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As we address negative behaviour patterns in our relationships, we can look forward to happier and more fulfilling times.
Relationships change because of factors like time, roles and responsibilities. But all these are natural elements. There also exist toxic elements which have a negative impact on relationships like selfishness, ego, control, jealousy, secrecy, and passivity. Let us see how these toxic elements affect our relationships and how we can deal with them.
Both spirituality and psychology recommend that we focus on ‘self’. They explain that only our ‘self’ can guide us to the path of righteousness. But, focusing on self is different from selfishness. Selfishness is when we continuously think only about our own wishes and needs, overlooking those of others.
By being selfish, we often demean others. It suffocates those involved in the relationship. They feel offended and slowly start distancing from us.
Ego is a sense of self worth and importance. It gets hurt when challenged or criticised. It strengthens on getting appreciation and respect.
When all transactions in our relationship are driven by our ego, we are impulsive and vulnerable to either hurting our emotions or the emotions of others. Others are always careful while interacting with us. Doing so, they start feeling a constant pressure and frustration. But our unmoved attitude repels them.
Control is power to influence other’s behaviour. We constantly assess and form judgments about others. Negative judgments make us insecure and we develop the need to control.
When we assume control of everything, we make others feel unimportant. The other feels choked and entrapped in the relationship. As a result, s/he becomes passive and this builds tension and arguments in the relationship.
Jealousy is when we are envious and resentful of others’ achievements and advantages. Often, the feeling of jealousy comes when we compare ourselves or our situations with others. This gives us a feeling of inferiority which is generated from fear of getting isolated and abandoned.
Our inferiority complex develops a sense of rivalry and unhealthy competition. We end up making critical remarks and blindly imitating others’ actions. By doing so, we harm ourselves and the relationship.
Many of us confuse secrecy with privacy, thinking that hiding will not make any difference. Secrecy is when we hide some information, which the other person has the right to know as the information is directly or indirectly related to the basic purpose of the relationship. Privacy, on the other hand, is holding away information that the other has no right to know.
Hiding information that defies the mutually agreed terms breaks trust and curbs transparency, giving the other feeling of betrayal.
Passivity is when we are neutral and have no orientation to nurture the relationship.
Most people who are neutral get a sudden shock when they find themselves away from their relationships. And when the relationship suddenly collapses, there is ambiguity around the reasons. We either give explanations or go in a denial mode.
Thus, we can have truly enriching relationships by identifying the toxic elements and banishing them from our life and relationship.
This was first published in the September 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing