Own Your Own. Let Others Own Theirs.

Posted on Nov 22, 2015 | No Comments

Ah! The joy of projection. Projection is a confusing, complex experience.  Projection is being told you are something, but that something doesn’t resonate or feel like it belongs to you. Projection is when the accusation of you being/doing something is actually what the person accusing you of is being/doing themselves.  Projection is when said person can’t/won’t own their stuff, so they project that which feels intolerable to them outwards and straight onto you.  Projection is an unconscious process, but a very real experience.

Many of us have been a projector and/or been projected onto at one time or another. It can occur when we are not as self-aware as we could be, or we’re going out of our way to suppress and repress our emotions.  We project intolerable feelings outwards and relocate those feelings in others. It is the only way we can recognise them, but in doing so, we do not own what is ours.  Instead, we attribute them as belonging to the other. Why does this happen? It can be an attempt to distance ourselves from our own uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. Projection invariably can (especially when we’re on the receiving end of it) cause us to have that whole feeling that our mind is being messed with. It can feel like, What is this person talking about? Am I missing something? Are we talking about the same thing?

Projection is particularly heinous when ongoing because we may feel powerless in making the problem go away. We may end up defending ourselves, explaining and re-explaining, justifying, reassuring and trying to keep the peace.  All this does is temporarily reassure the other and diffuse the situation.  The thing is that it does not go away. When the other begins to feel bad again and needs to project, they might pick fights or have one of those disproportionate responses that alerts us to the fact that there’s something else going on behind the scenes.

When someone is projecting, it is really about how they feel and/or what they’ve done.  We may receive a comment completely out of left field, or innocent events are twisted around to suit the story that’s already in their head. They often don’t want to budge from the story that they tell themselves. This is really when we know that projection is crossing into that damaging territory because it’s  a step too far when a person is unable to distinguish between what they think/did and what you think/did. It’s too much when they’re not open to another version of events.They’ve made up their mind and to back away from it is to bring down the story that’s protecting them from their true feelings and thoughts.

This is why it is so important for us to know ourselves, stand firm in that and to be able to discern where we end and others begin. When we don’t, we’re inclined to be Blame Absorbers, quick to take ownership of other people’s feelings and behaviour. Owning our own and letting others own theirs won’t stop us from feeling angry and hurt but it does mean that after the initial response to the injustice of it all, we have that moment where we focus on the facts and not letting them unload their stuff on us.

It is at this moment that we stop and we can ask ourselves, “What’s really going on here?”

Somebody who values their relationship with us and is willing to recognise their feelings will be able to get some perspective, and face what’s really going on. What we find annoying in others often points to something that we also need to address within ourselves, not because that will fix their behaviour but because it’s awareness about maintaining our integrity on the things we claim to value.

It’s at this point when we have to stop engaging.  Ultimately, we have to let the chips fall where they may and ponder on what you might really be trying to control here?  Projection also teaches us about how a person thinks, what they may be dealing with (which may give us an opportunity to be compassionate), or how we are perceived. Once upon a time, I would make other people’s stuff about me and feel horribly wounded.  Nowadays, yes I do feel the projection but it is tempered with compassion and healthier boundaries.  I know myself very well and am comfortable to say: That’s not mine. It’s theirs and I’m sending it right back.

Go Well.

 

Crazy Making: Why You Shouldn’t Try to Make Sense Out of Nonsense

Posted on Oct 27, 2015 | No Comments

Have you ever experienced someone pulling a switch in a situation where they were originally in the wrong?  By the time the other person has finished with their crazy-making attempts, they had stepped, as sure footed as a mountain goat, into the Victim position.  What on earth just happened?! You may be left wondering;

  • Am I going crazy?
  • Did I even say or do what I’m being accused of?
  • Am I being ‘oversensitive’?
  • Did I imagine it or did they just cross my boundaries?

I often hear stories of people feeling disorientated after someone has effectively pulled off a Switch Up, I wanted to share some thoughts on these bizarre situations.

When a person is already primed and ready to play the Victim,  it means that you, me or whomever they’re engaging with, will need to be positioned elsewhere on the Drama Triangle (Karpman); be this the Persecutor or the Rescuer. You will become one or the other in the blink of an eye when triggered their Victim reflex.  Let the Game begin.

