ERP 092: How To Get Unstuck From Old Patterns When Cultivating A Love Relationship [Transcript]

ERP 092: How To Get Unstuck From Old Patterns When Cultivating A Love Relationship

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Welcome to The Empowered Relationship Podcast, helping you turn relationship challenges into opportunities and setting you up for relationship success. Your host, Dr. Jessica Higgins, is a licensed psychologist and relationship coach who shares valuable tips, tools and resources for you to dramatically improve your relationship.

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Hi, thank you for joining today’s podcast episode. Today’s episode is 92, titled How To Get Unstuck From Old Patterns When Cultivating A Love Relationship. Today you’ll hear a conversation, a live laser coaching session with a listener. Before we get started, I just want to hold this space for our intention on this show and this community.

The purpose of this show is how to improve our love, our connection in relationship. How to be more conscious, how to be more thoughtful and mindful of all the things that are going on in our interactions, so that we can be more intentional and skillful, authentic, transparent, vulnerable – all of these things that help us open our hearts, allow us to meet our partners, build safer, more quality connection, whether or not that’s we’re discussing something difficult or we’re deepening in our intimacy, that we can experience the secure bond and feel happy and fulfilled and healthy, lasting relationship.

You can contribute to this dialogue on this show by submitting a question. If you have a struggle or a challenge in relationship that you would like feedback or support around, you can submit a question to me via e-mail. My e-mail is You can also find me on my website. There’s a way to leave me a voicemail directly from my website, which is

You can also request to be on the show and receive live laser coaching. I will spend my time meeting you with your particular relationship concerns and give you feedback and guidance and support, also knowing that the call will be recorded and published as an episode, so that our whole community can learn from that and use it as a source of information and guidance.

Another way that you can deepen in your practice of these principles is to engage in our of my programs or couples coaching. Again, you can find me on my website, which is

Periodically I get a rating and review from one of you listeners, which I so appreciate. It really helps this show grow and it’s really helpful for me to get your feedback. A rating and review that I received at the end of this year by Jade in Alaska… She titles the review “Lifechanging podcasts.”

Thank you, Dr. Jessica Higgins, for your wonderful words of wisdom about relationship and guidance just for life in general. You are doing great work in so many people’s lives. You’ve already given me great advice that has literally changed my perspective on some things in my life personally. You’re wonderful. I sincerely appreciate your hard and earnest work. Happy new year! Let me know if you ever come to Alaska!

Thank you Jade in Alaska, I so appreciate you taking the time to write a rating and review; it truly means a lot to me.

For today’s episode, this is a call with a listener where I offered live laser coaching with her, and I really felt great about this conversation. I really loved being able to connect with this person and offer them support around their current relationship challenge. As I listened to the replay, getting ready to publish this episode, I was like “Wow, I’m trying to do a lot!” I think I get very excited and I know that it’s a small, limited amount of time, and there’s so many things going on in my mind… I think I’m trying to offer a lot, I really wanna be helpful, and yet as I’m listening, I’m thinking “Less is more.”

This is a learning process for me, to have a one-shot trying to help somebody, really zone in on a particular area, and this is something that I’m also growing in, I’m building my comfortability with, so I’m aware that I have a lot that I’m thinking, there’s a lot I’m trying to offer, and I’m aware that perhaps less is more. So just know that I know that.

I pick up this call, basically I’m asking her to tell us a little bit about her situation, and then we get into our call.

Caroline: Okay, let’s see… A little bit about me. I would say that I’m just at a place in my life where I’m much more clear than I have been in the past about what I want in a relationship, what I want that to look like, and yet because I haven’t really experienced it yet, there is some fear and some stress around “How do I actually make it happen? How will I know it when I see it?”

My history with relationships – I grew up and experienced a lot of hard stuff in my family and didn’t really have a lot of romantic relationships in high-school and college; a couple short ones, but nothing significant. Then in my twenties I’ve had a couple of relationships that looking back I can’t really see clearly… Like, “Oh, not the best choices!” But you know, I’ve done a lot of growing and I’ve done a lot of personal work, a lot of therapy… I think I mentioned in my e-mail, Brené Brown’s work has been really [unintelligible 00:06:57.09] to my development.

