How to Break the Cycle of ‘Bad’ Relationships


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Relationships, Thought | Posted on 04-21-2016

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Break The Bad Relationship Cycle!Unless we live alone in a cave with no access to the outside world, we’re always having some sort of relationship with others. These range from casual “smile at you in the street” relationships, to those we have with co-workers, close friends, family, partners, etc.  As adults, we develop a particular way of dealing with each of these types of relationships based on who we believe we are, as well who we perceive others to be. In other words, we deal with people based on beliefs and perceptions that we make up in our heads.

Yet who we think we are and who we believe others to be is not written in stone.

Our beliefs are not only changeable, but they’re ever-changing. Most of us have formed an idea of who we are based on a whole mish-mash of stuff. For instance, what other people have said about us while we were growing up such as, “You have a lot of patience,” or “You have no attention span.” etc. We’ve also formed ideas of who we are based on what comes easy or hard to us and what we like and dislike in life. We’ll even justify those beliefs by saying it’s how we’ve “always been.”

The bottom line is that we think these aspects of ourself are fixed and who we truly are. But they’re not. They’re not even real.

It’s the same with what we think of others. Our opinion of them is just our made-up belief of who we think they are. It’s not actually who they are, but an image we have in our head about them.

In fact, all of our relationships are based on a series of made up images.

Realizing this opens up a whole new world for us and the way we relate to others. If we are not necessarily who we always thought we were, we don’t have to act (or even think) the same way we always have before.

And when we realize that others aren’t necessarily who we thought they were, we can see them in new and different ways.

When we combine those two things–a new us and a new them–the possibilities are endless! Suddenly, when our significant other does that thing he does that in the past would set us off, it doesn’t have to anymore. We no longer have to be “the person who gets sets off by that thing he does.” And when we also start to see our significant other in a new light, it can doubly transform the relationship. We might now see that they’re not “doing that thing” because they are a jerk, but for other reasons that have nothing to do with us. And when we’re no longer simply reacting out of old patterned ways, you can bet at some point the others in our lives will start to notice.

Which creates entirely new relationships.

This illustrates clearly how so much of our relationships are in our minds. Change our mind and the relationship has to also change. It only takes one in the relationship to see things differently. To create a new and different image in our mind. No matter how much of a jerk we think someone is, there’s usually at least one person who finds them amusing, or good natured, or just going through a rough patch. As hard as it may seem to believe, the most jerkiest person in the world to us may be sweet and kind to others in a different situation.

Because our vision of others is just something we made up in the first place, it can change at any time.

Confused by this?

Here’s something to help you see it more clearly. Look at how much you have changed over time. Perhaps you can see it in something simple like how your taste in food has changed. When you were a kid, did you ever think you’d like spicy stuff? Or brussels sprouts? Or whatever it is that you eat now but thought was gross in the past. Now look beyond food. What else do you like now that you didn’t used to?

For me, I’m barely recognizable from the person I was just 4 years ago. Which helps me to see just how much my old fixed image of myself can change. But even if you haven’t gone through a major transformation like I have, you’ve still changed–a lot. Has your image of yourself kept up with the new you?

And what about the people in your life? Have you not noticed how much they’ve also changed? Or are you still holding onto an old image of them?

Here’s an experiment for you to try for a week or so to help you change the way you see yourself and others:

If you find yourself saying things like, “I don’t like ____,” or “I’m not the kind of person who does ___.” Question whether that’s really true or not. And do the same thing when you think about someone else. If you hear yourself saying, “She’s a ____ kind of person.” Question whether that’s really true as well. Is there any wiggle room for how you see them? Can you possibly see them even just a tiny bit differently? If you can, you’re on your way to discovering a completely different relationship with them.

Let me know how it goes! – Jill

Here’s a video that talks about a similar thing:

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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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This reminds me of Maxwell Maltz’s book Psycho-Cybernetics. In it he describes his work as a plastic surgeon. He found a curious thing where he would fix some major flaw on a person’s face and make them beautiful, but the person would look in the mirror and say, I’m still ugly. He couldn’t figure out what was happening until he realized that they hadn’t changed their internal image of themselves. It wasn’t until they changed how they viewed themselves that they could look in the mirror and see how beautiful they had become.

That became the basis for much of his thoughts and research related to how humans act in accordance with their self image, their picture of themselves.

The other interesting thing you raise is the part where you say,
“No matter how much of a jerk we think someone is, there’s usually at least one person who finds them amusing, or good natured, or just going through a rough patch.”
That’s a good way to keep things in perspective, although of course you still can make the decision that you don’t find the person amusing or good natured and would prefer not to be in their company.

Yes, completely agree, Beth! (Think I read that book a few decades ago based on your recommendation.)

It’s interesting, the part about our view of ourselves keeping up with who we are now. As someone who has changed so much in a relatively short period of time, I had that “problem” for awhile. (Think I wrote about here somewhere.) Sometimes I’d forget I was “New Jill” and say or do something “Old Jillish.” It would be funny when I’d notice, however, because it didn’t feel right anymore to say or do whatever it was.

While I don’t generally advocate having to do anything to keep up with who any of us have transitioned to, I did find that coming to grips with the fact that Old Jill doesn’t actually exist anymore, seemed to re-calibrate me.

These days I try not to even label myself at all, but not sure if that’s possible. I do know that I have the infinite potential to be anyone I want to be, and do try to not lock myself into any particular image of who I am right now. After all, I might be someone different tomorrow!

I think it is good to calibrate to the new you, as well as the you that you wish to be. It’s good to shed old Jill for current an future Jill.

One example of my own about the power (and detriment) of your beliefs about yourself that comes to mind is from early in my career in sales.

Each person on our team had a stretch goal of billing $10,000 per month. If we billed that amount we were doing very well. We worked hard to envision ourselves “as someone who bills $10,000 per month.” But a funny thing would happen. If for some reason you had a really good month started and billed $10,000 in the first week of the month, you would not be able to bill anything more for the next few weeks! We literally had a vision of ourselves as billing $10,000 per month, nothing less AND nothing more!
Took awhile to recognize that we were subconsciously holding ourselves back without even knowing it.

Law of Attraction 🙂