How did I end up with You?

I have been blogging on the challenging people you sometimes find yourself in relationships with: manipulative, victim, co-dependent and addict. Below are some reasons why you sometimes get together with these types of people:

  1. It feels familiar, when you were growing up, most likely one of your parents acted this way, so while you did not like it, you knew what to expect and the fear of having a relationship with a “healthy” person was scary, you don’t know how to navigate that. So, you put up with the behaviors and find ways to justify them.
  2. When you first met this person, they made you feel wonderful. They were the most kind, giving, caring person you had ever been around and they lavished you with attention. Then once you committed to the relationship, they turned into a different person, but it was too difficult to leave the relationship at that point, so you stayed with them.
  3. You may have low self-esteem, so you attract people who affirm this to you by their actions, proving your belief that you really are not worth loving or being treated well.
  4. This person has something you really want/need like financial security or social status, so you put up with the things you don’t like about them to get what you think you really want/need.
  5. You like to feel needed and confuse this with being loved.

When you find yourselves in any of these situations you have a choice to remain in the relationship or leave. I always suggest counseling first, as many of these relationships can be turned into healthy relationships if both people are willing to work through their issues. However, often times one person is unwilling to change and you either have to put healthy boundaries in place to keep yourself safe from the abuse, manipulation, enabling or control, or you have to choose to leave the relationship and receive some healing for yourself so you don’t attract the same type of person in your next relationship.


Living with an Addict

When people experience emotional pain, trauma, or abuse they look for ways to cope with the strong and often overwhelming thoughts and feelings associated with what happened to them.  Due to this intense pain, they look for a “quick” fix which addictions provide by temporarily relieving the symptoms. If you are in a relationship with an addict, you know how challenging this can be. The addict will always choose their addiction over you. While anything can become an addiction, a state of being enslaved to something, the ones most likely to ruin relationships are drugs, alcohol, pornography and gambling. Addicts train their brain to neurochemically “depend” on the substance or behavior to raise moods when feeling depressed, sad, or lonely or to lower moods when feeling anxious or stressed. Addicts feel lonely and abandoned and long for genuine love, nurture and touch rather than the false substitute they get through their addiction. However, it takes hard work, accountability and commitment to overcome an addiction which is why they are so hard to break. Following are some things you can do to help someone caught in the bondage of addiction:

  • Use a tough love approach.  Do not give them what they want, give them what they need. Let them know you will always be there for them if they need someone to talk with, socialize with, or pray with, but you will not be available to help them continue living in their addiction.
  • Talk with them about the consequences of their choices and actions and hold them accountable by following through with pre-determined consequences.
  • Give them information about community resources where they can get help.
  • Keep them busy in activities that involve helping others, so their focus is not on themselves.
  • Encourage them with real life stories of people who have overcome what they are addicted to.
  • Encourage them to get help.  Let them know that your love for them is not conditional on whether they get treatment, but it is because of your love for them that you want to see them healed.

It is difficult to watch someone ruin their life through addiction and it is easy to become the enabler and desire their healing more than they do. Relapse is so common in treatment, it can be very discouraging and easy to give up on the addict. Ultimately, they must choose healing for themselves and you will need to put up healthy boundaries or choose to leave the relationship.



The Codependent Trap

This is a relationship type that many couples fall into. It looks like this: A person who did not get their emotional needs met growing up dreams of finding someone who will rescue them and meet their needs, so they can feel complete and loved. However, while they want someone to take care of them, they are also fearful of intimacy.

Another person when they were a child had an enmeshed relationship with a parent, where they were expected to meet the emotional needs of the parent while the other parent was emotionally unavailable or physically not there. They dream of finding a person they can take care of, someone who “needs” them as they equate this with love. But they also have a fear of intimacy. When these two people meet, a co-dependent relationship is created.

