Tag Archive: Healthy relationships



These are the 7 values that are important safeguards for your relationship.

happy romantic couple

1. Unconditional love

Unconditional love is the most important value in a relationship. It is committed love. It is defined by doing what is best for the other as deemed by the one loving. It involves compassion, preferring each other above yourself, protecting, and commitment to love even in conflict – when the ‘ feelings’ aren’t there. Make a promise to love in good times and bad, in sickness and health, in plenty or in want. Love is patient, kind, rejoices with truth and does not fail. See 1 Cor. 13:4-8.

2. Honesty

It’s critical to having a ‘real’ and authentic, trustworthy relationship. Dishonesty is one of the primary ways to break down both communication and the foundation of the entire relationship. Suspicion, lack of trust and safety form without honesty, and can single handedly destroy the marriage. Intimacy is always blocked when truth is absent. Honesty brings what is hidden to the light.

3. Faithfulness

Safety and trust are fostered within the relationship, paving the way for a deep, abiding and trusting relationship. It brings assurance that this relationship is committed. It guards against fear. It holds each other in high esteem and treasures each other. It always protects, and preserves the bond between the couple.

4. Forgiveness

Remember basic goodwill toward each other when in conflict. Try to empathize with your spouse and listen and understand their point of view. Evaluate what is beneath your anger to work on the root issues, rather than simply using anger as a protective barrier against your partner. If you are looking out for the best interests of each other, it diminishes areas of conflict and there is less to forgive.

5. Protect Against Intruders

Set limits on how close you become with outsiders to the relationship. Boundaries guard against infidelity and deep emotional connections that tear away at the intimacy between the couple. This is where honesty, faithfulness and love come in to undergird and protect the relationship. Guard against flattery from others. In order to keep your marriage safe from intruders you need to come up with a strong plan of action to ensure the security of your relationship!

couple talking in cafe6. Good communication

If you clearly, honestly and openly articulate your needs, desires, expectations, assumptions, beliefs, concerns, fears, etc. then you are well on your way toward making your relationship great! Communication is important. Connect heart to heart and share your real self with each other -this is the glue that holds it together.

7. Conflict Resolution

Finally, make it a point to work together to resolve conflicts and problem areas to foster growth and a mature, deep and committed relationship that will endure. If you are both invested in making it work, you both have work to do. Working together is incredibly important!

These values promote healthy, thriving and vibrant relationships! Over the next few weeks, stay tuned as I delve deeper into each of the above mentioned relationship values! Enjoy your long weekend!

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Looking to improve your relationship?

Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

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I’m starting a new series for the next couple of months on relationships and marriage. Over the next several weeks, I will discuss such concerns as how to effective deal with confrontation, forgiveness, receiving love, some marriage basic ‘need to know’ tools, differences in gender needs and love languages, etc. Today I want to start the series off right by addressing some essential characteristics of healthy relationships. I will address more of the same in subsequent blogs.

Relationships can be difficult even for the best of relationships, and even though those relationships you look to as examples of how to get it right, that seem so streamlined and perfect while you watch them in admiration from a distance – those couples know a very important secret: Healthy relationships take work! While there are many contributing factors to making a relationship great, I am going to touch on some key elements to getting you started on making your relationships great!!

First of all there is commitment. It must be paramount in your relationship with your spouse or potential future life partner (for those of you not married yet).

What is commitment and how sincere is your commitment to each other? We live in an age where commitment is a word not really understood. With high divorce rates looming, we seem to as a generation lack a clear understanding of what commitment means. The marriage vows we read on our wedding day, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, give way to the wedding plans and the excitement of the day itself. And many traditional wedding vows are no longer being used.

Just what are we committing to? And when you’ve been down the road of marriage for many years, just how fresh in your mind do those early vows remain? There are reasons why the book of proverbs tells us so clearly to guard our hearts and even our eyes, to keep us from the temptation of greener pastures elsewhere when you are doing the real hard work of marriage -being truly know and loved for your flaws and all. Commitment certainly is something we need to newly re-evaluate and determine once again: till death do us part.