I just recently ended a relationship that lasted a little bit more than a year, and I’m just doing a lot of reflecting on that, and also looking forward. I started dating a bit… There’s just kind of a lot going on in my brain about it right now.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay, so you’re mostly saying, “I’m wanting to be very mindful and intentional about what I’m creating in my love life, in my relationship.” It sounds like you’ve gained clarity around what you’re wanting to invest in.

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay. And you’re also describing there’s a little doubt and there’s a little fear, just feeling like whether or not you were modeled the type of relationship or you haven’t seen a lot of examples of it, or you haven’t felt in your own body the type of love and relationship that you longed for. Without that exposure or experience there is some caution or there’s some things that pop up for you that you’re not really sure.

Caroline: Yes, exactly.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay. So if you can help me with fine tuning, lasering in on the part that you’re getting stuck… Because it sounds like you have a clear vision of what you wanna cultivate, but it also sounds like you get on path and then it sounds like you feel like you get stuck somewhere.

Caroline: Yes, definitely.  I think where I get stuck is really just having that belief that what I am looking for does exist and isn’t too much to expect. That’s something that you hear a lot about women, like having a standard, and it’s important to have expectations so that you actually get that, because if you spend time with the stuff that isn’t that, then you’re really just wasting your time. But my brain totally goes haywire when I start thinking like…

Maybe an example would be with my last boyfriend – he was a really sweet, really good person; a really generous person, we were compatible in a lot of ways, and I really saw a future with him and he saw a future with me, but ultimately I just found that even though I was really working hard to help him understand my story, some of the stuff that I experienced growing up, some of the dynamics in my family that are really challenging, I was really feeling from him a sense that he just didn’t believe me, and that I had to – like Brené Brown would say – “hustle” for that worthiness. Like, I was really hustling, and there were times where I would say something and he would really push back on something that was related to me and my story, when I had really clearly communicated to him, like “Hey, this is where I’m at, this is what happened, this is why I have the relationship I have with this particular person.” And it just got to where I realized — like you always say, “Is he a yes?”, like he was not a yes with really having my back, and it brought back a lot of – and I get a little emotional – that trauma.

I think that’s common in families – when you have hard stuff happening, not being believed. For me it was part of that experience. Anyhow, that was it with him. It really came up where I just had to — and he’d even come to therapy with me for a couple of times… He was talking the talk, or I don’t know… He was doing some action that felt aligned, but then there were those moments where it just wasn’t, so I had to really just state “I think we’re on different pages.”

Anyhow, one of the messages that I got from him a lot was like, “Well, you’re expecting something that’s unrealistic.” I said at one point, “I really feel like I just need reassurance” – in that particular moment it was about body image stuff. I had kind of been making comments to him and realizing that I needed to be more clear about what I needed, so I had, “You know, I think what I’m looking for is just a little reassurance.” He said, “I just don’t know… Do you want reassurance or do you want the truth?”, and that was really harsh — like, I was thinking to myself, “I can give both”, and I feel like I give both to people all the time; I can reassure you and also be honest… Anyway, so I got that message from him a lot, like “What you’re asking for is unrealistic. I can’t give that to you.”

I think I get stuck thinking about dating, and thinking about — even if this really kind, generous man that really tried hard and wanted to make it work with me… What am I bringing? I wanna make sure I’m looking at my side, and not just… Maybe I am being unrealistic. I wanna explore that.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: There’s a lot of things I’m thinking, but the thing that’s really standing out with me, Caroline, is just your heart around this dynamic of feeling validated, and feeling that your experience is real and can be held. When you’re getting tearful and it’s reminding you of experiences from your family and just feeling like there’s not a lot of belief in you – that’s something that’s really standing out to me. I just wanna appreciate your vulnerability and willingness to express that so openly, because that just sounds very, very tender.

