Rewiring for Healthy Relationships: From the Ground Up
Hi fellow brain retainers! When I saw Ashley’s request for bloggers, my heart just knew I wanted to write about rewiring around relationships. This topic is dear to my heart because throughout my rewiring journey, which is incomplete and I am still joyfully rewiring, this has been the “thing” that G-d kept putting in front of me to learn and grow from. Sure, I had other things to rewire around first, but let me tell you, this was inextricably intertwined with the core of the proverbial onion for me. I am sharing my experience because I suspect it may be true for many of you as well.
Due to the deep, complex nature of human relationships, this blog is written from an authentic place within me. I am open, honest, and real. I wanted to put that out there for those of you who feel this blog may be best reserved for a future time. For those of you who are ready to dive in with me, read on.
I wasn’t thriving in my relationships. They lacked flow and harmony. I felt resentful and angry. I had ongoing anxiety and this nagging feeling of having done or said something wrong. I began noticing how people triggered my limbic system and there was a wall around my heart. This was challenging, because as humans we seek connection with others! So, I thought all I had to do was rewire around my relationships with other people and all would be well. I thought that needed to be my starting point. Well, I tried that, and it just wasn’t working. I thought about why and discovered there were deeper, limiting beliefs and stories preventing me from moving forward in my relationships with others. I didn’t realize how tangled that ball of yarn was, until I began to work on untangling it somehow.
I needed to look at how I saw myself in the world and why I allowed other people’s perceptions and expectations of me to become my truth. Why was I a people-pleaser and overly-responsible for others and the relationships I was in, yet under-responsible for the direction my own life was taking? What were my goals, what was my purpose and passions in life, and why wasn’t I following them? Why was I unable to let go of outcomes, clinging tightly to things? Why had I become a perfectionist? Why had I lost my voice and my power? Why was I abandoning myself and my inner child over and over again for other people and relationships? Where was my sense of worthiness and knowing I am enough as I am?
In the book The Four Agreements, it is discussed how we are born with our own unique qualities, but then society's arbitrary rules and expectations of us basically cage us. We aren’t nurtured to become the individuals that we really are (aka, our true selves). Needing to be accepted is an old survival mechanism dating back to tribal societies. To not follow societal rules and be rejected meant sure death. So, we learn to suppress our true selves and conform to society’s expectations of us.
Because of this, I developed and lived in a “false self”. I didn’t know it at the beginning of my journey. I actually thought that I was being myself. In retrospect, I knew this at an unconscious level and I felt trapped not being able to just be ME, especially within relationships with others. I noticed this more so in particular relationships. It was as if my light went dim. Maybe it even went out completely. I lost my voice and I lost my way. I felt trapped and powerless in relationships that were disharmonious and not based on unconditional love. I abandoned myself on a routine basis. Even my dreams reflected this. I had nightly dreams where I was in the most familiar places, but would get lost and I could not find my way to where I knew I needed to go. It all makes sense now! I was searching for myself in what should have been familiar territory (within myself) but the real me was lost and nowhere to be found.
Now I know that I was abandoning myself due to faulty programming. I believed that what centered and grounded me in the world were the people and relationships in my life; all the things outside of myself. Unwittingly, I had allowed these relationships to dictate my worthiness and sense of being enough. So I did anything, including abandoning myself and my own needs in life, to make sure I kept these relationships going the way they were, even though they weren’t serving me.
I didn’t know that I had become enmeshed and reactive in my relationships and didn’t have a healthy sense of separateness and agency. I had choice and free will, but didn’t know it, and certainly couldn’t execute it. I lacked boundaries. Instead of interdependence and responding to others from my higher self, there was dependence and reactivity. I had to stop absorbing other’s perceptions of me. Slowly, I learned a big truth - that my happiness, sense of trust, safety, and self-worth had to come from within. I needed to build that inside of me first! I needed to be my own mirror. This would become the rock solid foundation I could stand securely on and the home base from which I would interact with the world.
I learned that healthy connection with others can only come from me being able to live an authentic life filled with freedom to choose, having a voice, and inner peace. And I needed to do this for myself, not for others and not for the sake of my relationships. But how to free myself from all of the old patterns and false beliefs that kept me caged and stuck? If it didn’t work to begin with rewiring my relationships with others, I wondered if maybe I needed to begin with the relationship with myself? Stay tuned for my next blog post where I reveal where I needed to begin and why. It was a surprising, new concept for me.