Can Your Relationships Make You Sick?

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Can your relationships really make you sick? In a word… YES! I have worked with so many clients over the years that have struggled with maintaining relationships that no longer served them out of loyalty. The fear of how someone may react or respond when new boundaries are set can lead to silent suffering for many. For people of color, support to and from our communities is incredibly important. But, what happens when certain community norms amongst your loved ones no longer work well for you? Anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and heart disease can all be impacted by our emotions and how they relate to our connections with others. Here are 5 red flags to watch out for:

 

1. You feel drained – If you are often left feeling physically or emotionally exhausted after interacting with someone, this can be a huge red flag that something’s not right. A lack of boundaries is often the culprit in many of these cases. These encounters can leave you feeling tired, anxious and even physically sick. This is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Listen.

2. It’s all about them (their thoughts, their needs, their problems) - To be very clear, there are people in your life that may attempt to manipulate you by dominating all of your time. People that utilize this strategy for your attention are always in crisis and always need your help. However, many times these encounters are not about the crisis. Instead, they are driven by a need for your attention. This is why no matter how you try to assist, offer advice, or intervene in other ways, their situations stay the same. Entering into this pattern can prevent you from focusing on the people and activities you love and enjoy most. Instead of spending sleepless nights worried about what you cannot truly control, let them do their own internal work. Your loved ones must do this for themselves to see permanent change in their own lives.

3. They never show up for you - While relationships go through many different seasons, all connections should have some mutuality. If you find yourself going above and beyond for others while you struggle alone and in silence regularly, it’s time to re-assess the quality of your relationships. Also, are you clear and open about what you need with your friends and loved ones or do you assume they should know what you need? If you’re making assumptions, this can lead you to harboring resentment and anger.

4. You feel obligated – This can be very tricky, but choosing to continue a relationship with someone purely out of “obligation” is never ideal. I see this often in families, where there are some family members that are allowed to act out against other family members, without consequence. Controlling how and when you interact with these individuals is incredibly important. While there may be some responsibilities you choose to take on, emotional torture and abuse should not be on this list.

5. You’re more committed to others’ wellness over your own – You may be very used to coming in and saving the day for your friends and family members. Amongst groups, there is usually a “go-to” person that is designated as the problem solver. This role can be incredibly draining, especially if the problem solver has nowhere to turn when they face challenges of their own. If you fall into this category, you must be very diligent about taking good care of yourself. How many times have you observed a caregiver falling sick and declining faster than the person they were caring for to begin with? Prioritizing self care is not selfish. It’s necessary.

Taking on bad relationships is a form of neglect against yourself and can very bad for your physical and emotional health. Consider some ways you can be kinder to yourself by being more mindful about the people and situations you engage in.

Why You're Dimming Your Light (And How To Stop)

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We’ve all heard a phrase similar to the following: Never dim your light for anyone. In theory, this statement is easy to accept and agree with. But what about in practice? What do you do when competition and jealousy begin to rear their head in your relationship? Here are some tips to ensure your date/partner appreciates and encourages you to shine bright.

  • Know Your Worth - Having a healthy sense of self-worth is important for your own wellness and personal satisfaction. With that being said, the way that you regard yourself can have a significant impact on your relationships. If you are unsure of yourself and insecure about your abilities, you may attract a partner that will exploit that. Focusing on confidence building help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, which can help you feel more attractive and help you attract the right mate.

  • Connect With Other Superstars - When the norm among your friends is to conform to predetermined expectations and diminish your greatness, it can be increasingly difficult to break free from that mold. Seek out connections with other women that are successful on the dating scene, while resisting the urge to sacrifice their happiness in the process.

  • Banish Your Fear - Fear of your inability to find a partner that will truly accept you for who you are often fuels temptation to scale down certain aspects of your personality, boundaries and successes. Instead of focusing on quantity, focus on quality instead. The last thing you want are a string of dates or partners that will encourage you to deny all the positive aspects of who you are. Instead of focusing on what you’re afraid of, make decisions based on your hopes, dreams and the potential for positive outcomes instead.

Healthy connections are always better than more connections. While they may be fewer in number, a healthy relationship will allow your light to grow and flourish more beautifully than you could ever imagine.

Is Hidden Stress Hindering You?

While it’s normal to experience low levels of stress, severe and prolonged exposure can lead to serious physical and emotional issues. While trouble at work or family problems are common, here are some less notable situations that may be sending you into a tailspin:

1) Over committing – We’ve all been guilty of it from time to time, but saying yes to completing a task that you know you do not have time or energy for is bad news all around. This kind of pressure we place on ourselves will not only stress us out but can lead to letting others down, which in turn causes even more stress! It’s a horrible cycle that must be broken and it is essential that you make your physical and emotional state a priority. So, instead of committing to an appointment, errand, event, or task that you know you will struggle to complete, have the courage to just say no.

2) Holding Grudges – While it’s not uncommon to be upset by someone else’s actions, holding grudges keeps you in a constant state of anger, preventing you from experiencing any peace or contentment. People who hold onto these situations often relive the event in their minds time and time again, obsessing about what was said, what could have been said, what should have been done, etc. Prolonged anger leads to stress and its effects can have both physical and emotional implications. The next time you feel resentment building, focus on acknowledging your anger and the thoughts you are thinking when you become angry. Once you begin to breakdown your own thoughts and beliefs, you will feel some emotional relief, making it possible for you to forgive the other person for your OWN well-being.

3) Don’t be tardy – Being habitually late can place an unnecessary amount of stress on your plate. From the rush out of the house to racing through traffic, showing up late can be downright unnerving. So, take the time to set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. You’ll save yourself the headache (and angry stares) when you arrive to your destination on time.

4) Toxic Friendships – It’s tough when you have invested so much time and energy into a friendship, but not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime. There can be times when maintaining these relationships take an extreme emotional toll. Take a step back and assess your stress level while interacting with friends to determine whether the friendship is worth keeping. If so, accept them for who they are and how they enhance your life, understanding that each individual has strengths and weaknesses within a friendship. If not, cherish the good times you had, the lessons you learned and move on.

As 2016 comes to a close, commit to making 2017 less stressful by keeping an eye out for the hidden stressors in your life.