….. that it can be common for us to worry, stress, and become emotionally fearful of ‘losing people’? I’d like to broach the subject of the strange phenomenon we may experience when we are willing to forgo who WE are authentically through either co-dependency, or shame, or guilt, or ‘you name it’, because of just this fear.
It can be difficult to discern how much to give to someone; emotionally, time spent, energy expended – particularly if we ourselves are prone to giving too much (especially to the wrong people). Some of us are JUST giving people, and what a BEAUTIFUL attribute this IS in another human being. On the other hand, some of us may be SO giving, we give UP our own needs, our own wants, and continually put ourselves on the back burner. This is NOT healthy, yet so common. My question would be, “How much reciprocity do you have in the (any) relationship?” One sided relationships, no matter who they are with, are JUST. THE. WORST. Raise your hand (I’ll know if you don’t!!) if you have ever given too much to someone who just is not able (for whatever reason – more on this later) to give you the same amount of energy, effort, time, emotion, and consideration.
Now this is NOT to say that at times, all quality relationships may not experience the ebb and flow of ‘effort’ and expenditure of emotion and time, of course they do. There may be times when one person flat out needs more than another, may be going through a crisis (or even normal every day stress), may be more needy than the other. This is not what I’m talking about here. Consistently one-sided, ‘selfish’, and out-of-balance relationships are emotionally draining, demeaning, and can truly be harmful, as well as depleting our time, energy, emotion, while taking maximum effort for very little reciprocity – which IS what I am talking about.
So, my question today is “If you have a one-sided relationship in your life now, why?” Other questions may be: Are you fearful of ‘losing’ this person? Why? Are you fearful that setting boundaries to ensure a quality and reciprocal relationship will COST you that relationship? Are you repeating patterns of people-pleasing to the extent that your own needs, wants, and desires go unfulfilled? If so, time to take a look at the WHY. There may be several reasons of course, but underlying them all is FEAR. Oh boy. I know FEAR intimately. Have spent years and years living on some level, in FEAR. I know FEAR well. I also know what it means and how it feels to OVERCOME that fear.
WHY we live in and with dysfunctional relationships (even when we ‘know’ better!) can be quite complicated, and may have its roots in early childhood development, the unhealthy relationship we may have had with parents or other adult authority figures, the lack of learning how to be secure and safe in voicing our needs and wants to others, and a multitude of other reasons. In adulthood, we CHOOSE (at least personally) who is in our lives, for how long, and to what extent. Oh yes, it takes recognizing our OWN patterns of faulty thinking and behavior – and above ALL ELSE – being HONEST with ourselves. What have we been telling ourselves about the person we KNOW is dysfunctional? What have we been willing to overlook for whatever reason, when we KNOW the person is harmful to and for us, and WHY!? Again, here comes FEAR. Dang it all, I thought mentioning FEAR once would make it go away. Ha! Not likely, unfortunately. It is common that many of us have lived for years (decades?) navigating life and all it encompasses with some measure of FEAR. This is TRULY where our power of choice can elevate our quality of life, or conversely, affect us in such negative ways we find ourselves completely stressed.
There is truly nothing ‘wrong’, although expect it to feel uncomfortable, if you need to take some time to assess certain people and relationships in your life. Friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships ‘should’ be ultimately beneficial (and no, this isn’t selfish!) to BOTH parties. The quality of the relationship may not look, sound, or be exactly the same for both people, but the overall relationship DOES need to be beneficial. If not, why continue?
This may sound harsh; I know it may. Another harsh truth is that the longer we procrastinate the analysis of the quality of our relationships, the longer we may have unhealthy, toxic people in our lives. “Oh, but wait!” you say…. “They are my family!” I know, I know. This is where having strong personal boundaries comes into play (more on boundaries in an upcoming post). You also may be thinking to yourself, “But I’ve spent so many years with this person!” Indeed. If you are in a toxic relationship, I bet that time has been wrought with multiple challenges, ongoing stress, and perhaps very real affects from the abuse. Make no mistake, I am talking about people and relationships that are HARMFUL for and to US.
So, I’m here to challenge you to do some analysis of the quality of the relationships in your life. At my age, I simply no longer have time to entertain the hurtful, to allow disrespect, to engage in dysfunction. This is work, and HARD work at that. I’ve let some people go. I’ve modified my inner circle to just a few; they are my ‘tried and true’ who have stood the test of time, share my heart as I share theirs, and are in my life (and I, theirs) because we are GOOD to and for each other. Isn’t that really the bottom line? WHO might be in your life now that really ISN’T so good for you? It truly might be time to assess, adjust, and reclaim the energy and emotion they have already sapped from your life. YOU have the power of choice – always and forever. Best, L.A.