IDENTIFY IT/WORK WITH IT/LEAVE IT Lists some of the common characteristics of a toxic relationship, shows you how you might work with it, and perhaps determine that it is not a workable relationship, and then leave it.
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"Because of my religious training.....that i could go to hell if i hurt someone......ive had to shut down this "fiery" part of myself, and when it comes up, i really struggle with it. When i was younger, i found myself saying something to a friend, and their reaction made me afraid, so i just stopped expressing myself. Ive had a person in my life say 'sometimes I am afraid of you', and I don't want that kind of feeling in my relationships', said a client.
We all do this at a young age, at a very young age......shut down a part of ourselves or split off into parts....as young as two or three, if the reaction we got from others we depended on for love, acceptance, guidance, care......was one that threatened the possibility of getting our needs met. You see, we are so little and vulnerable in our childhood, and we feel safe and secure when our caregivers, teachers, best friends.....light up when they see us, smile in response to something we said or did, hugged us when we got hurt, guided us when we did something wrong or made a mistake....everything feels ok. It doesn't even occur to you that things could not be ok.
I'd like to draw your attention to the "feels ok" part of the sentence. As children, we are largely "feelers", picking up on the vibes of our environment. Many experiences become body memories. What I mean by this is....the next time we come across a similar experience, our bodies will feel what it felt at the earlier experience.
Let me give you an example.....if we lived near an open field, and that was our playground where we played with neighborhood children.....and that playground was a source of fun, connection, laughter, exploration and wonder....our body experience quite likely will be one of calm, excitement, comfort, happiness, ease. But if that playground was a source of bullying, teasing, criticism, our body memory will feel like contraction, sadness, hurt, fear and so on. If we pay enough attention to our bodies, we will hear what stories they carry.
Now as an adult, should we be looking to buy a new home and we learn there is an open field across the street, our bodies will first feel, and then our heads will interpret. If we are sensitive, it might affect our mood for the whole day, if not, we will feel the memories for shorter periods of time. Either way, our body will inform us what we continue to carry in terms of our cultural, social, generational and experiential programming.
The woman who stated the above wanted a balance between her need to be fully self expressed (she is an artist) and her need to feel safe and secure with others. She believed that SHE was responsible for managing that safety with others. She didn't yet see that their response was an interpretation of their experience of her. "I do A, they get angry, I must stop doing A". THIS IS A CHILD'S CONVERSATION, and understandably so. Our minds are not yet able to process complex formula's around human behavior.
My suggestion to this lovely woman, was to look at what being "fiery" could mean to her.
What she discovered was.....passionate, deep feeling, engaging, juicy, connecting, lively emotion. We talked about how this felt to her and she discovered that this felt good. So the feedback that she sometimes received from friends or lovers was a reaction to their emotional response to her "fiery-ness".
Again........their reaction was in fact not to her fiery-ness, but to their emotional response to her fiery-ness. In other words, they had a reaction, the belief underlying that reaction might have been that fiery-ness is unsafe, or feels overwhelming emotionally, or is attached to an experience of volatility in another, and her fiery-ness pressed the button that triggers their emotional experience from their past.
Another's emotional reaction to who she is.....is not her responsibility....she does not need to be someone else, shut down that expressive part of herself, to protect another from something that is not inherently threatening. Her intention behind her fiery-ness is to engage, connect, live fully, feel fully. In relationship to someone who has historically found this way of being as threatening in some way, just requires her to explain the "intention" behind her way of being, if that relationship matters to her. This also requires that she allow the other to have their reactions, let them come to light, and address them when and if they show up. THS IS AN ADULT CONVERSATION.
In the best of circumstances, she gets the experience of being understood and the other gets a new experience of that way of being, and perhaps a healing of past experiences.
There are so many opportunities for all of us to heal if we stop protecting the other from who we are. When we look at these interactions through the lenses of "healing", "growing up" or "maturation", instead of the lenses of "Will I be abandoned, rejected.......", then our shoulders can drop in relaxation, our minds can calm from its reeling over 'what if's".......we can be ourselves, and correct the other if there is a misinterpretation of our behavior.
This is ultimately the kind of adult relationships we all want. Ones that give us the benefit of the doubt, that are interested in our intentions, that are strong enough to work through mutual triggers. And our power to make these kinds of relationships possible is to take that first step in being ourselves, helping the other align with our intent, and witnessing their ability to respond in such a way that supports the mutual stand to be all that we are.
If you have any questions, about any of this content, or wish to apply this to yourself and relationships, you are most welcome to set up a call by clicking this link, and we can help you create a plan for the kinds of relationships that best support you.
With warmth and love,
Testimonials from Lillian's Clients
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