There are all sorts of relationships - intimate relationships, friendships, work colleagues, acquaintances.
Some relationships are really good for us, and some … not so good, even though on the surface it might be difficult to see why.
Sometimes we need some assistance to navigate whether we should speak up or walk away.
In this article I give you a couple of examples* of some relationships that weren’t serving the person, and how you can decide what might be right for you.
Mark was a successful professional. Yet, he often felt fake and that he didn’t really deserve any praise. He even believed that his managers were unfair on his colleagues who deserved promotion at least as much as him. As I showed interest in why he thought so, the name of one particular colleague kept coming back, and I soon realised that this colleague had convinced Mark that the whole situation was unfair making Mark feel depressed and guilty. When Mark realised how manipulated he had been, he burst into tears… This was exactly what his mum had done with him years ago, making him feel he didn’t deserve the affection his dad gave him (because she was jealous of the great relationship they shared as the couple was wobbly).
Susie was a great friend. She was always reliable and helpful. But with one of her friends, she kept feeling “used”. Encounters were not nourishing, they were sapping. Susie didn’t understand why she couldn’t stand up in front of this particular friend when she was usually good at affirming herself. Working through her sensations, she realised that this friend was manipulating her by making Susie feel special whenever she was about to ask for a “favour”. Susie had not felt very special as she grew up because her parents were busy dealing with all sorts of difficulties they had in their lives and so she was unconsciously desperate to feel special and hence was easy to manipulate this way. Susie’s friend was doing all of this obliviously, unconsciously driven to meet her own deficiency needs but when Susie opened to her friend about her need for a more balanced and nurturing relationship, her friend was not ready to do so.
These are two cases of relationships that are neither nurturing nor healthy and that couldn’t continue as they were.
So yes, sometimes you may be in a situation when you have to end a relationship, put some distance from the person, so as to protect yourself.
Your chosen relationships should be nurturing and life-giving. This is because it is so important for your well-being to nourish your inner world, to be inspired, seen and loved for who you are. This is key to supporting your growth.
Reading this article, is there a relationship that comes to your mind and feels indeed unhealthy?
In this case, here are a few suggestions:
Jot down on a paper all you feel about the relationship, the good and the bad.
Now, take the time to write factual aspects of your relationship, without any feeling. Again, try to be exhaustive so you cover the whole reality of the relationship.
Step back and put on the side what you have written so far. On a new sheet of paper write down what is important for you in a relationship, your values. Things like: It’s important for me to feel I won’t be judged, I feel energised by the relationship, there is equality between us, we have good fun, etc.
Finally, check out your currently problematic relationship with your list of values.
This should give you a fair idea of where this relationship is standing. If some important values are missing, you can now talk to the other person by letting them know –in this order:
What is important for you in a relationship
Let them express if it is important for them too
Share with them that when such and such happens, you feel this value is not respected. Watch out: Avoid “You make me feel like” or worse “You do this to me”, which are killers in communication!
I hope this article is helpful for you. If you feel you would like to share with me about your specific relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out and book a free 20 minute chat with me on https://www.maudbr.com/free-consult , I’d love to assist you!
*The examples used in this article are taken from my experiences of life and people and loosely based on some stories of clients in my counselling work. No individual circumstance is mentioned.