Regardless of whether you had wanted to be the Victim, there can only be one Victim. Them.  The Switch Up happens when you say or show that they have overstepped your boundaries in some way.  In asserting your boundaries, you step into what they regard as their role – the victim. Instead of discussing, apologising, clarifying or whatever, their next and subsequent responses are about becoming the victim again through guilting and attacking. The tone will change; you may be told that you’re oversensitive, needy or whatever, yet they don’t explain what was meant.  Whatever they say and do next compounds the original boundary bust.

What are your options here? If you try to defend,  you are ‘wrong’, ‘difficult’ and ‘provoking’ their behaviour. If you respond with the irritation, anger, frustration, upset and other emotions and behaviours that situations like this elicit, you are also ‘wrong’ or accused of being angry. Once they say that you’re angry and eventually after they’ve found a way to provoke the anger,  you do get angry and you’re still ‘wrong’. Meanwhile, they may choose to be matter of fact in their insults and claim that they’re not insulting you and that you’re being oversensitive.

Whatever you say about or to them becomes what you are now guilty of.

Whatever they say and do becomes what you are now responsible for.

Anything they say is the truth and voicing an opinion.

Anything you say is lies and distortion.

If you repeat what they say, that’s also a lie and distortion.

Is this making you crazy yet?

It really doesn’t matter what you say – the ending of this is already made up in their mind. You’re just a player in the drama. The only way to end this is to step out of the drama.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of attempting to make sense out of nonsense. Believe me, I have fallen into that trap many a time, but have learnt to not try to make sense out of nonsense.

Look at this in another way – would you ask why it’s going to hurt if a car runs you down? No.  You know it is pointless so you keep yourself safe by not stepping out into oncoming traffic and trying to be alert.  If a car is driving straight at you,  would you stand there asking “Why are you running me down?” while they’re saying that it is your fault that they’re behind the wheel and driving at you when they’ve had more than enough time and chances to stop. They are intent on running you down – what else do you need to know?

None of the behaviour of someone who pulls crazy making nonsense on you is normal. It might seem normal or feel comfortable at times if you’ve grown up around this carry-on or become acclimatised to it with someone.  The fact of the matter is that it is not normal and some part of you has already registered that it doest feel like it.

What I can tell you without hesitation is that: it is not about you.

Stay alert to the oncoming traffic.

Go Well.

The Best Thing I Never Had: Not Getting What You Think You Want

Posted on Oct 19, 2015 | No Comments

When our default position is to wonder what’s wrong with us and to blame not getting what we want on not being “good enough”, we may act as if our process is ‘right’ and we are ‘wrong’. You may be so consumed by the result that ‘should’ have happened that you remain heavily invested in the outcome that you think that you want. This isn’t just about the beliefs attached to choices, but also because the alternative to that investment is change.  The prospect of change may be a unfamiliar unknown, which takes you away from the uncomfortable comfort zone where we get to give ourselves a hard time with a narrative focused on what is wrong with us.

Sometimes it’s about the process, sometimes it’s about the result and sometimes it may be about both.  What it is never about is our ‘worth’. It’s not that a more worthwhile and good enough person could have pulled off what we wanted. Sometimes the ‘wrong’ result may be the right one. We often conveniently forget about how sometimes what feels so ‘right’ can actually be so wrong.  If that’s the case, whilst what has/has not happened may not make sense right now, the blessing in disguise will be revealed a little further down the line.

Time and space provide clarity and objectivity, as long as we’re not still doing the same things and getting the same or even worse results – in terms of relationships, this is Relationship Insanity. When we become aware of those blessings in disguise, if we’re open to learning positively from the insights, we gain from our experiences and we become aware and appreciative of better things that are happening to us.

Recently, a client felt devastated when an affair that she was invested in did not work out. She felt unlovable and not good enough.  Even after she had ended it, he kept pursuing her,  professing how right they were for each other and how wrong she was…whilst his ‘situation’ remained the same. Actually, it was absolutely the right thing that he didn’t leave and once she recognised this, she lost her attachment to that predicted outcome and addressed the issues that contributed to her even being in that situation.

