Relationships offer us more opportunities for personal growth than just about anything else in life. But sometime the opportunities are very challenging!
For example, Larry asks:
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"Whenever I feel a real connection with someone, whether it's for friendship or a love interest, I lose my cool completely, can't function and I end up losing them. What can I do?"
Larry, I'm certain that many people can identify with your experience. Let's look at the underlying cause of this.
The bottom line that leads to losing your cool is self-rejection/self-abandonment.
Imagine that you have an actual little boy, and every time he makes a friend, you say to him, "If your friend doesn't like you, then you are unworthy and unlovable." Your little boy would be so anxious that he could not be himself. He would be trying so hard to impress his friend that he would 'lose his cool completely." He would not be able to function and would end up losing the friend, which would reinforce his sense of unworthiness.
If you said this to your little boy, you would be lying to him, because his worth and lovability would have nothing to do with whether or not someone likes him. If you were a loving father, you would let him know that he is intrinsically worthy and lovable because of his inherent qualities, such as his kindness or curiosity or empathy or aliveness or natural sense of humor. You would let him know that he is worthy just for being himself. And if he knew this, he would not worry about whether a friend liked him, because his worth was not on the line.
Larry, on the inner level, you are rejecting your own inner child. You have not defined your own inherent worth, and instead you are giving your inner child away to others to define.
This creates huge stress. You can't be yourself because you have to try to control whether or not the other person likes you. Then, because they likely feel pulled on by you to approve of you, they pull away. Most people do not want responsibility for another person's sense of worth. Most people feel resistant and repelled when they sense that you are not being yourself, and instead are trying to control how they feel about you.
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What To Do?
Larry, you need to decide that you want responsibility for defining your own worth and lovability. You need to start to tune in to how stressed you feel when you put pressure on yourself to impress someone. You need to open to learning with a higher power to learn to see yourself through the eyes of love rather than the eyes of self-judgment. You need to tune into the self-judgments you level at yourself that make you feel unworthy, inadequate and unlovable.