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What if you’re in an on-again, off-again relationship?

What if you’re in an on-again, off-again relationship?

When I fell in love with my colleague, I was in heaven. He seemed to be all I ever wanted.

The moments we spent together were beautiful: We walked through the city during a full moon night, enjoyed romantic dinners at our favourite Indian restaurant, visited an exhibition or went to a spa. He appreciated who I was and had a good sense of humour. We had similar interests, and we seem to fit well together. In the beginning, I did not bother that he didn’t send me messages and that he wouldn’t answer my calls. I was just happy about the perspective of seeing him again. It changed when we had been on a business trip to Taiwan together. We spend a full week together, in meetings during the day and strolling through the city at night. Then, I visited a friend in Singapore, and he headed back home. I sent him a couple of messages and never received an answer. I tried to call him, and he never answered my calls. My confusion about his behaviour transformed into hurt.

Do you experience the same?

After a while, I noticed a pattern. Each time when we became close, he would disappear, go on a business trip and stop answering the phone. I wasn’t able to talk to him about our relationship or our future. After six months, it became even worse. He sent me a message that he would break up. After a couple of weeks, he came back and continued our relationship as if nothing had happened. When it happened the second time, I decided that it was the last time that I would return. I wanted a partner who wanted to have a committed relationship.

What patterns do you experience?

I wasn’t happy about this pattern, and I felt very confused because I wasn’t able to let him go at first. But there were some invisible strings that I wasn’t aware of that made it impossible for me to leave him:

  • Desire to heal and save my partner.
    When I met my partner, I sensed his loneliness and pain, and I wanted to heal his wounds. I focused more on his pain than on myself. I repeated a pattern that I had learned early in my childhood – taking on the responsibility for the lives of the people I loved. I thought more about him than about myself. I tried to understand his inner world more than I wanted to understand mine. This relationship taught me that I could neither heal nor rescue my partner, but that I can heal and rescue myself. And so I did. What do you need to heal within yourself?
  • Lack of self-love.
    When I started this relationship, I had no idea what self-love meant and how I could practice it. I was used to caring for other people and fulfill their needs. I didn’t know what my needs were and how to fulfill them. I considered my partner’s needs as more important than my own. During our time together, I learned that our needs were equally important. I started to understand my needs, such as stability, support, and closeness, and I acknowledged that my partner couldn’t cover these needs. What are your needs in a relationship?
  • Lack of worthiness.
    Deep inside, I was convinced that I didn’t deserve something better. I didn’t feel worthy of love, and I accepted this as being true. After this relationship, I started to challenge the truth of these beliefs and found out that I was worthy of love, no matter what had happened in my childhood. Love is a feeling, and I may fall in love with the wrong man but I still have a choice… love doesn’t have to be suffering because a relationship is a choice. It’s up to me that I choose a man with whom love is joy, not suffering.

What holds you back from choosing a man with whom love is joy?

After the end of this relationship, I learned to love myself, connected with my soul and re-established my worthiness. I found ways how love can expand in a relationship and committed to my vision of a fabulous relationship. I healed those invisible strings that made me stay with the wrong partner. With all its confusion, this relationship was an important turning point in my life that opened the door to experience true love. And I am deeply grateful for this.

What learning do you want to make?

I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you like to read more?  Check this article:  Do you fall into these love traps?

How to Deal with an Abusive Relationship with a Parent?

Abusive Relationship

I always had an abusive relationship with my father. Maybe it all started with my conception. While my father only wanted one child, my mother wanted two. To make her dream reality, she secretly stopped taking the pill and became pregnant again. She betrayed him. Her story was that my father went on holidays alone shortly after I was born. How does a man feel if he becomes a father of a child he never wanted? I cannot answer this, but the abusive relationship became an important theme in my life.

My parents separated when I was one and I saw my father two years later again. The following two decades, I was torn between my infantile need to be approved by my father and rejecting him because of his manipulative personality traits. When I was 12, I cut contact with my father for the first time. His badmouthing about my mother’s family had become too much.

I saw him again when he got married to his new wife a couple of years later. Deep in my heart, I hoped that this new relationship had transformed him and he would have stopped blaming my mother. I was wrong. Nothing had changed.

My mother died when I was 19, and I hoped that her death would put his mind at ease, sooner or later. The little girl within me wanted to get his approval. Eight years later, his torrent of hatred against my mother and her family persisted. It was unbearable to listen to him any longer. His stories never changed.

Does a daughter have the right to cut contact with her father?