These two-people become “enmeshed.” This means they use each other for their identity, safety, security and sense of worth, purpose and completeness. They each struggle to understand who they are outside of the relationship, so they fear being alone. They often use phrases such as: I need you, I can’t imagine life without you, don’t ever leave me.  In a healthy relationship each person is confident in who they are as an individual. They can then freely give to each other without “needing, controlling or demanding” anything of the other person. Following are some common characteristics in a co-dependent relationship:

  • You feel overly responsible for the needs, actions and feelings of the other person, compulsively driven to help, please or rescue them. You feel angry and hurt when people do not acknowledge everything you do for them.
  • You sacrifice your own well-being to try and fix the problems of the other person, controlling them, stepping in when they are in a crisis, your whole life is focused on them.
  • You stay in a relationship with someone who is distant, unavailable or abusive, even though you know they may never meet your emotional needs because you fear being alone.
  • You rely on the other person to make decisions for you. When you do ask for things you need/want you feel guilty. You have difficulty receiving from others.
  • You would rather keep the peace than give your opinion or thoughts about something, other’s opinions are more important than yours.
  • You feel controlled, manipulated or taken advantage by the other person.

When you give or help others from a place of fear, hurt, emptiness or unhealed emotional pain, it is not a healthy form of giving. You are doing it in hopes of getting some need of yours met and then feel resentful and angry when this does not happen. If this blog reminds you of yourself or someone you are in a relationship with, seek counseling to help you heal of your past so you can learn how to have healthy, loving relationships with yourself and others.


The Victim Mentality

We all find ourselves in relationships where someone needs our help or advice. You may feel sorry for them and want to rescue them out of their situation. And it feels good to help them.  However, sometimes if they have a victim mentality, they really don’t want your help and every suggestion you give will be met by a but…or an excuse.  Below are some signs of a victim mentality:

  • They won’t take responsibility for anything
  • They always have an excuse for why they can’t improve their situation
  • They believe everyone/thing is always against them, taking advantage of them
  • They blame others for everything that goes wrong in their lives
  • They think others are purposely trying to hurt them
  • They repeatedly talk about their past and how they were victimized
  • When things are going well they are always looking for something to complain about
  • They blame, attack or accuse others for how they feel
  • They refuse to analyze or improve their life or consider other perspectives when you talk with them about their problems
  • They feel powerless to change their circumstances

So what causes people to develop a victim mentality? It is usually either a coping mechanism from childhood or they saw this behavior modeled by their parents. We all have bad things happen to us, and then we have a choice to react or respond. A responder will take responsibility for their part in it and asks how this experience can help them grow and become a better person.  A reactor immediately looks for someone to blame and becomes offended, taking everything as a personal attack on them. It becomes their primary way of perceiving the world around them. While we can’t always control what happened to us a child, as adults we can choose to change behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us. Following are some of the benefits of remaining in this victim role:

  • You get lots of attention from other people
  • You don’t have to take responsibility for anything
  • Your more likely to get what you want
  • You don’t have to deal with your feelings, you can project them onto others
  • You feel powerful by manipulating others into doing what you don’t want to do
  • You can control others by eliciting their sympathies, attention and help through your stories of being victimized.

The best way to have a relationship with a victim, is to change the way you interact and communicate with them.

  • Set kind but firm limits in the relationship
  • Don’t become an enabler, don’t let them guilt you into perpetuating their victim role
  • Limit the amount of time you spend with them and let them know you are only going to listen to 10 minutes of complaining and then you will change the subject or leave.
  • Encourage them to take responsibility for their own lives
  • Encourage them to focus on things they can be grateful for
  • Encourage them to give and help others rather than feeling sorry for themselves
  • Encourage them to see themselves as a survivor, one who embraces life rather than argues with it, one who takes control rather than feel helpless
  • Encourage them to love themselves
  • Encourage them to seek counseling to heal from the root cause of their victim mentality

If you find none of this works for you, you may want to consider leaving the relationship. A healthy relationship has a balance of give and take and in this one, you may find yourself doing all the giving.

Are You Being Manipulated?