Caroline: Yeah, thank you so much, I really appreciate that.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Yeah, and I’m sure – I don’t wanna assume, but if it’s not, I wanna encourage you to weave that into your vision on relationship, having that felt experience. Because your partner can disagree with you. He doesn’t have to have the same experience. He can have a completely different opinion, but to be able to hear you and honor and really believe you, and really validate that — like, “If I get to understand your world and your view and your experience, this makes sense! It totally makes sense, I get it!” Even in that place if disconnect of like “We might be looking at this very differently, but I get it.” There’s something in that for me that I just would love for you… It sounds like you’re really longing, and there’s a lack or an absence there in relationship, like you’re saying, that belief and the worthiness. If you’re gonna ask me, okay, this is confusing; it is extremely confusing… In relationship, “Is it me, or is it you?”

Caroline: Yes, yes!

Dr. Jessica Higgins: So I think it’s multiple… I mean, there a lot going on. I think we tend, psychologically, to attract someone who is going to present and perhaps poke at that hot spot, or that tender spot. We’ll choose someone that will maybe rub at those raw edges. So there is things that he’s presenting that are not your preference, that are not favorable, and there are maybe ways that you’re attracted to that or that you’re playing into the hustle.

That would be something I would encourage you to pay attention to, even in the very beginning stages. “Am I trying to convince or persuade”, or I don’t know how much work you’ve done around self-validating… Dropping into that place of “This is real.” I don’t know if you have anyone in your life that gave you that experience of “Yes, it makes sense. This is real, and whatever the emotion is, it makes sense and I hear you and I see you! That’s real!”, that you get to feel held in that.

Do you have any thread to be able to reference in your life of someone that’s been a mirror for you in that, or that you’ve held that for yourself? I mean, I imagine even the therapeutic work you’ve done, you’re helping professional has done that.

Caroline: Yes, for sure, and I’ve really spent like maybe the last ten years developing some really great relationships with other women, and absolutely… I mean, I’m so grateful for that experience and I do get that experience there. So yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay, good, so you have a touchstone for it, and I imagine… I can even just say from my own experience with my own patterns in relationship, where it’s intimate and my heart is fully engaged and it’s my love person – that’s the place that will falter the most. Not falter as in like fail, but like I get most vulnerable.

Caroline: Yes, I feel like translating those skills and that felt experience from my females friendships to a romantic relationship, to me it feels like a very wide river to cross… It feels really different, but yeah, it’s good to think about, like, I can translate those skills.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay, so I want you to support yourself; this isn’t gonna happen in one monumental leap. There is a progression. The more that you become aware – this is true for most people… The more that we become aware, we gain more information and we start to understand the nuances and the subtleties. If I notice in myself… One of my patterns – I just published a podcast; I don’t imagine you had time to listen to it, but it was about trying too hard in relationship. When I was dating my now husband, my pattern was if I felt like there was a disconnect and I was uncertain about what was going on in relationship, I would get anxious and I would start to pursue or seek reassurance, as you’re saying, but I think it was different for me in that I was just feeling probably afraid of rejection or abandonment… I was a little outside of myself; I was kind of feeling anxious, and that was my pattern and my way of dealing with it.

So I had done enough work – this was probably ten years ago – to know that I do that, but I didn’t have the real-time play that you’re asking for, which is “In the moment, how does that translate?” I had to slow it down and just begin to say, “Okay, I recognize I’m anxious, and let me just slow down; let me try to weave in some of my practices in this here and now.”

Let me go to you. If you’re saying there are times — and I know I’m talking super high-level because you’re giving me a little snippet and I don’t know the full ins and outs, but if you’re saying “If I have an experience and I’m wanting to share that and I’m wanting to feel understood and validated, then I will feel myself start to hustle and I get the feedback from my partner that he might understand the words I’m saying, but he doesn’t really get it or he doesn’t really have my back or he doesn’t really believe me.” Is that right?

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay, so if that triggers a bunch for you, especially with what you’re describing – perhaps trauma, or perhaps something in your upbringing that was extremely painful and that you weren’t getting that seeing, that validation and how painful that was to be alone with it, to not feel like it’s real and not to feel empathized with and helped… As a child, if you experience difficulty, you want help navigating that; not only acknowledged and validated, but you want to be guided through this. I imagine it was extremely overwhelming.

