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When Giving Becomes Toxic

There is nothing more powerful than the stories you tell yourself about yourself.  The thoughts you believe to be true about yourself will not only influence your mood and your decisions, but they will also orchestrate your very reality.

This is especially true when it comes to your ‘false love identity.’ As coined by Katherine Woodward Thomas (who is a New York Times bestselling author and a marriage/family therapist), your false love identity is the core story you tell yourself about who you are in romantic relationships. She calls it a ‘false’ love identity because for most of us, this love identity is completely unconscious, unexamined, and…untrue.

What stories do you tell yourself about who you are when it comes to love, desire, and sex? You might think that you don’t tell yourself any stories, but trust me, you definitely do. It’s unavoidable. From our early childhood experiences with our parents, to the media we were exposed to during our formative years, to the religious or cultural beliefs which influenced our perceptions of our worthiness and our sexuality, all of us have a love identity.

Here are some of the common ‘false love identities’ I encounter most in my sessions with clients:

·       “I am not good enough”: This common false love identity makes people feel as though they are not inherently worthy of being desired, cherished, and romanced. They don’t feel as though they can measure up against their ‘competition,’ whether it’s their peers or the people they follow on Instagram. This love identity is so insidious and becomes engrained in our very souls, to the point many people don’t even realize that they are completely stuck in this false, painful world.

·       “Love won’t ever last for me”: Whether you have been cheated on in the past, or your parents had an intensely volatile marriage, many people with this false love identity don’t think they have what it takes to keep a long-term, committed relationship, even though they desperately want one. All they see is the ‘what if’s,’ all the things that could go wrong, all the temptations that could rob them of happiness, all the ways they aren’t capable of having a ‘normal’ bond with a partner.

·       “I am reaching my expiration date/have reached my expiration date”: Wow, is this a common one, and sadly only becoming more common in a social media-driven world. With so much constant pressure to be young, beautiful, fit, and successful, it is no wonder so many people have a false love identity that tells them they missed the boat and they can never be seen as attractive due to their age or their lack of financial success or the extra weight they might be carrying.

The thing about false love identities is we don’t realize we are under their spell. We don’t know that we are the ones creating these hurtful, unkind belief systems, and we don’t realize we have the power to switch out of our false love identities and step into the glorious truth of our REAL love identity: Which is that we are deserving of so much love, so much compassion, so much desire, and so much romance. That there is nothing wrong with us and that we don’t need to ‘fix’ anything about ourselves in order to be worthy of love.

Okay. Now how do you go about this exercise? How do you move out of your false love identity and into the blessings and bounty you deserve? There are many ways to begin.

First, spend some time thinking about what your false love identity might be. If you’re not sure, here is a tip: Try reading back some of the old emails or text messages you have sent your friends after you went on a first date or after you and your spouse had a fight. What themes come up in your messages? Do your messages feel defensive, reactive, or dejected? Are you grappling with feelings of unworthiness or an inability to trust that your partner really desires you the way you desire them?

Second, once you have sourced what your current false love identity might be, just sit with it for a while. Don’t switch straight into fix, manage, control mode and try to uproot that false love identity right away. You didn’t decide overnight to just create a false love identity that tells you that you are unworthy. You did it for a reason: Probably to protect yourself and to soothe yourself after a painful experience or a series of painful experiences.

Honor that your mind and soul made this choice for you. Honor that your body worked so hard to protect you from ever being hurt like that again. It was beautiful, it was necessary, but it’s okay to let it go now. It’s not serving you anymore. Once you can acknowledge that, you begin to move into this beautiful space of learning how to create your own reality and your NEW, authentic love identity.

To begin learning more about how to do that, you can read my book Quantum Love, and read my blog about releasing blame and discovering self-love, and my blog about how leaning into pain can help us feel it and release it.

Most importantly: Listen to my latest podcast “The Language of Love,” during which I interview none other than Katherine Woodward Thomas herself, in which we discuss this very subject and many other important topics related to healing, hope, and how to find love.

I am so excited for you to tune into this episode. Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts!

One more thing! Are you interested in becoming a love coach and helping others call love into their lives? Or maybe you want to learn for yourself! My dear friend and wonderful teacher and therapist, Katherine Woodward Thomas is inviting us all to a free 90-minute webinar to learn more about calling in the ONE!


Dr. Laura Berman

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