As I prepare to give my Healthy Relationships lecture in my UT class, I am reminded of the healthy, and not so healthy, relationships I’ve had in my own life. Friendships, work colleagues, romantic partners.
I see how the quality of my relationships has gotten progressively healthier as I have gotten mentally and emotionally healthier.
Given that I operate from a holistic health standpoint, it is impossible for me to disentangle physical health from other aspects of health (e.g., mental, intellectual, social, environmental). So, for those of you who are primarily focused on your physical health, don’t tune out just yet.
You may have noticed the futility of attempting to control others’ actions. Thus the paradigm from which I work entails working on yourself first, and trusting that this will provide a foundation to sustain healthy relationships, among other things.
As I focus more on certain aspects of myself, I see the benefits in my relationships. I plan to write a series of blogs on this topic; I’ll start with the first of several practices on which I have focused.
I question my thoughts and beliefs. I have learned how to allow space to realize how my self-talk, motivations, actions, and results contribute to the propagation or attenuation of my thoughts and beliefs.
I have also worked on my self-esteem -
[Do yourself, your loved ones, and the world a favor - find a good psychotherapist]
- which helps me see that I have deeply-held ideas of my personal worth that stem from irrational thoughts.
When the volume on these archaic and inhibiting ideas is turned up too loud, I forget who I truly am and what I deserve.
Then I act accordingly and accept less than I should, less than I am capable of giving.
A notable, relatively recent relationship illustrates this:
A couple of years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time, while also beginning a new relationship. I realize now that, because of the meaning I imposed on the difficult situation I was in (i.e., I created a narrative about how I was incapable and undeserving), I began to accept in my new relationship as much as I thought this deficient me deserved. So, I accepted in my partner things like dishonesty, emotional distance, his inability to be transparent and fully present, and most importantly, his unwillingness to work on himself.
Important caveat: This is not a moral judgment on my part. I’m not interested in forcing my values on someone else, however, I am interested in getting very clear on what my values are, what I am capable of providing in a relationship, and finding someone who holds similar values and is capable of reciprocating.
As I reflect upon relationships that are no more, I am struck with the ability I’ve gained to have standards for myself and to let others do as they wish. Angel Olsen lyrics are appropriate – “Have whatever love you want to have, but I can’t be here anymore.”
We each get to decide what we need and what we will/will not accept. Just remember that these standards are related to how you feel about yourself.
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Much Love Y’all,