All of that is gonna be a part of your imprint, so to speak, and you can change that imprint, but that’s what you’re currently, perhaps, negotiating. Is that fair?

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay, so in that moment you have enough awareness to say, “Okay, this is something that I get hooked in, so I can continue the path of pursuing him to try to earn or try to hustle to get that validation or that thing that I’m really wanting.” And if you choose a partner that’s gonna push those buttons, he’s probably not gonna give it to you.

If you’re saying, “I do have a reference point, I do have a touchstone where I know what it feels like to be connected to my pain and to have somebody see it, acknowledge it and be with it.” This is gonna take some real heavy-lifting on your part, and it might mean “I need to step back for a second. Maybe I need to go for a walk” or “Hey, I loved spending the morning with you; I’m gonna go to whatever and let’s meet up later.”

You might not be able to do it with him initially, but what I wanna encourage you to think about and feel into is – whether or not you reference your girlfriends, whether or not you reference anyone that’s been able to provide this space – that you can begin to offer that for yourself.

Can I just pause really quick? Because I’m sure many people are thinking, “I don’t wanna have to love myself in relationship. This is the whole reason I’m in relationship!”, but this is tricky because when we can be in the path of connected to what we’re wanting to experience and be participating in that ourselves, it gives our partner a cue, and they know how to relate. I’m sure it would be so much more comfortable for your partner – and there’s no blame in this… I’ll just finish what I’ll say and then I’ll even use myself as an example.

This happens with everyone, but I’m sure your partner would be way more responsive if you were to really say for yourself, “This is real. This is something that has been familiar to me, it’s painful” and just coming from that energy of like “It is real, and I do acknowledge it, and this is where I wanna help you get it. Whether you get it or not, this is my experience. If you would like to help me, this is how you can help”, but the energy is like you’re having your own back, and then he can help you have your back, versus this energy of sometimes… He could be feeling like it’s his job, it’s his responsibility, you need him to validate you or you’re not okay.

For me, with my husband, he was like this partner (your ex). He would not budge an inch, Caroline. I would get anxious and I would start to go after him verbally and try to find him, in my little ways of reaching to him. And while it looked skillful, the energy of it was anxious and I wasn’t having my own back. I felt insecure, I wasn’t confident of my own worthiness and I was seeking him to make sure we’re okay, so that I could be okay. “If we’re okay, I’ll be okay.” He was very comfortable in not responding, not saying anything, giving me flat affect… He would not give me anything to work with.

So I knew enough to try to find my foundation, find my own two feet, know that I’m worthy, I’m lovable, even if he doesn’t choose me. I have my own back, I’m not gonna abandon my own self. So then I’m choosing myself and then it gives him space to choose me. It’s not like this energy of like, “I need you! The only way this can work is if you fill my hole.” Because I don’t think it’s conscious. I think there’s something going on that he is like, “That’s not mine.” So this is where it gets tricky, because you want a partner that wants to help you. Even if you were to say, “This is real, this is my experience”, and you’re validating yourself and you’re saying “I’m a little not sure how to move forward and I’m figuring it out”, just how you wanna show up for yourself, and if he wants to help you…

You want a partner that wants to help. I don’t know enough to know if his distancing or blaming you or saying you’re too much is your him trying to get off the pressure, if it’s his responsibility, or if it’s “I’m not interested in this kind of growth, this deep of a relationship. I don’t know that I wanna go there.”

Caroline: Yeah, I think for him in particular… Because he actually did say, “I don’t wanna be in a growth relationship, I am okay the way that I am.” Because I discussed, like “You know, I really like the idea of maybe doing some work together.” Maybe I would throw out an example of like “I have a friend and she and her boyfriend read this book together”, maybe a Brené Brown book or something similar, relationship-related, and feeling… I think I did it the way that you’re talking about it; I was totally hustling and I was totally throwing it out there hoping that he would engage, but I was doing it almost — looking back, it was probably a little bit like a test to see… So he bucked at that for sure, and was like “No, I don’t want this really. I’m happy with who I am. I don’t wanna be change, I don’t wanna change myself.”

