It’s Okay to Keep Changing – and How to Cope with People Who Don’t Recognise That

Image from timrettig.net

Image from timrettig.net

“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.”
~ Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

 

I received another message this week that I thought was best answered on my blog.

Lilly writes:

“Hello beautiful. Just wanted to ask some advice. I’m feeling really flat and down and sad this past week. My issues are based in trust and loyalty around family. I am trying to take a holistic approach to life and health in general , have been trying as hard as I can to do and be my best. My ” family ” is still full of doubt , spite and criticism of me and my abilities as a mum and person. My heart is bruised and my soul is weary. Can you offer any advice at all please ? Crystals to work with, books to read, certain meditations, angels to pray to, advice on how to react or not reactionary. ? Anything ?? I know your very busy and have a lot on your own plate but I’m sitting here feeling so lost and down and I don’t know who else to ask. Any advice at all would be deeply appreciated.”

 

First of all, Lilly, here’s a big hug (((HUG))). It’s hard when we’re doing our best and consciously making better choices to lift ourselves up and to live by our own values, and then to get pulled down by the people we had hoped would support us. You can always call on your Angels and Guides. Just talk to them out loud, or in your head, and ask for their help and support. Loved ones who’ve passed over can also bring us comfort. Some people talk to God. GO with what feels right to you.

Lilly, this is a hard one, and I’m going to consider it from several angles. Please know that I am no longer writing just about you, but about so many people just like you, and some who are not.

 

When You Really Did Do Some Things To Harm Trust:

If there was a time when you made mistakes or poor choices, or were immature or had a bad attitude or an addiction, then it’s likely that you hurt the people closest to you. It’s painful for family and friends to watch someone they love be in that space, and it’s painful to be on the receiving end of their bad behaviour, lies, addiction or attitude. When you’ve been continually hurt by someone you become wary of being hurt again. It is hard to trust someone who has put you through that, especially if they have promised or pleaded that they have changed, only to then fall back into those behaviours, or to manipulate your sympathies to their own ends.

In that kind of situation where you’ve hurt others, you will have to earn that trust back. You may want to apologise and let those people speak their hurts to you, so that they too can feel heard. And then you need to let your changed life and your actions speak for themselves. I have seen many brave people work the AA Twelve Step program or similar, and go back to people they had harmed – to explain and to apologise and to offer restitution. Sometimes it helped heal the relationship. Sometimes it just enabled the person who’d broken the trust to make peace with themselves that they had done the best that they could to put things right. Family counselling can help. Or a good counsellor or support group can help you to forgive yourself, understand what happened and move on.

If you’re the one who has been on the receiving end of that harmed trust, it is perfectly fine to look for evidence of change through a person’s actions and day-to-day life, rather than simply accepting what they tell you. The old saying about talk being cheap is true when you have been let down many times before. I wrote a post about that here called Listen With Your Eyes

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When A Loved One Did Things That Harmed Trust:

Sometimes people we love lie. Or cheat. Or take sides. Or play favourites. Or are insensitive or mean. Maybe they have an addiction issue. Perhaps they have experienced abuse or trauma themselves. Or maybe they just made bad choices. People make mistakes. Sometimes, if everyone is willing to work on it, we can put broken back together. It usually takes time,  commitment, and the facilitation of a good therapist. I’ve known people who have forged better, more honest relationships after times of great hardship.

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BUT sometimes our loved one is a bully, a violent addict, a narcissist, a sociopath. Sometimes they are so broken or their behaviours so entrenched that all you will get is more of the same abuse every time you front on up to that relationship. Wanting or needing a person to change doesn’t make them change, no matter how hard you make changes to yourself, or try to handle the relationship differently.

In that situation, hard as it may be, you might need to cut your losses or put a lot of space into the relationship. Don’t put yourself into abuse ‘because it’s Christmas’ or ‘because they’re still my family’. Find a good therapist or counsellor for yourself. Work on you. Get a support network. If you’re an adult you have choices. You don’t need to continue to suffer that kind of behaviour. As a parent you don’t need to expose your child to that kind of behaviour.

 

When You’ve Changed and People Can’t Understand That:

We all grow and change over time. Some of us slowly. Some of us fast. If you’ve travelled extensively, and your family and friends haven’t. If you went to war. If you lost your partner to cancer. If you experienced trauma or chronic illness or some kind of ecstatic spiritual transformation…

Shared experiences are one of the things that unite us. If our loved ones haven’t got that same frame of reference you lose ground and connection. It can be easy to become distant. It isn’t that they don’t love you. It’s just that they don’t understand.

So, don’t expect them to. There will be other people who know what you are going through. Find them, and use them for mutual support and sharing. Or hold your experience close and sacred.

Image from www.alz.org

Image from www.alz.org

Reconnect with family and friends by exploring the things you DO share in common. Old memories, family traditions, people and places that mean something that links you to each other.