At that stage, I wasn’t sure. My father’s favorite bible quote was “You have to honor your father.” He used it each time when he wanted to impose his opinion on me. Sometimes I asked myself silently, and a father – how is he supposed to treat his child?

One day, I finally woke up and accepted that I would never receive affection from him. He was unable to give it. I was sick and tired of his repetitive stories and his unforgiving attitude. I cut contact with him. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it felt right. It was not for his sake, but for mine. Even though, I didn’t know it at that time, it was one of the most caring acts I ever did for myself.

Do you have the right to cut contact with your parents?

I faced many opinions. Abusive relationships are still a secret nobody wants to talk about. Some people looked at me disapprovingly; a couple of counselors told me that I had to meet him and hug him to be able to forgive him. In a way, they gave me the responsibility for his unhealthy behaviour. Other therapists approved my decision and told me that I had to find the right distance to be at peace with him. I only felt at peace when I was far away from him. My last therapist told me that she felt glad that I stayed away from him. I felt the same.

Who knows what’s right or wrong?

Each opinion reflected the perspective the other person had, their story and their values. It is hard to accept that families, the place where children should be safe, sheltered and nurtured, can be violent and harmful. I guess that many people who grow up in a healthy environment have no idea how a family with abusive relationships look like. How much did they know about my experience and my inner process that led to my decision? Not much.

My father continued his abuse by stalking me

Years after I cut contact, I still had a secret address so that my father couldn’t find me. But one day, he did. I called a police officer from the victim’s department, and she phoned him. Later, she told me that he would insist on having the right to see me. She asked me whether I would be willing to do so. I said, no. I just wanted to have my freedom. She continued: I have many years of experience with victims of violence. I know that you have every reason to fear him. It was the first time that somebody outside my family confirmed my truth about him, and her comment helped me to believe in my intuition and release my doubts. Unfortunately, blaming the victim is still part of our society, and it was a relief to hear the words I needed most: I believe you. It is not your fault.

Dealing with an abusive relationship as an adult

We can’t choose our family and, as a child, we get used to accepting what is. However, as an adult, as an adult we choose how we want to relate to them. We are not obliged to stay in a situation that is toxic for us. Everybody has the right to find the distance we need to protect ourselves and we have the right to cut contact. I cannot tell you what the right answer is for your specific case. But I invite you that you trust your inner voice because the only person who knows the correct answer is you. You don’t owe anybody an explanation. You don’t need anybody’s approval. The only thing you need to do is to take care of yourself.

What to do if the abusive relationship had ended?

After ending the abusive relationship with my father, I started a different journey: Healing the effects his emotional abusive behaviour had on me. I gave myself the space to forgive and heal my heart. I grieved that I never had the father I truly wanted as a child. While I never want to have a connection with him in real life, I can accept that he is my father. As long as I rejected him, I also rejected parts of myself. In a spiritual way, he’s now closer to me than he has ever been in my life. Sometimes, the best option to love somebody is without having a relationship with them.

Whatever decision you are facing, I know that you will make the right choice for yourself and your life.

Do you need support making this decision? Check out how I can support you.

Do you want to find out more about the abusive relationship with my father? Find out more about my memoir A Brave, True Story on amazon.ca.

What if You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

“It’s like a dream. I always wanted to be together with an independent partner like you are. And now I’ve met you.” He said this after we had talked intensively about our lives. And he was right. It had been a beautiful start for a relationship. I thought that he was honest. And this stage, I had no reason to doubt his words. I felt happy and very lucky.

Toxic dynamics are not visible in the beginning

The relationship seemed to continue in a good direction. We planned our future and did many activities together. We went hiking and spent our summer holidays at a meditation retreat. Then, I went away for a weekend because I attended a wedding of a friend. When I returned, he picked me up at the airport. Everything had changed.

Trust your inner voice

I was excited to see him, and saw a man with a different face. He started to argue. I felt confused in the beginning. Each day, he found another thing I didn’t do right. I became angry because I didn’t want to be treated like this. No matter what I did, it was not right for him. I felt drained. I gave him a warning. He apologized and promised to change. However, he continued with the same manipulative game. My inner voice said, it’s time to go. This situation isn’t good for you at all. The one thing I learned from dealing with manipulative behaviour is to trust my gut. If it says something is off, I take action.

Do they keep their promises?

