Changing relationship patterns is not easy.
Whether they be codependency, addiction to toxic love/people, or being love avoidant, these patterns are all ingrained in our psyche.
We have been carving out this pathway in our brain throughout our life experiences thus far.
Unresolved issues wreak havoc on our soul, our psyche, our decision-making, and ultimately, every relationship we have—intimate or not.
We so badly want to experience deep, healthy love; we want to fall so deep into love that we get lost in the feeling as we sink deeper and deeper.
We fantasize endlessly about this love and how magical it will feel. We search for this "perfect person" who will bring us this magical well of deep love.
We search and search until we find them (or what we believe to be them), and then we panic because now, it's real-life—not a fantasy.
Because relationships are not magical, they are not meant to fix us or heal us; they are not an endless supply of validation.
The people who choose to be in our lives are not obligated to give us anything more than what they can.
We have watched too many Hallmark movies and romantic comedies, seen too many E-harmony commercials, and read too many love stories that our minds are skewed.
We have an unhealthy vision of what a relationship should be like—what love is.
Love is two completely different souls coming together but still needing to be individuals—not losing themselves in each other.
Love is balance.
Love understands that each of you is a separate person and weren't brought to Earth to make the other happy. However, you were brought to each other to add to each individual's happiness.
I am sure you have heard that happiness doesn't come from anything external a million times over; it is an internal source.
We have always been taught that you need to get married, have babies, make money, buy things, go on vacation, blah blah, and all these magical things will make you happy.
Some of the happiest people have nothing, and the unhappiest people have everything.
Ironic, right? Not surprising, though.
Did you ever want something so badly that it consumes you? And then, when you finally get it, a week, month, or a year later, it has lost its luster. You realize that you are no happier having it than not having it.
Again, love and happiness do not come from other people, "things," or external sources. It comes from within.
It is self-love, self-care, self-admiration, self-soothing, self-healing, and self-confidence.
These patterns are so difficult to change because they are ingrained in us from all the experiences in our lifetime.
We learned we are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and we don't deserve to be loved entirely to the core.
We will continue to chase a love that isn't available or run from a love that is until we learn to love ourselves—become whole.
We have to realize that we are worthy of deep love. And it'll be from someone who isn't there to change our world magically but to just love us for exactly who we are: perfectly imperfect.
Self-love is the key to changing those patterns and gives us the power to receive a healthy love in return.
Growing up, the unspoken message I received over and over again was that I shouldn't love myself.
Society told me my body wasn't good enough, not skinny enough, not smooth enough, some parts were too big, and others were too small. My conservative church upbringing unwittingly told me that I would always be secondary to the men in my life.
Women are continually given messages that we should underestimate ourselves and abilities. So often, I feel like we're told as women to ignore our own intuition and our sensibilities of right and wrong.
But what I hear God saying is that women can lead and should be believed, you're loved as you are.
And as I have started taking those messages to heart, I've realized what revolutionary act it is to love yourself: to practice self-care, to look in the mirror and feel beautiful, to say no, to believe in yourself.
Self-love is helping me love others better and taking care of myself helps me continue to do the work.
So today I'm asking only one thing of you, love yourself.
This pandemic is hard and scary and you're doing great.
A journey to establish boundaries begins with raw and honest self-awareness. Often what we do is not born of conscious thinking; it is habitual and hard-wired.
Have you ever had a string of moments where you have genuinely questioned the motives of your actions? These are directly related to boundaries and are indicators if they are too fluid, too rigid, or non-existent.
A lack of strong and healthy boundaries has been linked to childhood trauma, although trauma at any age can be a factor. Boundaries are directly linked to self-esteem; the more boundaries we have, the greater our self-esteem is or will become once we start working on them.
In some cases, if we were raised by parents who expected us to be the savior or made us feel that putting ourselves first in any way was a selfish act, we started off on the wrong path to living a life that brings internal happiness. We have possibly become people-pleasers or retreated in fear of not being able to connect in a way that uplifts instead of drains.
What are boundaries?
To sum it up succinctly, boundaries are protection of our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial well-being. Aspects that we have defined, uniquely to ourselves, that do not allow situations or people to compromise us. By creating and upholding boundaries, we do not develop feelings of resentment, bitterness, or see ourselves as less than we are.
