Why What's Familiar is Actually Keeping You Stuck

stuck-in-the-familiarInspiration often comes to us in the least expected ways.

Just the other day I received one of those funny emails that get sent around from my sister, this one about what the small town (or at least what used to be a small town) where I spent most of my childhood in Canada is known for. I won't go into details, but let's just say that it's reputation is not nearly as idyllic as my memories of it are.

Anyone who knows me well understands just how idealistic I can be, a trait that has undoubtedly contributed in a huge way to the dating patterns I had in my former single life.

So the fact that I'm always trying to convince my husband that moving back to this beautiful little place where I grew up, complete with all of the wonderful memories it holds for me, is the absolute best thing for our whole family shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

He's never quite convinced because as great of a place it sounds like when I describe it, he too knows this idealistic side of me well and often reminds me that I have this pattern of seeing only the potential of a place, instead of the reality of what is.

Sound familiar? It is.

Just back then, like so many of us, I was always falling in love with his potential.

So as I was reading the email, I was able to gently laugh at myself. The description of this little place I grew up in was not anything like my wonderful memories, but when it was laid out in front of me – however exaggerated it was for its purpose – I couldn't deny that there was quite a bit of truth to it.

I just saw it in a whole different light when I was relying on my  memories about it, and the feelings and emotions that went with those memories. Memories that belong to a different time and place, and a different person that I was back then.

And as I was contemplating all this – and hoping my husband hadn't seen the email lest it fly in the face of my pro stance towards our big "someday" move back there – I realized just how much we all do this. And how it affects so much of what we see and what we think about, and what we don't see and don't think about.

We idealize what's comfortable.

What we call love is often the last thing that love really is. If it's comfortable - familiar- we become incapable of seeing it for what it really is. We can't see the way we're really being treated – that's it's anything but love, the way it's triggering us to fall back on our old familiar patters – that these patterns are anything but loving to our beautiful selves. So instead we stay and try and stay some more  and try some more, doing the same things over and over and accepting the same treatment all because it's all too familiar.

It's why we keep falling for what we think is our type. It's why we put so much stock in that oh so elusive spark.

It feels loving to us, because it's what we're used to getting. It feels like the real thing, because it puts us back in that same familiar, comfortable position. It doesn't matter if we're on the begging end, doing all the chasing, doing all the work, putting our needs last if it's familiar. We feel safe with familiar. We feel comfortable with the same familiar surroundings. We don't know any better and we don't know any different.

But the funny thing about that kind of comfort level is that it keeps us staying right where we are. It keeps us settling for nothing more than we've been getting.

It takes courage to break out of the familiar. It takes a willingness to feel that inner cringe of coming out of our comfort zones to see the reality of what is from the fantasy that we so want it to be.

I get this! I did it, too.

And, as you can see, I'm still falling into the same trap in other areas of my life. But if you're willing to question your reality, if you're willing to question where it all comes from and what it all says, and what it really means to you, you can find that courage within yourself to see the kind of reality we're talking about here.

The kind of reality that releases you from these patterns that seem so strong, so hard to break.

The kind of questioning that frees you from those rose-colored glasses that keep you from letting go of what isn't serving  you anymore and are only keeping you from what you're really looking for in the long run.

I never said it was easy. In fact, I'm a great example of just how hard it can be!

But it can happen, and it will happen if you start right where you are with open eyes and an open mind willing to see the forest from the trees. Willing to run the risk of being wrong about the ideals you've been clinging to that have only been hurting you and keeping you from having and living the most amazing life that's possible for all of us.

It's time to change this.

It's time to wake up and see what's really there. It's time to call it what it is and stop trying to squeeze water from stones. It's time to stop seeing anything but the reality of what is.

Your idealism is a beautiful thing, but use it for the things that won't take advantage of it and hurt you with it like you're hurting right now. You won't see it, you can't see it, until you choose to.

How about you - what traps do you find yourself falling into over and over again? Tell us in the comments!

Moving On After a Breakup

A beautiful woman sits on a park bench thinking about moving on after a breakup

Our dear friend K has never felt more conflicted, and is having trouble moving on after a breakup. Her story: Hi Jane, I first stumbled across … [Continue reading]

How Will I Know?

A beautiful woman is wondering how will I know

Isn't that what we all really want? To know if he’s the one - or not. To know if he’s worth spending your time and energy on, or if he’s just … [Continue reading]

Surviving a Breakup

A beautiful woman is sad as she is surviving a breakup, and is laying her head on a pillow.

Our beautiful reader, who has signed her name "Defeated", is desperately looking for advice on surviving a breakup. She has spent the last 5 and a … [Continue reading]

Old Habits Are Hard to Break

Freeway exit sign showing exits for old life and new life, representing that old habits are hard to break

I may have figured out quite a bit when it comes to men, but I sometimes find that some of the same old habits that I had with dating crop up in my … [Continue reading]

How Can I Make Him Want to be With Me?

Is-he-really-worth-it

Here's a letter from our reader, Ria, that really summarizes one of the questions we all seem to ask ourselves at one point or another (and some of … [Continue reading]

Why You're Not Getting What You Want in a Relationship

A beautiful woman is sipping coffee while talking with a man over lunch, wondering why she's not getting what she wants in a relationship.

There’s a common theme to what so many of us do, that I found myself doing not so long ago. We know we’re looking for the whole package, and yet … [Continue reading]

Finding True Joy After Walking Away

A beautiful brunette woman is walking down the road with her arms extended in joy, happy from the true joy she has found after walking away from a bad relationship.

You may recall a letter from our beautiful friend, Layla, who reached out for support and advice back in January. She sent me an email recently … [Continue reading]

Living and Loving Your Life

A beautiful woman is living and loving life as she looks through lavender flowers smiling and happy.

As much as we talk about dating, and committing, and knowing how to tell if someone is right for you or not, there is one thing that underlies so many … [Continue reading]

Falling In Love Too Fast

Falling in love too fast: A pair of rose colored glasses with heart shaped frames sits on a white table, indicating falling in love fast and hard.

When we meet that guy that makes our heart flutter, the one that gives us those butterflies, the one that we can just feel that spark every time we … [Continue reading]