The problem with people who have manipulative behaviour is that they promise a lot but they do not change their behaviour. He apologized constantly for his behaviour, but the next moment, he behaved the same way. Luckily, I was able to see the toxic dynamic very early. I didn’t doubt my decision to leave him for a moment. There is one rule I have for relationships: I do not tolerate any form of violence – and manipulation is a form of violence. As a child, I grew up with emotionally abusive relationship, I did not have a choice. I did not know anything else. As an adult, I have a choice. I choose healthy relationships. This is a promise I gave myself many years ago. How about you?

Keep firm boundaries

My ex-partner couldn’t believe it. He waited for me in a park where I volunteered to feed a colony of abandoned cats. He wanted another chance; he promised to change, just another time. Just give me a month, he said, and I rejected. But he did not stop there and continued to disrespect my boundaries. Your partner’s promises may sound sweet and tempting but don’t fall into them. They are part of the game.

Resist the presents

I sat in a workshop. The doorbell rang. My spiritual teacher opened and came back with a huge bouquet of flowers. She said, It’s for you. I had just told her the story about my ex-partner and those flowers were the last thing I ever wanted to receive. I felt angry because he didn’t respect my boundaries for another time. I said, I don’t want them. She looked surprised and said, you can’t do this. They are beautiful. I replied, you know that they come with the wrong intention, don’t you? Living compassionately doesn’t mean that I allow somebody to manipulate me. She sighed, you’re right. Giving gifts is another way to control you. Do not buy into them.

Work through your emotions

Even though I wasn’t responsible for his manipulative behavior, it took me a while to release shame, guilt and humiliation. Luckily, I was able to identify his toxic behaviours very early in our relationship. However, it is never easy to be around people with manipulative behaviour. The relationship lasted only a couple of months, but I needed some time to forgive myself for having fallen in love with him.

Love yourself more than a partner with manipulative behaviour

Emotional abuse is difficult to spot in the beginning and you may notice it when you are already in a committed relationship. While you can’t choose who you fall in love with, you have a choice on how you want to handle it when you recognize manipulative behaviour.  You have many different options on how to deal with it. Important is that you make choices that are good for you. Emotional abuse leaves deep wounds on your soul, eats away your sense of worthiness and your belief in yourself. You can’t change your past but you can start today to heal yourself and become whole.

Seek help

Manipulative behaviour is confusing and it is good if you do not handle it alone. It is a sign of strength to ask for professional help. It will help you to handle the toxic dynamics in a way that is good for you. You have many different options.  However, if you do not take action, nothing will every change. Yes, change is scary, but what price do you pay if you stay where you are?

You are interested in getting help? Find out more about our program for people who are in unhealthy relationships.

Do you want to read more? Check the article How to Become a Modern Hero

Do You Fall Into These Love Traps?

Love Traps

When a good friend of mine fell in love a few years ago, she had a strong desire to be loved by her partner. She wanted this relationship to work out and tried to give everything – sometimes more than she had. She wiped off some minor red flag with He didn’t mean it or He had such a difficult childhood. Each red flag motivated her to give more. The relationship ended after three years with deep hurt and exhaustion.

Falling in love makes us vulnerable. With all the butterflies in the stomach, there also appear painful what if-scenarios in our mind. What if the other person doesn’t love me? What if I am not good enough? They aren’t helpful, but it’s easy to be swept away by fears and fall into traps that don’t allow you to create a loving and intimate relationship:

Thinking that you can make a person to fall in love with you.

My friend forgot about her needs and wants and only thought about her partner and his possible reactions. She desperately wanted him to love her. She thought that she just had to do all he wanted, and then he would love her. Before she wrote him a mail, she asked herself, how will he react if I write this? or, what will he think if I do this? Sometimes, she wanted to get my opinion, and I said, do what feels right for you. You don’t know how he will react, and you cannot control what he will do. You can just be yourself. It doesn’t matter how hard you try you can never make a man love you. He may start to love you or not. It’s not within your control. If a man doesn’t love you as you are, let him go and move forward.

Scarcity thinking.

My friend believed that he was the only available man and the only option for a relationship. Instead of giving herself the time to get to know him she made herself believe that he was the “one and only.” Was this really true? No. It was the voice of her fears. Instead of listening to her intuition, she pushed herself to make the relationship work, independent on the price she had to pay. Even though it is painful to let go of a relationship, there is always more than one opportunity. There are great men out there who are ready to fall in love with you. However, you need to close one door before a new one opens.

Trying to please the person you are interested in.

