Mental health, Relationships

Groundhog Day: are you repeating relationship patterns?

Have you woken up one day realizing that you’re living the life of the weather man in the Groundhog Day movie?

Do you attract the same type of partner who criticizes you or makes you feel small and undeserving of love? Do you make the same friends who don’t support you and your goals?

If you do, then you’re not alone. Some of the folks I’ve spoken with about narcissistic abuse have gone from a toxic relationship to another. They find themselves surrounded by people who confirm their biggest fear: that they are indeed unworthy of love.

Why do we repeat toxic relationships like Phil repeats his daily, life events?

It is due to attachment. See, when we were little, we learned one way to deal with relationships from our parents. If our parents were happy and caring, then we learned to be happy and caring in our relationships. However, if they were anxious, narcissistic and even physically abusive, we learned to find comfort in abusive relationships. We don’t know anything else than being emotionally abused or disrespected, thus, we tend to reject relationships that are not matching this pattern. (even healthy relationships can bring a lot of anxiety in us).

Read more about the attachment theory here.

How to break the toxic relationship pattern?

My method is the following: decide once and for all to focus ONLY ON YOURSELF.

If you have trouble attracting healthy relationships, you probably focus too much on the outside world and too little on your feelings, needs and wants. This way of thinking is called being a co-dependent. Let’s give an example.

You start dating a nice guy/woman and, without realizing you’re losing yourself fast in them and their life. You learn a lot of things about their taste in music, movies, food, their hobbies, needs and wants. He/she is so amazing that you start engaging in their own hobbies to impress them.

But you’re doing this to make them feel happy so that they’ll never leave you. Making sure you’re everything that this new partner wants is your job. This is kind of disturbing isn’t it?

Many adult children of toxic parents learned to behave like this. I used to like everything that my crushes or partners liked. One time, I was so into a guy that I learned to play electric guitar just because he was a bass player and loved music. Thank god I quit the classes when I got over my crush.

But you can break this codependent mindset by learning to put the spotlight on yourself and not on those you’re trying to impress. Heck, you shouldn’t  even try to impress people. I mean, ever. Because, working hard to be liked by a person is kind of selfish right? We, codependents try to make people like us back because we need to feel loved.

Another way to break the co-dependent mindset is to learn to set boundaries.

Boundaries make the difference between healthy relationships and toxic relationships. When you decide what your boundaries are, and that you’re going to let go of those who keep breaking them, you will increase your self-esteem.

If you don’t know what boundaries are, check out this post I wrote a while ago ‘How to set boundaries and protect your beautiful self’.

Also, if you are dealing with people who are constantly bombarding your boundaries, read this What to do when someone doesn’t respect your boundaries.

By not letting people disrespect you, you’re proving yourself that you deserve good treatment from others. This will make you feel good about yourself. It will also help you recognize faster those unhealthy folks you might hang out with. When you realize you have been disrespected in a way or another, you need to leave immediately. You can’t negotiate with toxic people. If they re-write your boundaries and decide for themselves how you should be treated, leave. And make room in your life for those who do respect you.

You don’t wanna be like Phil in Groundhog Day (the Phil at the beginning of the movie), the bitter journalist who didn’t have anything good to say about others. You will repeat what happens to you in relationships if you don’t rid yourself of the old belief that you’re not worthy of love and respect.

Each day you’ll wake up listening to the same alarm song. You’ll see the same types of people and make the same sarcastic jokes to cover a dissatisfaction with life.

Feeling tired or scared of new opportunities that might come your way.

Happy end?

The end of Groundhog Day is kind of hopeful. Phil interrupts the cycle of repetition (he calls it, the eternity) when he becomes more open to the world around him.

He starts being direct with old acquaintances who would annoy him in the past, he beings to pay attention to his friends’ personal lives, their likes and dislikes. He would then feel more confident about approaching women, and especially the woman he loved. I think, eventually, Phil realized he is worthy of love, thus, life rewarded him with good experiences.

Are you ready to be open to new, healthy relationships? To care for yourself and give yourself what you need?

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