The month of February is all about love and relationships, so I thought I would do a blog series on those difficult relationships we all find ourselves in at times. I am sure you have experienced at least one of these as either the one doing it or the one receiving it:

  • The Manipulator
  • The Addict
  • The Co-dependent
  • The Abuser
  • The Entitled One
  • The All Talk no Action
  • The Victim
  • The Narcissist
  • The Drama Queen

And I’m sure there may be a few more I forgot about. Today I will blog about the manipulator.

Manipulative people have a strong need to be in control. When not in control, they feel threatened. This may derive from underlying feelings of insecurity on their part, although they often compensate for these feelings with a show of strong self-confidence. Even though they may deny it, their motives are self-serving, and they pursue their aims regardless of the cost to other people. They have a strong need to feel superior and powerful in their relationships – and they find people who will validate these feelings by going along with their attempts at manipulation. If you exert power over them, they retaliate to gain back the control they feel they lost. They cannot understand the idea that everyone can feel empowered or that everyone can gain. Here are some things you will experience with a manipulator:

  • They manipulate your words to make themselves look good and you look bad.
  • They tell you they want to do something to help you and then when they finally do it they whine and complain the whole time.
  • They tell you something and later deny they ever said it.
  • They guilt you into doing what they want
  • They say and do things to turn people against each other and then act like they had nothing to do with it
  • They blame others rather than admit when they are at fault.

If this sounds like someone you know, don’t tell them how their behavior is affecting you, most manipulators are not capable of empathy and may use this information against you in the future. The only effective method of changing manipulative behavior is to disable it by making a change within yourself, thereby changing the relationship dynamics. If you cease to cooperate with the manipulative tactics, you will alter the nature of the relationship. A good counselor can help you learn how to do this. When manipulators have to work hard to maintain control in the relationship, they usually give up – often by leaving the relationship and finding someone else to control.




Creating a Culture Without Sexual Harassment/Abuse

This idea may sound like an impossibility, but we create the world we live in so when we as a collective society decide we want this, it will happen. It may take a generation to turn things around, but we first need to make the decision to begin the process and commit to do what it takes. Following are the areas I believe we need to focus on: Family, Gender Identity and Equality, Sexuality, Religion and Media.

It starts in the family. If you have been a victim or perpetrator of this behavior, seek counseling and healing to stop this generational curse from continuing down to the next generation. If a child comes to you reporting abuse or harassment, listen and believe them. Get them into counseling so they can heal rather than carry this around with them into adulthood.
As parents we need to raise our sons and daughters to respect each other, to have empathy for each other, to understand how their choices affect each other, that when someone tells you no, it means NO. Don’t try to force people to change their mind, ignore what they told you or force yourself on them.

Gender Identity and Equality
Parents, instill in your children that their worth and value comes from who they are: wonderful, creative, loving human beings created in the image of God, rather than from their gender or what they do. Parents do not put your children in competitive situations where they need to prove their worth with siblings or other children or need to do something to earn a parent’s love and approval. Teach them to respect and value both genders equally.
God is a balance of both feminine and masculine energies and so are each of us as his creation. We have been taught to see ourselves as separate and fear our differences. However, it is time for us to accept both the masculine and feminine energy within us and learn how to appropriately express rather than suppress them.
We each bring our own unique abilities and personality and when we respect and affirm each other, there is no reason to feel superior or to harm anyone else. A man’s identity needs to change where it is not based in being superior to a woman.
Being put in powerful position does not mean you get to do whatever you want at the expense of other people. It means you have greater responsibility to be a positive role model and work together as a team, respecting everyone regardless of where they are on the hierarchy of power, gender or social status.

We were all created by God to be sexual beings, but few people are taught what healthy sexuality looks and feels like. It was created to be an expression of love and unity between two people. It was never meant to be used to dominate, harm or manipulate someone, to get attention, or to use someone for your own personal gratification.
Sexuality is meant to be expressed, not repressed. People no longer get married in their teens and early twenties and expecting them to wait for any sexual expression until they get married after 30 is unrealistic and unhealthy. Sexual energy when repressed leaks out through inappropriate sexual behaviors such as harassment and abuse. This does not give you permission to sexually do whatever you want to whomever, whenever. Any sexual encounter should be a consensual act of love between two adults.