My friend also fell into the trap of trying to please him. She ignored her needs and limits and gave him everything. In the past, I struggled with this, too. However, loving somebody does not mean that you have to do everything he wants. It’s about finding the right balance between loving him and loving yourself. If you fall in love, stay connected with yourself. Instead of focusing on what going on in him, explore your inner world. Spend time alone or meditate 15 minutes a day. Become aware of your process to fall in love with and to commit to him: What do you really want or need? What are your hopes and dreams? What are you fears and insecurities?

Interpreting the other person’s words or behaviors.

My friend spent hours interpreting his words and actions. What might he have meant with this? Why did he do it? When he said that he didn’t love her, she interpreted that it was only his fear of relationship and that he would change. When she asked me for my opinion, I answered, I have no idea. You need to ask him to find out what he meant with it. She never asked because she feared his answer. Interpretations are just the movie you make up about your partner. They are a projection of your experiences, not what is going on within him. Dare to ask him what he really meant with it. Dare to explore his world. Be curious and do not judge. That’s a great way to find out whether you really want to choose him as a partner to spend your life with.

How can you avoid these traps?

Show him who you are with your beauty and imperfections. It may sound scary, and it’s the best way to create true love and belonging. Or do you want to bear your masks forever? Be true to yourself. Now is the time to be honest and create a deep connection with your partner. Let go of your mask and speak your truth. You cannot influence what he will think about it. And if he likes it and falls in love with you,  you have created a nurturing foundation for your relationship.

What traps did you fall into?

I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you want to read more? Check the article Why does the heart go through so much heartbreak?

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If Love Is Painful…

“I am ready for a new relationship”, she said. “You may help me with this.”

O.k. Tell me more about your past relationships…” I asked her.

I had some relationships. I deeply loved them. But it never lasted long. I had to leave them. It was just too painful. They had so much baggage of their past,” she continued her story. While she spoke, I could sense the pain. When she had finished, I said: “Listening to your story, I hear that you speak about great love and deep pain. It seems as if there is a connection. What makes you connect love with so much pain?”

Silence. Suddenly, she had tears in her eyes. “It’s about my parents. Love was painful…,” she took a breath. ”I never saw this connection before… Now, I am ready to release it. I want to connect love with joy.” She smiled softly. Now, she was ready to experience love in a different way.

How do you experience love?

Love is a feeling, and your childhood shapes the way how you experience it. If you connect love with positive feelings like joy, you are unlikely to read this post.

What if you connect it with pain or struggle?

It’s something you should look at and heal with self-compassion. You can’t change the past, but you can create a better future. Take care of this little child within you that has lived through so much pain in love. Her childhood wasn’t easy. She has experienced suffering. Her parents may never have been able to give her the love she needed.

And you are a beautiful woman now, and you can give her the love she deserves. She won’t receive this from anybody else. Only you can give it to her. This way she can stop to look for love in painful places. The more you nurture the relationship with your inner child with compassion, the more you will free yourself from the influences of the past. Why should you change this? I know that you were an innocent child. You didn’t deserve to experience love as pain. But you can’t change the past. You can only create a better future. Healing isn’t obligatory. It’s a choice. I walked many years on the painful path until I decided to change. Going a new path is uncomfortable and sometimes frightening. As human beings, we love our comfort zone. We may sometimes even prefer the pain we know instead of trying something new. But before you decide what to do, just consider for a moment:

How would your life change if you were lucky in love?
What if love were a source of happiness and joy?

Isn’t this perspective worth to try a new path?

I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you want to read more? Read the post Why does the heart go through so much heartbreak.

Nobody Is Guilty For A Separation

separation

When I left my ex-partner after we have lived together for six years, our separation was unpleasant. I experienced deep guilt together with my pain about the broken dream. My partner was deeply hurt and reluctant in accepting our separation. In his eyes, I had made it wrong. In the following months, I had painful self-talks and re-visited again and again the stories when I had done something wrong.

But was I really guilty for the separation?

The question of being guilty of a separation has played an important role in my family’s story. My mother left my father when I was one. He refused to agree to a divorce until the day when the German government decided to abolish the label guilty party in a divorce. My mother became one of the last persons who got divorced with this label. I couldn’t see that this label decreased their pain or resentment. They became stuck in blaming each other for the rest of their life; each one of them insisted that the other one was guilty. Can you imagine which price they paid for this? Hatred and bitterness blocked their hearts. I don’t know much about their relationship, I just think that both of them carried their share of responsibility for the divorce and that the relationship ended when it was supposed to end. From my perspective, it was the best that could have happened to them. Why should two people stay together and suffer until the end of their lives?

