“I was once afraid of people saying, ‘Who does she think she is?’ Now I have the courage to stand and say, ‘This is who I am.’” ~Oprah Winfrey
I began a personal-development course in May this year. It helped me overcome some of my fears and boost my confidence so that I could pursue my professional dreams.
This course was completely different to what I had expected. It completely blew me away. Within three days I had changed the way that I worked in all of my relationships.
One week prior to the course I started to analyze my friendships and one particular friend stood out. It was slowly becoming apparent that there were triggers which led me to question our connection, and also how healthy it had been. Slowly, I was recognizing the resentments that had been building up inside me and wanted to change.
I initially became very indifferent to the situation. Then I stopped trying to reach out and shut down. I reasoned with my ego that it’s not my job to make people aware of what they are supposed to do, or what I think they should be doing to make me feel worthy and valued. Let me tell you, it’s not my job to make people aware of what they should do or how I feel. Self-righteousness can be a hilarious friend.
I had no plans to approach the situation between us, believing that she was at fault since she wasn’t investing in our friendship and I was the only one doing the work.
On the first day of the course, the leader challenged us to make amends with people who we weren’t authentic with. My reasoning began to unravel suddenly. No matter what the outcome, I was forced to face the problem. This terrified me.
As much as I resented the truth of neglecting myself and therefore creating relationships where I wasn’t appreciated and valued, it took me about three hours to let that go and reach for humbleness instead.
The time I dialed was 7:15 p.m. Although I felt nervous and shaking my voice, I managed to keep it from sounding accusatory. We started talking and I mentioned to her something I wanted to discuss.
I went on to say that I didn’t feel our friendship was a balance of give and take and that there was a fair amount of negativity taking place.
After I expressed my concerns, she said she didn’t quite understand. She asked for specific examples of what I didn’t like about our relationship, and I cited several instances where I felt dismissed and unappreciated.
She went on the defensive and, after listening to me for a while, said, “I don’t think I can give you what you’re asking for.”
Ouch. I felt an unpleasant sensation in my stomach. This is what happens when people reject me. It was a threat to my worth, which I felt with all of the ounces in me.
It would be nice if I could say that the conversation resulted in us strengthening our friendship and resolving the problem. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. While proudly sitting in my prideful state, I carried on with the course for three more days.
When we don’t address our struggles concerning our worth, we tend to neglect our needs to gain validation, love, and attention from others. Although, deep down, we know our needs aren’t met and we are abandoning ourselves, we feed our egos by finding significance in being the bigger person.
To put things in perspective, I asked myself these questions: Which person plays the greater role in an unhealthy relationship and why? Does it have to do with someone who believes everything is their fault or someone who allows them to be themselves? Both are equally responsible, I believe. There are many ways that self-worth is lacking, and mine was one of them.
A few days later, one of my best friends called me to talk about what happened and the pain I felt.
She challenged my story by asking me, “Have you ever told her that you need help? Have you ever shown her that you’re struggling and need her?” Her questions triggered me because, deep down, I was fully aware that I often don’t express my needs or struggles to others.
Some of my favorite lines are “I got this” or “It is what it is.” Knowing what I know now, this may only work as a T-shirt slogan. But in all seriousness, I rarely communicated my needs since I didn’t consider them as important as the needs of other people.
She went on to ask me, “Considering that you’re never open and vulnerable enough to allow others to be there for you, would you say you might have been a fake friend?”
Ouch! I suddenly realized how unauthentic I was. It was double-edged. I led people to believe that my Wonder Woman status was complete without their help. The result was that I would deny my need while simultaneously becoming angry and resentful.
It was not about serving others that I realized how unworthy it was to act from a place of insecurity. I was trying to fulfill some emptiness in my soul that I hadn’t healed.
If we believe, for whatever reason, that we aren’t worthy or enough, we will constantly look for validation from the outside world and use self-destructive behaviors to prove ourselves since our souls are starving.
If we do not heal our childhood wounds, and stop looking for validation in our accomplishments or others’ achievements, then we are headed into a vicious circle of failure and inadequacy.
Following a painful and honest conversation with my friend during which I felt like a 4-year-old who had lost their best toy, she encouraged me to get in touch again. It was too scary to actually call my friend so I decided that I would send her an audio message.
Conversation was meant to let people know that I had been unauthentic. I expressed the hurt I felt and how fake I’d been in our friendship. Although I felt resentful and my ego had not yet subdued me, I knew it. Also, I told her that she wasn’t the only negative person in our friendship, and that my resentment created an equal amount of negativity and toxicity for both of us.
Her reply was that she had received my message and would be reviewing it. Since then, I haven’t heard from her.
Although this may sound like a sad ending, I don’t see it that way. For the first time in my life, I stood up for myself and for what’s important to me. Instead of trying to deny my needs, instead I spoke up. It was important that I recognized the limits and made them relevant. It was a matter of self-worthiness and self-love. Although it meant that I was losing the friendship, at least I wasn’t losing myself, as I often have.
We often forget to consider the role of others when we work on healing. To heal from the pains of past relationships that were difficult, it is important to build bonds that are based on mutual support, love, compassion and mutual support.
Our recovery can sometimes be personal and is often isolating, but a large part of healing occurs in partnerships with other people.
For example, let’s consider a scenario where our trust was broken, and we were traumatized to trust again. It’s difficult to heal this problem on our own. Trust is an essential component of any relationship. We need to nurture and fix existing relationships. Trusting other people again is how you heal.
Going forward, it is clear that I will be faced with the task of supporting others and being there for them again from a codependent mindset. But this time, it will be easier to see the issue, take a step back, and assess my investments in people.
While it was difficult to let go of my limiting beliefs about my worth, I’m starting to see what it is like for me. I can stand in my power. I value myself. With the knowledge that I possess the ability to be worthy of relationships, I know that I won’t stop.
Silvia Turonova, a mindset coach, helps women to build self-confidence and confidence. She hosts a podcast Courage Within You and is passionate about teaching others how to coach themselves. Get her free self-coaching worksheet here.
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Tiny Buddha published the post Why I attracted one-sided relationships and gave more than I received.