February 13th, 2021 12:00am
There are three areas in life from which most challenges arise: money, health, and relationships. All three hold almost equal wait, and when one is toxic, it will affect at least one of the other two.
In this blog, I will be focusing on relationships. Examples of relationships between people are family, friends, romantic, business, neighborly. In my more than thirty years of medical practice, personal life, and work as CoachMD, I have seen that most torment in relationships stems from family and romantic. Hundreds of people have come to me seeking advice on this topic. To this end, I have put together a list of the four primary influencers that can make or break a relationship. A toxic relationship wreaks havoc on our physical body (health) and destroys our finances (money).
Jealousy requires at least three parties—the two in a relationship and a third outside the relationship. It is the outsider that poses a threat to one in the relationship. On the other hand, Envy requires just two parties—a person envies something of or about the other. Jealousy arises when there is a past outsider, a current one, or the prospects of someone coming along in the future. This person may be bigger, stronger, better looking, wealthier, have the appearance of more confidence, for instance, and play on the insecurities of one in the relationship. What can arise becomes toxic. Jealousy arises from our primitive nature, which I have defined as the automatic brain (or AB). This brain is responsible for protecting us from any danger, threat, or vulnerability. When the external environment (or internal via thoughts) signals danger is near, it sends an alert to the AB. The AB reacts to this signal by causing us to fight or flee. When we are faced with a situation in which we are being potentially "one-upped" or having love withdrawn are both instances that the AB detects as danger. Jealousy is a form of this, and all the behaviors that arise from it are us fighting or fleeing. The fighting manifests as anger, which can further escalate to rage and/or emotional or physical mistreatment. At the same time, the fleeing usually results in one leaving the relationship.
Very few of us really enjoy conflict. Unless you have gotten used to a lot of it, for instance, if you worked as a prosecuting attorney, conflict is very uncomfortable. When it enters into a relationship, it can tear it apart. Conflict occurs when the parties in a relationship do not agree on a particular point of view and refuse to see it from another's perspective. The same process occurs with the AB as described above. "I'm right; you're wrong," is a threat. It is the danger of being "one-upped," and with this danger comes fight or flight. The fight can be similar to what occurs with jealousy. Simultaneously, the flight usually doesn't result in one party leaving but leads to a withdrawal or a tolerance of the other's perspective. This can result in resentment and lead to passive-aggressive behaviors, which become toxic to all involved in the relationship. Learn more on my YouTube Channel.
I have, myself, listened to countless numbers of people tell me that their partner or family member doesn't listen to them. In our modern-day, we are distracted by so much. Often, when someone is talking to us, we find ourselves on our smartphone, watching the news on television, or thinking about our life, the world, and our children. As Steven Covey once wrote, the other issue can be, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Real listening is one of the most respectful actions toward another person, especially someone you like or love. Not only is it respectful, but it tells a person that you genuinely appreciate them and their point of view. Unfortunately, in our modern-day, many people feel unappreciated. This can lead to sadness and insecurity and be the demise of an otherwise stable relationship. Listening can not be in our wheelhouse, our comfort zone. When we venture out of our comfort zone, our pesky AB senses that danger may be around the corner. Listening as a threat? Hard to believe, but that may very well be why it is a struggle for some of us.
Since 1960, the global divorce rate has increased from 12 to 44 percent. This probably reflects the expansion of information technologies. We have access to so much information and are so "in the know" that too often, the grass always looks greener in other pastures. Loyalty goes against the grain of our primitive nature, especially for men, because it limits our ability to spread our DNA far and wide. Yet, those who can master loyalty radiate integrity and strong character. After all, if one can prevent the AB's dictates from controlling him/her, it sets the foundation of a long-lasting relationship. Perhaps if one were to focus on the first three items above, the loyalty part would become easier.
Relationships are hard but worth it. We, humans, are social beings and thrive on good relationships. These four aspects, when explored and worked on, can be a basis for any relationship. Tune into my relationship series on YouTube.
© Dr. Charles F. Glassman, CoachMD