Whether you just came out of a toxic relationship, or you are terrified of starting one, probably because of the alarming rate of divorce; It’s time to pause and check in with yourself. Your mental health doesn’t have to suffer because of a relationship.
Here are 2 important steps you can begin with.
- Assess your reasons for wanting to be in a relationship.
- Unfortunately, some of us were raised with the mindset that there is someone out there who will rescue us and end our misery. So we tend to be in relationships in hope that our need for relevance, worth, love, validation, and emotional security will be met. (These are needs that ought to be met by God and ourselves first).
Perhaps, you have not taken out time to examine your reason for wanting a partner in your life, here’s a little checklist I have prepared for you. Be honest with yourself as much as possible.
- Do you want to be in a relationship because you are scared of being alone?
- Do you feel you are not okay or complete all by yourself and you need someone to feel okay?
- Do you have a deep fear of abandonment or rejection and so need someone to cling to?
- Do you feel inadequate or incapable of coping with life’s challenges on your own and therefore need someone to help you fulfill those needs?
- Do you feel empty of love and need a relationship to fill you up or need someone to soothe your childhood pain and hurt?
- Do you need a relationship to boost your sense of worth or significance or social status?
- Do you feel pressurized by culture or people to just have someone in your life?
If you answered yes to these questions, these are not healthy reasons to be in a relationship with someone. They are sure recipes for breeding toxic relationships especially when you feel your needs are not being met.
2) Learn to love yourself.
I am sure these words have been thrown around a lot. But what does it mean to you?
To me, to love myself is to know myself, to be honest about who I am, and to accept every part of me- the kind and unkind, wise and unwise, weak and strong, perfect and imperfect, guilt, shame, my pains, trauma, my fears, and insecurities.
To accept and appreciate all of these with honesty, compassion, and without judgment and as a necessary part of my life’s journey. Instead of trying to run away from them or avoid them or try to distract me or try to look for a human to rescue me from them.
As a Christian, I unload all my needs and worries on Jesus because I am convinced he cares about me. Humans have their limits but God is limitless. And depending on humans to get my core needs met will only leave me high and dry.
A painful truth is that if you don’t love and accept yourself and see yourself the way God sees you, you won’t be able to love others holistically; you will only end up using them by way of control or manipulation to get your needs met and if they resist, you may become aggressive or passive-aggressive which will leave you feeling empty, resentful, powerless and hurt.
To love yourself involves but is not limited to
- Being able to identify your values and your needs and standing up for yourself.
- Being able to know and understand your rights, your responsibilities, choices, and boundaries and be able to communicate them assertively.
- Take responsibility for your actions, be accountable, and stop the blame game.
- Having the ability to see others as separate individuals from yourself. Knowing that it’s their responsibility to be responsible. Realize that people can think, feel and make choices and decisions patterning to their lives.
Side Notes: There are people whom you are not meant to be within the first place. Not from a place of pride but from a place of understanding, appreciation, and respect for each person’s journey, growth, and level of self-awareness.
Realize that people are at different stages of their life’s journey and they can only love you as deeply as they have learned to love and accept themselves (the same goes with you). And so there is no wisdom in trying to control or manipulate people to get your needs met, just save your energy and channel it into getting to know God and yourself better.
When you spend more time in meditation and getting to know yourself better, you will naturally begin to discern who is a good fit for you from afar. Their values, their standards, their level of self-awareness, spirituality, their choices, decisions, and so on. You will begin to realize that you are not for everybody and there’s no such thing as a rejection, only choices.
Finally, you will also realize that you don’t need any human to complete you or make you whole, you are already whole and complete in Christ Jesus.