Honesty is integral. If you cannot be honest with the person you are spending the rest of your life with, you will have major problems down the road. Your secrets will not stay hidden, even if you have been successful for years. All that is hidden comes to the light. Once it is exposed, often the damage is so severe that many relationships fall apart. Without honesty, you cannot have a real relationship. You cannot be fully known. If you are not really known, you cannot truly experience intimacy. To be known requires openness. if you cannot be open, you are putting on a show. This is called ‘performance’, or even people pleasing. Eventually, resentment will settle in your heart because you are not being up front. What is not expressed is your responsibility. You are responsible to own your own needs, your own flaws, failures and weaknesses. It is ok to have weaknesses. It is important that they be brought into the light of relationship so that grace can cover over your failures and weaknesses, and that the other person can offer their strength, support or skill to help you become better in some of your weaker areas. This is how it is meant to be. Two imperfect people in a partnership, helping each other along to become all that God meant for them to become.

Connectedness is also necessary. If you do not have common ground, common interests, or understand how each other needs to bond and connect, one or both of you will experience great lack. It is important however, for me to uncover a great misconception here: your partner is not meant to meet ALL your needs. There are varying relationships in your life, as it was meant to be, for you to find fulfillment and be well balanced in your life. Women need women friends. Men just don’t understand the finer details that another woman ‘gets’ quite naturally. The same is true for men. Guys bond in ways in which women cannot understand, or compete with. But at the same time, there must be a connection in your primary relationship with each other. It is a good idea to sit down and determine how you need to bond and attach, figure out what ways make you feel the most loved or respected. How do you feel heard and understood? What do you need? Figure out what these things are and sit down and communicate to each other so that you can both work diligently at preferring each other in order to connect and attach in ways the other person will feel most loved and connected with you.

Effective communication. This is a very critical element required to sustain a healthy bond with your partner. This is also where most relationships break down. Effective communication involves active listening, affirmation of what the other is saying, and though this might sound silly, sometimes even simply acknowledging the other person’s point of view before jumping in with your own can de-escalate an evolving crisis! Make sure you clarify what you have heard the other person say, and ensure you understand his or her viewpoint before running on your own assumptions of the other person’s motives. Remember, we don’t EVER know another person’s motives unless we ask questions to clarify. Try and avoid ‘Always’ and ‘Never’ statements, blaming, and only seeing from an all or nothing perspective fixating your attention on every flaw in the other person. Try and remember to be merciful and gracious towards each other, believe the best of each other and have basic goodwill towards each other. There are many more tips I can offer on this most difficult part of relationship, but these are some great tips to get you started!

Separateness & respect are not often addressed when looking at relationship tools, but are definitely not to be dismissed. Oftentimes, initially in the early stages of a relationship, both people feel like they are ‘the same’ as each other, that you both like the same things, hold the same moral or tradition or religious beliefs, but can be sadly mistaken down the road to realize ‘I am not the same as my spouse’. I hold different ideas on how to raise a family, or how many kids you want, or different vacation preferences. These things can extend into very deep areas as well. You may hold different theological perspectives on life, or even just enjoy differing leisure activities. The more we can learn to both respect and appreciate the differences in each other, the closer we come to a place of the desired intimacy you both want. No one wants to be controlled. No one wants to feel manipulated into doing something you are opposed to. We need to respect each other’s individuality, encourage it, come along and support each other in the areas of difference. In this way, we are respecting each other and loving the ‘whole’ person rather than accepting only what adheres to our own perspective, sending a message of rejection to the other person that who they truly are is not good enough.

Dealing with conflict well. Here is where your effective communication skills need to be used meticulously! Do not get sloppy in this area! Remember in your anger that you love the other person enough to treat them respectfully and with dignity and grace. I will address this subject in further detail in a subsequent blog as I believe it deserves fuller attention than the scope of today’s overview.

