Think for a moment about what makes you feel open, free, warm, connected, and spontaneous with a person—and what makes you feel constricted. If you’re like most people, you feel open and alive with someone who is open and accepting, and you feel constricted with someone who is often shut down, angry, and judgmental. In other words, you likely feel safe when your partner is loving, and unsafe when he or she is being unloving.
But here's the challenge: How do you stay in an open, accepting place with a partner when that person triggers your fears of rejection—of losing that person, or your fears of engulfment—of losing yourself in the relationship? How do you generally respond when one or both of these fears are activated? Do you stay open and caring, or do you shut down or get angry or judgmental? And what does your partner do when you respond in these unloving ways? Do your reactions and your partner’s reactions create a lack of safety when each of you are being uncaring?
The secret to staying open and connected in the face of fear of rejection is to become strong enough to love—strong enough to keep your heart open, even in the face of fear. So, how do you get there? By taking your eyes off your partner’s feelings and behavior and focusing on learning to love yourself—which means learning to be open, caring, accepting and connected with your own feelings rather than being reactive.
Imagine that your feelings are your inner child. Which makes your inner child feel loved and safe? You showing up as a loving adult for your feelings, attending to what your feelings are telling you, and taking loving action on your own behalf, or you handing your inner child over to your partner, and then trying to have control over getting him or her to make you feel loved and safe?
Imagine if you kept trying to give your child away to someone else to love. Even if someone else did love the child, the child would always feel unsafe and rejected because of being rejected by you. The same is true in the inner level with your inner child. So shower your inner child with love.