We can not have unhealthy habits of thinking and behaviour and expect to bask in the rewards of healthier habits. Equally, sometimes we can be misappropriating of our energies if we keep trying to make people (who are reluctant to) meet us in a mutual capacity, to love and appreciate us, or to change their ways.  Sometimes, we have to take a big enough step back to see that a situation isn’t worthy of us.

Many people left feeling devastated by not getting what they think they want end up gradually ‘reclaiming’ and being their true selves because these situations often provide an opportunity to rebuild their lives in a way that they prefer.

When the way in which you’re thinking and behaving doesn’t produce the desired results, it is never, ever about your worth. By all means, reflect on you process and the results you have gotten.  Moreover, it is also worth remembering, you cannot control the uncontrollable or make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.

Setting The Standard

Posted on Oct 12, 2015 | No Comments

At what point do you say, enough is enough? Is it the point at which we we want to keep someone in our life so much, that we’re willing to let go of everything that matters to us – our sense of self, our values, our boundaries and our standards in order to keep them?

I think that it is vital to set proper standards for how we want to be treated. This doesn’t mean that we take responsibility for other people’s feelings and behaviour.  It simply means that we have to first recognise that if we do not treat ourselves with love and respect and set a standard in the first place, we send out a message to those around us that this is the standard that we have set for ourselves and that it is OK for you to treat me similarly or worse.

When you are willing to set the standard of how you will to be treated, you will not accept less from anybody else than what you can already do for you. This stops you from being in unhealthy relationships. This allows you to say when you don’t accept something or that you are not OK with what has just been said/done..

Let’s say, for example, somebody is mistreating you. At best, they are taking advantage and at worst, they are abusing you.  If you then turn around and say, “I take the blame for your behaviour” or “That’s OK, I’m not going to create any consequences for your behaviour”, or “I love you, I love you, I love you…. Come back to me… I can’t bear to be without you…”, after they have walked all over you and out on you, this is sending out the wrong message. What you are communicating to them is, “I don’t love me. I don’t care about me and I don’t respect me”. It’s saying, “I know that you don’t either but I’d rather accept crumbs from you than nothing at all”. Finally,  it is saying, “I don’t feel that I can do without you.  You –  who isn’t really there for me at all”.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that it’s better for somebody to be there in a shady capacity than to not be there at all. In the same vein, it’s not better for somebody to be there but emotionally absent rather than being gone all together.  All of these things will kill your soul and the very essence of you.   You don’t need to be out there seeking perfection, but what you do need to seek is to be with people who are like-minded. If your idea of like-minded folk is somebody who treats you like something that they just stepped in, something about the way in which you view yourself needs attending to.

The answer isn’t to try to change the other person, anymore that it is trying to be perfect and please them even more. The answer isn’t to keep editing who you are in the hope that this will spark them into being a better person in the relationship. The answer is to step right back and to invest all of your energy into evaluating and working on why you are accepting less than what you deserve even from yourself.  What is it that is telling you that this way of being is the best that you can do?

We must set the standard for how others treat us. You want to be treated with love and respect? Treat yourself with love and respect. Once you start to do this, not only will you not accept less than what you can already do for yourself but you will also align you with entirely different people and situations. You will find that you come from a place of love as opposed to coming from a place of crushing you, or of trying to always please others. You will do things from a place of healthy desire.

If you have to choose between you and someone else, always love you first.

Go Well.

When Somebody Keeps Trying to Cut you Down

Posted on Oct 4, 2015 | One Comment

‘Power over others is weakness disguised as strength

Eckart Tolle

I’ve met a number of people who have found themselves involved with an emotional and psychological ‘Chopper’.  A Chopper is a person who sets out to find weak spots (or makes them up) and engages in a warfare of criticism and mind games to weaken the other.  A chopper will fortify their own weak sense of self by cutting down someone else’s. This manipulative and abusive behaviour is insidious – often creeping up slowly and gaining strength over time.  If you are involved with an emotional and psychological Chopper, by the time you realise what you’re dealing with, you may not have the strength to leave.

There is likely to be a time where the Chopper perceived you to be ‘better’ and then they set about eroding this.  Whilst some Choppers are obvious, it’s often the covert/passive aggressive approach that leads to them criticising you, all the while portraying themselves as the victim of the story. They’ll often deny both what they’ve said and the fact that it is inappropriate and accuse you of being oversensitive for good measure.

