The consensus reality is the lie.
Why is it so hard to miss someone? I know it seems strange, but I have this issue with feeling close enough to anyone else to admit I really miss them. For some reason it feels like I am admitting that I am attached to them in some unhealthy way.
But missing someone is not unhealthy at all. In fact, it is probably very healthy if you are doing it right. It is only natural to love someone and miss them when they are gone. As long as missing them does not turn into an obsession or depression, you are doing fine.
But back to my mentality. I do not really understand it but I have a hard time admitting to any kind of real connection to other people. I guess I have just been so fearful of depending on others, like other have depended on me in the past, that I failed to draw a proper line between healthy companionship and love and unhealthy dependence and reliance.
You see, there is a vital difference between those two types of relationships. One is healthy and natural. In fact, that kind of relationship is what is necessary for a strong and healthy life. However relying on others to the extent that you cannot function without them is not healthy or natural. I just have issues with differentiating between the two.
I think that having healthy connections with others starts with a give and take relationship. Many times we find ourselves in situations where one person gives and the other one takes all the time. Not only is this not a healthy relationship, it can actually hurt you in other ways. Both people are hurt by this situation. The giver is drained dry and ends up empty, hurt, unfulfilled and frequently angry. The taker ends up lazy, entitled, unhappy and selfish. This is no way to live, especially in the long term.
One way to avoid relationships like this is to set firm boundaries. There will always be people who are prone to taking and those prone to giving, but with firm boundaries you can make sure that the stakes remain relatively equal for both parties. That way each one gets what they need without harming the other person.
I know in my life I am a natural giver. I would give and give and give until I had nothing less. Then I would get angry at the other person. They would be confused as to why I was angry because they had no idea I was not getting back what I needed. This went on for many years until I decided I was the one who needed to change. No one was going to stop taking so I needed to set limits on my giving and tell others when I needed a break or needed to be given to. I know it sounds hard to do for fellow givers like myself, but other people are not mind readers. They do not know what your wants or needs are.
Another issue I had was a sort of martyr complex. I figured if I gave until I was empty then I was doing someone a service. Well, I was wrong. I was actually hurting others and myself. I hurt others by enabling them to use me and become lazier and less able to do things on their own. I was hurting myself by constantly letting myself be abused and unhappy. No one wants to be used like that, no matter what they tell themselves. In the end I realized that the only way I could manage to break this unhealthy cycle is to set firm boundaries.
It started out small. I started to do things for myself that I enjoyed. I expected shock and anger from the people around me but they just took it in stride. You see, what was strange and selfish to me was second nature and normal to them. I started to set aside a portion of my money and time on things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go. I also did more than just go different places. I started to say no.
To some people saying no may seem like no big deal but to me it was a huge issue. I always felt responsible to take care of everything and could only stop if I was sick or about to collapse from exhaustion. I even had times where I broke out in tears of frustration from being unable to handle all the responsibility. I was taking on way more then I needed to.
Finally I started to say no. I started small, saying I was too tired or too busy. Shockingly no one died! I always thought something terrible would happen if I told people to do it by themselves but it didn’t. In fact, they got stronger and more self-reliant. I did go too far a couple of times with people who genuinely needed the help, but it is all a learning process. You have to be able to discern between the people that ask for your help because they need it and the ones who are just too lazy to do it themselves. I keep having to remind myself that just because I can do something faster, easier or cheaper does not mean I have to do it. Sometimes it is just better to let others learn through failure even when you can help them. I know that sounds harsh but many people do not learn any other way. You certainly do not want to be tied to another person your whole life picking up after them and cleaning up the messes they make, right?
In my work to become a stronger relationship builder I have been talking to other givers like me. There are many people out there who let themselves be taken advantage of because they are trying to ‘love’ another person. Well, that is not love. Not real love. Real love does what is best for the other person and does not take away all their responsibility. There are a few people in my life who have gone for literally years picking up after others in an effort to love them. I have tried to talk with them about backing off and letting others learn for themselves. In fact, my changes have brought about changes in their lives. Because I am not there helping them pick up after the messes they make, they do not have the time or energy to pick up after the other people’s messes now. It is like a chain reaction. When one person starts to say no and suggest they do things on their own it ripples through their relationships.
Having a healthy relationship that is not dependent on another nor is it all give and no take is important. You need relationships that are give and take equally. To do that you need to set boundaries and verbalize your needs. As someone I once read said, use your words! It is only through communication that other people know what you need and are thinking. It is a big effort for me, as I am not a particularly verbose person, to share my thoughts and feeling with others verbally. I also hate to ask for what I need but I have learned that the more I do it the easier it gets. You get what you need and others can feel the gratification of meeting your needs without having to guess or take a shot in the dark. It is a win-win for everyone involved.
These are just a few of the ways I have learned over time to form healthier relationships. You may apply these ideas to your own life as you see fit, but remember to strike a balance of give and take for the best results in the long term.
Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.(Bold, italicized text is input from One World class participants. Thank you!)