Mental Health Moment | Relationships
May 09, 2022
Mental Health Moment by Amy Morgan, MSC
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Thinking back through your life, can you remember a relationship that had a negative effect on you in some way? How about a relationship that you remember very fondly and feel good about? The relationships we have in our lives can add positive energy and support, or they can be draining and feel like they’re sucking the life out of us. If we look at it from the outside, it’s very easy to think, “Why would you have negative relationships in your life, if you have a choice? Why would you not just have all positives?”
It seems so easy, so cut-and-dry, and so clear, to make a choice between good relationships and bad ones, and all the effects that either one can have. But very often we find ourselves caught in relationships that are having a draining, negative effect on us and we just continue in that relationship anyway, allowing it to do its damage. Think about your own life for a moment; how many of your relationships add positivity to your life in some way? They may bring you fun and adventure, or support and affirmation, or be a strong motivating influence on you. How often do you purposely seek out those positive interactions and allow them to be part of your life?
Then think about the relationships in your life where you are left feeling “less than,” or worse than you did before the interaction. If you must psyche yourself up in order to spend time with someone, or if you can’t wait to have the time together be over with, you may want to give some thought to why you’re allowing this relationship to continue. Imagine all your relationships being like the positive ones, and no longer having to deal with the things you deal with in the negative relationships – how would your life look different overall?
We can very easily get caught up in habits and repetitive cycles, which make us stay in bad relationships. These aren’t just the significant-other relationship or a marriage, but can also be adult siblings, adult child/parent, and even friendships. Sometimes we stay because it’s “easier than leaving,” or because we fear significant changes. Financial dependency, or the cycle of abuse, can also keep people in relationships they would be better off leaving. Breaking the cycle, and/or making that clean break and starting over without that relationship can seem daunting and overwhelming. It may mean there will be some painful conflict in order to end the relationship. That conflict and that clean break, though, are temporary, and once you can “reset” and move forward without the relationship continuing to cause damage, you will see things starting to get easier and to look much better.
If you are in a relationship with someone who says or does things that make you feel bad about yourself, imagine your life without having those feelings. If you’ve had a relationship with someone who was encouraging, who believed in you and supported you as an individual, and who stood by your side through hard times, imagine your life having more and more of those feelings, and those relationships. I heard a quote that went something like this: “What you allow is what will continue.” If you allow someone to treat you with disrespect, with anger, or with the myriad of other negative emotions and behaviors, then you are giving that person permission to continue treating you that way.
If you have relationships in your life where you feel encouraged and worthwhile, where your accomplishments are valued and appreciated, your confidence will grow and you will find yourself living your life more genuinely. Seek out more of these types of relationships and allow others to encourage you. If you’re uncomfortable receiving, or you’re in your “comfort zone” of disrespect because it’s all you’ve known, work really hard to become more comfortable in positive types of relationships. Allow yourself to be treated like you matter, and you will grow to understand that you do matter.
Evaluate the relationships in your own life – which ones are having a negative drain on your life, and which ones are positive and helping you to be your best? Try to be more involved with the positives, and take it a step further by evaluating who you are in relationships with others. Would they feel you are a negative, or a positive? What can you change in order to become a positive and supportive influence in others’ lives?