Is there really anybody guilty for the end of a relationship?

I can’t see it. For me, there are only responsibility and growth. Two people start a relationship with their hopes and dreams. There are struggles, and there are mistakes by both of them. Each partner is responsible for what they do and what they don’t do. It’s easy to fall into the blame trap and look at a relationship one-sided. You can blame your partner for his mistakes, and you can feel guilty for what you did wrong. But does it serve anybody? The past is past. You can’t change it. In my relationship, I made my share of mistakes, and my ex-partner made his. We didn’t do them because we had bad intentions; we just didn’t know how to deal better with it. Guilt and blame doesn’t help in this situation. It makes you stuck in the past and doesn’t allow you to find solutions. A relationship ends because it was supposed to end. Feeling guilty about your mistakes doesn’t help you, your ex-partner or anybody else in this world. Let go of blame and guilt and take responsibility for your share of the problems and the next time you will make it better. Blame and guilt limit your ability to grow and to live life fully. And that’s not how life is supposed to be. You are responsible for your life, your growth and your happiness. You are responsible for walking on your path. Your partner is responsible for his life, his growth and his happiness. He is responsible for walking on his path. You both are adults. You don’t dependent on each other. You have just chosen new paths in different directions. It’s not a question of guilt; it’s a question of acknowledging the reality, taking responsibility for oneself and growing as a person.

Your relationship is over, so what can you do?

  • Treat yourself with self-compassion.
    Allow your pain to heal. Avoid re-telling yourself painful stories about what you did wrong. Repeat the mantra that you did the best you could. And now, you will find ways how to make it better in the future.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.
    Reflect about the situations you feel guilty for, take responsibility for your behavior and make it better in the future. How did you behave? How can you make it better in the future? You may not see now, but there are always solutions. Grow as a person and become whole.
  • Forgive yourself and your partner.
    There are anger and pain. You may have experienced injustice. Your heart is broken. These are good reasons to close your heart forever and withdraw in bitterness and resentment. But does this serve you well? The only person who will suffer from this is you. Work through your emotions and when it feels right for you, practice forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what your ex-partner did was right. It just means that you let go of bitterness and resentment. It has nothing to do with your partner. You practice it for your well-being and happiness.
  • See your ex-partner as a complete person.
    Don’t idealize him. He is as human as you are. If your ex-partner blames you for the separation or if he meets you with silent reproach, cut contact with him. Being friends is nice, but it requires two people who want to grow and who can forgive. If you keep contact with an ex-partner who blames you or looks at you with silent reproach, it’s extremely difficult to let go of guilt. Don’t take on the responsibility for your ex-partner’s life. That’s not your business. Make yourself responsible for your life and your happiness. You are the most important person in your life. This way you can serve this world in a better way.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

What Ghosts Are Haunting You In Your Relationship?

relationship

Even though, our romantic relationships take place in the present moment, often they are influenced by the ghosts of our childhood. Do you sometimes hear your mother’s voice in your head telling you what you have to do? Does this really serve you well?

I once met a great man. He had lived through a very painful childhood with a parent who had problems with alcohol. As a child, he learned not to trust anybody. He was in a relationship for ten years now, and he said with deep conviction in his voice: I’ll never trust my girlfriend. Why should I? His voice expressed the pain and anger he felt as a child. He carried this ghost with him, each day. I could feel his pain. I also grew up with the belief that I couldn’t trust anybody. However, this belief made the world an insecure and lonely place. How can you experience true connection if you don’t trust? During a dark night of my soul, when this pain became nearly unbearable, I chose to open my heart and learned to trust others. Yes, it was a risk and, sometimes, I trusted people who didn’t deserve it. But the benefit was greater than the risk: I longed for love and belonging, and my decision empowered me to create nurturing and supportive relationships.

What are the ghosts you carry around with you?

I don’t know what your ghosts are. My ghosts were violence and manipulation. I tried different ways to deal with them – ignoring them, running away or getting angry. But they didn’t go away and haunted me in my romantic relationships. Finally, I found a solution: shining light on them and looking at them compassionately. This awareness gradually transformed them and empowered me to be ready for the love I wanted to experience.

You can’t choose your childhood and your family. If you have grown up in a family with insecure and painful relationships, this impacts the way you relate with other people. If you had great role-models in your childhood, your romantic relationships are likely to be smooth. If not, that’s something you should take care of. As human beings, we tend to be attracted by what we know, and we tend to repeat what we have learned from our family. If your past limits you and doesn’t bring you happiness, then it’s time to clear these patterns. No, you can’t change the past. It was as it was, with its delights, regrets and injustices.