Examples of Chopping

  • “You think you’re better than me. You’re so superior.”  You may start to believe that being intelligent or achieving is a ‘bad’ thing because it makes other bad about themselves. The next thing you know, you are downplaying yourself.
  • “You’re going to cheat on me eventually.  I can’t trust you”
  • “You’re not as clever as you think you are you know”
  • “When I first met you, you were slimmer/curvier/sexier, now you make no effort, you’re lucky that I still find you attractive”
  • “I prefer a woman with bigger breasts / a better body / white..” and you are everything but the stated preference.
  • “I don’t know if I could be in a serious relationship or love someone that did _________”  Fill in the blank with something really banal and trivial, like dropping things or not being a good driver, but it is something that you might do from time to time.

 

Unhappy with themselves and simmering with resentment, anger and frustration, they say that you ‘make’ them feel bad about themselves and so in turn, they deliberately say and do things to relieve that feeling. In my opinion, this behaviour is more about their own relationship with themselves and I’d wager that this is not the first time that they have used this behaviour to prop up a fragile sense of self worth.  Don’t internalise it;  you are just someone else that they’ve swung their axe into.

Choppers have a complex framework of truth and honesty which means that they give themselves license to be ‘honest’ (without respect) while at the same time telling lies.  The Chopper latches onto your own private thoughts about you and they figure out where to ‘chop’. If you’ve shared anything with them that represents a previous hurt or any fears, this will become the bull eye of where to chop.  Even if some of the things that the Chopper says are not true, if they tap into your fears, you may start to believe the lies or start to internalise every critical comment from them and changing to please them.

When you apologise for being who are you, you are letting somebody else tell you who you should be and internalising that who you are right now is not good enough.  Let’s look at this logically.  You were good enough to begin with, and now supposedly you are not.  Hmmmmm, really?  In all likelihood, the confusion you experience comes from trying to please someone who will never be pleased.  You are believing the projection that you are not good enough, when it’s highly likely that whatever they are chopping at you for  is really about them. They’re chopping at you because they’ve been chopped at for the same thing, or they’re chopping at you because rather than hone these qualities in themselves, they’d rather knock them out of you.

Let’s be clear – this is a form of abusive relationship.

Whether you have good self-esteem or not so good self-esteem, the moment you find yourself on the receiving end of being verbally mistreated, find yourself experiencing Gas Lighting and doing the Egg Shell Shuffle so as not to set them off, it may be time to think about and execute your exit.  No explanation.  No justifying.  No reasoning with the unreasonable and no analysing the death out of something that does not deserve it. Never agree with someone who is running you down and taking chunks out of you. They’re wrong.

If where you are now leaves you feeling less than, somebody else is capable of loving and appreciating you without attacking the very essence of you. Stop agreeing with their treatment of you, their behaviour isn’t about you. You could be the most perfect person to ever walk the Earth; it won’t make a difference.  Sooner or later, an emotional and psychological Chopper chops everything good out of their life.  Don’t let them chop the you out of you.

Go Well.

Pain is not love; it is pain

Posted on Sep 27, 2015 | No Comments

When did love become pain? I have had personal experience of Dynasty levels of drama in relationships.  It is true to say that many of us mistake “suffering” in our relationships for “love”. We may think that it is normal to have to force feed someone our affections when they say they do not want it;  to see the potential in someone who we believe doesn’t ‘know’ how they feel/has ‘difficulty’ showing it and to accept neglectful behaviour in our lives.

It is a universal truth that in any relationship, you will experience conflict.  Each of you may feel hurt due to something that the other has done and there will be times where you need to work harder at your commitment to one another.  This is very different to  being in regular, ongoing pain. In a mutual relationship, you do not have to numb your feelings and suppress your identity so that you can remain in the relationship.  When the two become mixed up, you may think that your suffering shows how passionately you love and that only ‘real’, ‘passionate’ love is painful.  Pain is not love, it is pain.

During the times in my life where I experienced Dynasty levels of drama in the name of love, it went a little something like this;  The more that I hurt, the harder I fought for the relationship. I thought that there would be a change and I’d go from being in some sort of personal hell to happily ever after.   I thought that I wanted and needed the pain, because the alternative of being left to pick up the pieces felt infinitely more painful to me.