Obviously, we had a few conversations about that… It’s complex, I don’t wanna take time with all the details, but we did take a break at one point, partly because I really did say, like… I think at that point I said it in a way that was a little cleaner, like “Hey… Really? I am looking for someone who… That’s really what I’m looking for, and I really care about you and I would like it if it could be you, but if not, that’s okay. I want you to be happy and I want you to have what you want, too.” So we took a break and he did go and pursue some resources, went to a therapist and things like that. He said, “I’m doing this for me…”

Based on what he’s told me about his history, he has some really hard stuff as well. He’s kind of this sort of person that will say, “Yeah, but it’s over, I’m done. I’m fine. I dealt with that.” Hard stuff. When I’ve told a friend, like “Hey, this is something that he told me that he experienced”, they’re like “Oh my gosh”, gasping. Kind of big deal stuff. But his response was, “Oh no, I’m totally fine. I don’t need to deal with that, I don’t wanna go into it. Everything’s fine.”

Anyhow, when we went on that break and he said, “I’m gonna go check out a therapist and I do wanna do it for me. It’s not for you, I wanna do it for me, because I feel like it’d be helpful for me.” I was like “Great! I’m just happy for you that you’re opening yourself up to that journey and that experience.” However, as we did get back together – which I think is common – things started to kind of… It became clear that his intention was a little bit more — I mean, he even said “Actually, I’m more doing this for you. I don’t really wanna be doing this”, and it just got hard for him.

It’s hard, because I found myself really… Again, it doesn’t make me feel good for me to be pointing the finger at him and being like, “You have all these problems, so deal with your problems”, but I think there was a part of me that was like, “I do need you to take of your own stuff”, you know? Because what ended up happening, I felt the dynamic was that… It was like, he would say something that would be really hurtful to me, and I would say, “Hey, that’s hurtful”, and he would say, “Oh, I’m really, really sorry”, but then ultimately “Well, why are you so sensitive?” It was basically like his stuff was getting put back on me, and that was really hard.

Even as we were sort of processing breakup stuff through text, he said “I felt like I was opening myself up to you by telling you that I was afraid of saying something painful to you. That was my fear, of saying something painful”, because he had said that he felt like he was walking on eggshells around me. To me, that was clear. It was like, “Okay, you do feel like you’re walking on eggshells, I don’t want you to feel that way, and I wanna feel really safe to have my feelings in this relationship, and to make someone else feel like walking on eggshells feels awful. It feels awful to both of us.” That was where I said, “You know, I just really think that we should move on.”

But anyhow, in text he’s saying, “When I told you I was walking eggshells, I was trying to build a bridge between the two of us and let you know that I was afraid, I had fear around saying something painful.” It had been six or eight months of me — there were other things going on, other stuff that made me feel like moving forward wasn’t the right thing to do. But anyhow, at that point I just felt like, “Well, okay, I get that you’re afraid of saying something painful, and I think that’s your work.”

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Yes, absolutely.

Caroline: I think it’s my work to — all of the things you’re talking about, for sure, the hustling, and I think I need to do that with somebody who when they say, “Oh gosh, I’m afraid of saying something painful” – okay, what does that mean for me? What can I do? I don’t know…

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Go ahead, I didn’t wanna interrupt.

Caroline: I really don’t wanna just put it off on him, and I’ve listened to a lot of great podcasts from yourself and others where it’s like, “Look at your side. That’s how you grow”, so I’m very aware of that. But I also just… I do feel like that made it hard for me to move forward, and it made me feel like it wasn’t the right relationship for me right now.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Sure, and he possibly is ambivalent about the type of relationship he wants.

Caroline: Yes, yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: He was probably certain that he wanted to pursue and move forward with you, and you guys were still negotiating the how.