But does your childhood have to haunt you for all your life? Do you have to repeat your parent’s destiny?

As an adult, you have choices. You can write your relationship story, and I know that you can create a magnificent one. If you don’t do anything or blame your parents for what was, the ghosts of your past are likely to haunt you for your lifetime. Another option is to open your heart, heal the wounds of your past and learn new behaviours that empower you to experience nurturing relationships. You may ask: Why should I? It wasn’t my fault. Yes, you are right. You have been innocent as a child. But you are an adult now, you are responsible for who you are. You can stick on blaming your parents or life in general or whomever you want to blame. Blame won’t change anything. The alternative is to sit down with yourself, compassionately take responsibility for this wounded child within you and become a great parent for her. This way, you can create the love you deserve. Nobody else can do this – neither your parents nor your partner. Only you can heal yourself and reclaim your wholeness. This process is like peeling an onion. With each layer you peel off, you get better connected with yourself and you will become happier. You will dare to show up as who you are in your relationship. And this is the basis for true love and belonging. Sitting down with myself wasn’t always comfortable, but it enabled me to experience love and belonging and to create nurturing and caring relationships. And that’s what you truly want to experience, isn’t it?

If you don’t change anything, you will get the same result as always. Start to walk on a different path today. Make a list and write down the following points:

  • What are the ghosts of your childhood that are still haunting you in your relationships?
  • What do you want to experience instead of them?
  • Are you willing to release your ghosts?
  • What is the first step you can take today to realize your dream?

Do you want to read more? Check the post How to become a modern heroine.

5 Warning Signs For Toxic Relationships

Each relationship has its ups and downs, and both partners will grow through their bond. And sometimes, these up and downs of the relationships become emotionally abusive. Emotional abuse is difficult to recognize and it can deeply damage your soul.

Here are 5 warning signs of a toxic relationship:

Isolation from the people you love.

You get increasingly isolated from the people you love. This can start slowly and subtle: Your partner may have required all of your attention and convinced you in a flattering way to spend all your time with him and his friends. Maybe, he or she talks in an insulting or depreciating way about your friends and your family, and they never seem to be “good enough” in the eyes of your partner. Your family and your friends are an essential part of your life and loving you includes accepting your friends and family as they are. If you suddenly notice that you have lost contact with most of your friends, then this is a warning sign that you are heading in the wrong direction.

Your partner’s jealous behaviour limits you.

Jealousy is an emotion, and your partner is responsible to manage his or her emotions. If your partner feels jealous, he should explore the emotion more deeply and understand its root causes. It becomes a warning sign if your partner uses jealousy to control you and to prevent you to do the things you love and enjoy. Don’t find excuses for their jealous behavior and don’t feel flattered by it. Jealousy isn’t love and in a healthy relationship you should have the freedom to do what you enjoy.

Insults and depreciation.

Instead of expressing their appreciation for you, your partner tells you things like “You are lazy” or “You are fat.” Or your partner doubts your abilities to meet your goals and talks about you in such a way that you feel belittled or ashamed. It is a warning sign if your partner talks about you repeatedly in a negative way. Don’t try to whitewash this issue. I have experienced this myself and the words my partner used left a deep mark on my heart, more than I wanted to admit when it happened.

Blaming.

It doesn’t matter what’s happening, you are responsible for all the bad things that are going on in your partner’s life. This blame can be completely irrational, and you might feel very confused about what’s going on. It is a warning sign if your partner blames you all the time or if you feel constantly guilty.

Continuous fighting.

A relationship consists of two people who have different needs and desires. It requires communication to create solutions that meet the needs of both partners. These solutions need honesty, negotiation and creativity. If your conversations consist of constant fighting with an attitude of “my needs are more important than yours” then this is a warning sign. The needs of each partner are equally important. If your partner uses threatening behavior or constant screaming or yelling to meet his or her goals, then this is a sign of a toxic relationship.

In summary, the subtle manipulation of a toxic relationship will eat away your self-esteem and your sense of worthiness. You may end up believing all the negative labels your partner says about you. He or she usually knows your weak points and will push the buttons when possible. The longer you stay in a toxic relationship, the more difficult it can be to leave it due to your decreased sense of worthiness. Only you can change this situation. The best decision you can take for your well-being is to ask for professional help and to leave a toxic relationship as soon as possible. You are an adult, and you are responsible for taking good care of yourself. You deserve a fabulous relationship. You deserve a loving and supportive partner.

