Sunday, December 17, 2017

Post Estrangement: the role of authenticity in reconciliations

I recently heard this thought in a video I was watching
“We can either have authenticity or we can simply preserve a relationship.” ~ Dr. Gabor Mate

If we put on a mask, pretend to be okay, talk about fluff we can preserve a relationship. It is what we have been programmed to do from a young age when we received the message that "our feelings" don't matter, when the grownups in our lives introduced us to the concept of not sharing our feelings was what they preferred.  Do mostly all adults in authority do this to children?  Is the process of teaching children about teaching them to share only those emotions that they (the adults) are comfortable dealing with?  If this is the case, is it any surprise that some people who study personality and character say that everyone has grown up in some way learning to be inauthentic and that this is where so many of our relational problems stem from.  

So what do we as children learn?  We learn that authenticity (being real and expressing our feelings) is frowned up by our care givers especially when those feeling are ones they find uncomfortable dealing with.  That means, anger, frustrations, resentment etc. have to be suppressed, ignored and unexpressed if we want to have a nurturing relationship with our caregivers. We learn early on that authenticity, expressing our authentic feelings puts our lives in danger if your caregivers become angry with us, withdraw their affection etc.  We learn early on which emotions to NOT express, and which emotions are the safe ones (happy, content, grateful etc). We learn when to “shut up and shut down” and we learn to pretend, put on a false mask or playact for those we can’t afford to antagonize.

So we become adults who internalize the message that authenticity is something to be feared.  We bring this false core belief to all our interactions and our relationships.  We fear to share too much, we fear to be too real because people might not like us and we continue to filter everything we say through the process of not saying anything that might “annoy” or infringe upon the “contentment of the other person.  Of course we do this in different ways depending on our personality.  People pleasers do this in an attempt to not anger or disturb the more dominating personalities.  However, the more dominating personalities sublimate their own authenticity too when they fail to look at why they get emotional release from dominating others or why they get so very angry when someone dares to point out to them that their actions are hurtful.  They don’t want to look at their authentic self to explore why they are the way they are. 

However, when we are serious about healing we learn that if we go after authenticity, when we start to express how we feel, not in a moment of anger, but in serious communication we do face the fear of destroying the relationship that has been based upon non expression of emotional truths and feelings.  And just yelling at another person that they are angry, or hurling hurtful comments is not communication of feelings. 


Communication of feelings requires us to know what we are feeling, why we are feeling it, what triggers that feeling and what we need the other person to do differently to not put up this wall of non-communication.  This requires knowledge of one’s own responses as well as understanding that the other person also has triggers and emotional responses that are not necessarily rational.

And if one person in the relationship reaches a point where they are willing to be authentic and the other person is not, you have to face the very real prospect that being authentic when the other person is not ready could destroy the relationship, because not everyone is ready to deal with authenticity.


When we recognize that the other person is not ready to be authentic we do the “tip toe dance”.  This is where the phrase “walking on egg shells” comes from.  The feeling that we constantly must be on guard about what we say; that if we say the wrong thing the other person will explode into rage at us.  We filter our comments and thoughts so as not to trigger the other person.  This is the height of unauthenticity in that we know we are doing it and we do it anyway so as “not to rock the boat”. 

This is when we recognize that we can either have a relationship or we can have authenticity but we can’t have both.  Putting our real feelings on the table, being vulnerable, being authentic will drive the person who is not ready for such a personal form of interaction away.  They will either be afraid to express their deeper more real selves or they will retaliate in anger for you daring to point out that what they did or said had such an affect upon you.

This is when you realize that some people are very happy with a casual relationship based on nothing more significant that talking about the pleasantries of life.  The gossipy conversations about other people’s lives and all the empty conversations we participate in to “fill the silence” of not saying anything at all.   Now many people are quite happy living in this state with these kinds of relationships.  They have no interest in being real, and it works for them because they either feel in control of the drama, or because they want to avoid the drama.

The problem arises when there are difficulties in the relationship, when one person is always on the receiving end of criticism and they have to stuff down their negative reaction to the critic to not antagonize the giver of the criticism.  You have a situation then where you “avoid” topics, or back away from certain discussions to preserve the peace.  However the source of the tension remains, it is the wall that feels unsurmountable because of all the things that are not discussed, not explored, not worked through.  The longer things are not worked on or worked out, the bigger the wall becomes.

