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I have been giving a great deal of thought recently about having healthy relationships. I do not believe that anyone has to continue being in a relationship with either a partner, friend or a family member who thinks it's acceptable behavior to want to control us or act as judge and jury with regard to everything we say or do. Healthy relationships are about love, support, and encouragement, not control. Habitual, controlling behavior is not loving behavior, it's a form of abuse. So I'm just going to say the "B" word...Boundaries. Some people feel that you must simply accept the toxic behavior of others. This is not true. We must pray for those people. So, let me ask any of you out there....do you have that person (or persons) in your life, either a friend or a family member who is a complete "controller"? The person who, whenever you make a decision for yourself and you feel really good about it they immediately rain on your parade? You hear things such as, "Well, I would/could never do that because blah, blah, blah"....or you get sarcasm that makes you feel small? You never hear, "Oh, that's so fantastic, good for you!".....or even a simple, "Congratulations". They seem to have only one intention, which is to suck the joy out of anything and everything when it comes to you. One thing that took me YEARS to begin to understand is that this type of behavior in others is usually coming from a person who is extremely narcissistic. They are so into themselves that they not only need to control their own life but they also have this incessant need to control yours as well. And sometimes it's done in such a subtle, manipulative way that unless you are specially "tuned in" to it, you will never see it clearly unfolding before you. And their arrogance knows no bounds either. It's "their way" or "no way". Their point of view is the only one that they see as the "right one". If this person is a family member it can be tricky to navigate. It's always so much harder when that's the case. Friends come and go, but your family is permanent right? Not necessarily. This is where setting clear, precise boundaries comes into play. And only YOU can determine what those boundaries will be. For some, it could mean only minimal contact, either by phone or in person. For others, it may be ending all contact due to the severity of the toxicity. Life is hard enough to deal with even on a relatively good day, for all of us sometimes. But when you have this type of person in your life you must act to put a stop to it for your own emotional health and well being. Just simply say to this person that while you care/love them very much, you care about yourself just as much. You will no longer tolerate being subtly put down, made to feel small or made to feel as if every decision you make for yourself needs to be "managed" or is the wrong one according to them. But be prepared for them to turn it around on you and not take responsibility for their actions. Because it's extremely likely that they will do this. Stand your ground, narcissists rarely admit their actions are hurtful or wrong. God has put us all on our own personal journey. No one else gets to judge that. It took a very long time for me to truly understand this. But through prayer and God's loving guidance, I finally found the courage to use my voice to say what needed to be said. It freed me from all the negativity and at the same time made me feel more in control of myself, my life and most importantly, my peace of mind. I read something recently that really resonated with me: "Taking a step, uttering a new word is what people fear the most". We need to allow God to help us mitigate our fears and speak without trepidation to anyone who seeks to steal the joy we find in our lives. We must all be free to choose what is best for ourselves without fearing the wrath of someone else's judgments. Especially if they are the people closest to us.
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