Why You Stay in Bad Relationships and How to Help Yourself
As I sat watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, an issue came up that has been on my mind for a while. In working with clients and friends and just over life experiences I have realized that a lot of people stay in bad relationships, friendships or situations that keep them hostage because they feel too ashamed and embarrassed to discuss the things that are happening to them. As individuals, what people think of us is important, although some of us would die before admitting that we care. We care that people think we cannot make certain mistakes or that we are too successful and too accomplished to be struggling with certain issues. We buy into it too and shame keeps us in that place, feeling like a fraud, facading our authenticity. So today is a good day, like any other to face shame and bid it adieu.
So let’s start here. What is this shame that we love to hate?
Shame is a powerfully complex emotion that by definition means ‘a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.’
People live their whole lives cloaked in shame, feeling vulnerable to other energies impinging on their sense of self and well-being. It keeps us hidden behind what other people think and feel because we are too afraid to say it ain’t so. Shame keeps us hanging on to relationships that stifles our spirit, keeps us beholden to partners who abuse us physically and psychologically, and tarnishes our spirit. It keeps us from helping someone else who may benefit from knowing that they are not alone and most importantly keeps us from accessing our true potential. Shame is something that we coddle but that drains the life out of us in its hug back. When we are experiencing shame, our best weapon is to bring the light.
While I believe that everything that happens, happens for us to come to peace. Nothing is ever wasted, no experience comes without an intention. It is our duty to search for the meaning in all experience. Despite shame being a less than beautiful emotion, in our quest to authenticity, we have to face it.
4 Steps to defeat shame and move on:
Do this. Choose Light: Take the first step. Let the light in. Sometimes we keep ourselves in darkness by not uttering the truth out loud. We’re afraid that if we call it’s name, that thing that we have hidden so well, now becomes real. I agree– words do have tremendous power, but if things are really happening, keeping it inside does not make it any less real. Sometimes, doing the thing we don’t want to do is the thing that frees us. So, dear friend, take a dose of truth serum for yourself: tell the truth about what is happening or has happened to you. Call it what it is. Phone it up to the light.
Tip: sometimes it is hard to utter those words. I can relate. Instead, grab a piece of paper and write it, if you can’t speak it. Ask yourself the following questions to help you.
- What are you feeling ashamed of?
- What aspect of your experience makes you most ashamed?
- If you could explain it to someone else, what would you say is happening or has happened? Remove the blame and just give facts. What happened first, second and so on?
- What are you responsible for in this situation?
- What have you learned from this situation/relationship/job? What lesson has this taught you that you could tweet or write a story about?
Then do this: admittedly this is a seemingly difficult step, but a necessary one. Help yourself. You may say, I don’t know how to help myself. So…guess what?! I didn’t say, do it all by yourself. No, Ma’am. You don’t have to know how to help yourself. Find someone who can help you help yourself. Find someone to talk to. It doesn’t have to even be someone you know. You really just need to be able to utter the words to someone else and be reminded that letting someone else know won’t kill you. You may be wonderfully surprised by the response that you get.
After that, do this: Remember that the divine is in all things and yes that includes you. Don’t let anyone demean your God-given value. You are worth so much more than anyone can quantify or define for you. Look at the flowers and the trees. They don’t move on their own, talk or think on their own. by human standards they can’t love each other but you have all of those capabilities and so much more. You, at least, deserve to be in relationship that lifts you up.
Finally, do this: decide to have a new experience. Tomorrow is a new day. Take advantage of it. Try again. Making mistakes is one way that we are reminded that we are not perfect but that we are loved and forgiven; we are given another chance to do the thing we know in our core we must.
P.S. So that was all me and after writing this, I remembered that there is a whole new shame movement through Social Psychologist and shame researcher, Dr. Brene Brown. A wonderful TED speaker and author, she has an amazing talk on the topic of shame. Please take a few minutes to check it out.
P.S.S. I believe my purpose is to bring the truth and light to all who need it, in a loving way. I am still learning and would love your feedback.