Evaluating Relationships: Are the People In Your Life Helping You Be Your Best Self?
How Self-Love Shines in Relationships
As I was working on creating Worthy: A Radical Self-Love Journal, I started to realize how much we can suffer from the choices we make in relationships if we haven't developed self-love, self-respect and inner healing.
One of the weekly themes in Worthy is "Relationships" and it's all about the correlation between self-love and relationships that will help you develop more, and relationships that will always intentionally stunt your growth—where the last thing that relationship will want you to develop is self-love.
But, I also realized how subconscious or deeply hidden those behaviors and dynamics are. When patterns are being recreated, it's easy to chalk it up to, "Oh, I just have bad taste," or, "It's so hard to find someone who's ____, but I don't have time to wait for the perfect person." Meanwhile, you could actually be subconsciously seeking to recreate patterns or dynamics that you've experienced in your own life.
Even if you're not impacted by generational cycles and creating patterns, not everyone is aware that you can control what relationships you participate in, no matter what kind of relationship it is: familial, romantic, platonic, professional. You're not obligated to anyone, and defining your own personal boundaries for each of those types of relationships will serve you well on your growth journey and will define how much you get to enjoy the people in your life.
So, consider this a relationship pop-quiz! Consider the following elements of self-awareness, your relationships, your goals and your boundaries to find out if you are creating and accepting the love you deserve, or if you've got some work to do. The good news is, no matter where you're at now, there is always room to grow and exciting experiences and people on the horizon you haven't even met yet!
Are You Cultivating Healthy Relationships?
The truth is, by taking a step to enter a specific relationship, you automatically have control over how much you choose to cultivate that relationship. That's why it's important to be aware of your boundaries, your repetitive behaviors, trauma that may influence your decision-making or preferences you haven't grown out of yet before you start seeking and engaging in serious relationships that you open yourself up to.
Here are some things to consider with introspection to evaluate your relationship behaviors and standards:
- Why do you enter into a relationship? Answer for all types: platonic, romantic, etc. What is your goal for that relationship?
- For relationships you are submitted to because of circumstance, such as familial or professional ones, how do you protect yourself from being impacted from different core values and beliefs that clash with your own, while still interacting with that person?
- If you were able to cut someone off and end a relationship that is not good for you and you have no true "obligation" (such as family or work) tied to the relationship, would you? Why or why not?
- What are your boundaries for a relationship? If you're not sure, I recommend checking out this blog.
- How do you navigate a relationship when someone disrespects or ignores your boundaries? How do you feel when that happens?
- Are you maintaining relationships that are harmful out of obligation or any other reason?
Be picky about your relationships! You are allowed to choose not to have a relationship with people. You're not going to be compatible with everyone, and it doesn't mean it has to hurt the other person's feelings either. But, people would always rather have someone who is genuine and is willingly engaging in a relationship, rather than continuing the relationship because they feel obligated while not being invested or enjoying it.
Create boundaries with people who need you, but would not be a supportive friend for you to have. Have open conversations about what you need from other people, and decide if you are capable of growing together and supporting each other.
If you feel like you are seeking out harmful patterns:
Try to find the root. Typically, it's because of a prior relationship, or even a dynamic you grew up seeing. It's easy to subconsciously recreate patterns/dynamics when it was all that was modeled for you at an impressionable age or time in your life. Sometimes, we engage in those dynamics over and over again because it's what we know, or we're trying to recreate the feeling/time in our life where we first saw that dynamic for a variety of reasons. It could be a trauma response, form of self-harm or coping mechanism to keep you from healing. You are the expert when it comes to reflecting on this, however, an expert's opinion, such as a therapist, could always be beneficial as a sounding board or for insight from an external perspective.
Sometimes, evaluating your relationship with relationships can be a difficult conversation to have with yourself. It can reveal hard truths about your past, uproot old feelings and make you feel regret. What's important to remember is that by trying to do better, and taking the first steps to change, you're already moving forward and growing.
The "Relationships" week in Worthy: A Radical Self-Love Journal is one of my favorites because it goes in-depth in guiding you to evaluate your relationships, define your boundaries, explore your values and how it correlates to others and serves as an insightful week where you get to learn things about yourself you may not have ever realized.
When all of the relationships in your life are joyful, voluntary and include people you truly care about and want to be around, life feels so much easier and fulfilling. Don't shortchange yourself because of your past or a lack of self-love, you deserve to live a life with the best people for you in it.