How To Stop Anxiety From Crippling You In Relationships

Photo: Unsplash: Jan Zhukov
How To Get Rid Of Anxiety & Stop Being Anxious In Relationships

If your internal critic is holding you back when it comes to dating, love and relationships, learning how to get rid of anxiety and calm the paralyzing self-doubts that are keeping you from finding happiness in your love life starts with healing your inner child.

Even if you had a pretty good childhood, that doesn’t mean you got to adulthood unscathed. You don’t have to have suffered from abuse or trauma for your inner child to need some healing.

Even small anxieties from childhood could be keeping you from finding true love. So learning how to stop being anxious is absolutely critical.

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I was recently speaking with a man who said, "I am obviously not meant to be in a relationship. Is it that I choose the wrong women? Or am I just not worthy of being loved for myself?"

He had recently gone through a painful breakup. And now, every hateful word his ex-girlfriend had uttered during their tumultuous ending was running through his head on repeat. His inner critic, as though on steroids, was spinning all kinds of hurtful, anxiety-inducing stories about everything he believed must be wrong with him.

He was full of self-doubt, and that inner critic of his was telling him that the only solution was to give up on trying to be in a healthy, loving relationship.

This man is kind, handsome, and successful. He is an amazing catch for that right woman!

And that ex-girlfriend? She just wasn't the right one.

But despite knowing this, his inner dialogue dredged up visions of every emotional childhood trauma, failed relationship and mistake he'd made since hitting puberty. Like anyone, when he was going through a tough time, his inner critic was trying to run the show.

When it comes to finding true love, your internal dialogue is often led by your inner critic, which is why healing your inner child and silencing that voice is the best way to move forward and build healthy relationships.

For anyone struggling with similar self-doubts, here's how to get rid of anxiety and stop feeling anxious in relationships so you can finally find the happiness you and your love life deserve.

1. Offer yourself some compassion.

This is the first step. In fact, you need a lot of compassion and grace to deal with your inner child's negative dialogue.

Once you’ve made that decision to be compassionate with yourself, you need to understand that your inner critic originated from a space of fear and is just trying to keep you safe.

When we were children, we wanted to please our parents, teachers, and everyone. Of course, it was necessary for our parents to discipline us and teach us to be good citizens.

Our inner voices mimic the adults in our lives.

So, that inner voice? At first, it was just trying to keep you from running into the street after a ball. Or not speaking with your mouth full. Or from touching a hot stove.

The thing you have to remember about parents is this: They are not perfect. They have their own share of fears and past mistakes, which can color the way they parent and ways they try to keep their child safe — not just physically, but also emotionally.

What parent doesn't want to protect their child from heartbreak or mistakes? Yet, their fears and worries and failures can affect the words they say when trying to keep that beloved child safe.

This is why you see generations of families having similar fears, like the fear of public speaking. Over time, though, that inner critic's voice takes that input from the adults in our lives and begin to compound it with our own experiences.

Though your inner critic makes you doubt yourself, understand that that inner voice is just trying to keep you safe, emotionally and physically.

The last thing your inner child wants is to have you feel embarrassed or ashamed. So, it speaks up and becomes critical anytime you are going to take a risk, even if it's a good one.

2. Talk to your younger self.

The next step is to find a favorite photo of yourself as a small child. See that shining little face? Those bright eyes? That curious grin? The next time your inner critic speaks up, picture this child in mind.

Would you yell at this child for being scared to fall in love? Would you berate this child if she wanted to try a new sport? Would you belittle this child for desiring to live a bigger life?

No, you would not do any of these things. You would be compassionate and kind. You would comfort this child. You would encourage the child to take a risk. Remind this child that mistakes happen and that there is always love, compassion, grace, and forgiveness in the world.

The way you quiet this inner child is by befriending him or her. Every time that inner voice speaks out and makes you doubt a choice, a decision, or opportunity, you befriend that voice.

And then you tell them this: "Darling, I know that you are scared. But it’s going to be all right. Take a deep breath. Now, what do you really want in this situation?"

When you begin learning to speak kindly to yourself and to offer yourself compassion, you build your inner strength and start to heal your inner child.

Over time, you will learn to listen to your fabulous intuition and rely upon your inner wisdom. When you get in the habit of being kind to that inner critic, the intensity of that voice lessens and its power weakens.

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3. Accept your inner child and critic.

Now that you’re learning to deal with this inner critic, let me remind you once again that he or she is a child and life is a journey.

So ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you give a child the keys to your car?
  • The car that’s going to take on you on this journey through life?
  • Would you let a child give you directions on how to get from here to the next stop on your journey?

Probably not.

Even when your inner child is quieter or kinder, he or she is always there with you because they're a part of your life experiences. So, when your inner critic insists that you should doubt yourself, play small, and not take risks, tell them it’s going to be OK.

If that doesn't work, have another conversation with them that goes like this:

"Sweetie, you are a part of this inner family that creates my life. You, along with inner wisdom, intuition, and strength will be a part of every journey we take. I appreciate your input because it has kept me safe.

But the new rule is this: you can go on this journey with us, but you are not allowed to drive. You are not allowed to tell us what turn to take. You aren’t even allowed to choose what we listen to on radio.

But know that you are allowed to be loved and enjoy the fruits of our journey together."

Life will never be free from challenges. And, yes, you will always make mistakes during your journey. However, you can thrive after even the toughest experiences.

When you choose to work with your inner child from a place of love and compassion, you shift the dynamic. That shift in dynamics allows you to be kinder to yourself and to pursue what you really desire.

You learn to manage the inner critic instead of it managing you because you, my dear, are fabulous. You deserve to live a life you love and pursue your deepest desires. You are worthy of being loved because love is your birthright.

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Debra Smouse is a life coach and author who discovered that when she befriended her inner critic, she finally fell in love with life. Get her free e-book and a bi-weekly love note and visit her on Facebook for more.