8 Ways to Destroy a Relationship

Things that destroy relationships …

1. Being abusive: As well as physical abuse, this includes put-downs, sarcasm, negative comments, withholding affection, stonewalling, refusing to talk, and repeatedly threatening to leave the relationship.

2. Being defensive: Individuals who are always on the defensive are so wrapped up in protecting themselves that they rarely grow in their relationships. They won’t admit that they have faults and so end up committing the same mistakes again and again. This eventually destroys the relationship.

3. Being critical: While there’s a place for the occasional critical remark, if you’re always complaining and pointing out their flaws then you’ll soon undermine your partner’s self-esteem. In all areas of life, a critical person is an unattractive person.

4. Always being right: If you’re always right, the other person’s always wrong. And who wants to feel that they have nothing to contribute, or their point of view is stupid, unwanted and wrong.

5. Being narcissistic and selfish: The person who always has to have their own way, or who’s only interested in their own needs and desires has little to add to a relationship.

6. Being dishonest: Trust is at the heart of all good relationships. If you can’t be real and honest, or you’re not dependable, then there’s no foundation for a strong relationship. This includes being unfaithful and not telling the whole truth.

7. Being superior: If you’re quick to judge others or to put people down, or you think that you are better than everybody else (more intelligent, prettier, cooler etc) then you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache. For although we all have strengths, and we may excel at times, each person is unique and is worthy of respect.

8. Being controlling: A relationship’s a gift. That person’s not your property. They’re allowed to be themselves, with their own views and beliefs. They don’t answer to you. They don’t have to change themselves. They’re autonomous and free. They’re not there to be controlled.

Relationships need love. But love is not enough. It’s our choices that make or break relationships.

What is Toxic Shame?

Toxic shame is the feeling that you’re worthless at your core – so you deserve to be rejected, mistreated and ignored, despised and punished by the people in your life. These are damaging, erroneous beliefs.

Shame develops in response to being abused and unloved, especially by the people who are close to you.

Toxic shame often takes the following forms:

1. Feeling bad (utterly shameful) about something terrible that was done to you.

2. Feeling bad (utterly shameful) about choices and actions that belong to someone else. Here, the shame is “guilt by association” – even where the choices and behaviours have nothing at all to do with you.

3. Feeling stigmatized, or experiencing some form of prejudice, where you feel judged and less than other people. Here, the shame generally relates to feelings of inadequacy related to something beyond your control.

4.  Experiencing shame in response to the way someone else sees and judges you.

5. Experiencing shame because you have different outlooks and values from someone else.

6. Feeling awful (and wrong) because you have set and/ or enforced appropriate and healthy boundaries – boundaries which another individual isn’t happy with (usually because they want to control you and the situation).

7. Feeling ashamed of having and expressing emotions, and especially intense and/ or negative emotions.

8. Feeling ashamed of having and expressing legitimate needs, and asking for those needs to be met.

How to Cope with Toxic Shame

Self-compassion is the key to getting free of toxic shame.  It is making the choice to show compassion to yourself in situations where you feel like a failure, or inadequate, or where you hurt, or are suffering, or are struggling, or weak. It is making every effort to be kind to yourself, and being gentle, understanding and patient with yourself.

Something to Think About  

Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourself.” – Pema Chodron

Could you start to show this compassion to yourself?

This is What I Want you to Know …

This is what I want you to know …

1. You deserve to be loved and prized in the same way as the most loved and prized person in this world, is loved and prized. This is 100% true.

2. It is a lie that you are inferior and inadequate, or deserve to be mistreated, or to be treated as less than someone else, or hurt in any way.

3. From Day 1, you should have been showered with love and affection. You should have been seen.

4. You should have grown up feeling that you brought joy and happiness into the world, and into the lives of those around you.

5. You should have been given the message that you were talented and beautiful. That people liked you, and wanted you. You should have felt people wanted to be with you.

6. You should have been protected from mistreatment and harm.

7. If you were mistreated, or harmed, or betrayed then other people should have been there for you. They should have said: “This should never have happened to you.”

You should have been told that this was never about you at all. You didn’t cause it, and you didn’t deserve it. The person who had hurt was the one who was at fault!

7. You deserved to feel loved, and be treated with respect.

8. This is true about you. It is absolutely true. And any other message you’ve received is untrue.

“Learn to love yourself ruthlessly, for ruthless love is what you deserve.”

The journey to Healthy Self-Love

Before self-love becomes a liberation, it is first a burden.

There’s anger at those who treated you poorly when you didn’t know to ask for better treatment. The anger at yourself for what you’ve allowed.

There’s the grief for lost time.

There’s the strangling necessity to push people, things, ideas out, out, out because there’s no room for them.

There’s the loneliness and isolation that accompanies the growth of self.

There’s the new boundary lines, the new range of the word no, the opening of eyes that would rather be shut, and the terrifying realization that love isn’t synonymous with joy. It’s synonymous with growth.

And growth isn’t bliss. It never was.  

The pinnacle of self-love is not endless ecstasy.

It is a heartbreaking process of undoing the life your unloved self built, brick by unworthy brick.” – Jamie Varon

On Living with Secrets

1. Is it secrecy or privacy? There are plenty of things we never talk about – and that’s normal and OK. So how do you tell the difference between the two?