Vulnerability requires us to look at how our actions affect others.  Authenticity requires us to explore these responses.  In healing we do the work on ourselves, we explore our authenticity and our vulnerabilities and get to know who we are, why others treat us the way they do, why we respond to certain triggers the way we do.  We also start to learn what their vulnerabilities are and why they are camouflaging their vulnerability with aggressive actions to avoid facing their internal issues. 

We reach a certain point in our healing however where we realize that healing relationships requires two people willing to be in the same space of vulnerability and authenticity.  We recognize that we could if we wanted to go back to putting on the mask to preserve the old relationship but we also question whether we want to go back to “walking on egg shells” to preserve something that is not very healthy, something that is filled with shrouded areas where no one is allowed to look too closely at the ghosts and skeletons in the closet.  We then face the question, which do I value more?  Do I value my authenticity or do I value a relationship based on hiding my authentic self? And if I value the relationship am I willing to put my own need, my need to be authentic aside?  Am I willing to sacrifice my need for authenticity for the need of the other person to not face their internal demons?

Every relationship we have at some point in our healing journey gets tested by these questions.  If we have been in the habit of putting other people’s needs first, ahead of our own, we might be tempted to go for the “walking on egg shells” relationships.  If we have divested ourselves of our need to be the peace keeper at all costs, we might be more inclined to say “authentic or nothing”.  We might get to that place where “no” relationship is preferable to a relationship with someone who requires us to hid our real selves to preserve their comfort level.

When we ask another person to be authentic with us we want them to face their actions and the consequences of their actions.  When we want an authentic relationship we want to work together at becoming more real.  When we are ready to be that vulnerable we want the important other people in our lives to also be that vulnerable.  But what if they are not ready?

What if they are not ready to look at themselves because one of their coping mechanisms is to look only at the faults of others?  What if they want to blame you so they don’t have to look at their own actions and their own contributions to the problem?  Can you have an authentic relationship with a person still stuck in blaming others for their problems?  I believe this is not possible unless we are willing to take the blame and be their scape goat.  However, that is about as unreal and inauthentic as you can get once you know that this is what is happening.  So then the question becomes; ‘am I willing to become inauthentic again in order to soothe the other person so they don’t have to face their own culpability in the problem?’

This is the problem that we face healing in the aftermath of in estrangement.  There comes a time when we recognize all the problems in the relationship, the parts we contributed and the parts that the other person contributed.  When we realize what we are responsible for and also what we are NOT responsible for.  When we recognize where our feelings start and that we own those feelings, but that the other person is responsible for doing the things that they did, especially when we see them doing so on purpose to trigger us to feel that way.  When we start to recognize coping strategies as an excuse to not work on healing, we reveal that side of the person that they would rather remain hidden.

If we choose to allow those people who have estranged us back into our lives, especially if they have made it clear they have no intention of changing; we can preserve the relationship only by putting on a mask of okay-ness.  We have to suppress our desire for authenticity and be aware that we have to be content wearing that “mask” even though we may want more in the way of an authentic relationship. 

Of course our other choice is to push for authenticity knowing that we then risk the relationship.  We only have the power to change ourselves.  That is where our power ends.  The other person has to travel their own healing journey to that place where they too want to be authentic and vulnerable and they too have an interest in healing the relationship in a meaningful way.

I believe that reconciliations are just as emotionally charged as the estrangement was.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 12 – 16 




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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Daily Reflections: Healing toward Authenticity


I recently watched a TEDx Talk given by Alison Ledgerwood, the topic “Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck). 

I walked away from watching this video with a new perspective on healing, and an entirely different spin on the work of healing.  Possibly the hardest part of healing is just going from thinking we are somehow damaged or broken, to seeing ourselves as amazing miracles of recovery!


So much of my healing work has been focused on discovering “what” is broken, tracing back to “why” it is broken, i.e. what happened in my past that created the broken feedback loop within my brain; and then trying to figure out “how” to go about changing that false core belief.  



