Relationship Problems: Yours, Mine, Ours? Part IV
Greetings. Welcome to my post. My hope and desire is that you will find these posts to be informative and helpful for you. Life is a journey filled with mountains and valleys in our relational life and in our personal life. Sometimes we can predict and make something happen. But sometimes we can never predict an event or relationship difficulty and we need to adjust and cope with these curve balls. At times life can be great but as you know, life can also be difficult and challenging.
One of the biggest difficulties and challenges is when you find you are in a relationship with someone who has a problem. Now we all have spiritual, emotional and relational problems. That is a given. The challenge is when you are with someone who has problems and you falsely conclude it is your role or job to try to fix that problem. But do you address the problem or do you address the person? Far too often, we choose the person by trying to fix or correct that person with that problem.
So when we experience the emotions and reactions of other people in our lives, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Is their reaction my fault or is their reaction their stuff. As you know, when you grow up with explosive emotional people in your family of origin, far too often you are left to conclude that people’s anger, anxiety, stress or depression is your fault and the reason someone is emotional is because you have done something wrong.
In your growing up years and your dysfunctional family, blaming others for how one feels becomes a norm. I remember growing up in my family that my mother experienced migraine headaches and one of the reasons why she experienced these was due to the stress and pain brought on by others. So as a little boy, I had to walk on eggshells around my mom at times so as to not bring additional pain in her life. Or my father, with his angry rage reactions to stress in the family, was due to my fault so I learned early in life how to be a good kid not causing any problems with my parents so as to not bring on more stress or pain in their life.
So as a recovery codependent, I leaned to be aware of other’s feelings in order to protect myself from not getting yelled at or to be blamed for how my parents were feeling. Avoiding and protecting myself was due to me learning all about their lives and their feelings by getting to know them, and not getting to know me. Knowing them and protecting me was the strategy to learn on how to survive conflicts and feelings in my family.
But as you know, this strategy only leads to me not being aware of my feelings and my reactions. I would stuff my feelings and what I wanted or needed for the sake of keeping peace. Knowing them was more important than knowing me. My emotions and feelings were not important as my happiness was only based on their happiness. If they were happy, I was happy. As a result, I was out of touch with my own feelings and I learned to be responsible for the happiness of others. Instead of me being validated by my family for my feelings, my identity, and my life for what I wanted, the whole focus was on me taking care and being responsible for my parents and siblings feeling and desires helping them get what they wanted. Validating them was more important than validating me.
So the challenge for all of us in our relationships with others is to discern: Am I taking care and being responsible for others or am I taking care and being responsible for me. Do I tend to focus so much on you by helping and pleasing you that in the process I minimize my feelings and only focus on solving your problems? Do you say to yourself: If I can fix you and your problems and get you to happy, then I am happy and we are good. Peace at all costs only leads to me making sure you are happy and there is harmony because of what I can do to decrease anger and what I can do to increase harmony based upon me helping you.
So my question to you is this: Do you know your feelings? Do you notice how you avoid or stuff your feelings and thoughts for the sake of others? Have you become so aware of studying someone else to make them happy that you do not focus on you and what makes you happy?