What do you want? The answer to that question can make a huge difference in your life. We all know that’s true when it comes to setting goals, making plans and overcoming obstacles. We don’t always use the concept when it comes to our relationships. What if you were to ask yourself that question until you get a clear, reasonable answer? Consider this scenario:
- My husband never pays attention to me.
- What do you want?
- I want him to pay attention to me
- What do you want?
- I want him to listen when I talk
During bible study the co-pastor and first lady of my church, Dr. Natalie Francisco, offered a rhyme to describe the types of people we should stay away from. This comment from Dr. Nat (as she is affectionately known) stuck with me and made me think. It went like this:
|DOUBTERS POUTERS HATERS PERPETRATORS|
DOUBTERS These are people who have decided they know more about you than you do. They share their misguided, sometimes mean spirited, and usually wrong opinions with you and everyone else who will listen. Share your dreams with them and get them buried in mud and dropped in quicksand for good measure. You can recognize a doubter from the small, neat little box he or she has drawn to keep their world small. They have a tendency to want to point out everything that’s wrong about you, your gifts, your plans etc. They usually don’t care to talk about their own faults. POUTERS Pouters have a permanent “woe is me” attitude. They don’t take responsibility for anything that happens to or around them. Everything is either someone else’s fault or happens because someone is out to get them. They are also emotional “Black holes.” You can never do enough for them. They are not willing to participate in their own well-being and, if you try to make life better for them, they will suck the life right out of you. HATERS These are people who want to harm or belittle you because they are jealous. A hater is someone who can’t deal with your success. They envy who you are and what you have but either can’t or don’t want to do what is necessary to obtain it. Sometimes they blindside you because they are people who are close to you. No matter how they act, they don’t really hate you; most likely they want to BE you. PERPETRATORS These are the people for whom image is more important than reality. A perpetrator is the person who would be driving a big luxury SUV and would not have enough money in their wallet to fill the gas tank. They stand poised and ready to jump aboard your bandwagon. Become successful and they become your best friend; ready to drop your name to see what kind of leverage it gives them. The thing that all of these types of people have in common is the potential to be toxic. They can poison your mind, your body, and your spirit. The best way to improve your life immeasurably is to rid your life of toxic people. Sometimes when you think of doubters, pouters, haters and perpetrators, you think of them as people who are outside of your inner circle of friends. Big mistake! Until you develop the ability to recognize and set boundaries with these people, they are very much a part of your inner circle. At this point you may be asking, “Dr. Lori how do I recognize the doubters, pouters, haters and perpetrators in my life and how do I know if they are toxic? The way to do that is to compare the people in your life to the descriptions above. If you find people in your life that fit the description pay attention to how you feel after an encounter with them. Do you feel worse, less optimistic, more insecure, or more helpless than you did before the encounter? If so you are dealing with a toxic person. I am not saying it is EASY to eliminate these kinds of people from your life. What I am saying is it is POSSIBLE. Even if they are people you love and who love you. You may have to limit your exposure to them. You may have to cut them off altogether. Most importantly, you must replace them with positive people who believe in you. As you begin to make those life-changing adjustments you will find that the more you do it the easier it gets.
I have always likened leaving an unhealthy relationship to dislocating a shoulder. I know this sounds a little strange but hear me out. Let me explain how Leaving a relationship in which you are undervalued is like dislocating a shoulder. The first thing a doctor does with a dislocated shoulder is pull it into place. This hurts much worse but the shoulder begins to heal immediately. Soon the pain stops. If you don’t pull the shoulder (leave the relationship) you never heal and the pain continues indefinitely. Most adults know that true love is not the heart pounding, breath holding mixture of lust and insanity that you may feel at the beginning of a relationship. Love can start there but true love evolves into something safe and stable not that does not keep you in constant pain. Even healthy relationships involve some degree of pain; however the pain should be bearable and it should not be relentless. When a relationship is doing you more harm than good, it could be time to “pull the shoulder.”