One of the many things about cannabis effects I find so useful is it helps open up my mind to new perspectives and allows me to problem solve from different angles, and this is especially true when reflecting on relationships. My current favorite strain for deep, contemplative personal work is Cherry AK-47. (Thanks to SPARC in SF for hooking me up!) Its sweet flavor makes it incredibly pleasant to smoke and the effects deliver a euphoric, energetic head space that is highly conducive to making previously unrealized connections.
Grab a notepad and pen, take a few hits of your favorite strain for focused introspection, and let’s jump into three of the most common relationship-limiting beliefs that people have shared with me over the past several years. I’ll offer reframes, but remember that like everything I suggest, this is a jumping off point, not intended to imply that my reframe is the only valid one. My hope is for this to be a meditation on what letting go of those views would look like in your life.
Looking for That “Forever” Person
My friend Rabbit Darling wrote a piece for A Practical Wedding which included a line that punched me directly in the heart:
“Maybe forever shouldn’t be the explicit goal. Maybe the explicit goal should be in why we might want forever, and how to keep wanting it. What makes a relationship successful is not that it does not end—because hey. They all end, somehow. What makes a relationship successful is how much joy, delight, and victory you can wrestle from the jaws of a less-than-gentle world.”
I used to think that relationship commitment automatically equals security. I wanted to get married because then I could have something to rely on. Something I could point to and say, “Even if everything else goes to shit, I’ll still have this relationship because WE PROMISED.” We know from both statistics and experience that this isn’t always the case. What if we reframe our fixation on “forever” the way I try to get people to reframe their fixation on orgasm? Specifically that it’s awesome if it happens, but it requires luck, skill, and a host of variables that are not always under our control.
“You’re Not Enough” or “You’re Too Much”
This is a limiting belief that so many people have and it’s incredibly toxic. It puts you in a mindset where everything you do revolves around justifying your worthiness to be loved. You tell yourself that if you were just attractive/wealthy/successful/charming/skilled enough then you would have the life and relationships you want. People spend years in therapy to unlearn this nonsense.
I’ve found cannabis hugely helpful when examining this belief system and trying to create a new one. Affirmations are useful when reprogramming your brain’s negative self talk, especially around worthiness. I highly recommend reading Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that book changed my life by radically upgrading my feelings about worthiness.
“Communication is Unnecessary”
How often have you noticed discomfort and wanted something to change in a given situation, but you decided that the effort required to have the conversation was more taxing than simply tolerating the discomfort? Rabbit Darling points out, “Words are a last resort, rather than the actual lifeblood of a relationship (with attunement being the oxygen that blood carries).”
I see this happen all the time, from consent to conflict. During my workshops, I watch the skeptical expressions on attendees’ faces as I extol the virtues of scheduling both sex and date nights. I notice jaws clenching when I suggest setting rules for conflict and having regular “state of the relationship” check ins.
“Communicating boundaries is awkward and draining.”
“Asking first ruins the mood.”
I hear these perspectives repeated over and over again, and I’m calling bullshit. Communication is everything. There may be such a thing as over-communicating and over-processing, but I’d strongly prefer that to the current state of things. The constant, anxiety-provoking wondering that we do. The game playing–“I can’t text them because what if I seem needy?” or “If I give feedback about a behavior, they might not change it and that will feel like rejection so I’ll just silently resent them instead.”
It’s toxic. It’s maladaptive. And most importantly, it’s not working. I have yet to meet someone who can honestly tell me that not communicating has made their relationship better. I get that it’s difficult. We’re not taught how to do this. If you’re interested in learning how to communicate better, I suggest going to some communication workshops, either online or in person.
Did any of those beliefs resonate for you? If so, don’t judge yourself for having limiting beliefs. Many people do, and a combination of socialization and life experiences reinforce those beliefs over time. It’s important to regularly spend time critically examining the ways in which your beliefs impact the way you move through the world.
The nice thing is, you get to choose. Keep the things that work, ditch the things that don’t. That’s not to say that the changes will come easily. They won’t. Change takes effort and time. Examining those patterns that are no longer serving you is a good first step. Let the herb guide you to new and more adaptive ways of thinking.