Much of the pain in this kind of relationship stems from fear and drama making.  Feelings of fear and seeking/creating drama, are mistaken as ‘love’.  How does this happen?  In all likelihood it is because we have poor relationship habits honed over an extended period of time, likely from childhood. Some of these very painful relationships are our comfort zone which is why  jumping through hoops, feeling like nothing is good enough and being wounded by criticism or withdrawal of affection may have a powerful, subconscious allure.

In this mindset, it is easy to hope and believe that love and acceptance is what lies beyond the pain. The pain of this pursuit seems more valuable, than say, a person who matches their actions and words and wants to treat you with love, trust, and respect. You’ll probably feel suspicious of that. Anything stable and loving may feel downright uncomfortable and weird.

If you don’t address your self-esteem and your beliefs about love and relationships, then what qualifies love becomes very loosely defined and very destructive. It becomes the acceptance of crumbs.  Many of the dysfunctional things that happen in poor relationships are easy to tag as ‘love’ and ‘passion’ the more that reality becomes distorted.

If you don’t reconcile who you think it is that you love with the reality of who they are and the relationship you have, it is impossible to see those feelings of drama and fear for what they are – fear and drama.  As long as you are doing this, you will continue to fall into a cycle of poor relationships that result in similar, reinforcing experiences that love isn’t love unless it is painful.   Fear causes inaction and eventual comfort with what started out as very uncomfortable because it seems far more uncomfortable to make positive changes that will make us accountable for our own feeling and uncomfortable truths.

When all is said and done, only you know your experience.  The real test is this; if you develop a healthier relationship with yourself, resulting in healthier beliefs about love and relationships, will you still want this person?  Or, will you finally realise that you haven’t experienced mutual, nourishing love yet and have been writhing in pain masquerading as love?

If loving someone means that you can’t love you,  always choose you.

Go Well.

The Trouble with Lying

Posted on Sep 22, 2015 | No Comments

The trouble with lying, aside from putting forward a deliberately false statement (and seeking to gain an advantage/avoid something undesirable) is that behind liars are often people who have faith in them. We all have at one time or another told a ‘white’ lie or two.  Nobody is perfect  My focus here is more on the kind of lies, that when discovered, will be devastating to those who trusted that the lie was truth.

Lies and deception aggressively and passive aggressively take power away from others. When people lie, they remove your right of reply to the truth of the matter, and your right to make a decision based on knowing the whole truth.  For a liar, this is akin to holding the winning hand in a rigged poker game and being privy to knowledge that the other parties are not. When you’re involved with someone who deliberately dupes you, they are not honest and because if they were, it is highly likely that you would bounce.

This doesn’t remove our own responsibility to assess the situation.  However, when someone is running rings around you; blowing hot and cold, contradicting their actions and words and making out like you have it twisted, you may begin to doubt yourself.

Uncovering lies and deception can be mind boggling.   You may end up going over every word, feel as though your eyes, ears and mind were deceiving you. You might have defended them. You might have listened to them vehemently deny what turns out to be the truth.  When you begin to play things back in your mind, you are trying to determine fact from fiction.

I’ve come across an ever increasing number of people who have explicitly known that they were involved with someone who has a somewhat shady relationship with the truth.  What is attraction to someone who can’t even be honest with themselves?  In a nutshell, they all believed that their love and faith would cause this person to make them the exception and treat them differently to everybody else that they have ever duped. Moreover, I have heard that it’s the situation that makes the person lie and deceive.  Yes you read that correctly –  it is the circumstances that have made someone dishonest.  Really?! The subtext of this assertion is that it’s OK to lie and deceive in certain circumstances, especially if love is involved. If this is your real belief, and you are being true to yourself, then by all means continue.  If it isn’t, then this is the beginnings of making exceptions and gradually eroding your own morals and boundaries.

When people lie and deceive, they share information on a need-to-know basis. They might drip-feed the truth (which is confusing because you think that the ‘drip’ is all of the truth, when it is not).  That’s the problem with lying – it is incredibly difficult to know whether you’re standing in reality or only standing on the ‘portion’ of reality that has been admitted.  I have further question – how does someone who has told a whole load of lies and deceived even know that they’re telling themselves the truth?  Some don’t even see it as lies. Excuses and justifications aside,  the bottom line is that lying and deceiving are forms of control and ergo, a form of abusive behaviour.