And above all, love. Speaking of which, the most important element in healthy relationships is love. Sadly, love is a word thrown around so easily, and taken away so quickly when the going gets tough. We misunderstand love immensely in this culture where we love everything from our favorite television program to our Gucci handbag, to our favorite car or pair of shoes. We love our iPhones, our favorite dessert, to most any kind of food really. We use the word so carelessly that it has lost its meaning. And love in these terms has a limit. We take it back when we don’t mean it anymore, when we no longer ‘feel’ loving towards someone. This kind of love is not real love at all. Real love never fails. It never gives up, it never quits, it never stops hoping or believing for good to come about. Real love is unconditional. It does not seek its own agenda first, but prefers others above oneself. It never gives up. This is the kind of love we need to learn to emulate.

Stay tuned for next Friday as I unpack healthy confrontation tips further!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Emotional Abuse


I am about to start a 6 week series on the subject of abuse. I will cover emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as workplace bullying and a final entry on breaking the cycle of abuse, the things you can do to change the way things are currently in a relationship you are in that you believe may be abusive. Today I will touch on emotional abuse.

But first, let us define emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include anything that destroys your sense of self worth, causes anxiety, depression, fear of your partner (or parent, co-worker, etc that is the abuser), walking on eggshells, feeling stuck in the relationship, feeling like there is no way out, alone, isolated. It can include verbal abuse, such as name calling, and yelling, blaming and inflicting shame on the one being abused. It can include threats of violence if they don’t get their way, it can include belittling or attempts to control you. Emotional abuse tends to be looked at as the least important among the other forms of abuse, as there are no visible scars. But the emotional wounding it causes to one’s sense of self esteem and value runs deep. It can cause self-doubt, self hatred, feelings of being useless or worthless. None of which are true, because all of us are created with divine worth. Our sense of worth is NOT from any external source, such as the person you are in an abusive relationship with. If you used to feel better about yourself, and now you feel like you are weak and helpless and as if the abuser is the one belittling your worth, than this may be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship. However, many people caught in abusive relationships are actually repeating patterns from some sort of early childhood abuse, and may not even recognize you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, as your recollections of what “normal” is, looks like abuse. Here are some signs to look for to help you identify whether you are in an emotionally abusi e relationship.

Are you being emotionally abused?

1. Are you treated like a child? Do you feel you need to get permission before making even the smallest choices or decisions?

2. Are you being blamed for his/her problems? Do they make you feel responsible for their behavior, telling you it is your fault that they got mad and started screaming? Are you blamed for his or her drinking problems or inability to fulfill a dream in life? This is a prime example of a boundary issue -not taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and blaming or expecting others to be responsible for their bad behavior, projecting it onto you.

3. Are you treated as if you are “less than” your partner? Do they remind you and rub in all your mistakes? Do they look down on you if you make less money than they do or if you have a “lesser” degree in your education? Do they tell you how unattractive you are and that no one else would want you?

4. Do they make fun of you and put you down in front of others?

5. Do they regularly dismiss your feelings, preferences and choices, causing you to feel like you have no choice? Do they disregard your thoughts, opinions and suggestions?

6. Are they impossible to please? Do they complain about the way you run your life? Or something about your personality that causes low self-esteem in you?

7. Does your partner always have to be right?

8. Are you looked down on or belittled for your accomplishments, or your future plans? Do you feel like they are treating you like those things are unimportant? Even criticizing and discouraging you from doing anything different with your life? Do they tell you that you will fail at the goals you are trying to reach in an effort to control you and cause you to not believe that you can do it, to the extent that you shrink back and don’t even try?

9. Have you stopped seeing friends or family since being in this relationship? Do you feel emotionally isolated or cut off from outside supportive relationships? Are they jealous or get angry when you spend time with your friends? Did you stop seeing family or friends because you feel ashamed being in this relationship, even though you’ve complained many times about the way you are treated?

10. Are you accused of flirting with others or having an affair that you aren’t having by your abusive
partner?

11. Do they insist on getting their own way? Threatening to end the relationship if they don’t?

12. Do they punish you by withholding sex, or giving you the silent treatment or not giving you the affection you need if things don’t go their way?

