We've all been there. Maybe we are there, stuck in a toxic relationship. We perceive the other person as negative, pessimistic, troubled, and irritating. As much as we'd like to blame them for all the troubles, however, we know that we "let" them "trip" our button. It's like they are surrounded by a dark cloud that makes us cough not nice words right back at them.
It's one thing if we can avoid the person. Sometimes this isn't possible, especially if we're related to that special Pigpen (the character in Charles Schultz's cartoon strip, Peanuts, who is surrounded by a cloud of dust). What if our poisonous pill is a parent, sibling, child, co-worker, or even our spouse?
There are a lot of great books and systems featuring techniques for taking the sting out of our lethal interactions. After all, we really don't have to bite back. We can choose to leave the kitchen when our mother is criticizing our cooking for the umpteenth time (a common occurrence in my life as frankly, I can't cook peanut butter on celery). But, sometimes we can't seem to control our responses. When this occurs, we need to dig deeper into our psyche than perhaps we're used to. We must excavate our souls and transform ourselves.
As I explore in my book, Beyond Soul Mates, most relationships connect on the soul-to-soul level. Our soul is that part of us that travels through time-gathering experiences in order to learn about love. In the course of our interactions, we gain the ability to bond and care, to give and receive compassion. We also get hurt. This hurt becomes the basis of misconceptions about love, which lead to our participation in toxic relationships.
Think about it. How many dysfunctional beliefs do you think you hold in regard to love? Many of us suffer a deep sense of unworthiness or lack of deserving. Certain soul-based relationships trigger these inner sensations; these are the ones that feel toxic to us. These are the ones that drive us crazy. These are also the ones presenting us with a great gift, the chance to change our innermost and darkest beliefs so they reflect our true self, the essential self that knows it is lovable and deserving of love.
The basic process is simple.
Our soul holds all our misconceptions about love, such as, "I am unworthy," or, "Intimacy is too frightening," or, "I will only be love if I suffer fools." Our true self, on the other hand, knows the truth. It believes in its own and others' sincere goodness and worthiness. It knows that love is innate to us all. It also knows it doesn’t need to engage in unhealthy behaviors.
Shifting our soul beliefs to true-self beliefs is actually easiest to do when we're involved in negative relationships because our issues are so clear. In smooth relationships, we don't have to question the thoughts and feelings secreted inside of our psyche; we're already content with what is going on. But bad relationships? The beliefs that make us mistreat others or accept the same are constantly swirling up. They are literally "on the table," asking us to examine and transform them.
We shift our negative beliefs by concentrating on what our true self knows as truthful. While our soul is screaming, "I only deserve abusive relationships," or, "I have to be in charge of others," or, "I don't need to be safe," our true self is whispering, "I deserve the equal exchange of kindness," or, "I get to be with people who are nice."
By focusing on the beliefs innate to our true self, we can spirit away our soul's misconceptions. How do we do this?
If involved in a toxic relationship, I recommend that you actually list your soul's misconceptions and compare them to your true self's awareness. Now decide you are going to express your true self's beliefs and ignore your soul's misconceptions. You'll notice you begin to engage with others, yes, even your toxic partners, out of the spiritual qualities amenable to your true self. Your own behavior will change, inviting the same in others—or not. Either way, you'll like yourself better.
Sometimes we shift the negative beliefs in our soul and the relationship changes for the better. This process worked between my mother and myself.
Quite simplistically, we have never gotten along; we're like oil and water. In fact, I spent most of my childhood railing against her every statement. A few years ago I decided it was time to embody my true self's beliefs and I started to be more kind, gentle, and straightforward with her. My mother responded with increased wit and joy. Now we actually enjoy each other's company and laugh about our idiosyncrasies.
Sometimes the expression of our core self eliminates a relationship from our life landscape. For instance, I once dated a man whose every move sent me to the moon. One of his favorite activities was to break up with me when his life was stressed. I swear that it was a hobby for him. I ask for help with Thanksgiving dinner? He's on the run. I suggest that he move his suitcase out of the way so I can get through the hotel room door? He would say he was finished with me.
In a typical relationship, I would have suggested that he remain on the run. Unfortunately—or fortunately—I too frequently hooked my childhood and soul-based issues and react, feeling unworthy and scared. The abandonment I experienced in childhood set me up to be okay with being abandoned as an adult.
By concentrating on my true self's beliefs instead of my soul issues, however, I began to gain confidence in my own worthiness. I started saying, "no" a lot more. And I stopped seeing this individual altogether.
We can't always avoid toxic relationships but we can use them to our own loving advantage. We can shift from our soul to our true self and in the process, embody the best of ourselves. Who knows who will respond?