If you were asked a question by someone very close to you, and you would answer their question, then that is privacy.

If you would hide the answer, and your intention is never to divulge that information, then that is secrecy.

2. Keeping secrets is hard; keeping secrets can make you ill. When we have secrets we feel we are being inauthentic. Not our true selves. Even fraudulent. It is lonely and isolating. Plus, it usually takes a toll on our physical health. It can significantly boost stress hormones, play havoc with our immune system, elevate our blood pressure, cause sleep disturbances, cause gastro-intestinal problems, contribute to addictions, and even increase chronic pain.

And the bigger the secret, the greater the inner conflict, and the greater the impact it has on our health.

2. Keeping secrets uses up a lot energy. When we can’t share something that’s important in some way, we don’t just bury it and forget all about it. We ruminate over it. Our mind keeps on being drawn back to it. Trying to understand it. Trying to make sense of it. Wishing we could unburden ourselves. Wishing we didn’t have to carry it alone. Wishing we could have emotional support.

And all of that uses up a lot of energy. It also gets heavier as the years go by.

3. What to do if you’re not ready to share the secret. Write your secret down somewhere, and read it aloud to yourself. Somehow, this form of externalizing can help you detach a little from its emotional impact, and can make it a bit easier when the time comes to open up and share.

4. Who not to share your secret with. People who love to see you, or others, suffer. People who will be scandalized and appalled. People who will be unempathic, cruel or judgmental. People who will shame you, or will blacken your name. People who will gossip, or will share the information with a third party.

5. Who to share the secret with. First let me say, judging when to share a secret, and who to share it with, can be tricky. Often there is no right time. But there can be a right person.

Essentially you are looking for understanding and support – so ask yourself who, close to you, might fit that bill. Perhaps a best friend or family member? Here, it is important to think about how deep and solid the relationship is, and what that person’s attitudes and values are. You are trying to identify a safe person here. You are wanting to make sure that opening up will make things better, not worse, for you.

In fact, sometimes it is safest to start with a detached third person – someone who doesn’t know the people who’re involved. This could be someone in the medical profession, a counsellor, a therapist, or perhaps a minister, or religious advisor. The important thing is sharing with someone who will care so you feel less alone, and less engulfed by shame.     

As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself.”  

Ode to Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet were lovestruck individuals whose hostile, feuding families tried to keep the two apart. Yet, as everybody knows, their love still ultimately triumphed – although it ended badly, and it cost them both their lives.

And ever since that happened, Romeo and Juliet have been used as examples of passionate true love. They’ve become the stuff of movies; they are acted out on stage; and everyone’s familiar with their story and their names.

But here’s the thing …

This Romeo and Juliet: they’re just a fantasy. Their lives were penned by Shakespeare to entertain the crowds.

And this sweet and lovely couple: they were 13 or14. Their love was young and tender. So naïve and innocent.      

But if they had lived longer, and they’d led more normal lives, perhaps they would have argued, and have fought from time to time. They might have had some children, or have juggled two careers. Of course, they would have cell phones, and have social media.

And maybe our young hero would have viewed pornography, or visited some chatrooms, or downloaded hookup apps. He might have left his partner, or he might have had affairs. They may have separated, and have gone their different ways.

But this is all conjecture since the couple weren’t real.

But maybe it is closer to the way things are today.      

On Becoming Unstuck

In the 2010 American thriller movie Frozen, a group of friends are stranded on a ski lift when the attendant closes down the chair lift for the night. As a winter storm sets in, and the resort’s lights go off, the three friends realize they are stuck on the hill. They’re in a desperate situation, which requires desperate action – and spoiler alert – the final outcome isn’t pretty.

And like these three unlucky skiers, a spouse who’s been betrayed can find that they are stuck on their journey towards healing.

What are some potential causes that might need to be addressed?

1. Trauma: A betrayal by a person who you truly loved and trusted will usually be traumatic and can cause PTSD.  Thus, you will need help from a person who is trained to work with trauma. It requires specialist knowledge; not just general counselling.

2. Not working on yourself: We know the sex addict needs help; that is absolutely clear. But the spouse who’s been betrayed has been shocked, and deeply wounded. These wounds won’t simply heal. You’ll need to be intentional.

For as Jay Marshall has said, “The truth is that time does not heal anything. It merely passes. It is what we do during the passing of time that helps or hinders the healing process.”

Some areas that will need to be addressed may include: confronting and working through the process of grief and loss; coping with anxiety and panic attacks; dealing with triggers; working on your self-image and damaged self-esteem; learning, and being willing, to trust again.

3. Not establishing boundaries: In order to feel safe, you need good boundaries in place. Defining what you won’t accept can help create security.       

4. Being consumed by certain questions: Full disclosure is a must; you deserve to know the facts. But some questions are destructive, and will only lead to torment. (For example, how do I compare physically and sexually to these other women? What did you specifically like about them?)

5. Being ‘forced’ by others to forgive before you’re ready: Forgiveness is important but forgiveness is a process. It can’t be hurried up. There are steps you must work through.

6. Continuing to see yourself as a victim: You truly are a victim. Someone else has wrecked your life. You didn’t ask for this to happen, or to have PTSD. But you also have some strengths – and these events must not define you. It’s important that you’re able to claim your power again.

Keep working on affirming, and claiming, all you are.