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Yeah, “How do we move forward together?” And it sounds like you have a high value of growth and being honest and authentic about “What are we experiencing together? What’s happening here?” and that’s the thing that I very much continue to come back to over and over again, still even now. If there’s a dynamic that feels challenging, to try to give it space and look at it from “He’s having his experience, I’m having my experience, and can we get curious? Are we both feeling safe to talk about it and can we both contribute to our perspective around what’s happening? This is my experience, I’m feeling this, I’m feeling that…” – if there’s an open dialogue, that helps create some safety because it’s usually not just one way.

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Even if he said something hurtful, my guess is there’s something going in him that lead to that comment. I don’t know, I’m just speculating here, but if he’s very much been “Pull myself up by the bootstraps and I get over the hardships and I just move forward”, there’s a strength in that. “I am resilient, I’m gonna move forward and I’m not gonna deal and just push forward.” But then that is also gonna show up in his relationship. “I’m gonna move forward and not really process it that much.”

It sounds like there’s a couple things you’re saying. It sounds like you’re saying, “I want to share…” — and I don’t know if this is in your question… Earlier you were saying as a woman it’s so stereotypical to be the sensitive one or the one that wants to process more, and look at these qualities and relationship more. I think there’s absolutely truth to that, but I do think the value of growth – it doesn’t need to be super-processy. I think you could just say, even in the very beginning stages, “I’m super excited, I’m super stoked, interested in a relationship where we’re willing to look at how we both show up and what’s going on for us that contributes to that, and being willing to be mindful about what are we creating and is that the best route? Is there a better way that we can grow together, or that we can grow in that and that we’re intentionally creating our approach together, our relationship together, that it’s not already defined?”

People sometimes go into this relationship with like, “It happens to me. I picked the right person, and then happily ever after”, but if you wanna pick somebody and say “Are you willing to do this with me?”, that it takes an activeness.

Caroline: Yes, I love all of that. Oh my gosh, yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: I wanna open up the possibility that a guy could be a yes to that, but it might not look the way that you do it.

Caroline: Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: So there could be some permission, that if the value is the same, the process might be different; then the process is yet to be discovered by both of you. I fall into this, too. Obviously, even my field that I’ve chosen, I had to be very careful of not trying to facilitate process with my husband. And even still. Because even if I have awareness about certain things, it’s not gonna serve him; it’s a little emasculating if I’m gonna try to ask him about his process and like “I wonder this, I wonder that…” I mean, it’s okay for me to wonder, but if I’m in this kind of like “The process has got to look like I want it to look”, then I’m kind of trumping him.

I try to slow down and just do my part and allow him to meet me and bring his style, and allow us to work it together, and it’s unknown, it’s a mystery.

Caroline: Yeah. I love it. Yes, absolutely. Looking back, I think in that relationship I totally could have done more of that, and it’s hard in this moment, because as I sit here and think like “Oh man, I just totally screwed it up. If I had done it differently, maybe we would still be together, maybe we could still be together…”, but I really think my challenge and the best approach would be to just think about, “Well, it’s really great, because this is the learning that comes from it, and I can apply it.” It doesn’t mean that I messed it up, it just means that this is the gold that comes from it.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Absolutely. And if there is still space for you guys to explore down the road, maybe… But my guess is even though these dynamics were happening, my guess is he still maybe wasn’t interested.

Caroline: Yeah, I think so.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: So at the end of the day maybe it would have felt different, but would the result have been the same? Maybe. And my guess is, my dear, that if you really connect with what you most long for and love for in relationship, down the road you’re gonna look back on this and say, “I’m so glad that I stayed with and valued what I — and the relationship that I now have, I’m so glad that I didn’t try to make that work.”

Caroline: Yes, yes. Yeah, thank you. Absolutely.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Because I do wanna encourage you to continue nurturing your belief, and my heart hurts when I think about myself or anyone that didn’t get the installation or the imprint of a healthy, secure relationship. Most of us don’t, but it’s very tender to think… The belief in that wavers, right?

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: And so just to nurture that, continue to build relationship with that, as if it’s a reality that just hasn’t fully come to fruition.