The religious beliefs many of us were raised in concerning sexuality and gender roles are outdated and need to change. However, people fear making changes because they fear God will punish them if they do. Many of these beliefs were written in a culture thousands of years ago that was very different from the one we live in today.  Let’s agree together to see the following truths established in religion:

  • Men and women are of equal value
  • Men and women are both capable of leadership positions
  • Women were not created to submit to men or come under their control
  • Woman and men have equal access to God
  • Sexuality is something to be celebrated, not shamed or repressed
  • Men are fully capable of controlling their sexual desires if they choose to
  • Religious leaders who sexually harass or abuse others need to be held accountable and receive healing.

Quit watching, reading or buying media that promotes sexual harassment and abuse, pornography or gender inequality. Whether it is TV, internet, books or movies, you can vote with your money and your time. When fewer people promote this, they will be forced to create media that is more positive in how it portrays humanity.

Societal change begins slowly and then gains momentum. Be patient. If we each agree to do at least some of the things in this blog, it can turn our society around for the better. Individuals create families who create communities who make up a society. Don’t underestimate the power of one individual to turn things around. It took one brave woman coming forth and talking to start the momentum we see now to create a society where men and women can work and live together from a place of love rather than fear. Let the change begin with you.

Why Now??

Sexual harassment and abuse have most likely been going for thousands of years. What God created to be an equal and respectful relationship between genders turned into one gender wanting power and control over the other and putting them in a place of submission under them. So why is everyone coming forward now about being sexually harassed or abused? If you look at this issue from the aspect of the fear love continuum, the earlier generations were based in fear. Fear controlled their lives, life was about survival of the fittest, war was the method to resolve conflicts, people saw themselves as separate from each other, competition more important than cooperation, life was hierarchical, and male dominated. In a fear based culture, someone needs to be the one in control and then subdue others to insure they keep their place of dominance at the top.

In 2012, there was an energetic shift on the planet and the love vibration of the collective population/consciousness of mankind finally surpassed that of fear. Now that love is in control, everything related to fear is being brought to the surface, so it can be transmuted into love. The Bible talks about a time when what was done in darkness will be shouted from the housetops and where your sins will find you out. This is a time when everyone’s “junk” is coming to the surface and they are being given a choice to admit and face it, seek help and receive healing, or continue to deny it and remain in a place of fear, insecurity and separation. So, choose wisely when your junk erupts.

So, I thank God that our society is going through a state of turmoil, because the only way injustice can be healed is to be brought out of the darkness and into the light. I am grateful for all the women who found the courage to come forward and talk about their experiences.  When we learn what we need to learn, heal from what we need to heal, and successfully make these positive changes in our society, we will have created a much better world for us and future generations to live in. A world where men and women respect each other, where men and women have balanced out the feminine and masculine energies within themselves. A world where our beliefs and actions are motivated by love rather than fear.

In next week’s blog I will address how we can create a culture without sexual abuse and harassment.


Can a Victim be Healed?

For the victim, healing begins when you find someone you can trust to share what happened to you. This can be a friend, co-worker, counselor, pastor, family member, it does not matter who, as long as they believe and support you.  Sexual abuse and harassment affects every part of who you are so healing needs to occur at all levels for you to fully recover and enjoy your life again.

Physical: Your physical body was violated so you may struggle to love your body, feeling like it betrayed you. Any future sexual experiences are going to be impacted by what happened to you.

Emotional: You feel many powerful and conflicting emotions; fear, hurt, guilt, anger and shame. In order to survive abuse, you may disconnect, deny or minimize your feelings or you may act them out and project them onto others.

Spiritual: Your understanding of God can be shaken, you are taught that God, prayer and angels will protect and keep you safe so when they don’t, it is common to feel anger toward God and not trust him.

Mental: Sexual abuse and harassment mess with your mind. You begin to believe lies about yourself, dissociate from the experience, and continue to be re-triggered by what happened.

