Relationship Advice Tips From Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Are you hiding your true self to please loved ones, but orange with frustration?

photograph copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Are you afraid that if you grow and be who you want to be, your loved ones will not like you?

Do you worry that if you do things your way they will drop you because you are not considering their feelings? If so then you are in a difficult situation of having to choose between staying in a frozen stuck place and moving with your own flow at the risk of losing connections with loved ones.

The dilemma is real and uncomfortable. Many relationships break up because one person wants to grow and develop their full potential but the other one perceives it as a threat to the relationship and cries “foul!” Do you put the connection first and put your life on permanent hold, or do you risk moving even if the relationship folds?”

You can have both if you are prepared for the relationship to change it’s shape

Just as you change the relationship has to adapt and mold itself to whatever new needs arise. If you want the exact same relationship and personal growth, then you are unlikely to be able to have sufficient flexibility to make room for both to evolve and move together. Troy’s story is a case in point.

Troy was fuming and outraged that his parents dismissed his birthday invitation with a one word response, “NO!” Not even an explanation or well wishes. That stung especially as this was the first time he had chosen to celebrate his own birthday with friends, estranged and close family members. He wanted to get everyone together so that the games and tip toeing around feelings would stop. He wanted his mother to meet her older sister, the daughter she had put up for adoption, who was now an important part of his life. He wanted his father to accept and get to know his abandoned children from his previous marriages, all of whom Troy had contacted and cultivated friendships with.

But all Troy got was a flat refusal to move with him in the journey of building bridges, healing breeches and enjoying family life together where everyone could be themselves yet connect in loving and accepting ways. He was hurt, angry and furious that he had to either do things the way his parents’ wanted, playing the obedient child to their rigid conditional authoritative love, or risk losing their care and connection completely. Troy believed that if push came to shove, his parents would just drop him, as their principles and pride meant more to them than staying in touch with their own son. He had a huge conflict to resolve with a possible lose, lose scenario staring him in the face.

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This scented stock plant is a symbol of the ‘stock’ you have to take to find your power in relationships

photograph copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Troy tried defending himself against his mother’s accusations of being selfish, thoughtless and inconsiderate. He tried to prove that he was anything but selfish and described how he had taken stock of all concerned, making the choice to try and bring all members of the family together for an opportunity to connect and heal.

 He was ready to accept and grow, his parents were not.

They wanted him to stay mummified in time so they didn’t have to face the errors and shame of their past.

Troy wanted to burst out of that cage and live life with no shame and or blame. He wanted to feel the pulse of life and live it, not live with one foot in the death camp with prospect of release.

The conflict was too much to bear. He couldn’t unleash his rage on his parents for fear of alienating them. He couldn’t share his fears of loss and rejection with anyone who would understand. So Troy developed a low back pain – for the first time in his life. He had suffered all sorts of other ailments of skin and gastric related conditions. He had neck and shoulder pain, but never lower back pain.

The lower back pain was a symbol of just how burdened he was with his conflict. The lower back is what supports his upper body, giving way under the enormous pressure of having to choose between natural flowing life and mummification. Relationship stress took a huge toll on his back.

As he came to understand the meaning of the pain, working it out in therapy, Troy realized that he was trying to control his parents by forcing them to accept what they refused to acknowledge or deal with. Troy understood that he wanted them to change and make everything in the garden smell of roses.

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Having a strong sense of self within a relationship is like the natural harmony of colors of this coleus

photograph copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Gradually Troy came to a realization that he had the power to do what he wanted without risking the rejection of his parents.

He recognized that he was giving them all the power to make or break his life. Backwards as it may seem Troy discovered that by acting according to his wishes, he was modeling a healthy family life that his parents had no sense of. He was giving them the opportunity to grow and mature by taking charge of his own life, rather than suffering in pain with burdens imposed on him by parents who no longer had the right to manage his life.

Troy found his own power and strength. His back didn’t need to bear unbearable and unfair burdens. The relationship with his parents changed to accommodate his new found freedom to embrace his own entitlement to power rather than give it to his parents to dictate how it was used. They got used to it, and became less controlling. Troy has many more healthy relationships  with the strong web he has woven with his estranged siblings that will outlast all others.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the article or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.