Addressing unhealthy relationships and emotional abuse in the context of “get away from toxicity” is not always enough because an exploration into upbringing is equally important. This will go a long way on the road to recovery. Learning what attracts you into a situation can help you prevent repetition. This article is meant for the abuser and the abused.
Foundational issues are rarely addressed and some of the clarion calls to walk away from bad relationships are a waste of time if you end up repeating the same modus operandi in a new relationship.
We can bash bad behaviour and ban toxic people from our lives, but have you considered that you may be someone else’s “toxic” partner or the trigger to her/his toxicity?!
Common questions asked:
“Why do I keep meeting the wrong kind of people?”
“Why do I walk all over people that show me affection?”
There are people attracted to the wrong kind of energy but cannot place a finger on why they make the same bad decisions over and over again when it comes to dating/marriage. Some wonder why they frustrate their partners even though they had the best intentions at the beginning. This may have something to do with their UPBRINGING and AFFECT TOLERANCE.
Affect tolerance means how much of your emotion you can tolerate? Sit with? Feel? That is, without needing to take action to shut them off. A person’s tolerance cannot be measured precisely. However, it is useful as one indicator of mental and emotional health.
People who can tolerate, accept, identify and express their emotions adequately are psychologically ahead of the game. Affect tolerant people are able to experience how they feel without deflecting, shutting down or panicking. For most affect tolerant people, their background plays a major part in this, they usually have at least one well attached, kind and responsive caregiver or parent who built up the muscles of positive attachment or positive feeling, as early as infancy.
The parent-child relationship plays a massive role in a child’s self-esteem, performance in school, relationships & attachments, cognitive development and behaviour. Behaviour that is not reinforced in childhood, is often extinguished. There are a few ways this plays out in adulthood.
Below are three of many ways this relationship can influence an adult’s life.
1. Reinforcing positive emotions alone
Parents who reinforce only positive emotions and inhibit or ignore anger, sadness and fear may raise children who suppress, dissociate away and feel deep shame over any negative emotion. These kids may develop narcissistic personalities in their efforts to hold on to their goodness and avoid the bad which terrifies them. Narcissists must be seen as good and positive by everyone around them or they will sink into the shame-filled depression from their perceived badness.
2. Seeking emotional validation
Parents who inhibit all emotions but praise or accept caregiving from their children. These kids grow up to be closet narcissists or co-dependent adults who try to take care of all others, not knowing or trying to know their own needs and they have no internal defence or reassurance against shame. At times their only defence may be showing goodness while ignoring themselves until they are seen as good enough.
Parents/caregivers who abuse their children produce individuals with a wide range of responses that include hyper-vigilance, shame, violently defensive reactions or dissociation (disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity). Complications like these can lead to going frozen when stressed or having outbursts of anger, attraction and tolerance for an abuser. These kids or the adults they grow into can become numb or overreact, they may not respond appropriately to danger, self sooth and become avoidant of many things. When in relationships, these categories of people feel “if I attach to anyone, I’ll be abused and if I feel good, it will just be taken away, why bother”.
These foundations can impact your perception of love. Furthermore, moving from relationship to relationship with this kind of baggage can build up to more trauma and faulty thinking, like feeling not good enough or becoming desperate enough to needlessly sacrifice yourself to prove your loyalty to your partner.
Self-Awareness is the key to helping yourself understand why you do the things you do so that you are able to gradually fix those faulty notions (stinking thinking) you have.
The best place to work through the issues and self explore is in therapy with a professional counsellor.
About The Writer
Rebecca Ojiru is a multipotentialite. She is a Lawyer, Professional Baker, Hatha Yoga Instructor, Certified PMP (until 2017) and a Licenced Professional Counsellor. Rebecca is currently a full-time Mental Health Counsellor and provides support for trauma recovery, depression, anxiety and behavioural addictions.
She runs a wellness blog that educates and brings awareness to simple ways to maintain your sanity as a person living in Nigeria, encouraging sensitivity towards those struggling with mental health problems.
Why does Rebecca preach about mental health? To change close-minded perceptions about mental illness and get more people to be more cognizant of their mind’s wellness (psychology) just as they protect their body’s health (physiology).
To book a therapy session, email email@example.com or Whatsapp 0915 820 5454
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