13. Are you teased or made fun of, or do they use sarcasm to put you down?

14. Do they apologize when they are wrong? Or do they make excuses for their behavior?

15. Do they tell you that you are responsible for all the problems in the relationship?

If you answered yes to even half these questions, you may currently be involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

The first step on the road to recovery is to admit that you are being emotionally abused and acknowledge the damage it has caused to your sense of self worth and self esteem.

A couple of questions for you to consider: Ask yourself why you chose an abusive partner? Can you ind the root cause? Can you trace it back to your childhood or see repeat abusive patterns in your life? Can you identify the voids in your life, the emptiness you feel and how this relationship fills them… Or doesn’t.

Why do you put up with the abuse? What are you afraid of?

Stay tuned for the full series, and see which of the categories you most identify with, as there may be more than one. Stay tuned for my last entry on tools to break the abusive cycle.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about how to overcome abuse in your life, feel free to browse through the topics in my one-on-one Personal Development Program.

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


Good morning bloggers! In Toronto today, it’s a bit of a rainy day out, and definitely not as hot as the past few days! But despite the weather, I am feeling great! Heading out in an hour headed to Ottawa, our nation’s capital, for an inner healing training seminar. I hope to bring back some useful tools to offer to my coaching clients out of this conference! Exciting stuff! All that to say, this might be a shorter post than usual for me if I run out of time before I need to leave!! LOL!

Moving right into todays’ subject on Enmeshment vs Intimacy. Most people don’t really know the difference, due in large part likely because enmeshment is not a word we frequently use to describe the nature of our relationships with one another. Intimacy, on the other hand, has often been confused with sex, or lust alone. Going along with the subject we’ve been discussing for the past several weeks, regarding boundaries, this is one of those subjects I promised to delve deeper into. Looking back at my blog about our need for attachment and bondedness, this particular blog should help solve a few dilemmas for you in your thinking about parenting. Were you taught intimacy or enmeshment from your parents? That’s right. Intimacy does not necessarily mean SEX! You can be intimate with your friends, your parents, your partner without sexual involvement being the primary definition of intimacy.

Let’s define intimacy and enmeshment before we go any further:

Intimacy Knowing each other very well, understanding the other’s thought processes, and an awareness of differences and similarities in perspective, opinion, attitute, preference, ideals, values, beliefs, and goals. This intimacy includes the freedom to disagree with someone, to want something different than the other, and to have different needs. It also refers to the closeness desired in a committed relationship including physical and emotional intimacy. If you are looking at this from the perspective of a romantic relationship, this will also include sexual closeness.

Enmeshment is attempting to feel and think as if you were the same person as another. Since quite a bit of uniqeness is missed this way, neither person can really be known – a very different experience from intimacy. Eg. “I gave them so much I didn’t even have a self. And when I finally started developing a “me”, they fought me. They didn’t want me to change. They wanted me to go on living just for them.”              An enmeshed person is not known.                                                                                                    A single word that describes enmeshment well could be, “to entangle”.

If by reading this, you identify just a little, I encourage you to refelct on the definitions of intimacy and enmeshment and try to write down who you are, vs the persons you are intimate/enmeshed with. What are the differences? Are you the same? If you find that you are feeling entagled, enmeshed, like you don’t have a clear sense of self, try the following: Determind the differences between you and the persons you feel enmeshed with. Look at things like your differing strengths and weaknesses, talents, abilities and values that you have and that the other person has. this may help you distinguish the differences between you and them, helping you to identify a clear sense of your ‘true self’.

What do you do with your differences of opinion or your anger? Are you safe enough to express it? Intimacy comes from being ‘known’, and being known requires knowing yourself, having a self to know, and having a sense of your individuality and differences from another, and your valures and thoughts and desires, so that you have something separate to bring to the relationship, Even if you DO have a firm sense of self, intimacy should take time to develop as trust is earned and deepened. We all need to learn whether we are feeling judged or accepted in the relationship, knowing whether it is safe to be open with the other person and be loved for who we are, distinct, and separate, bonding, fully loved. Arguments will happen, communication takes time to work well, mistakes will occur. Clarity of communication needs to be developed. (For further info on communication, see my blog from a couple weeks ago on communication). Are you able to forgive and accept and support the differences in another?