And yet even after all this work I still essentially see myself as this broken think that needs fixing.  I still feel the need to focus on not letting the false core beliefs take over again (and this remains extremely difficult when faced with the people who liked my behaviour when it was based on my false core beliefs because I was softer and more amenable to their manipulations).
I still feel this basic underlying assumption that there is something wrong with me when people don’t see the authentic me as valid but would rather see the mask I used to wear in order to preserve the relationship.

I am only recently starting to understand that I have to start to see myself as this wonderful miraculous thing called a human being.  This gift of life is so overwhelmingly precious and we are trained into believing that we are defective because we are not pleasing enough to others.  


I think in healing we need to recapture that innocence of who we were before all the “bad” things that happened to us.  We need to reclaim the miracle of our life and peel away all the layers of guilt and false beliefs that have smothered our authenticity. 

The journey is one of discovering that beyond our personality (which is influenced by the patterns of behaviour of those we were raised by); there is our essence, our soul if you will, of who we really are.  The fa├žade that we wear and present to the world is a mere shadow of who we really are.  Our gifts, our talents, our purpose are all there for the uncovering.  All we have to do is strip away the many layers of falsehoods the prevent out “soul light” from shining through. 

We are not broken things that need repairing.  We are rather walking miracles that have been burdened with carrying the weight of inaccurate perceptions laid upon us (most likely unintentionally) by the wounds of a similar delusion that burdened our early caregivers. 

I participated in a course recently called “the Spiritual Codes”, which presented the notion that we are levels of awareness.  Most of the time we are aware of our bodies and our emotions and our mental thoughts.  But we are not so frequently aware of our soul and even less so aware of our monad.


Breaking through all the conditioning toward our inner higher being is essentially what healing work is all about.  Healing is discovering who we were before we were wrapped in the constraints of conformity.



And herein lies the conundrum.  With our propensity for a negative bias we have to learn first that; no we were not “broken” by the events of our lives, but rather we became blinded to the truth and beauty of our inner higher self.  When we become aware of this we start to see our healing journey as a miracle of recovery,  something positive and joyful and beautiful rather than just an exercise of exploring ways to deal with the pain of feeling broken. 

Healing then becomes an adventure of discovery rather than the chore or drudgery of trying to fix bits and pieces of brokenness.

My mission has not changed.  I still am on this healing journey, this quest to discover and uncover and reveal the authentic me, the higher self that I know myself to be.  I will just be doing it now from a more joyful place, a place of knowing that I am already that which I am seeking, it is already there buried beneath all the junk of false perceptions and inaccurate core beliefs. 

And because I know that every person I encounter also has this inner higher self even when it is buried and hidden from sight by the dysfunctional behaviour patterns of personality, I can more easily find the compassion, which is the essence of a loving heart and spirit and soul.

Always my hope remains that by being authentic about my healing journey, I can inspire others to join me on this journey of discovery.  And I can do this with greater awareness that if they are not ready for their own journey, the potential for their healing exists.

One more piece of the puzzle fell into place for me yesterday as I listened to Gabor Mate and his son Daniel in discussion at a lecture presentation.  Gabor said something that resonated with me. “We can either be authentic or we can preserve the relationship at all costs.  In childhood we relinquish authenticity to preserve the relationship”.   And my inner higher self-applauded and said; “in adulthood we have the choice to reclaim our authenticity if we are willing to sacrifice those relationships that do not honour and support our authenticity.”


And so I return to my learning and my seeking and my quest for understanding and maybe even some wisdom.  To reclaim that authentic inner self that I know is just waiting to be uncovered.  It is this authentic self that I will share with those who are ready to expose their authentic selves to me.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 12 – 11




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Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Daily Reflection: Exploring the concept of Bypassing


Recently I have learned a new concept called Spiritual bypass. 

Definition: A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing 
is a "tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices 
to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional 
issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished 
developmental tasks".

To me this means using something as a reason to avoid another something.


I think that avoidance tactics are one of those things that we tend to turn to in order to avoid something painful about ourselves that we don’t want to face.  Maybe that is why it is so easy for us humans to come up with excuses and rationalizations. 




