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Teach Others How you Want to be Treated

If you are in some kind of unhealthy relationship, whatever form that takes, the only thing that you can do, other than leave, is to take responsibility for your part in it and work on yourself.

 

I’m not saying it is your fault if someone is mistreating you, but to a certain extent you have perhaps unwittingly allowed it. This is good news because it means you have the power to change it. Here is a personal example to demonstrate what I mean.

 

When I was 8-9, I was at a nice private prep school in the South of England, where I was punched and kicked daily. Because I had been taught to “turn the other cheek”, I consciously resisted reacting and so it continued to happen. It was only when one of my attackers took me by surprise from behind one morning, that my involuntary reaction took over and I punched him in the face. He ran off crying like a toddler and from then on I was never hit again. So in a sense, through my lack of reaction, I had been allowing them to bully me.

 

In a similar way, if you are being mistreated either at home or at work, the only person who can do anything about it is you. It’s no good complaining, “my boss/partner/mother never listens to me.” You need to learn to communicate assertively so that you can express your opinions and feelings openly. If you show that you believe in yourself, people will start to listen to you.

 

If you are being spoken down to by someone as if you are stupid and inferior, it more than likely has much more to do with an insecurity issue they have than anything to do with you. I remember many years ago that I left a job where my boss had been treating me like dirt for a few months. The day I was to leave she confessed that she had been extremely upset because her boyfriend was being unfaithful. It may not be as dramatic as that, but there is usually some other explanation for someone’s behaviour towards you if it seems excessive. If this person is your boss as in my case, you may choose to be patient until you find another job where you are treated with respect. In the meantime, you can certainly work on respecting others, and on respecting yourself, and you should start to notice a difference in how you are being treated.

 

No matter how much you work on your confidence and assertiveness, you can never change another person’s personality, but you may be able to limit the time you spend with them, or limit the conversation to the level that you feel comfortable with. Instead, surround yourself with people who do appreciate you and treat you well. Bear in mind that most people are well meaning and not against you. Also try to remember that people are going through different experiences, some of which may cause them suffering.

 

Ultimately if someone is treating you badly it is because they feel bad about themselves. It is not your job to rescue them or change them, but you can consciously be kind and loving to them, while at the same time taking care to be kind and loving to yourself.

Loneliness in Marriage

Loneliness in Marriage

Mother Teresa said that loneliness is the worst kind of poverty, and it is mostly prevalent in the Western world. Psychotherapist and writer, Pam Fullerton, goes as far as to say, “The truth is, that feeling of loneliness is one of the utmost challenging experiences that any of us endures.”

We often think of loneliness affecting those who are single because when they go home at night they are usually alone. But someone doesn’t need to be alone to feel lonely.

Generally, we don’t think very much about loneliness within marriage, but it is in fact very common. Because the perceived expectation is that as married people we will be happy and feel fulfilled in our relationships, people tend to keep quiet and suffer in silence.

There is a sense of shame associated with being unhappy in a marriage, so the situation can drag on without relief for years or even decades, leading to desperation and even suicidal thoughts. Loneliness in marriage is the main reason for looking for comfort outside the marriage, such as affairs, whether physical or emotional.

According to Guy Winch PhD, author of Emotional First Aid loneliness is a silent killer as dangerous as smoking. It takes a toll on our immune system, puts us at risk from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, as well as the more obvious depression and anxiety. It also affects memory function and can lead to Alzheimer’s.

It works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Loneliness makes us see our relationships in a negative light, so we believe people don’t care about us. This makes us hold back in our relating with them, which in turn makes us appear cold and aloof, thus pushing people further away from us.

When we feel disconnected in marriage, we often stay together in order to avoid being alone, but the disconnectedness makes us feel helpless, so that we are unlikely to do anything about it. It’s a vicious circle that sends us into a downwards spiral and the result is we end up feeling lonelier than if we had left.

Thankfully there are several things we can do. If you are affected by loneliness in marriage you can try the following:

 

  1. Practice working on your own emotional health. This could take many forms including taking up a hobby, exercising, using affirmations, pampering yourself or setting yourself challenges to build your confidence. You might find it helpful to spend time in nature or write your feelings down in a journal.

 

  1. Show an interest in your partner by engaging them in meaningful conversation about things that fascinate them.

 

  1. Do things together. These could be very simple such as walking or going out or even watching TV, or you could discover a new activity together. As long as you are doing it together it doesn’t matter what it is.

 

  1. Try to understand your partner by finding out how they feel about situations. Ask them questions and really listen to their answers.

 

Talking to a counsellor together is also helpful in reconnecting as they will listen to both sides and help you see the positive in each other. They can help you to unravel the causes of the disconnect which may be a surprise to one or both of you. Unlike friends, the counsellor is unbiased and not emotionally involved in your relationship, as well as having training and experience, so you can trust their professional wisdom.

To read more about loneliness in marriage see this article by Guy Winch PhD:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201306/together-still-lonely

and watch his Ted Talk on Loneliness https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene.  Also see this article by Pam Fullerton in the Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/how-to-respond-to-lonelin_b_11660958.html

 

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