Updated: Dec 18, 2019
The word ’abuse’ has become commonly used within our society.
We seem to recognise far more quickly (and are far less tolerant of) ‘abuse’ within our relationships.
However - ironically - I don’t think that most of us are educated on HOW some of us unconsciously choose (and I do really MEAN choose) abusive relationships. And that’s what I want to discuss in this article and I want to scatter (throughout it) advice and links that I hope will help anyone reading this.
We’re conditioned to believe that we can have it all (if only we work hard enough) but we’re caught between longing for a deeply fulfilling relationship and not feeling good enough to have one because society (and advertising agencies) would have us always improving, always looking to be fitter, happier, glossier and more successful. Women especially are trained within relationships (work and personal) to focus on ‘how can I deliver?’ instead of ‘what do I want and how do I want to feel and how would I like to be treated?’
Put simply, in believing that we are not enough as we are, we choose those (in all aspects of our lives) who confirm this belief by either under-appreciating us (unless we work extra, extra hard) through to those who downright hurt us.
I learnt the hard way that loving myself (and defining my own happiness) is first and foremost my own responsibility.
Looking back - with much hindsight - I can remember a much younger me who was a prize catch on the surface (super slim, blonde, glossy, successful, popular) but who underneath had no understanding of self love or that I deserved the absolute best. Subconsciously I didn’t think that I was that great so I chose men who supported this belief, who cheated on me or left me. I used to even have a recurring dream in which I met a gorgeous, wonderful man who ALWAYS dropped me or cheated on me because - even in my dreams - I couldn’t keep him.
A huge part of my growing into loving/accepting myself 100% (and strangely at the same time, becoming a surprising magnet to the opposite sex in a way I haven’t previously experienced) has come from getting to know and learn from Maxine Clancy.
I want to share her wisdom with you, in turn…. I asked her, “Why do we sometimes choose relationships that harm us? Abusive relationships?”
She replied, “Because we’re not in our power. We are disowning our ‘love-ability’. I honestly believe these relationships are ‘unconscious choices’ so that we can heal the “disowned’ parts of ourselves and discover how to be in our power and to love ourselves completely. An abusive relationship - with others and yourself – is revealing to you, where you don’t love yourself and what you need to heal and clean up within you.”
I can recognise this same behaviour in friends (both sexes) around me too. A lot of my friends have suffered horrendous abuse (emotionally and physically) and all of them had to come to the painful conclusion that they’d sought it out, just as I had. And many of them have taken the time to heal in order to break the pattern…
Here’s the list Maxine sent me, when I asked her, “How do you begin to recover from an abusive relationship?”
- Choose to take 100% responsibility for how you feel and choose to feel good about yourself. Do this with compassion and kindness for yourself.
- Recognise the relationship is there to reveal where you do not love yourself and is showing you all the parts within you that need to be healed.
- Decide that loving yourself is the most important thing in your world, that you are worthy of great love and it starts with you.
- Remove yourself from abusive situations/people.
- Learn to identify and set healthy boundaries.Get professional help, it’s hard to do this on your own.
- Do something every day that is an expression of love for yourself…
And so let’s leave this article on what exactly ‘healthy boundaries’ might mean, to start with. As Maxine states…
“Boundaries are our ability to retain our sense of self.
To be able to separate ‘us’ from ‘others’.
Having the ability to maintain our connection to our source of self (power centre).
We exert boundaries with others as a way of communicating how we want to be in relationship with that person, what is acceptable, what is not.
A lot of the time, we don’t assert boundaries, as we are afraid of the impact of asserting them. Ie. We believe the boundary will lead to alienation, withdrawal of love, conflict, and disconnection.
To set boundaries we have to know where our limits are: how much information we are willing to share about ourselves. Eg…
- I want a monogamous relationship.
- It’s not acceptable to “gossip” about others.
- People calling you at work or late in the evening.
- When people give unsolicited advice or criticism.
- Inappropriate touch.
- People dismissing emotions/needs.
- People exerting their beliefs on to you.
Some examples of boundaries for communication…
- I need you to reflect or validate what I am saying before we continue.
- Can we speak about one topic at a time?
- Can we speak in person rather than communicate by text? I didn’t understand what you said, please can you explain slowly?
Boundaries for touch/space…
- You need to be invited to my home, please do not just show up.
- Please do not touch my body unless you ask me.
- Physical abuse of any kind is not acceptable.”
If you’re also slowly recognising that loving yourself is paramount (it is the relationship from which all other work/romantic/family relationships spring up) then I hope that this article has helped to confirm that YES you are deserving, you are unique AND it is your right (even your responsibility) to love yourself 100%. For loving ourselves opens up a deep well of kindness and compassion from which to love others unconditionally and stand strongly within our own healthy, natural wants and desires, allowing others to love us bravely in return.
If you would like further advice on loving yourself and healing any negative beliefs that you are not already perfect (FALSE beliefs) then I would recommend downloading this FREE EXERCISE from Maxine and watching Brene Brown talking about Vulnerability and Being Enough