One of the deciding factors in my healing journey was facing my propensity for saying “yes but”.   I would face something that I knew I needed to change about my thinking patterns or my behaviour patterns and then I would list all the reasons for not changing.  

Once I was aware that I was doing it I started to see it in others around me as well.  The most common turned to BUT is   “but it is so hard”.   Of course change is hard I want to shout, that is why it is called change.  Naturally this rationalization itself is not so simple. 

Difficult is the word that we turn to as a simple explanation for the fear that we fear will be revealed in the process of change. 



For example; without change we can blame our circumstances, other people, the actions of other people, the inactions of other people, our history and essentially all the many details that go into bringing us to this point in time with this problem that can only be resolved through change. 

However, when we do change we will have taken on responsibility for ourselves.  Then if we don’t like the outcome we have no one to blame but ourselves.  It is no longer about the others it is about us.  That is a huge amount of accountability to take on.  It makes us vulnerable while at the same time making us authentic.  This is a scary place to be.

So just as in Spiritual bypass I think we need to become aware of bypassing the changes we need to make, the avoidances that we allow to continue become a sort of “life bypass”, where we are using engagement in our life stories to bypass the changes of healing.

Under this kind of avoidance we can look at things like this: 
  • Where there is a propensity to focus on the mistakes of others there is the need to protect or preserve the ego from facing our own wrongful actions.  Is this where the refusal to apologize for comes from?  When only others do wrong, that means we do only right ergo, no need to apologize. 
  • What about the situation where one deflects away from a criticism by introducing a lining up of faults in the other person.  In this case there is an avoidance of having to take ownership for the wrongdoing that we committed that leads to a domino effect of other actions.   If we get far enough down the line of dominoes maybe everyone will forget the hurtful action that precipitated the cascade event in the first place.
  • What about when an error is pointed out, or an action is exposed as having caused harm and the first response  to this is the casting of a judgement upon the person calling attention to the fault?   In this case judging is used as an avoidance tactic for not having to take ownership of the error or harm causing action.

In all of these instances (and I am sure there are more of them that abound in our relationships) there is a bypassing happening.  There is this assumption that if we can deflect away from introspection we can just live life without having to face the difficulty of accountability.

I am sure some of us bypass introspection more than others.  Possibly also there might be some times in our lives when we do more bypassing than at others.  Maybe difficult times in our lives bring out a greater desire to bypass?

In observing people I have noticed people tend to bypass when an event makes them see something in themselves that they don’t want to see, or when on some level they understand that they need to face something that they don’t want to face.  

However I have also noticed that some people make a habit of bypassing.  I call this the “nothing is ever my fault syndrome” there is always someone or something or some event to blame.  

The finger is always pointing out and there is an avoidance of remembering that when the pointer points outward, there are three fingers pointing inward (middle, and ring and pinky).

I think that what I have become aware of is that there are two kinds of bypassing. 
  • In the first there is only harm to the self, in that avoiding deflects and side tracks personal emotional healing.
  • In the second there is the causing of harm to others because bypassing allows actions and inappropriate behaviours by the activation of a supply of plausible excuses or rationalizations.

Harming others through bypassing behaviour is something that I see quite often.  One very common use is name calling and put downs in response to anything that seems to harm their ego.  This is often seen in bullying behaviours.  When I have questioned such actions, I have received comments like; “this is my coping technique for dealing with my pain”.  

This leaves me to ponder;
  • Do people really believe that they can bypass their wrong doings and their hurtful actions by blaming that “their past made them do it?”
  • Do they really feel that they have the right to be mean because it is the “protective response to past injuries”
  • Do they feel entitled to bypass their own healing while at the same time expecting others to make allowances for them because they carry emotional wounds?

Considering that almost every human carries woundedness from their past this does not seem to be an especially appropriate kind of behaviour.  Because we were harmed or hurt in some way by our past does not give one licence to behave hurtfully in the present.  This is especially the case in our present day awareness that we; if we really wanted to, can change our ways by learning to deal with and heal our emotional wounds.