If honesty is something we value and it is defined as a boundary for us, we are less likely to form or maintain unhealthy connections with people who lie or deceive. If we value nurturing our own emotions and being responsible for them, our boundary will be not allowing others to make us responsible for their emotions.
These are a few boundary-building techniques:1. Learn to get comfortable saying no
This is possibly the hardest thing for someone to become comfortable with, especially if they believe that pleasing others is more important than pleasing themselves. Saying no is often followed by a sense of unwarranted guilt.
You need to make yourself fully aware in those moments that prioritizing yourself and your needs is an act of self-love, and someone who respects and loves you will ultimately understand. You do not need to over-explain or even, in some cases, offer an explanation. No can be a full sentence—if you allow it to be.
2. Start small and build
Boundaries are something that take time and patience. You won’t be able to establish them overnight, and it will take practice within the relationships you have currently. Each time you are presented with a new opportunity to honor your boundary and you don’t, don’t berate yourself.
Show yourself compassion and keep trying until it becomes a habit and you begin doing it with little thought. A habit is formed by consistent behavior, and it grows. You don’t start by running a marathon; you start by training a little each day.
3. Foster reciprocal relationships
No boundaries can lead to overcompensation in an effort to maintain relationships. We fear losing someone, and we give and give and give until we are depleted. We have to be clear with ourselves on what we are willing or able to give.
We need to remind ourselves that as important as giving is, it is as important to have the grace to receive. Give and take is key. An imbalance can create enormous tension in our relationships and, ultimately, destroy them.
4. Learn to let go
Do not cling to situations, to jobs, to people. If something is clearly not working out, you need to take what you have learned and move on. That requires being honest with yourself. We often struggle with the picture we have in our minds of what we want versus what they actually are.
Use what you have defined as your boundaries to assess if something or someone is adding to the quality of your life or taking away from it. Letting go is portrayed as a heart-wrenching and an almost impossible task, but it is a simple act when we are grounded in our worth. When we know who we are and what we want, letting go becomes easier—because why would we settle?
5. Lovingly assert yourself and handle the backlash
We often associate assertion with aggression. If we are confronted with people lashing out, particularly to our boundary, we feel we must retaliate. We are known a certain way and a backlash is to be expected. We must prepare for this; it’s inevitable.
The best way to handle it is to remain cool, calm, and collected. Lovingly express your feelings, and, if someone persists with negativity, walk away.
Keep in mind that people can only meet us as deeply as they have met themselves. It’s often not us and our boundary that is the problem. They may be triggered into seeing something unflattering within themselves.
Our focus needs to be on ourselves and living a life of authenticity which will ripple through our relationships in healthy and positive ways.
We will each arrive at our “domestication” crossroads in our own time. Here are some thoughts to guide you in figuring things out:
It has become clear that if we date only in our “zip-code,” we find a lot of comfort and alignment as we cultivate something homegrown. The problem is, people are dating outside their ‘zip-codes’ more often than not. Unless you take the time to understand the culture and subculture of where your partner learned to love, the outcome could easily be painful and disastrous.
There is a gap between understanding our domestication of love, and loving with such discernment, because the way we are normalized conditions us to survive within just that particular geographic location.
But this isn’t irreversible. We are capable of unlearning, just as we are of learning. As long as we are open to growth, this cycle never ends.
It is interesting that in this era, we care deeply about where we buy what we buy. Is it ethically sourced? Where is it made? Where does our food come from? What about our clothes? Our chocolate? Our soap? Yet we don’t seem ever to question: where did we learn how to love? Because surely, a love that’s made in sweatshops doesn’t feel the same as an artisanal love. Love expressed in North Korea doesn’t look the same as love expressed in North Dakota.
Understanding where we come from helps us build a more solid identity. The same goes for love. Where and how we learned to love, along with its expressions, shape our relationships, And it’s often the unsaid, assumed feelings and meanings that derail the relationship.
Until we map out where we learned what we learned about love, we will always be swimming in somewhat of a confused sea. Until we figure out the origins of our love, we continue to carry the consensus of what love is, according to our immediate physical environment, and forget to find out where our partner learned to love.
This is a formula that works regardless of who this person is – which includes friends, family, ANY one at all.
• Stop holding this person responsible for your happiness, or sense of security. As an adult that is YOUR job.