Here is a definition from the free book I’m giving away soon entitled “Boundaries – Where you End and I Begin”, by Anne Katherine on healthy boundaries, and essentially, at the same time, the definition of what it takes to engage in intimacy rather than enmeshment in your relationships:

“So what’s the goal of a person who wants to be healthy? To form boundaries that have some flexibility and some definite limits, boundaries that move appropriately in response to situations – out for strangers, in for intimates. Boundaries should be distinct enough to preserve our individuality, yet open enough to admit new ideas and perspectives. They should be firm enough to keep our values and priorities clear, open enough to communicate our priorities to the right people, yet closed enough to withstand assault from the thoughtlessness and the mean. Healthy boundaries protect without isolating, contain without imprisoning, and preserve identity while permitting external connections.”

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!  I have also created a Relationship Development Program which helps couples build towards a greater life together.

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


As some of you know by reading previous blogs, I recently trained to become a certified relationship life coach, aligning my work with what my passion in life is. However, as life coaching is relatively a young profession, many people are still largely unaware of what life coaching IS exactly. What do I do? How do I coach people? And what is my specialty? What IS a life coach?
 
So the purpose of today’s blog is to give you a picture of what coaching looks like and what I specialize in.
 
If I were to define my mission statement, I would say that it is ‘to help people discover their life purpose and align their work with their true calling, in order to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, overcoming the obstacles and setbacks keeping them back from reaching their goals and dreams.
 
I would say that my coaching specialty is that I work with people who have trouble establishing and developing firm boundaries due to boundary development injuries. I coach people to develop a clearer sense of self and overcome traumatic past injuries by developing healthy limits and self worth.
 
What types of things do I coach on? Relationships, taking initiative, healthy boundary development, overcoming depression and anxiety and addictions, trauma, abuse and other boundary related violations.
My biography of what my coaching looks like reads somthing like this:
 
Biography

Do you have a relationship in trouble? Do you feel like your life doesn’t make sense and can’t figure out why? Do you feel like there is something holding you back in your life but don’t know what it is? Do you have a passion in life that is not being fulfilled? A goal or a dream you have not yet reached?
Working with me, you will turn that passion you have into a vision, that goal or dream into actionable steps to help you achieve it!
I will help you see that you already have what it takes to achieve your vision!!
What I can provide is a promise that you will develop a clearer sense of yourself and develop the confidence to meet and overcome the obstacles preventing you from achieving your goals. I will offer relationship tools and skill building concepts to assist you on your way.
Coaching helps you break through your limiting beliefs and self doubt. It unlocks the potential you already have and creates a structure of support and accountability.
As your personal coach, I will be your sounding board, a non-judgmental, objective partner whose goal is to help you realize your dreams. I will bring constructive feedback, motivation and intuition, all focused on helping you to accomplish more with your life and relationships, and be the best you can be.

As your coach I will:
-Encourage you to set goals that you truly want
-Ask you to do more than you may have done on your own
-Help you focus better in order to produce results more quickly
-Provide you with accountability, along with the tools, support, and structure to accomplish more.

I have the ability to encourage, motivate and get excited for others reaching their dreams and personal potential. I am good at drawing out answers from people and to cause them to think in new and challenging ways, outside of the box, by asking questions. I am good at seeing what is beneath the surface, and able to see past the obstacles in people’s way, helping them reach for the stars! I believe I can help people who do not yet know what their purpose, goals or dreams are, and unlock and develop those areas, and help them discover who they were meant to be and what they were meant to pursue in liife.I am a caring person, loyal, committed and trustworthy, a good listener, and empathetic. I have excellent skills at understanding people, boundary issues, self-compassion, and mindfulness skills to offer as well as knowledge pertaining to such issues as abuse, codependency, understanding depression, addictions, and marriage/relationship building skills.
 
If you are still interested and are curious how I actually go about coaching my clients, below you will find my coaching methodology. That is to say, what you and I would actually accomplish together in our sessions if I were to coach you.
 