It is at times like this where my reflections on life leave me in a quandary. On the one hand I can see the results of such behaviours; I can see the hurting on both sides.  I can see the hurting of all the people who are all really trying to find relief from the pain of life.  I can even understand the motivation to protect by deflecting outward.  What I can’t understand is the kind of character that a person must have to live at peace with themselves knowing that they are hurting others to assuage their own pain.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2017 – 11 – 11



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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Daily Reflection: re-evaluating the nature of unconditional love


I am starting to re-evaluate the nature of unconditional love. 

I was taught that my receiving love was conditional upon my behaviour.  If I behaved according to their rules and their needs, and to their standard, then I earned the right to be loved but only until such time as I made a mistake…at which time love was withheld as punishment.  THE MESSAGE:  love is conditional upon you living up to what is expected of you.

I was taught that love has no conditions by the ones that enjoyed the power of hurting me with their words and their disapproval. THE MESSAGE:  I was not to point out their faults if I loved them.

I lived most of my life by these twisted set of rules about unconditional love.  These false messages severely hampered my ability to have honest relationships because I was always monitoring my reactions, my choice of responses and actions to accommodate being perceived as loving unconditionally.

These false set of messages have over time caused me great harm.  For sure ideally we should be able to love unconditionally, but only on the condition that the object of our love has no secret agenda of their own to extract or benefit from our unconditional love. As soon as there exists an agenda or conditions by one person in the relationship everything about that relationship in turn is twisted out of alignment.

How did this play out in my life?
When I was abused to the extent where I finally had to say “NO you can’t treat me like that!”; I was discarded for not loving unconditionally, which translated into accepting abuse without complaint.  When I developed boundaries which I enforced ...suddenly I was no longer loved. This message was delivered to me by the expediency of being “ghosted”. 

THE MESSAGE:  the ones who expected me to unconditionally love them; loved me only on the condition that I allowed them to continue their abuses.

What has this taught me? 
It has taught me that the term unconditional love has a twisted message.  THE MESSAGE:  unconditional love allows abuse to continue in this relationship because you have to love me even when I am cruel to you. However if you do not love my abuses then you are guilty of not loving me unconditionally. And you are therefore a bad person."

Unconditional love served up in this way is a no win situation for those of us who try to please others by making allowances for their bad behaviour.

I am starting to believe that unconditional love needs to be earned through respect and caring actions over a period of time.  Unconditional love can also become conditional in the face of abuse. 

For example I have the right to put distance between my physical body and the abuser to protect myself.  This condition allows me to still love the wounded person (one who feels entitled to the right to abuse me) for who they are; however, it is now clear to me that, I do not have to subject myself to their abuse.  This is a condition that keeps me safe.  In this instance my love is conditionally unconditional. 

People, who in the past have put conditions on their love for me, I am now learning to look at very differently.  I have learned to recognize that they exhibit controlling and manipulative behaviour.   THE MESSAGE:  I will only love you if; with a string of requirements and conditions added.  

Their condition for loving me is my capitulation to their wishes or demands.  They may want me to love them unconditionally and accept their abusive behaviour, but they have NOT EARNED my unconditional love. 

In conclusion I have decided that the term unconditional love; while having a very nice and soft and cozy feel good feeling; is an illusion that is perpetuated for the sake of keeping captive those souls who really want to please others and therefore constantly strive to be worthy of unconditional love.  While those who thrive on being loved even when they treat others abusively through acts of bullying or name calling or derision want to preserve the status quo by calling us bad or selfish or ungrateful when we decide that we deserve better than love based on the condition of  meeting their requirements.


Sometimes I now wonder if the illusion of unconditional love is what we search for when in reality it is only a gift we can give to ourselves when we discover that we deserve to be loved for who we are rather than what we do. 

Renate Dundys Marrello

2017 – 11 – 01 



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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reflection on the Healing Aspect of Solitude



Being away, alone, at one with nature, I call that solitude.  When I am solitary I don't miss anyone.  When I with people who don't get me, who hurt me, who trivialize what I am experiencing....that is when I feel lonely. That is when I run back and embrace solitude.





But one can’t always live life alone.  Therefore it is important to learn and understand the behaviours of others.  Not what they say….but how they behave!   It is their behaviour that tells us more about who. 

