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Relationship Relapse

I recently heard about a prior alcoholic's regret when he said, "This alcoholic drinks, and I break-out in handcuffs." It got me thinking about how many things we do to our body, our mind, and our spirit that is detrimental to our lives. But it also made me contemplate how relationships can wrongfully put an innocent person in an emotional jail.

Impulsive decisions based on emotions and feelings can have lifelong negative effects. We may blame others for how we feel and excuse our own bad behaviors leaving us to repeat those behaviors again, and again. We can relapse with drugs and alcohol, but we also relapse when we violate boundaries, hurt other's feelings, or even when we cause harm to the one's we love. Relapse is real, it ruins relationships, and it's treatable.

Relationships suffer because of an unwillingness to take responsibility and be accountable to each other. In some cases, the offender often will dismiss, deflect, defend, and defy rather than apologize, empathize, or even acknowledge the hurt they've caused. People who lack empathy and want to live without accountability are people to avoid. They will repeatedly offend and you will have many specific examples of the crimes they commit.

But sometimes, the offender's response has more to do with feeling wrongfully accused. In some cases there is not enough information provided by the one who is hurt. The offender needs more clarity and specific examples in order to gain understanding of what they need to change.

When the one who has been offended speaks about their feelings through accusations (I feel unsafe, you hurt me, I can't trust you anymore, you think I'm an idiot, you don't love me), it is hard for the offender to process because the one who is hurt floods the conversation with more emotion than facts. The one who has been hurt must be clear about what the offense was so that the offender knows what it is they did wrong and can make adjustments. Just saying you are hurt, feel unsafe, and disrespected without connecting it with a specific behavior makes the complaint unsupported. Change can't happen when the offender doesn't know what EXACTLY they did that was offensive.

Remember that you are responsible for the feelings you have, not your partner. Very often, our feelings can be wrong leading to emotional disregulation because your mind will try to project onto others the cause of your negative feelings. An example of this is that our own feelings of worth and self-esteem can be externalized so that others become responsible for how you feel about yourself:

A wife who feels she is not skinny enough because she obsessives over her looks will accuse her husband of thinking she's fat.

A husband who struggles at work to be successful may accuse his wife of thinking he's lazy or she only wants him for his money.

When you say things to accuse another based on your perceptions of what you think they are thinking about you without any example of them saying they think that, you usually are wrong. Accusing someone of something they don't think results in their need to defend against the false allegation, which is a waste of time, energy, and only causes conflict that can never be resolved. You end up placing yourself in a prison of your own making, because the argument is with yourself and the complaint is made up in your mind.

When you have a feeling about someone else's thoughts, ask yourself why you feel that way. If your answer is, "I don't know. I just feel it," how can you expect them to know what they did when you don't even know? Unless you can clarify what they did or said, you may be handcuffing the other for a crime they didn't commit.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."


If you'd like to learn how to live intentional, check out my book of the same name: Live Intention. Live the life you always wanted, but never believed you could. Available at Barns and Noble, Amazon, and iTunes


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