A recently published Danish study shows that “middle-aged man and women” who experience stressful social relations have an increased mortality risk.

Do you want to pay this price?

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5 Ways To Deal With Unhealthy Family Relationships

This week, I read a quote by Willard Scott in google+. It said, “Positive feelings come from being honest about yourself and accepting your personality, and physical characteristics, warts and all; and, from belonging to a family that accepts you without question.” Willard Scott. Somebody had posted a comment: I have it all… except for the family that accepts without question. When I read it, I felt sad. It reminded me that family is sometimes seen in a rather limited way and it is more than just the family we are born in. I commented that family does not only mean the family you are born in, it can also be friends or colleagues. He answered with a smiley: if it’s that kind of family I have too. I replied, me, too. It’s a good one. and he posted, the best one ever.

Life seems easy if your family relationships are supportive and nurturing.

However, how can you deal with family relationships if they are unhealthy or manipulative?

Our family relationships are the first relationships we experience in our life. As children, we needed their attention, their love and their nourishment. During our childhood, we adapted the best way possible to the circumstances and tried to fit it so that we could belong to them. We may have tried to save them from their problems. We may have taken on the responsibility for their happiness. As children, we need our family and we love them unconditionally without knowing what is good for us.
However, as adults, we have choices. We do not have to stay in relationships that try to control and manipulate or that constantly use blame or shaming. You may still feel obliged to do what your family says and wants, however you can learn to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s part of your personal growth process and your path to become mature. You can’t save other people, even if it is your family. You can’t change them if they don’t want to. You can only save yourself. And you are free to leave relationships that hinder your growth, that don’t accept and don’t support you. You are the most important person in your life. You are responsible for your well-being and your emotional health.

What can you do if your family relationships are unhealthy?

  • Execute your rights.
    You are an adult now, and you can claim your rights. What your rights are? Here are a few to think about: you have the right to be happy, and you have the right to be happier than those around you. You have the right to follow your own values and standards. You have the right to take care for yourself, no matter what. You have the right to be uniquely you, without feeling that you aren’t good enough. You have the right to be in a non-abusive environment. You have the right to dignity and respect.
  • Put some distance between yourself and your family.
    If your family relations are unhealthy, find a place for yourself that enables you to feel well with it. Put the distance you need between yourself and your family. What distance can you put between yourself and your family so that you feel well? What kind of contact do you want to have with them? You are free to put the distance you need and to follow your path. It is kind and caring for yourself to love your family with the necessary distance.
  • Cut contact with manipulative family members.
    If the relationships are manipulative or if they constantly drag you down, cut contact with these family members. You are not obliged to stay in contact with your family. You are responsible for your own well-being and for taking care for yourself. If your family ties hinder your personal growth, you have the choice to cut contact with them. I cut contact with my father when I was 26 years old. It was the best and wisest decision I took for my well-being. I acknowledged that he wasn’t able to give me the love and appreciation my inner child longed for. It was not an easy decision. I faced comments like how dare you, or you are a bad daughter. I received looks that expressed disapproval. I also received a card from a friend who thanked me for cutting contact with my father and given her the courage to do the same. The world is full of different opinions about what is right. Important is that you follow your intuition. I don’t know how it is like to grow up in a supportive family. I do know that there are good reasons to stop having contact with family members. Being a family relationship doesn’t justify manipulation.
  • Heal your inner picture of your family.
    Your childhood experiences influence your way to relate with the world. If you have experienced unhealthy situations, you have to heal the effects it had on yourself. If you don’t face the issues you experienced in your family, you risk repeating the same mistakes as your parents did. I always said, “I never want to have the manipulative relationship my mother had.” And I had it in another disguise until I dealt with the effects my family had on myself.
    As an adult, you are able to face the pain and heal your inner child from the pain he or she experienced in their childhood. Face your grief of all you didn’t have and let go of it. You also can do a family constellation to liberate the effects your family had on you. Through the process of self-discovery and awareness, you can find inner peace with the family issues you are dealing with.
  • Create your own definition of family.
    I am blessed with two types of family: the family I was born in and my chosen family. My chosen family consists of my three cats and my closest friends. They give me the love, support and sense of belonging I need. You have faced challenging family relations. You can continue to look at all what you never had, and it is likely that you will never get it there. You family gave you the best they could. They didn’t have more. They have their own story that hinders them to give you what you want.
    As an adult, you have the choice to create the kind of family you wish. Outside the family you were born in, there is a group of people waiting for you that accepts you without questions. That’s your family of souls. Invite them into your life!

