One of the key factors in your inability to find and maintain healthy relationships are the haunting beliefs, even if unspoken, that you are unworthy or undeserving of love. Once you adopt these beliefs (even if unconsciously), you sabotage your ability to prepare for, recognize, attract and engage in healthy relationships of honor, esteem and respect.

It’s important to understand how we often use facts as justification for adopting false and self-sabotaging beliefs. Just because something is factually true does not mean that the associated belief is true.

For example, here are some common reasons (among many) we are convinced (often with the help of our families, culture or religious beliefs) that we are undeserving of love:

I am divorced. I am not suitable for/capable of sustaining a marriage. 

I can’t bear/don’t want children. I am barren/broken/selfish.

I have an STD. I am ruined/sick/damaged.

I am a fatherless son/daddyless daughter. I am a reject/easily abandoned/unwanted. 

We accept suffering and mistreatment (or joy and kindness) for the same reason: We are convinced that we deserve them. The truth: There is nothing you can do or be that can disqualify you from healthy love. However, as we have learned through dozens of high-impact coaching sessions with those struggling with poor relationship choices, there is a huge difference between hearing and speaking that truth, and believing and living it.

Until and unless you truly and unconditionally believe that you are deserving, healthy relationships will elude you, no matter how desperately you seek and pursue them. You will never accept anythingeven if it is absolutely what you want and needif you don’t believe that you deserve it. This includes the healthy, unconditional love you were created to give and receive.

You don’t get what you want in life and relationships; you get what you accept. And you will only accept what you truly believe you deserve. If you feel you are stuck, settling or suffering in your relationships, or have established a history of successive unsustainable and unfulfilling relationships, unaddressed feelings of unworthiness are a likely contributing factor.

Unfortunately, many people, especially those who are leading otherwise successful lives, are loath to admit that they have beliefs and feelings of unworthiness, even to themselves. Indeed, the most difficult part of our work is guiding our clients who are high-achieving professionals or respected entrepreneurs past the resistance and denial to confront these underlying beliefs.

However, sabotaging beliefs are a cancer. Ignoring them, or medicating yourself against the pain and other symptoms of the problem (with work, sex, substance abuse and other distractions), does not prevent them from growing and doing greater damage over time. If you do nothing to confront, change and challenge these beliefs and feelings of worthiness, you will continue to make painful and costly relationship choices.

RELATED: 3 Things Keeping You From The Healthy Love You Say You Want

For example, you may repeatedly (and inexplicably) choose relationship partners who hurt, neglect and disrespect you, while bypassing or sabotaging promising relationships with those who treat you lovingly and respectfully. Or you may forgo true intimacy altogether, settling for either meaningless sex or no dating or sex at all. Or you may over-invest both emotionally and financially in your relationships, driven by the belief that since you don’t deserve loving treatment, you must constantly to do something to earn it.

Each of these scenarios lead to relationships that are damaging in the short-run and unsustainable in the long run. Worse, the suffering and failure of these relationships end up reinforcing the sabotaging belief that produced them: See, here’s more proof that I don’t deserve to be loved.

To explore, challenge and, if necessary, uproot false beliefs that are at the root of feelings of unworthiness requires a commitment to a program of relationship education. Changing your life may not change your thinking, but you absolutely must change your thinking in order to change your life, including your relationship outcomes. Until you do, you will never have the capacity to establish the healthy, loving relationships of honor, esteem and respect you both desire and truly deserve.

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