Sometime it is best to sit back and observe, to question:
-       How do they treat others?
-       How do they treat me?
-       How do they treat the environment? And how do they feel about those that abuse the environment?
-       How do they emphasize with the less fortunate and the less privileged?
-       How judgmental are they?  Do they come across as entitled or superior?
-       Do they embrace black and white thinking?  Especially where only they are right and everyone else is wrong.
-       Do they get pleasure out of other people’s misfortune?  Or even worse do they espouse that others deserve their misfortune because they are not good enough or somehow flawed?

These are just some of the things I look at when I observe and evaluate the behaviour of others.  I find it interesting that often the ones that say “look how good I am” actually behave the exact opposite.  How often have I been told “love is the answer” by those who hate everything or any one or any belief that is different from theirs?  More than I care to remember. 

I try to embrace these benighted souls with love and compassion, for that is where they are in their spiritual journey or their healing journey.  

But sometimes it gets to be too much and I need to escape once more to solitude. 







Sometimes solitude is where I go to experience the rawness of nature which reminds me of truth, of what really matters and it is when I am connected with myself that I find inner peace and contentment, not because everything is good, but because everything is as it needs to be in this moment.

Sometimes I find solitude in my work as a writer, where I face my own inner demons, agonize over what I am still learning about myself and how I have often sabotaged my own relationships with my desire for peace.  My desire for peace which has led me to ignore warning signs of emotional abuse and bad behaviours in others.  It was my desire for peace which allowed me to live for so long without any boundaries for self-protection.  It was my desire for peace that allowed me to deviate from who I really am in my attempts to please others.  This kind of solitude is very challenging, for I have to embrace the mistakes that I have made at the same time as I make changes in how I now present myself in relationships with others.  

Sometimes when I come out of solitary writing I am exhausted but left with a sense of freedom because I have once again addressed a nugget of truth that has kept me confined and imprisoned in unconscious behaviour patterns that kept me enslaved to the users and abusers. 

Sometimes when I come out of solitude I am invigorated sometimes I am distraught but always the reality comes back to face me, relationships require effort and work and not everyone is willing to put in the work necessary for healthy relationships. 

Then for a while I will attempt to reconnect with people, find my tribe, my belonging.  Until I begin to once again wonder, where are the likeminded souls?  Where are they hiding? Why are there so few of us? Or if there are more of us, why are we not seen or aware of each other?

And over time as my distress builds over finding so many who are content in their not knowing; not knowing how their words and actions harm others, not knowing that theirs is not the only point of view, not knowing that that others have feelings that matter also, not knowing that there is more than one way to attain spiritual awareness.  

Over time the wounds inflicted upon me by the insensitivity of others in their words or actions; forces me to once again embrace the peace of solitude.  

Solitude is my drug of choice.  It is where I can restore my balance and my equilibrium.  It is where I can find contentment and peace.  It is where I can recharge for another round of dealing with people in all their many insensitive behaviour patterns.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 10 – 28


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Monday, October 9, 2017

Reflections on giving advice



I was pondering today, that we are sometimes called upon to critique or give advice to a friend or family member, to point out where they have gone wrong or where they could do better.  What we have not been taught is how or with what intention to approach this delicate task.  All too often the advice or critique comes across as implying one of two things:
  • You are a bad person and you need to change to become acceptable.
  • You are not good enough and you need to change or I won’t love you.
When this happens we teach and / or reinforce the false notion that one earns love and acceptance through our actions.  We reinforce the false core belief of “you are not good enough unless ….”

I was reading recently that almost everyone grows up with false core beliefs around the area of being acceptable, good enough, and lovable.   This is the source from which all our dysfunctional behaviour patterns arise.   To compensate for this feeling of “not enough” patterns of behaviour emerge to try to ameliorate the pain of insufficiency.  There seems to be basically two paths.
  • The first path leads toward doormat / people pleasing behaviours.  Here the emotionally wounded person learns the pattern of pleasing others to try to gain acceptance and love.  They are basically screaming; “See me!  I am a good and kind and loving and generous person, I want to be loved, I need to be loved, SEE me and validate me and let me not feel this pain of not being good enough” 
  • The other path leads toward dominating and controlling behaviours.  Here the emotionally wounded person strives to elicit from others behaviours that allow them to feel superior, catered to, and having their needs met.   
And because these two opposing coping techniques are like Yin and Yang, unsuspectingly we two polar opposites are drawn to each other.  The givers attract the takers and the takers seek out the givers both do so in an effort to meet the emotional needs of feeling sufficient, feeling like they are enough and that they have value.