Difficult family relationships are painful experiences. However, they don’t define your capacity to experiment positive feelings. Through growth, self-awareness and self-discovery, you can transform them into life mastery and wisdom. That’s a path so that you generate positive feelings with the kind of family you had.

 

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

Can You Heal From Emotional Abuse and Violence?

Can you heal from emotional abuse and violence?

Yes, you have experienced traumatic events. Emotional abuse and violence have left a mark on your soul. Everything may seem dark and hopeless. You feel pain, shame and guilt. You may hear judgments of other people like “poor victim” or “you will never overcome the effects of emotional abuse.” You feel small, you feel unworthy. The scale of your life seems out of balance. The trauma seems heavier than any resources you may own.

And the trauma weighs so heavy on you that you can’t see clearly: you have precious and valuable resources. You have developed strength, perseverance and courage. You have resilience because you have learned to go through a crisis and move forward with your life.

It doesn’t matter what happened to you: you are worthy of love and belonging.

The emotional abuse or violence you have experienced don’t define yourself nor your future. Healing them is your challenge on your journey. Facing them is the starting point for the greatest transformation of your life. And that’s your hero’s journey. You have the power to become whole and to recover all what seems lost in the traumatic events. And nobody else can do this for you. Your partner can’t save you. Your parents can’t save you. Your children can’t save you. Only you can save yourself.

Let’s take a look at a lotus plant: Its roots stand in the dirt and mud, and out of these roots, it develops bright and colorful flowers. Its roots are strong enough to survive in an environment that seems difficult. Its leaves have a mechanism to repel water. And it can produce heat to the water that surrounds its body. This way it creates its own friendly environment.
You are just like this lotus plant: you have the strength to grow through these painful events and transform them into a bright and colorful life. You can release the negativity you have experienced and liberate yourself from its influences, and you can create for yourself a loving and nurturing environment.

Why am I so sure about what I am telling you? I have been there, too, and I used this path myself. I experienced emotional abuse and violence in my childhood. And I used the following steps to heal myself. If I was able to do it, you can do it, too.

How can you heal from emotional abuse and violence?

  • Create a bright and colorful vision for your future.
    Your past doesn’t define your future. The vision you create will define the outcome and you can create joyful and positive experiences you may never have experienced before. Everything is possible. Your definition of the future gives you the energy and courage to face your challenges and move forward on your healing path.
  • Become whole again.
    The painful events have shaken your soul and your sense of being. You have absorbed many labels and many opinions about yourself that are not true. Your task is to connect deeply with yourself, to love yourself and to liberate yourself from the conditioning you have absorbed. Re-establish your self-esteem and self-worth. Value your needs and dreams. Be loving and kind towards yourself.
  • Become a compassionate parent for your inner child.
    During your childhood, you have experienced painful events that you weren’t able to deal with at this age. Now, you are an adult. You can choose to become a loving and compassionate adult for this child within you that wants to be seen and loved by you. Don’t blame your parents for what they did or didn’t do. They can’t help you with this. You can’t change the past, but you can take the responsibility for your inner child. Be a good parent for your inner child. This way, he or she will heal and become a source for creativity and joy.
  • Connect with your intuition and your higher wisdom.
    You have learned many beliefs about yourself that aren’t true. Connect with your higher wisdom to clarify the truth of these beliefs. Sit in silence, go for a walk in nature and connect with this part of you that has all the wisdom you need. Listen to and follow your intuition. It will show you the right path for your healing.
  • Find somebody to go with you without judging you.
    You cannot do it all alone. You will need somebody who supports you on this journey. Find a person who doesn’t judge you or the events that happened to you. Find a therapist, counselor, coach or healer who deserves your trust and who deserves to hear your story.
  • Learn to practice emotional intelligence.
    Connect with your body, and learn to listen to your emotions. Learn ways how you can express them in a healthy way. Your emotions aren’t your enemies. They are your allies, and they give you signals. If you numb yourself to avoid painful emotions, you limit your capacity to feel joy and happiness, and it can lead to addictive behaviors. Explore your emotions and listen to what they have to tell you.

As human beings, we have a need to connect and love. Traumatic events can limit your capacity to connect. Healing yourself is your path towards love and connection. Take responsibility for your life and your needs. Dare to walk down this path. You deserve it.