• Let go of your focus on them and examine yourself. Get very clear on your values and what you require in your Life.
• Heal within yourself the traumas you have that cause you to attach and make excuses for staying in toxic relationships. Find a good therapist who specializes in this area.
• If this person has an indecent character, stop wanting or expecting any change from them. Instill a No Contact or Modified Contact policy in regard to them. Do what you need to legally, to heal and move on.
• If this person has a decent character, STOP arguing with them and tell them lovingly and truthfully what you require from them to continue a relationship with them.
• If they don’t wish to meet these needs, bless them and lovingly release them so that you both can be free to live a life that is aligned with your separate truths.
• If they do agree to step up and incorporate the values you have, see if their actions match the words – words alone are cheap.
• If they are trying to become your values, be honest. Is this something that they are enjoying and benefiting from? Are they doing this only because of their neediness and fear of losing you, but really resent having to be different?
And finally, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be true to yourself no matter what anyone else is or isn’t doing.
When you are authentic, you can say ‘No’ to who and what is not working for you. You are empowered to connect with and co-generate with the people and things who share your values.
By calmly and clearly using the formula above, you have the confidence and self-awareness to leave a relationship if things become toxic.
1. Stop complaining and appreciate how lucky you are every day.
2. Embrace loneliness and reinvent yourself in the process.
3. Say goodbye to the people that don't bring positive energy into your life.
4. Turn off the TV and set Internet controls.
5. Pick one skill you want to cultivate and put all your effort into developing it.
6. Commit to the goals you set and never look back.
7. Sweat every day to boost your mood.
8. Fall forward. Learn from every mistake you make.
adapted from an article by Galina Singer
After over three decades of being married, I realized only recently that I had based my relationship on completely unrealistic expectations about love. I believed that love is something that we get from other people, special people with specific qualities, who fall in love with us and make us feel good.
Many of us expend much effort on finding that perfect partner, as we focus on the qualities we’d like them to have, so that they can become perfect deliverers of our bliss.
Meanwhile, few of us take time for self-study which would provide a clue as to what could actually make us happy, and in what capacity this other person could help us get there.
We chase love as if it will come from the outside, delivered by the person who fits our long list of requirements. These requirements are a bizarre composite of our unconscious urges, childhood dreams, advertising images, and all sorts of other conditioned demands that become completely irrelevant a few years later—when the reality of daily life sinks in. Many of us then spend years in wonder and self-blame, trying to understand what compelled us to choose that person as our life-long partner in the first place.
What we are all seeking is the euphoria of being in love, that feeling of fearlessness, security, invincibility, and hope. We come to associate these feelings with the person with whom we are in relationship, anointing them responsible for the way we feel.
What many of us do not realize is that when we fall in love, no one actually gives us anything. This intoxicating and blissful feeling we crave is actually our own energy rising as a result of our own internal psycho-emotional process. The other person merely acts as a catalyst of this process, temporarily allowing us access to the inherent sense of fullness and abundance within us, which is actually our natural state: capable, lovable, and worthy.
Since we are so mistakenly tethered to the behavior of the other for our emotional well-being and self-appraisal, we think that when they turn their interest elsewhere that it means that something is now wrong with us and we proceed to wilt from neglect. What causes us to hurt so much when our partner withdraws their attention is simply our misguided suspicion that we are no longer worthy. What we need to understand is that behavior of the other is a reflection of their own internal process, one of continuous change and evolution. Because we take it personally, it returns us to a state of lack and feeling as if we are not enough, reactivating our own suspicions of unworthiness and inadequacy.
Not only do we expect love to be delivered to us by another, we want it to be delivered in a very specific way, in our preferred love language. We are only really satisfied if love is offered in a particular setting, with a particular word combination, and an accompanying theme song. Any detail that does not fit our conjured teenage-worthy dreams and the whole episode feels disappointing. That causes great frustration and inexplicable longing that never seems to be quenched.
As long as we rely on others for that feeling of love and abundance, it is unsustainable. We become playthings of fate, because human beings are notoriously unpredictable and therefore unreliable: they fall in and out of love, they change, they lie, they age, they die.
We expect “forever” from a promise given years ago, when both of us were completely different people. We associate stability with a signed piece of paper, completely ignoring reality where everything is in a constant state of flux and nothing ever stays the same.