Lies and deception hurt. They hurt those around them who get duped and run over in the process and they hurt you if you participate in the madness. If you want to live your life authentically, stick to your values. It can be hard to face the fact that someone has not been truthful, but to continue to have blind faith in them doesn’t help you or them.

In my opinion,  it is healthier to state and live our truth rather than spend time deceiving ourselves in order to hold onto people who are deceiving us. If you are living your own truth, it becomes impossible to live someone else’s lie.

Go Well.

The Beauty Complex: Self Esteem by Proxy

Posted on Sep 20, 2015 | No Comments

There is a beauty bias in our culture.  There is a belief that beauty brings opportunities, admirers and being the beautiful one in a relationship also has clear benefits,  I want to take a deeper look at what is it about a pretty face that is really so attractive to us?

Society puts a high premium on beauty. Beauty sells products, people like to look at it, and it makes us feel good.  We like beautiful things. Obtaining and maintaining beauty is a billion dollar industry, with L’Oreal being a perfect case in point. Beautiful is desirable and some try desperately to become it. We exercise to extremes, starve ourselves, go under the knife, take drugs and supplements, spend billions on cosmetics and creams, all designed to make, or keep us beautiful. Beauty is really important to us; why?

Beauty is symbolic of wealth, vitality, health and goodness. If we are not beautiful, or we don’t believe we are, what then?  Those of us who have grown up feeling not good enough tend to seek beauty in our partners – seeking out the beautiful, with the unconscious hope, that we can gain beauty by proxy.

Generally, beautiful people are attracted to beautiful people. When a friend of mine sees an unattractive male with a beautiful female, she always says, “He is punching above his weight!” We laugh because we’re thinking the same thing. “What is she doing with him?” “He must be rich, or….(insert large penis joke)”. Whatever the reason, seeing two people that don’t line up aesthetically seems wrong, because beauty generally begets beauty. If we don’t feel beautiful and we are partnered with someone beautiful, does it therefore legitimise our own beauty?

Can you look beautiful but feel ugly on the inside? I believe that you can.  In my work, I have seen that dysfunctional ‘beautiful people’ can use their beauty to control others. There is power in beauty. Dysfunctionally beautiful people learn early, that beauty is a commodity that can be used to manipulate others.  From an early age they’ve begun the process of using their beauty to get what they want. Some of us establish our talents in childhood and we grow up honing these skills. For the dysfunctionally beautiful, their ‘skill’ is obvious from an early age, they can sense it in the way adults react to them and by the time they reach adulthood, they’ve become masters at using their looks to control others. By this time, it has become so natural to them, they do it without even thinking.  Beauty is their lure, it draws people to them and through experience.

I worked with a client a couple of years ago, who was just out of a relationship with a man who exhibited many Narcissistic personality traits.  She described him as beautiful, model beautiful, and his beauty meant a lot to her.  She disclosed that his attention validated her as a person, because if she could win such a ‘prize’, then this must mean that there was something good about her. It meant that she was worthy and that she was beautiful. She basked in the reflective glory of being with him.

It was borrowed confidence because the moment that he walked out, he took her identity with him. She told me that she had no idea who she was because everything that she had become was all invested in him.  Therefore, without his beauty, who was she? Insecure people believe that they need permission.  They need their feelings and beliefs to be authenticated and validated by the other.  Together, we reasoned that without him showing the rest of the world that she was special, she felt lost because she did not have the internal resources to retain her specialness by herself.

Once upon a time, I had a similar awakening. So huge was that jolt, that it forced me to figure out who I was all on my own.  Perhaps the most important lesson for me was the journey that followed to discover my own specialness. From that point onwards, I decided that I didn’t need anyone else to validate my sense of self.

Sometimes the things that we want the most can be the most unhealthy for us. Believing that someone else’s ‘beauty’ can make us feel beautiful is an illusion.  In the end, it can leave you feeling ugly. In much the same way as self-worth, you can’t gain beauty by proxy or on appearance alone.  True beauty is an inside job.

Go Well.

