all that self-imposed pressure and lightened up? Chances are, you’ll fall madly in love with your life. Can you identify one thing you might lighten up about that will help you live and love your life right now?
Step 6: Reframe old/destructive notions about love
In the past, my ideas about love kept me from finding the authentic love I deserved. I thought love had to be painful, difficult, a struggle. I couldn’t imagine finding someone who liked the real me, warts and all. And that was the problem. If I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t believe it. And so I started changing how I saw love. Every day when I woke up and again before bed, I finished the following sentence, “Love is …” Some days I couldn’t think of anything so I borrowed from the old standby — “Love is patient. Love is kind.” But more often than not, I created a new love vocabulary. “Love is real. Love is here. Love is healthy. Love is whole. Love is unconditional.” Can you identify some new vocabulary words that will help you reframe how you feel about love and relationships? Would you be willing to do this exercise everyday for 30 days? You’ll be surprised at what happens!
Step 7: Figure out what you want
Once upon a time, the only path for fabulous females was to meet a man, get married, settle down and have babies. But we’re lucky enough to live in an age when that’s not the only life goal anymore. If it happens to be your life goal, that’s fantastic! But if it’s just something you think you should do because everyone else is doing it, you may want to rethink your plans. Plenty of women remain single. Plenty more find a partner but don’t have children. And yes, there are still plenty of fabulous females who get married and have children. What’s most important is looking at what you really want and what really works for you and your life. Are you willing to take an honest look at your life and figure out what you really want?
Step 8: Shake things up
Once you’ve figured out what you really want, it’s time to go for it! And this is where things get really fun. Give yourself permission to take some risks. You may be surprised to find that taking those risks isn’t nearly as scary as you thought — and may actually be fun! Is there one action you can take very soon that will help shake things up?
Step 9: Practice (a lot!)
Once you’re clear about your intentions for your new and improved life, it’s time to get out there and put it into practice! If you want to date, date a lot! If you want to take time off to enjoy your life, then enjoy your fabulous single life to the fullest! Now’s the time to put the previous steps into action and really live and love your life! Remember, the only result you’re looking for is to have F-U-N. How freeing is that?
Step 10: Be open to the possibilities
Don’t be surprised if people treat you differently with your new outlook. Be prepared to meet new and interesting people. And be open to the possibilities! You never know who you’ll meet or what purpose they’ll serve in your life. Maybe they’ll help you find that new job. Or give you that much-needed break you’ve been searching for. And maybe you’ll meet Mr. Right! Your only job right now is to say, “Why not?”
Step 11: Reap the rewards of your efforts
It’s amazing what will come to you when you’re healthy, happy and in love with your life. Be prepared for unexpected surprises and rewards!
Step 12: Repeat (if necessary)
Like kicking any bad habit, breaking up with bad love habits is never easy. It takes time, commitment and perseverance. You may find that you have to revisit the steps several times along the way. After all, old habits die hard. But don’t give up. It’s worth the effort!
Lisa Steadman, a.k.a. The Relationship Journalist, is an accomplished relationship writer, speaker, and coach. She is the site creator of BreakupChronicles.com featuring stories of how breaking up with the wrong person is the right thing to do (and always leads to bigger and better opportunities in life — including meeting Mr. Right!). Her first book “It’s A Break Up, Not a Break Down: Get over the Big One and Change Your Life – for Good!” will be available May 8th. Recently, Lisa has been featured on The Tyra Banks Show, Fox Across America and more espousing the positive side breaking up.