Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships

Today I’m sharing a couple visuals I had received to show the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. There have been many news articles recently sharing how Covid-19 has caused an increase in violence and abuse incidences, which is devastating to think about on top of everything else, but feel it’s important we keep talking about it.

For so many years when I heard the word ‘abuse’, I immediately visualized physical abuse and didn’t know it came in so many other forms. It took many years for me to realize emotional neglect is one of many forms of abuse that causes significant trauma.

For many of us, abuse is not obvious because we may have experienced it as a child and therefore accepted it as ‘normal’ not knowing anything different. For some, it’s insidious and it’s not until we’ve reached a peak of intolerance where we begin to realize the type of dynamic we might be in, and others might notice it right away. Abuse shows up in many different ways.

It can be especially difficult to see the red flags when we’re still unknowingly attached to relationships through the lens of childhood wounds and pain. Our body knows when a relationship isn’t healthy but it does require awareness without avoidance and denial.

During my first personal therapy session, my therapist gave me the following two sheets of paper:

Healthy
Healthy Equal Relationship
Unhealthy
Unhealthy Toxic Relationship

Credit: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project – www.duluth-model.org.

At the time I received these, I had never considered using the words “abuse” or “violence” for any of my relationships so I was not entirely receptive or in a mental state to accept this information. Reading this today, those behaviours are clearly toxic but when I first read it I had so much brain fog and needed time to process it all. Deep down I knew they were toxic, but I was deep in denial.

As you read some of those behaviours:

  • Do certain people come to mind?
  • Loved ones?
  • Friends?
  • Coworkers?
  • Businesses?
  • Organizations?
  • Perhaps you’ve noticed some behaviours from yourself?

It can be a lot to absorb when we’re starting to look at the finer details of our interactions. Our minds and bodies are fascinating when it comes to adapting to toxic environments in order to stay safe and we can unconsciously learn many (and some not so great) behaviours to cope.

What I’ve learned is we cannot heal in the same place that made us sick, especially when two people are not willing or capable of doing the inner work.

During that same session my therapist taught me a new word that would soon be the craze later that year which is well worth practicing. BOUNDARIES.

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