Fakebook: Self Esteem and Social Media

Posted on Sep 18, 2015 | No Comments

We all know somebody whose life is ruled by Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. They share everything – what they think, what they eat, cryptic status updates and of course, their ever changing relationship status.  From using social media as a means to stalk people, to blocking and unblocking people as a means of communicating your anger;  the whole dance is exhausting.

In the good old days (before social media), if you wanted to know what your current partner/ex/potential love interest was up to and what or who they were doing, you’d have hang around outside of their work or home, pester their friends, or go all out and hire a private investigator.  You never had to watch your ex or anyone else for that matter play out their new life in front of an audience (unless you worked together or lived close by).  Let me pause here and be clear, even in this day and age, none of us have to watch anyone do anything.  If you are watching, you choose (on some level) to watch and choose to persecute yourself via social media.  This is akin to putting your hand into a flame and getting burnt , saying ouch and removing your hand, only to then plunge your hand into the flame again. If it hurts, stop doing it. I’m curious – what compels this kind of self torture?

Before social media, if you are the suspicious type, you’d have been looking for receipts in pockets/bags, going through belongings, or out and out spying on someone.  Nowadays, it’s all changed.  I have met countless people who use social media to monitor who their partner is friends with and then flip out at every friend, picture or ‘like’ of which they do not approve.

The problem here is not social media per se.  It’s more the other issues that are being Discounted,  excused or even ignored.  It is those reasons that compel someone to be all over the social media sites like a rash in the first place. Facebook/Instagram/Twitter are fun, but they are not, I repeat not, real life or a reflection of who people really are. What you see is a persona, a deliberately created image of what they want you to see.  It is not a complete picture of a person nor will it ever show you the minutia of all that is going on for them.

So, if your self-esteem takes a knock every time you stalk on social media, the issue is more about a fragile and conditional relationship that you may have with yourself, rather than social media.  Facebook/Instagram/Twitter act like a virtual reflection of all your negative beliefs.  If your sense of self and happiness is continually disturbed by what you read, I suggest that it may be time to log off.  Just as it is with dating or being in relationship, if it can’t be done without negatively affecting self esteem, then don’t do it.

The connections made on social media do not reflect real connections of real life. Real life and real friends take effort and consistency.   We all know people with hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook yet who barely have two real friends to rub together. Really? Just how much attention does one person need? Is this overcompensating for something lacking in other areas of their life?

The more I see a couple make soppy declarations to one another via social media, the more I’m convinced that they’re putting on a show. When your ex’s new partner makes some big declaration about how ‘amazing’ they are and so on and so forth, it’s over-sharing, which could well indicate that they’re insecure about the relationship back here in the real world.

So, if how you feel about yourself is impacted when you check up on people, I would take a break and reflect on what it is that has been tapped into. If you’re a perfectionist and you believe that you’re not good enough or you’re prone to comparison, social media is like proverbial crack – you know you shouldn’t, you do, you get your hit and then feel shameful inadequacy afterwards.  Lather, rinse and repeat.

Perhaps it is time to focus on real life and you, instead of illusions and fakery.  It’s your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter experience and you have the power to set your own boundaries.  Ultimately,  whether you use Facebook to build your self-esteem on approval or to detract from it with persecution, neither positions are healthy. It ends up becoming a comparison site for how ‘great’ peoples projected lives are.  When all is said and done,  perpetual comparison creates perpetual dissatisfaction.  The truth is that you don’t really know what’s going on with someone (unless they’re over-sharing).  Aren’t there far more enriching things to be doing with our time and minds in the real world? Switch of that computer and get outside into the sunshine.

Go Well.

Healthy is as Healthy Does: Traits of the Emotionally Healthy

Posted on Sep 16, 2015 | No Comments

What does emotional health look like? Therapists talk a lot about being emotionally healthy, but if you’ve never seen it, or had anyone demonstrate it to you, how do you know what it looks like?

I spent years figuring out what being emotionally healthy was and working on becoming it, because I realised that I wasn’t.   From my own journey to emotional health,  I noticed that there are several traits that emotionally healthy people all had in common:

They are self-focused not other people focused: That’s not to say they don’t put other people’s needs ahead of their own at times, it’s more that they don’t lose themselves or neglect their own needs in favor of someone else’s. They have a good sense of what they want, what they like, what they need and they have no problem making these things a priority. They have their eyes on their goals and their future, independent of anyone else.

