Look In The Mirror to Change Your Relationship, Your Life, Your Future
I find my clients seeking relationship help are divided into 3 categories:
1. Used-to-be happy couples who have hit a rough spot and need help communicating
2. Unhappy, on-the-brink of breaking up couples that are holding on by a thread
3. Single people who are dating, lonely and looking for love
The thing that these three types of clients have in common is usually a pattern of pain. They are in pain now, and don't know how to make things feel better. Often they are seeking a partner to fix it. The thing is, no person can make us happy and care for us if we aren't able to first do it for ourselves. One may argue that there are healthy women or men in relationships with negative partners (alcoholics, abusers, etc). That may be true, but what doesn't make sense is that it's not really healthy to be in that type of relationship. When one person is off, then the other feels the effects. Sick attracts sick. So if one partner has an problem, then the other will either suffer the consequences (codependency, denial, an addiction of their own) or resentment will build and either seep our slowly or one day explode.
The reason we are often alone, even when in a marriage, is because we first don't address our own problems. It's easy to blame and put all the hurt on the obviously 'wrong' person. However, in doing this we rob Peter to pay Paul. In other words, we focus on the things we cannot control instead of the things we can. Only you are in control of your own life. Not your husband, not your girlfriend, not your mom...YOU. The healthier we become as individuals, the healthier the people we choose to be in our lives will be. Why? Because when we value who we are, other people will too.
An example of what I like to refer to as this "pain paradox" involved a couple coming in to therapy for sex addiction. The husband had committed multiple affairs on his wife, and it was only until he was caught by his wife that he entered recovery and completely changed his life over the course of 3 years. Before the affair, his wife had never addressed her own sexual abuse trauma, and used the affairs to focus all of the marital strife on her husband. She had every right to be angry, but her pain would never go away if she never looked at her own issues with sexuality. Once she began therapy for her part in the marriage she reclaimed her own life. She began taking time for herself instead of engaging in a codependent focus on only her husband and kids. She joined a women's group, took steps to learn about her own sexuality, and began to find love for herself.
The point is, every relationship is a system. If you're married or dating someone, you two feed off of each others energy. When one person changes, the other will either change with them or get left behind. If you're single, there is a way to attract positive people into your life so you don't get sucked into caring for someone who cannot care for themselves. Often these people will draw you in with charm, charisma and 'love.' But look for signs of unhealthiness. Look at if that person does what you do for yourself. Do they take care of themselves? No one is perfect, but large areas: money, job, hobbies, family, health are crucial to talk about and observe. Red flags exist for a reason. We are attracted to pain often because we either think we deserve it or feel safe when we are the 'better one' in the relationship. Don't settle for company over loneliness. If you first take care of yourself you will be much more able to spot those that do not. Look in the mirror and realize your worth. Your life will only get better.