And it's very hard to pull yourself out of a relational nose dive when you're in it. However, mental health really comes down to focusing on what you have control of rather than what you don't. If you're in a relational dance that isn't working, then you need to ask yourself what it is that you are doing that you can focus on changing. You are responsible for you and your behaviour and the other person is responsible for themself and their behaviour. If you are with someone who is behaving violently then you are not responsible for their actions. No one deserves to be treated violently. No matter what. Both people need to decide that the person being hurt doesn't deserve to be treated that way. The person being hurt needs to focus on their self-esteem and boundaries that include no violence. This could include having a safety plan to get away from the escalating behaviour. The person being violent needs to decide to be in control of their behaviour when their emotions escalate and to practice calming themselves when they are upset.
Negative escalations are common and are the result of co-dependency. You are co-dependent if you:
- Have an excessive and unhealthy tendency to rescue and take responsibility for other people.
- Derive a sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem through extreme self-sacrifice to satisfy the needs of others.
- Choose to enter and stay in lengthy high-cost caretaking and rescuing relationships, despite the costs to you or others.
- Regularly try to engineer the change of troubled, addicted, or under-functioning people whose problems are far bigger than your abilities to fix them.
- Seem to attract low-functioning people looking for someone to take care of them so they can avoid adult responsibility or consequences, or attract people in perpetual crisis unwilling to change their lives.
- Have a pattern of engaging in well-intentioned but ultimately unproductive unhealthy helping behaviors, such as enabling.
And what many people don't know is that when someone's system is emotionally overwhelmed or reactive, they will have a tendency towards collapsing into their feelings or disconnecting from their feelings and just being in their thoughts and not making conscious choices based upon their values or how they want to ultimately treat people. Which means that both people are not in touch with their wholeness and what matters to them. And they have disconnected from themselves or from the humanity of the other person.
To communicate effectively we must learn how to calm ourselves to the point where we can think and feel and at the same time be able to talk and listen; to be aware of ourselves AND the other person and not lose touch with either.
This is a big topic. I'll say more about emotional intimacy and the skills required to maintain a good relationship next week........stay tuned!
I hope that you enjoy this rendition of 'Let it be a dance we Do'! youtu.be/_Zv6dxVOn1A