I am not even addressing the core of the issue or that basic fact that we should be loved and accepted for who we are not for what we give nor for what we expect to receive.  Emotionally healthy people live in this place.  People (most frequently the givers who have burned out) who have learned of these core lessons through emotional healing understand and strive to live in this place also; fighting the tides that would tug them back into old unsuccessful behavior patterns.

Most people don’t even realize that they fall into these two categories because so often in benign situations it seems to function and the glue of friendship seems to hold things together most of the time.

When this balance falls apart, as is the case when turbulence or trauma arrives, whole relationships can be shattered.   When the neediness cycle becomes very apparent and the takers try to take more and the givers are demanded to give more without any regard for the “emotional well” being empty, the bounds of friendship and even family are severely tested.

How much better it would be if we could learn in times of emotional calm, healthy ways of communicating our needs for love and acceptance and appreciation!  If we could learn what our false behaviour patterns (some people call them coping mechanisms) are and then work toward changing them so that we no longer cause harm.  If we could learn boundaries and learn to express those boundaries and hear those boundaries from others then there would be fewer tensions that are created by the overstepping of those boundaries with unkind behaviorus or comments.

One of the critical areas for learning is how we express criticism or give corrections.  This is especially critical when we are entrusted with the care of children.  But if we have not had the wisdom given us in our youth we need to learn first how to heal ourselves and then hopefully how to apply these lessons to our future communications.

Often I hear this comment (especially from the takers who have gotten used to their behaviour patterns getting what needs they have met); “this is how I cope and I don’t want to change”.    That is not conducive to building or repairing or reconnecting with others.  In fact when dealing with past codependents; this attitude will actually drive the newly recovered doormats away as they strive to build and maintain new healthier boundaries. 

In my experience talking with recovering doormat type people; when people pleasers burn out and learn boundaries, the takers in their lives get very anxious as they realize their source of “feel good” has dried up and is no longer available for exploitation.  The critique gets very cruel and the emphasis is on trying to coerce the people pleaser to go back to their old behaviour patterns and thus relieve the takers of the pain of changing their patterns (patterns that gave them so much success in the past).

From all of my studies and learning I have come to the understanding that it all comes down to communication.  Communication is the glue that brings us together in compassionate understanding and even in striving to become better people.  Refusal to communicate, or even harsh manipulative or controlling communication patterns on the other hand rupture the fabric of family, friendships and relationships.

This is the guideline that I have evolved in the course of my healing journey, something that helps me stay on track when giving advice (which I now only do when specifically asked for) and helps me try to understand those offering unsolicited advice, so that I can determine if my boundaries have been breached intentionally or inadvertently and gives me permission to respond in a boundary preserving manner.

  • When offering critique be aware of your intentions.  Are you asking the other person to change to become a better person, or are you asking the other person to change so you don’t have to change your pattern of behaviour.
  • When listening to critique from another person, ask yourself “What are their intentions?” Are they giving me loving advice to help me become a better person or are they implying that I am insufficient unless I comply and change myself to accommodate their needs?”
These questions have become very important for me as they are like a roadmap to help guide me along a path where I can remain emotionally safe from the bullies and abusers in my life, while at the same time keeping me relatively on track when I am in the position of critiquing or giving advice to others. 

Conscious awareness of behaviour patterns and communication techniques is critically important and I believe neither of these are well taught in our families, our schools or our societal structures.






Excellent sources that I have found very useful:
- Peter Gerlach and his work on “break the cycle”.  What a great online resource that had given me countless hours of healing work guidance.
- Marshal Rosenberg and his work with Non-Violent communication. Great youtube videos of his learning presentations are always a source of inspiration for me 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 10 – 09


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