Caroline: I love that.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: And that you’re worthy of it, and that if you continue to breathe life into what that looks like – not so much in this fantasy, but just that they’re dynamics that you value and you really believe. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a goal that you knew for yourself was possible and yet when you’re in process, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen, but you know it’s gonna happen.

When I got my Ph.D., there were times when like “No way… I have no idea who I’m gonna do this, and it does not look pretty. I wanna quit”, but there was something in me that knew.

So not that you’re gonna know, but there’s some connection to the possibility that it’s real, that I think will help you practice in these subtle ways. Because I think in the first, beginning stages of dating, I’m sure — I don’t know when you start… This could be part of your reflection process – “When do I start noticing that hustle come up? Is it in the very beginning, or is it a few weeks in, or is it a few months in?” and just to support yourself, that “Oh, there it is…” Not in a blame or shame way, but that tells me I’m getting closer to that vulnerable heart space, and this means you’re opening up more, and that there’s more at risk, and that those patterns are gonna emerge when there’s fear.

Anytime we’re fearful, that old imprint is gonna show up, unless we’ve worked a new pattern enough. I wanna just almost invite you to hold your hand… Almost as if that very tender, soft part of you needs a little support. So slowing it down, looking at “Okay, I’m starting to do that old hustle thing…” And this is the part where you decide whether or not you are continuing to work with your person or you continue your personal work, but getting the tools to slow down and orient, move from the place of a new pattern.

I talked about this in my last podcast – if you haven’t, I encourage you to listen to it – where if you get connected with yourself, do your work, things become a little more clear. It’s not as confusing, whether or not you say “Okay, this is where I’m at. I offer space for you to share with me whenever you’re ready about what this is like for you”, and not try to do it all. Let him, whenever he’s ready, but like “I wanna talk about this at some point. This is what I notice. What do you notice? We have a shared experience, can we understand that together?”

I feel like I’m giving you way too much. I’m just saying there’s a lot available even in the subtleties that don’t have too big interactions where you practice this. I think you can start practicing very early on.

Caroline: So when you say you’re noticing something, would that be — because I’ve gone on a couple of dates, trying to get out and just really practice, and also have some fun, and experience connecting with people… When I hear you say “Really paying attention to noticing when the hustle comes up for me” – yes, that definitely is so helpful, because I do feel it at certain moments, so I will totally tune into that.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Yeah, because it could even be on the first date. I don’t know, everybody wants to put their best foot forward when they’re dating, right? But are you also giving space for that authentic “Here I am”?

Caroline: Yes, that’s really good. And I feel like I can do that on the first couple of dates, and then when things get — like you’re saying, “Notice when it comes up.” For me I think it is past a couple of dates, but more of like, “Okay, so we’re both interested in continuing to see each other, so what does that mean, and who are you really?” Because for dating for me, I’m just really conscious all the time that it takes a really long time to get to know somebody. It takes me a long time. I feel like there is a lot of risk involved, but that’s just part of it.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Absolutely.

Caroline: Okay, but when you were saying like, having that interaction where you might say like “Hey, this is what I’m noticing. What are you noticing?” – are you saying that you might do that right when you meet somebody? Or about small things? Tell me more about that, I’m curious about that.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Sure. First of all, if we’re gonna talk technique, I just wanna back it up and say the most important thing – it doesn’t even matter what you say or how you say it – is your emotional vibration and your energy.

Caroline: Yeah, okay.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Because I could say all the right words, but if I’m anxious and insecure and I’m actually seeking, that’s gonna be felt way louder than anything else. So I think my biggest first step to you would be just learn how to hold your hand and come back to that sensation — Caroline, this is almost like you’re saying “I didn’t get the imprint, I didn’t get the installation of what it feels like to have that inner confidence, that inner validation, and be able to move forward where I feel like I’m seen, and it’s okay, and it’s acknowledged, and it’s real, and I can move forward and I feel supported in that.” I hear you — and obviously, this is super assumptive, because we’re just doing this laser thing, but if that’s kind of what I’m hearing, I would want you to hold your hand around building those muscles.

