Changing Toxic Patterns is hard

I see how my own actions and energy attracted exactly what I didn’t want to attract.

I don’t have to run away anymore. I don’t have to stuff all my emotions down so that I can’t feel them in order to get through the day. I don’t have to live my life in confusion and anxiety not knowing what direction I am going from one day to the next. Those days physically ended when I walked away from my marriage over a year ago. But my pattern of racing through my day and holding everything in stayed with me. I feel like in the last few weeks I am slowly releasing that pattern, and my old way of being.

From the outside looking at me, you might think that would be easy. You might think I would let go of those old patterns with a sigh of relief, and that I would be glad to say good riddance to the old me. But it is not so easy. Those patterns were developed over years and perfected so that I didn’t let certain information into my mind and body. They helped me to look like a person that had it all together. I was wearing a mask and hiding my pain, sadness and despair. So this year has been about not only putting that mask down with others, it is also about putting it down to myself, and looking underneath.

I made the decision at the beginning of this year to take a step back and do some internal work. I knew I needed to stop looking outside myself for validation and love, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. Not looking outside myself is hard. When I slowed down and examined my pattern of doing things for validation and approval, I saw a side of me that I was kind of embarrassed about. I saw myself wanting people to think I was smart, knowledgable, courageous, attractive and valuable. I don’t know how I thought I knew what they were thinking, so I would take actions to try and achieve an invisible goal. In actuality I had no idea what other people were thinking about me, none of us do. But somehow I thought I knew how to make others feel a certain way about me.

Of course we all want to be valued, but I wanted others validation above my own. I guess you call it a ‘people pleaser’, but really the person I wanted to please was me. I felt like I could relax within myself if others liked and approved of me. If others were mad at me, it gave me extreme anxiety and I couldn’t relax until I knew they weren’t mad anymore. When I really looked at this pattern that I developed, I see that my ‘state’ was being controlled by what I thought others were thinking, and until I thought that they were thinking something else I couldn’t relax.

Now that I have taken a step back from it, the pattern was really just all in my head. No one ever came out and told me they were mad at me or didn’t like me, but I would perceive their energy and interpret it to mean certain things to me personally. Then I was off to the races to make them change the way they perceived me, without even having a conversation with them to see if what I thought was true.

Looking at my past behavior I see myself trying so hard, and having so much anxiety over situations were I didn’t have all the information. I thought I knew, but I was just skimming the surface. Letting go of this pattern is very hard, it is my go-to way of being that has allowed my to survive very toxic situations. It is close to my heart, and I am grateful that I developed a way to be that kept me alive, and didn’t destroy my mental health. I have learned that in my toxic relationships of the past, our interactions could not go any deeper than surface. This is because they weren’t real relationships, they were situations were I was being manipulated and basically used for the other person’s benefit. There was no depth to it. I developed a way to be so that I could be in these situations without my character being called into question, and being told I was a bad worthless person because I didn’t behave in a certain way. That ‘way’ was usually the way the other person wanted me to act.

I was ignorant to all this though. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but couldn’t put my finger on it. I would keep trying to connect with people that had no desire to connect with me. I kept trying to get to know people that didn’t want to be known. I kept trying to get them to validate and approve of me, and see my value. What I didn’t know at the time is that they already saw my value, and they wanted to have a piece of it. What I have learned about these types of relationships is that they wouldn’t have been around me if I didn’t have value to them.

But I developed a distorted view of relationships. Even though it was completely unhealthy for me to be in these one sided relationships, they allowed me to stay on the surface with myself. I didn’t have to dive too deep into my own behaviors and emotions, because they were always creating chaos that I could focus on. And when I wasn’t focussing on them, I could indulge in my own feelings of loneliness and spend my time licking my wounds rather then having to put the effort into my own growth. As complicated and twisted as all of this sounds, I found comfort in these types of relationships, because I could hide myself inside of them. No one was asking me to reveal anything about myself. It was all about outward actions, appearance and doing things for someone else. It was all surface, and there was a comfort in that for me.

I see now how my own actions attracted exactly what I didn’t want to attract. I see how I focussed on that one person who was rude to me, rather than the 20 people that were nice to me. I see how I took on others frustrations, and I couldn’t relax until I perceived their mood to be better. I know now that I did all of this subconsciously, and I did all of it with good intentions. The first step in changing these patterns is acknowledging them, and it is important to acknowledge them without judgement. I was attracting certain people into my life through subconscious patterns and energy that I was putting out. They were in my life because I kept them there and felt a sort of comfort in the dysfunction. Not that I know for sure, but I can assume that they were acting on their own subconscious patterns and were attracted to me. It couldn’t have been any other way as long as I was stuck trying to receive my value from others. It is so clear to me now, but that doesn’t mean my old way of being disappears overnight. It is going to take time to learn a new way to be, and know that it is safe to dive deep into my own emotions and feel comfortable within my body. It is a process, as I learn that it is not a matter of finding the right person to love me, but being that right person to love myself.

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    1. Thanks Gwen, you are so right. I worked so hard at ‘love’, thinking that I had to prove myself in order to get love. But Self Love is always available to me!!!