My Coaching Methodology
 
I use the successful conversion coaching process with my clients.
First, I help you identify your goals and dreams and what it might look like to live a balanced, healthy life, overcoming obstacles standing in your way to achieving the life you want to live. I offer powerful exercises that will help you gain clarity and a very specific picture of your ideal life. We accomplish this together by me helping you to unlock that picture as I help you become clear about what it is that you want.

Next, we identify three goals and action steps you can take right now to begin working towards your goals. Building on that, I help you create your ideal plan. The ideal plan includes specific discussion about the obstacles standing in your way. By evaluating and identifying your setbacks, we work together toward eliminating the things holding you back by looking at past and present contributing factors in your life that are causing fear, anxiety and other problematic symptoms in your life, while discussing and creating new habits, patterns and ways of being that will empower you to move forward.

Then I introduce key concepts, assessment tools, and exercises that will help progress you in a forward motion toward obtaining your goals of a healthier life, in ways of relating to others, and in your relationships, enabling you to move towards your life goals.

After that, we evaluate your sense of satisfaction with your progress and reassess your goals and action steps. I will offer accountability throughout our sessions together as you implement your goals and life plan.

Finally, through our work together, I will help you overcome challenges and setbacks as they arise, enabling you to move steadily forward towards a balanced and fulfilling life.

That about sums it up. This is who I am. This is who I have always been. I have always been passionate about seeing people become who they were meant to be, not restrained by the circumstances in life that have defined them, or the negative voices inside that they have chosen to believe, allowing themselves to live beneath their full potential. I have always wanted to unveil the secret reality… The cage you feel around you holding you back… it’s not really there. You were meant to be free.
 
My life calling is this:
 
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy
instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-4
 
To register now for your Complimentary Strategy Session, please visit my website.
 

Identifying Safe People


Wounded by Relationship

Many of us have at best, been wounded in a relationship at one time or another, whether it be by a friend, co-worker, peer, boss, significant other or a family member or friend of the family. At worst, we may have suffered abuse or severe betrayal by someone. Sadly, what often happens as a result of ‘being burned’, we learn not to trust again, or to harden ourselves against further injury elsewhere and are constantly on the lookout for it to happen again. We have endured trauma. We begin to develop coping mechanisms and hiding patterns and build secure walls of protection around our hearts to prevent re-injury, all the while, looking around every corner expecting it to happen again and projecting past injury onto new people in our lives who are unlikely to be exactly the same as the person who initially injured us.

Why Does This Keep Happening?

While it is true that we do psychologically develop patterns that tend to draw the same type of people to us, because of that feeling of familiarity, the good news is, this cycle can be broken, and changed by identifying characteristics of both safe and unsafe people.

Now, before I go any further and dig a hole for myself, I have to clarify that there are no truly perfect people out there, and we all have flaws and potential to harm each other, which literally means there are no perfectly safe people out there. Everyone will fail you at one time or another. No perfect people exist. If you are looking for perfect, I recommend God.

Now that I have prefaced that, there ARE however, characteristics you can look for to find people who treat you differently than those who have harmed you in the past! This is the good news. The bad news is, you might possess characteristics yourself of an unsafe person. Because we all do, or have the potential to at some point or another. Reality suggests ‘hurting people hurt people.’ Meaning, if you are or have been hurt recently, you have the potential to cause injury to those around you while you try to heal yourself. But hopefully by the end of this blog, you will be able to identify several ‘unsafe’ characteristics and have tools to change them if you find yourself identifying with those patterns, and know what to look for to find the ‘safe’ people, and tools to know how to become safe yourself, for others who need you to be a safe person in their life.