Caroline: Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Okay, in the beginning stages. That could look like,  if he asks me where we go out to eat, maybe it’s “Do we go back to my place?” Whatever decisions or options to share or not share… There’s a lot of choices when you’re getting to know somebody, and it’s not gonna be like you’re gonna get it and then it’s gonna be smooth sailing. It’s a constant… Ultimately you wanna lessen the old pattern and you wanna strengthen the new pattern.

Caroline: Yes. I just wanna call out, you’re amazing – number one. Number two, that so speaks to me, because every relationship I’ve ever had in the beginning, with those small decisions, “What do I really want to do? Where do I wanna go? Do I want to more forward physically?” – every time there’s a pattern of me just going along with it. This is, again, why I reached out and why I just wanna be so conscious, because I really wanna have that experience – and I’m gonna get emotional – of truly… It sounds so silly to say, but truly wanting this person, you know what I mean? I feel like every time it’s really been like, “Okay, well he…” — with my last boyfriend and with a lot of them, ultimately I did develop attraction and I did get… I mean, he’s an attractive guy, it’s not that, but I just… I was afraid, every time, and I just kind of made myself do it; I’m not even talking physical, but I just was like, “Okay, I’m gonna do this now and maybe this will be good” versus actively saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so excited – like you were saying – about a relationship like this, and moving into it in that way. I wanna do that! That’s awesome!” So I think holding my hand around that – I think that is gonna be a skill that’s gonna allow me to do that better.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Yes, I’m crying with you, because I can feel just how important that would be for you to just feel yourself open from the inside.

Caroline: Yes, yes! Like, “This person and this situation, and me where I’m at – it all lines up and I’m actively choosing.”

Dr. Jessica Higgins: Yeah. And I want you to be easy with yourself. This isn’t gonna be an on/off switch. You’re gonna maybe feel like both are there – the tendency to hustle and the desire to open, if that’s the word I’m using; like you’re holding your hand to be authentic around where are you a yes. Basically, that’s what you’re doing – “Where am I? What’s real?” and validating that and allowing yourself to move from your yeses and you nos.

My guess is you’re gonna feel both available to you as you strengthen the muscles around the new pattern. Everybody will choose — the old pattern will be like, “Oh yeah, I forgot!” and it’s not like it’s good/bad, right/wrong, it’s just you’ll always have a new chance over and over again, and it’s not ever like something bad’s gonna come. It just will give you the result you’re familiar with.

I did that a lot with my husband, like “Oh, he’s not responding. What’s happening to me? Am I being super anxious?”, in the early stages. It was, again, that biofeedback of like, “Okay, this is offering a mirror for the opportunity for me to really hold my hand.” So just to be easy… It’s like riding a bike, you want those training wheels and it just takes some reps, it takes some repetitions to really strengthen and build confidence in that.

My guess is – at least for me and most people – once you move from that new pattern, where that leads you will be the juice to provide hope, like “That’s what you’re gonna be like! I want more of that!”

Caroline: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Higgins: From here we transitioned our call into thank yous and bringing closure to this session. I wanna thank Caroline for being on the show, opening up your heart, opening up your world, allowing us to be with you as you talk about negotiating some of these old patterns that keep you stuck and that you really wanna overcome so that you can create the type of relationship that you long for, and that we can learn about that.

Some of us, I’m sure, are resonating with that challenge. I know I did. We’re all in practice, in some shape or form, to trying to create this authentic, thriving, lasting, happy love. It’s a practice, it’s not something we arrive at. It’s something that we show up for and we work all the time.

Everyone listening – thank you for your listenership, it means the world to me. I honor, respect and highly value your commitment to doing relationship better, to investing in the quality of your relationship. If you have a comment about today’s episode or you wanna give feedback to this listener, you can find the show notes on my website by visiting, click on Podcast, and you can find the most recent episode there at the top. Today’s episode, again, is 92. Scroll down to the bottom and you can find the place to comment. I’m sure she would be thrilled to feel your support.

If you have anything else that you would like to ask me or give feedback around, again, you can e-mail me at Until next time, I hope you take great care.

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