We can still be loved, and be part of a family or group, and yet not be fully known or seen or understood. Truth is, sometimes we can even be a mystery to ourselves…

 

When You’ve Changed For The Better and People Can’t Accept That:

Sometimes we grow, and the people around us can’t cope with the fact that we are different. Sometimes we’ve done our best to fit in but we can’t keep pretending. Sometimes we reach a point where we can’t tolerate a situation or relationship because it doesn’t align with our ethics and values, or we will no longer tolerate victimisation, bullying, abuse or unhealthy behaviours. Sometimes we become better, wiser, stronger, more educated, or in other ways different to how we were. We outgrow lovers, friends, and even families.

In certain circumstances we can choose to hide or minimise that change for short periods of time in order to maintain relationships or family harmony. But if you are put down for your transformation, if you are rejected or victimised because of your choices, if you experience abuse – verbal, emotional or otherwise, then it’s time to leave that relationship behind, and to create relationships with people who value you. Value yourself first. Value yourself enough to walk away from those who belittle and diminish you.

Above all, Lilly, It’s important that you value and love yourself. That you make healthy choices for yourself and for your children. That you allow yourself to be valued by others and that you stand up for yourself, protect yourself, and keep yourself and your children out of situations that are abusive and toxic.

Create the life you want for yourself through mindful choices and actions. Grieve the loss of the way things could have been, but don’t dwell on it. Be the person and mum that is you evolving as your best self. Know that in doing that you’ll attract to you the sorts of people who will fit better with who you are and who you are becoming.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole xoxo

Extra Coping Tools

You might find these posts helpful too:

How to get through the hard stuff

How to deal with toxic people

Crystals for highly sensitive people

Free Guided Meditation for the Solar Plexus Chakra

Guided Meditation for Emotional Healing

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A Starting Point For Change

Running Away from Home - Photo by Laura Corebello

Running Away from Home – Photo by Laura Corebello

“She had discovered early that what we want out of life can change; that the important thing is to learn to recognize or even simply just to admit what we really want, and then to have the courage to reach for it.” 
~ Candice Proctor, Whispers of Heaven

“The question is: how bad do things have to get before you will do something about it? Where is your line in the sand?”
~ Michael Badnarik

 

Today, under this Traveller’s Moon, is a good time to get clear on our starting place for change.

Understand this. You don’t need to know yet where you are headed. You just need to know what it is you really need to leave behind.

You need to get clear about what you DON’T WANT.

This isn’t a list of dislikes. It’s not an agenda of complaints.

Today I want you to spend some time and be totally honest with yourself. Based on all of your life experiences so far, and on a foundation of your values and integrity, what is it that you just can’t do, won’t do, don’t ever want?

Your starting place for change is to simply recognise the energies and styles of relationships that you are no longer prepared to accept in your life.

Think of it as drawing a line in the sand so that the Universe knows where you are at, and so that you can use this as a measuring stick for future situations, choices and relationships.

Image from Papa's Job

Image from Papa’s Job

It might not be a very long list. That’s okay. What’s most important is that you feel it in your heart and know it to be true for you.

 

Here are some examples:

I will never accept a cheating partner again.

I can’t work in a place where I am bullied.

Working twelve hour days for someone else – that’s over!

Never spending time in nature? I can’t do that anymore.

Image by Alegri

Image by Alegri

Once you have that list, turn your back and put those things behind you.

With what you don’t want behind you, you’ll have a starting place and a clear direction forward, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re headed next.

Knowing what we don’t want is ALWAYS the starting point of working out what we DO want.

Bless ♥ Nicole xx

Image from bohemiabowmans

Image from bohemiabowmans

 

How to deal with Toxic People

“Toxic relationships not only make us unhappy; they corrupt our attitudes and dispositions in ways that undermine healthier relationships and prevent us from realizing how much better things can be.” — Michael Josephson

What is a toxic relationship? It’s one that diminishes you, that erodes you, that defeats you.

We all experience conflicts, disagreements and difficulties in our interactions with others. That’s a normal part of relationships, and one of the things that helps us to grow, learn patience, acceptance and better communication skills.

Sometimes relationships cause us to feel bad because we have hurt someone, or let them down. Sometimes we just can’t see eye-to-eye on something. That’s normal too.

What’s not normal or healthy are the sort of relationships that are poisonous to you – the ones that inevitably leave you feeling upset, angry, unloved, despairing, stressed or drained. The ones that leave you doubting yourself, giving up on your dreams, feeling stupid and unworthy and changing or limiting yourself because of someone else.That’s a toxic relationship.