Characteristics of an ‘Unsafe’ Person

Here are a few qualities and characteristics of an ‘unsafe’ person:

-People who act like they have it all together
-Self-righteous
-Demand trust without it being earned
-Controlling
-Treat you like you are less or one-down from them
-Abusive (I will do a series on abuse soon to further unpack what this means)
-Manipulative
-Unreliable
-Competitive
-Defensive, not open to constructive criticism or feedback
-People who ‘may’ apologize but never change their behavior, or who simply never apologize
-People who avoid working on and dealing with their problems
-People who don’t take responsibility for what is ‘theirs to own’ (see previous blogs on boundaries to know what each of us is personally responsible for in life)
-People who lack compassion, empathy or concern for others
-People who do not forgive others ever (we all know forgiveness takes time, I am referring to people who never let go of grudges and offenses and hold it over someone else forever!)
-Blame others for their problems
-People who live a continual lifestyle of lying
-People who are not growing, keeping the same unhealthy patterns and don’t want to change.

Characteristics of Safe People

Compare the above list with the characteristics of a ‘safe’ person:

-People who react to you differently than those who have hurt you, over a period of time (even unsafe people can appear ‘safe’ initially until the ‘romance’ phase of any early relationship wears off.)
-People who are loving and who have a good reputation for being loving over time. Watch their actions. Not just what they say.
-People you can watch and observe from an emotional distance and who are gentle with you during the trust earning phase
-People who are willing to earn trust, rather than demand it.
-People who can accept imperfections in others
-People who have grace for imperfections
-People who have endured pain themselves, but are recovering or have recovered, who can be empathetic to your pain
-People who can speak the truth to you lovingly
-People who bear good fruit in your life… If you find you are becoming healthier and are encouraged to grow and your identity and independence and limits are respected, these are good qualities to look for.
-People who can be intimate, who know the difference between intimacy and enmeshment.
-People who can confront gently, with compassion
-Honest
-Not controlling
-Views relationships equally, rather than a one-up, one-down perspective.

Some of you reading may say to yourselves “where are these people?” And you may be right. They are fewer and farther between. But don’t give up looking. Perhaps you should look in different places than you usually do to find safe people. If you still have trouble finding them, look for a support group you can join in your area in the meantime, so that you can learn to become a safe person yourself. “like attracts like” they say. If you become healthier and ‘safer’ in the way you interact with others, you will begin to attract safe people, and will become less attracted to the ‘unsafe people’ as you begin to value the attributes of what a safe person possesses within them.

How to Become a Safe Person

1. Learn to ask for help, ask for what you need. Asking develops humility, it develops the skill of taking initiative and ownership and responsibility for yourself. It produces an attitude of gratitude when we have received what we asked for. Asking also increases the possibility that your need will be met.

2. Learn to need. Confess how difficult it is, or your inability to express need. This next step is hard… But necessary. Confess the need. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive. People are not mind readers. Here are a couple examples to help you along:
I need to know I matter to you.
I need to know you love me.
I need to know you understand.
I need to know you won’t reject me when I express who I am.
I need to know you will accept that I have different opinions than you sometimes.

3. What evokes your hunger? What is that ache that is unfulfilled? Learn to identify your feelings so you can express your needs. Learn what you like and dislike, and ask for more of what you like.

4. Work through resistances. “Resistance is our tendency to avoid growth”. (Drs..Henry Cloud and John Townsend, authors of ‘Safe People’, where I have gleaned from for this material)
A) Identify your resistances to love. What are you doing when someone is expressing love to you? Are you diminishing it? Dismissing it? Disbelieving it? These are examples of resistances to love.
B) Bring these resistances into relationship.
C) Allow the needs beneath the resistance to get met.
D) do the opposite of what the resistance tells you to do.
Ie. the resistance says “handle it yourself. You don’t need help.” instead, ask for help. Delegate responsibilities, etc.
E) Be open to truth
F) learn to give and receive forgiveness. Both from others and yourself. Forgive yourself!

5. Give something back.
Understand what you have gained from the above exercises and learn how to identify your friends’ and family’s need signals. Ask to help others. Learn to ‘be there’ for others. Be a truth teller, and someone who loves truth.

Many thanks go out to Dr’s Henry Cloud and John Townsend for their extensive work on the subject of boundaries and healthy relationships. I have learned much from their resources over the years. I highly recommend their literature on these subjects.

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Need help with breaking the cycle and identifying safe people?

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Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

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