The only way to sustain this feeling of abundant, invigorating energy that we call love is to know how to access it without relying on anyone or anything from outside of ourselves. For that, we need to know who we are well enough to know what actually brings us joy, what sparks our curiosity, and wakes up our passion—and then commit to making space for that in our lives.
From what I observe in my work, very few of us actually know who we are underneath our conditioned responses. Most of us go through life on autopilot, at the whim of our unconscious urges and culturally prescribed expectations. Yet, we expect the other to be the deliverer of that unknown ingredient—the magic—becoming not only upset but outright aggressive when they “fail.”
The actual purpose of relationships is to learn about who we are. It is not to make us happy or feel good. It is to stimulate growth, evolution, change, and to inspire each other to become the best versions of ourselves.
And growth rarely occurs without a degree of discomfort. Growth is possible when we learn to communicate honestly and nonviolently, because we have created safe space in our partnership where we can speak our truth. We feel safe to self-express when we know that our partner will not blame us or hold us responsible for their own emotional reactions to our words. In such relationships, the attraction to the other person is not based on them making us feel good, or fulfilling our needs, or on an ulterior agenda—but on mental synergy, on emotional connection, gratitude, compassion, and inspiration. That is the definition of conscious relationship.
Of course, this goes against everything we have been taught about relationships. We measure success by longevity. We want stability, safety, predictability. For that, we are prepared to stay in relationships that block our personal progress way past their expiration date and readily tolerate toxicity. We become upset and blame for our discomfort when people, on whose stability we rely, change and evolve beyond the version of them we fell in love with many years before. Meanwhile, when people do not change over time, their lives become tragic, as they become stagnant, somnolent, and usually lose their inner fire.
The ultimate challenge in a relationship is to learn to form unions with people who support our development and to release those who handicap our growth.
For that to be possible, we need to learn that everything we need to fulfill our needs exists within us. And instead of holding on to our partners as need fulfillers and parent substitutes, we should strive to be in a partnership of two self-responsible adults who remain together because they want to, not because of fear or need.
Once we get to that level of self-confidence and completeness, our sense of value will no longer fluctuate with the changes in people or circumstances in our lives. No other person can save us, heal our inner child, or make us so happy that they will take away our pain. That is our own job.
We are the gatekeepers to our inner well-being. We own the power to remove obstacles to love, which is our own natural state of being. We are the only owner and key holder of our love supply and freedom.
Self-love is the secret ingredient to sustained sense of fulfillment and the cornerstone of all the other relationships in our lives.
adapted from an article by Justice Bartlett
At the center of that journey is me: my desire to know myself, give love, engage in mutuality with others, and cultivate the space I need to grow into who I really am, while uncovering my gifts and offering them to the world.
A big part of navigating all of that has been learning how to extract toxic patterns from my life and set healthy boundaries with myself and others. Notice I say extract patterns, not people.
People are inherently pure. People are inherently love. People are doing the best they can and trying to choose the experiences that they, themselves, need to grow.
People are not inherently toxic, but sometimes the energy and choices they are aligning themselves with can be. Though they might not see it that way, and who am I, really, to make that call? I do not know what experiences they may need for their own soul growth. All I can say, without recrimination, is that the choices, substances, and energies that some are entangled with feel toxic to me.
And that is where the bottom line lies, for me. I cannot in good conscience and accountability to myself entangle with those energies. I will not foster connections based on misogynistic dynamics or distorted by substance abuse or bullying. Love the person yes, indubitably, and realize people must embody the choices they make. As people with individual agency, we all choose to bring certain behaviors through our bodies and into our realities. To deny the effect that our decisions have on others is shortsighted at best, and can be selfish, abusive, or even dangerous at times.
The point of relational boundaries is simply this: creating a distinction within the experiences of wholeness. There may be one energy, but it is manifesting through a billions of people.
Consciousness—whether we’re acting in a conscious or unconscious way—is full of variety, choice, and possibility, none necessarily better than another, just different.
Individuation is key on our journey into being a fully realized, loving, powerful, capable expression of that consciousness, and that means judicious use of our capacity and right to say both yes and no—to patterns, activities, substances, behaviors, and sometimes the people who are choosing to embody them.