How do you recognise a toxic person? A good yardstick is to simply use your own feelings. But here are some personalities you may recognise:

  • Look at ME, Look at ME, Look at ME. These people are self-absorbed.  They thrive on drama and being the centre of attention. They have an ability to turn everything back to being about them. You could be telling them your husband has just been diagnosed with cancer and they’ll say, “Oh my God, how terrible. You know, I knew a woman once who was diagnosed with…” and suddenly your important sharing is lost as this person plays one-upmanship, offering no true compassion or empathy. Sometimes they suck you in with pleas of needing help, but you’ll find that they are never really interested in taking action on their problems.
  • Manipulators.  These people are usually narcissists.  They are skilled at using a combination of flattery or friendliness followed by anger, judgement and put-downs if they don’t get their own way.  They see themselves as better than/superior to you.  They are Masters of emotional blackmail. They disempower you with insidious put-downs (often in front of others), insults, belittling, shaming and embarrassing. They may threaten certain consequences or behaviours if you don’t conform to a certain way of behaving yourself. At the extreme end of the scale they may suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and you may get trapped thinking it’s your problem, and that there’s something wrong with YOU, when actually it’s them with the issues.
  • Criticisers and Comparers. These people assure you that they love you, and then they try and ‘fix’ you.  You are never good enough, and they always know how you should be doing it. They have a fixed idea of who you should be and how you should behave and it will make you feel devalued and misunderstood. No matter how you try to explain yourself they can’t accept your position or choices in life. They may be know-it-alls or bullies.
  • Perpetual Downers.  These people suck the joy out of life. They are often angry at the world and down on everything. They believe that the world is against them and they have a victim mentality.  They can’t keep their promises, and life never works for them, but it is never their fault because there is always something or someone else to blame.
  • Crazy Makers.  Crazy Makers are unstable. They may be emotionally immature,  suffer from mood swings, behavioural issues, undiagnosed or uncontrolled mental illness, or substance abuse. You can’t rely on them because from day to day you don’t know how they will react or behave.
  • If it suits me.  You’re their second best. If there’s a better option, you’re always dumped. They are in this for what you can give them. There is no respect. They are insincere. You want the relationship more than they do, and they know it, and take advantage of it.
  • Abusers.  Whether it’s physical, emotional or intellectual abuse, abuse is abuse, and no-one deserves that. Get help, or get out. Or both!

In almost every situation, the best thing to do with a toxic person is to remove them from your life, or to remove yourself from theirs. It’s not your job to save them, or fix them. And you sure can’t change them – that’s something they have to want for themselves, and do for themselves.  It’s your job to look after YOU. In the workplace, report bullying, and get support.  Here are some posts that can help you work out if moving on might be an option for you:

Using Your Internal Compass to Navigate Life

Writing Your Way Out of Stuckness

Knowing When to Walk Away

People Will Be Who They Are

Are You Too Nice?

Listen with your Eyes

But what if they are family? What if this is a situation where you can’t just unplug and walk away?

The truth is, sometimes even with family, we need to cut those ties. It might be for a short time, it might be for good. A skilled counsellor will be able to help you get clear about your options. In the end, this is YOUR life, and you deserve every chance at success and happiness.

If you need to stay, here are some strategies to help you cope better:

  1. Stop needing them to be something that they are not. One of the most important reasons that we feel unfulfilled in family relationships is because we needed the other person to be different. Accept them as they are, and come to grips with that. Grieve that loss if you need to, and then look for the guidance, love, acceptance and support you’re seeking elsewhere.  Once we let go of wanting our mother to be wise, or our father to be accepting of us, or our sister to share their emotions with us, or our brother to include us, we let go of being constantly disappointed. You can get to a place of grace with this, so that you can truly understand that this is just who they are, and sit without judgement on that. Acceptance is something we all want. You can love them without liking their behaviour.  Often by getting to this place of unconditional love, the dynamics of the relationship actually start to change.
  2. Limit your exposure.  Find reasons to stay a shorter time, to end the call sooner, to avoid one-on-one time.  Meet in public places if necessary.
  3. Put on your psychic raincoat. Visualise yourself surrounded by a shielding bubble of light before you connect with the other person.  Let it all wash over you – their words and behaviours. There’s no need to change them. There’s no need to engage. Just come from kindness and be polite. Listen a lot and talk little. Direct it all back to them so that they are the one talking. Maintain your privacy and create strong boundaries.
  4. Find a relationship counsellor.  Trained professionals can give us strategies for better handling conversations, confrontations and expectations. Instead of being ‘handled’ and manipulated by others, we can move back into a position of balance and empowerment.
  5. Bless them and release them.  This doesn’t mean walking away.  It means that mentally we bless them with love, and we let go of any and all expectations and responsibilities. They become like a stranger to us. We treat them with respect, and love, but not with intimacy and deeper connection.

Your life is YOURS to live. Life is too short to waste it being someone you’re not, doing things that don’t make you happy, and spending time with people who are posionous to your self-worth. By stepping away from unhealthy relationships we make room in our lives for new, better connections. We renew our hope, restore our freedom and open ourselves to fresh possibilities. Today I’m wishing you strength, real friendships, and true love.  Bless ♥ xx