They have a very low tolerance for dysfunctional people: Healthy people don’t have a need to fix or control other people. As they are self-focused, they aren’t interested in carrying someone else’s baggage. They look to make themselves better by association, not worse. Certainly they will help out someone in need, but they don’t invest their lives, their emotions, or their future in deeply troubled individuals. They don’t ignore red flags and serious issues. They aren’t interested in relationships that soar and crash and cause havoc and drama in their lives, instead they seek out relationships that are stable and reliable, with like-minded people.

They aren’t afraid of conflict and they communicate effectively: As a child, you may have been taught to be quiet, that your wants and needs aren’t important and to avoid any behaviour that might arouse anger, aggression, criticism, or attention from your caregivers. Communication is vital to every human relationship and when this is how you’ve been trained to interact with the world, you’re starting out with a huge disadvantage. How you express yourself is a measure of your self-esteem. Don’t keep quiet about important issues that need to be address, with the hope that they will go away, or that the other party will come around to your way of thinking. You cannot expect people to be able to read your mind. All that does is set you up for failure, heartache and pain.

Healthy people are not passive aggressive: They don’t agree to do something and then not do it, or sulk in protest. If they don’t want to do something – they say they don’t. They aren’t overly aggressive either. You don’t need to yell or intimidate to get your point across. When you don’t speak your mind you leave the door wide open for miscommunication. Emotional manipulators live in life’s ambiguity. When you’ve clearly indicated your intention, there’s no room for misunderstanding.  Get in the practice of always saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

They are impeccable with their word: Emotionally healthy people aren’t looking to deceive or manipulate others to get ahead. They are independent, dependable, reliable and trustworthy. If they tell you they will do something – they do it. There is no guess work with healthy people, no drama – they prefer honesty and integrity.

They make self-care a priority:  Self-care is more than just fitness, it’s about taking the necessary time and doing the necessary things to keep yourself balanced. Many of my friends have young children and any mother can tell you how daunting that can be, but  those women who don’t hesitate to take a night off to spend time being with friends, or pursuing their interests and hobbies, are the happiest. They tell me, if they allow themselves to get too overwhelmed, it will show in how they parent. They’ll have less patience, get angry, or frustrated more easily and generally, be more stressed out –which affects everybody. But when they take the time to recharge, get centred and have fun, they know they will be better all around, for taking care of themselves first.

They hold themselves to higher standards and have more confidence: Today when I observe my very accomplished friends, I notice is that they dive right into their tasks. They don’t procrastinate or get bogged down with self-doubt – they just do it. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have a plan, or they won’t redo their work several times, but they roll up their sleeves and get to work, knowing that nothing is impossible for them and they even look forward to the challenge. They have certain expectations of themselves, they’re committed and they know they’ll do it right. Their expectation is born from the belief that they have in themselves, their abilities and their past experiences with success. When you start off knowing that you can do something, you’re already more than half way there.

They are not self-destructive: Healthy people don’t feel that they are lacking, or that they have voids to fill. Everyone has something about themselves they would change, but healthy people don’t get hung up on these things. They’re not looking to escape reality, or dull a hurt. Healthy people don’t want to hurt themselves. They have healthy attitudes about themselves and their abilities and they are genuinely happy and positive about life.

They have and enforce boundaries: Boundaries are kind of the buzz word of my blog. I realise now that I grew up with little boundaries and that led to people walking all over me. Healthy people are taught to have boundaries, to respect their rights and the rights of others. They were taught about fairness, morality and respect. Healthy people have a strong sense of right and wrong.  They have no problem helping someone out, but they know where the line is between helping and being taken advantage of. They have an intact and fully functioning warning detector and they trust it. They treat people with respect and if this isn’t reciprocated, they have no interest in any further engagement.

They are attracted to like-minded people:  Healthy people aren’t interested in drama and tension in their relationships, family and friends. They seek out peace and being with people who they can trust and reasonably predict their behavior. They don’t do the egg shell shuffle.

So there it is. I was looking for this big mystery and it was right in front of my eyes. If you want to know what healthy is, take a look at the attitudes and behaviors of those you respect and admire most and then do that! :-)

Go Well.