Health, at all levels, is a direct by-product of individuation. We are not extensions of anyone or anything. We are whole individuals, and a profound part of our experiences here in this world is our right to choose what and who that journey needs to include. Sometimes that means we limit our time with certain people; sometimes that means we walk completely away.
This does not mean that we cut off love from ourselves or from another—it means that we choose to let that love move in a way that is healthy for us and allows us to honor ourselves.
A healthy relational boundary is me taking accountability for how I feel, allowing others to have their experiences—no matter how unappealing or even awful those might appear to me, no matter how badly I may want to reach across time and space and choke or embrace them. I go back and forth on that one; I’m still human. Boundaries are not stagnant lines drawn in the sand; they are living breathing energetic agreements that truly allow individuation, communication, and compassion to flourish.
Real compassion is me being responsible for my own feelings and experiences, and ultimately my own happiness. I cannot be held responsible for anyone else’s feelings or experiences. I can take responsibility for how my behaviors affect another and I can choose how to respond to another’s behavior toward me, but I cannot protect. I cannot save. All I can do is love. And for that love to be authentic, it has to begin with me. I must honor love in the way that I need to feel full, whole, and happy within myself and my agreements.
Choosing congruent agreements is a powerful expression of choice, and I will continue to feel my way into how that manifests, moment to moment and day to day. They cannot become stagnant or static. Agreements need to shift and grow with us and must be constantly negotiated and modified. Continued communication, as a living function of agreements, allows us to heal, change, and grow—both together and separately. This will mean navigating joy, as well as discomfort.
Discomfort is a part of living a dynamic life, of being human. Living a life of happiness means that no matter what happens—comfortable or uncomfortable—I attend to myself and my needs with care and grace. As I do so, I become the best version of myself and my joy expands, as does my capacity to give and show up for myself and others.
I know when I say no to certain dynamics or leave a situation or relationship, it is with mutual respect for all involved and with the intention to grow in authenticity and dignity. I know when I say yes to something, it is with wholehearted enthusiasm.
It is only with dynamic, healthy boundaries that happiness can truly take route and flourish—and our life can become a living expression of compassion.
We find it easy to love others yet fall short when it comes to loving ourselves.
Self-love is probably the most important kind of love there is. I really believe that one should love him or herself first and everything will perfectly fall into place. The common mistake we make is that we only consider ourselves, deserving of self-love when we were able to achieve something tangible or when we see results of our had work right in front of us. This typical trial of thought is unfair because we deserve self-love all day, every day!
Here are five self-love basics that should be pushed to sink in our subconscious:
Appreciate yourself as who you are.I
f you do not appreciate yourself, no one else will. It is important to know how to be your own confidence booster. Appreciate all about yourself, even your weaknesses. Do not forget to congratulate yourself for a job well done and do not be hard in forgiving yourself for not being the best at all times. Accept yourself despite the imperfections. It is significant to know that not everything about you and your life must be perfect. What’s important is you understand what will help you improve.
Give your body the nurturing and care it deserves.
You can nurture and care for yourself in many ways. You can express love for yourself by eating healthy, exercising, taking calming baths, meditation, traveling and so much more. The first hour of the morning sets the tone for the day, so, take a few moments every morning meditating about how you will approach things that day. Don’t deprive yourself of the care you deserve.
Do not restrict your dreams.
Don’t limit your dreams to the roles set by society. There is nothing wrong in dreaming the extraordinary. Remember, if your dreams don’t’ scare you, then they’re not big enough. You can only achieve big results by dreaming and believing big things.
Remove all toxicity in your life.
Eliminate toxic relationships, toxic jobs, or anything toxic in your life. Being in a negative environment can hinder your self-improvement. It is important to identify the toxic areas and then work to remove them or yourself from their influence. It is ok to say “NO” to people who don’t light you up and stay away from anything that is generally undesirable. Be reminded that toxicity is contagious – it metastasizes and damages your whole life.
Live according to your purpose.
Always go back to your biggest “WHY’s”. It is best to know where you are coming from and where you are going. You will be unstoppable when you know your purpose because you know who you are, what you are, and why you are. It is difficult to escape self-doubt, but the more self-aware you are, the easier it will be to live your truth. As difficult as things may become, you can get through it.
Self-love is not selfish so be generous in giving yourself so much love and remain kind to yourself despite the discouragement and criticisms from others.
Love yourself as you are. You are worthy of love – you are enough!