The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
How did I end up in another bad relationship? Why do I keep choosing the wrong partner or friend? Have you asked yourself these questions? Do certain patterns keep popping up in your relationships? Without realizing it, most of us follow distinct patterns that are often learned in childhood and we will continue to repeat them unless they are identified and changes are made.
As a child, my mother had an undiagnosed personality disorder and her mental illness created an unsafe, volatile and chaotic home. This left me and my sister with deep emotional scars. Children in abusive dysfunctional homes believe their experience is normal and they learn to imitate the behaviours witnessed. When I became an adult I realized that my upbringing was not normal or healthy and I had been influenced by what I experienced. Determined to break free of destructive patterns, I worked with a therapist over several years to recognize unhealthy relationships and change my behaviour.
Although making changes wasn’t easy, I have benefited both personally and professionally. As a manager, I now recognize and minimize unhealthy, destructive behavior in the workplace (such as gossip or lying) to ensure a congenial, harmonious work environment where creativity is stimulated and staff work as a team. As a counsellor, I can teach clients what I learned about identifying unhealthy behaviour and ending destructive patterns. In my personal life, I have healthy, nurturing relationships and boundaries that eliminate the drama and chaos associated with unhealthy behaviour.
Are you ready to end the drama and chaos in your relationships? The first step is to recognize some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Read through the list below and check off the statements that apply to a current or past relationship (romantic or friendship):
- My relationship is full of fighting, blaming and unforgiveness.
- My partner/friend gossips about me to other people instead of working out our problems together.
- I am blamed for everything and my partner/friend never takes responsibility for his/her actions.
- I spend a lot of energy defending myself or trying to be understood.
- My partner/friend often lies and there is no trust in our relationship.
- My partner/friend uses guilt and manipulation to get his/her way.
- I am afraid of my partner/friend’s anger.
- My partner/friend is controlling and we are not equal.
- Our communication is mainly negative and includes put-downs, criticisms and insults.
- My partner/friend is very possessive and is often jealous.
- In this relationship, I feel worse about myself and less comfortable in my own skin.
- My partner/friend tries to change me and I am not respected for who I am.
- My relationship leaves me feeling exhausted and spent.
How many statements did you check off? Were you surprised to see some of your own behaviour in the list? If you recognized many of the unhealthy signs in your relationships, don’t be discouraged. Stop the pain, chaos and drama in your life. Seek out resources on building healthy relationships. Talk to a therapist or a friend that has healthy relationships to begin to make changes. Set boundaries to protect yourself and begin to change your own destructive patterns so you can have healthy, nurturing relationships.