ERP 116: How To Regain Trust and Self-confidence When You’ve Lost It
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“I am from Germany and i have listened to many of your podcasts, it really helped me to understand things better. My boyfriend and me we are 5 years together, he is from a different country (Denmark) and we speak English together in our relationship although we live in my home country. I think this makes it sometimes difficult for us to express in a nice and kind or maybe playful manner. This just gives me the idea that a show about international couples could be great.
But I think our real problem is that he is 10 years older than me and he has been before me in a 12 year relationship (with 2 kids, but it was a really unhappy relationship and she cheated on him) and before that in a 4 year relationship (his first teen love, she died in an accident when she was 18). His parents never split up and he is a very helpful person, always looking for the needs of others. I am just the opposite. My parents divorced when I was 12 years old. I had a relationship of 1 year when I was 16 and then I met some guys before him but it never got serious. I had basically have had no experience in living with a man before I met him. We really love each other and we had many great experiences in these 5 years, but we also argued nearly every week. Most times, I have something in my mind and want to do it without thinking about him, because I am used to getting what I want, because I was for a long time alone. But he gets disappointed every time, because he thinks I should look more on what he wants and needs.
And further we always try to find a solution and most times it is like i have to change. But I’m like feeling so unequal to him by that, because he always knows better. I also have the feeling That he doesn’t trust me anymore that i can do and finish something. I have changed because I don’t want to do something wrong and I ask him always how I should do things because in the end he knows better. This is really tough for me because I don’t feel like the freedom anymore which I had when I lived alone. But we still love each other and i never want to loose him. We also want to get kids together and we want to get married. I just lost some confidence and self trust over the years. Thank you!”
Dr. Jessica Higgins’ response:
In the future, I would love to create an episode on bicultural relationships. One quick thought about communicating…try slowing things down. This may allow space to explain the nuances and background meanings to help one another understand the intended use of the words.
First of all, I want to acknowledge how much you love your boyfriend and how much you really want to develop a healthy relationship with him. I want to applaud your effort to invest in the quality of your relationship.
1. Value what YOU bring.
- Even if he “knows better,” it is not about who is right. It is about being in relationship. He feel in love with you. If you do not have as much experience, than that is part of what is true for you.
- Love you and what you bring. This is one of the best ways to feel positive, self-worth.
- You can’t be something that you are not. Trying to be further along or different than you are only causes suffering, pain, and insecurity.
2. Find your truth.
- Yes, you are open to learning how to live with someone and share your life with someone. AND I wouldn’t want you to feel responsible for knowledge and experience that you did not get.
- You gaining the experience and wisdom is going to look different than someone else gaining the experience and wisdom. It will look different on you. You have a unique expression. I wouldn’t want you to give that up. Don’t lose yourself. Stay connected to yourself.
- I want to encourage you to learn for yourself. Have a critical mind. Yes, take in his feedback. His input is important, but can you also gather more information (from friends, people in your life that live together well, books, etc.), so that you can explore what feels right to you.
- How do I live with someone well?
- Gaining your own insight will help you feel more confident and secure in yourself.
- Consider checking out these episodes:
- ERP 045: How To Gain Self-Confidence In Your Relationship
- ERP 046: How To Be More Assertive In Relationship
- ERP 021: How To Feel More Confident In Relationship
- ERP 022: How To Feel More Confident In Relationship – Part 2
3. Develop a system of how you want to make decisions together.
4. Learn how to deal with differences effectively.
5. Hold space for him.
- Given some of his experiences (having his first girlfriend die at the age of 18 and his ex-wife cheating on him), which can be traumatic, he may have some fear, anxiety, and emotion that will come up.
- He may even look to you or try to feel better by wanting you to do something different. ERP 108: What Most Couples Do That Creates Problems
- If you say curious with him, wondering what he is feeling, he may go deeper with his emotions. You may be surprised that he has a lot going on underneath the surface.
6. Hold space for you.
- Understand you are learning. This is new territory. It is suppose to challenge you. Like any learning curve, it can feel hard.
- Pay attention to when you feel vulnerable or insecure.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Tune it to what would help you.
What would support me in learning?
What would support me in gaining more confidence, more security and trust in myself?
- Show up for yourself.
- Ask for help.
- “It is about progress not perfection.”
This work is challenging and difficult at times, but it will give you a solid foundation to build from. Especially as you move forward into marriage and creating a family. Consider taking the Connect Couples program to develop a healthy, lasting foundation for your relationship.
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If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.