Relational: It is very difficult to trust again so it can be challenging to develop relationships with others, to know how to set appropriate boundaries and effectively assert yourself.

Healing involves:

  1. Telling someone you trust
  2. Looking at your beliefs about gender roles and replace those that no longer serve you with ones that empower you.
  3. Whether the abuse happened in the past or the present, get into counseling.
  4. Forgive the one who harmed you

Do not allow yourself to become bitter or hold long term anger toward the one who hurt you. This only puts you in a victim role which will then become your identity and run your life. Rise above and become a victor, realize the one who hurt you, was hurting themselves in some way. While this does not justify what they did, we are called to be compassionate and seek to understand one another. The best place to process this and heal is through individual or group counseling. Many women avoid this because they do not want to re-live the trauma. The good news is with energy based treatments, while you will need to share some of what happened to you, you no longer need to give a detailed account of the abuse.  I have had the privilege of helping many women go through this process and know that it is possible for you to fully heal and enjoy living your life again.

Why Women were Silent

Sexual harassment and abuse toward women has been going on much longer than most people realize. Before the internet, this subject was hidden and rarely talked about in public or even within a family. Today, people can openly share their stories with each other. Here are some of the reasons why women were silent for so long:

  1. It is a generational pattern of behavior experienced and witnessed in families. You grew up witnessing your mom being abused by your dad or you or your female siblings being abused by a father, brother, uncle or other male figure. When you finally got brave enough to tell someone what was going on, you where not believed, you were shamed for accusing one of these men of harming you in some way. If you challenged mom as to why she allowed dad to treat her this way, she began to justify how it was okay, how she deserved it, how you should not question these things.
  2. The abuser/harasser threatened you that if you told anyone, something bad would happen to you or those you loved. Your voice was silenced and, so it remained silent when you encountered this behavior at the workplace, school, church or in relationships.
  3. Energetically you attract what you experience. So, if you were raised in a home where sexual harassment and abuse were common place, you may continue to attract that energy from others outside of the home until you are healed of your own sexual abuse/harassment trauma.
  4. Women are taught, especially in the church, that your sexuality is something you need to keep under control. If a man makes unwanted advances toward you, it is your fault for tempting them by the way you dressed, the way you walked, the words you spoke. You were asking for this behavior; therefore, it was your fault you were sexually abused or harassed. The fact that a man could not control himself, was all your fault.
  5. Women are taught, especially in the church, to submit to men. This is what good Christian woman do. You do not question men, they know what is best for you because they are in a superior position, placed there by God, therefore, they can hear from God better than you and know what is in your best interest better than you do.
  6. Women are taught in the church not to disrespect men. When you question their behavior toward you, you are disrespecting them and their spiritual authority over you. So, you keep silent.
  7. Women are not taught in our culture to see themselves as equal to men. Therefore, when you are in the presence of men who are more powerful, of a higher social/economic standing than you, you may automatically submit yourself to them, even if you are not doing it on a conscious level.
  8. Many women work in places where the boss is a male. They believe the only way they can move up in the company is to accept the sexually inappropriate behaviors of the boss and not tell anyone about them. Many of them are single women raising children and they cannot afford to lose their job by speaking out.
  9. Because women were taught to keep silent about being sexually abused or harassed, they did not talk to other women about it. They believed that it was only happening to them and did not realize so many other women were experiencing the same types of sexual abuse and harassment that they were.

As a society we have done a poor job of raising women up to respect themselves, find their voice and learn how to have healthy interactions with men. The fault lies in so many different places as you can see in the different reasons behind their silence. If you are a parent, raising girls, look at this list and ask yourself what you can be doing differently so your daughter knows how to identify sexual abuse and harassment and how to stand up for herself and speak out against it. If you are a woman reading this, and identify with anything I mentioned in this list, take the time to honestly assess your life and see if you have fallen into any of these patterns of beliefs and behaviors. If so, seek counseling to help you process it all and become healthier in how you relate to men. Next week I will write a blog on how women can be healed after being sexual abused and harassed.