Cracking The Myth Of Relationships

Myth Busted

We all have potentially 7 stages of meaning-making in our lives that represent significant changes in the way we see ourselves, others, and the world. These are big, big changes in us potentially.

The movement into higher stages of more complex reasoning is resisted by those who have a greater tendency to turn what represents potentially safer, higher ground in life, to threat.

It represents the fear of letting go of something that needs to be left behind.

The meaning making myth is blowing energy into something that you believe holds meaning for you, but in fact, does not.

You keep holding on to something or someone because of the belief that things will change, when it is you who needs to change and move on with your life.

Your sense of meaning is where your desire, belief, and open mind (or closed) are derived.

Hold on or let go?

Hold On

“Holding on” is often motivated by the threat of loss. If you do not play the “game” as others expect, you risk begin seen by others as someone who’s inexplicably changed for the worse, in ways they tell you they can’t fathom.

But you feel threatened by what would happen if you don’t comply with what others want from you and be like you “used to be.”

They are like playground bullies arriving uninvited to take up residence in your mind.

How easy it is to drop the ball of keeping our eye on what it is that gives us meaning, the meaning where we ought to spend our precious psychic energy.

The real ball that has been dropped is your sense of meaning, from the threat of what would happen if you don’t comply with the habits, beliefs, and expectations of others.

It has such a force that it keeps you from even getting close to asking, “What do I really want? What would give meaning to my life?”

The meaning making myth is what sustains your blind momentum through it all, at the cost of your inner peace and your own desire.

Relationships All

So here is how you start to change course.

You ask questions like these: How meaningful are these relationships for you? What real relatedness do they create? Where are the real, true connections that happen because of them? What do you want?

Given the effort you put out, what is the return? What is the real, authentic meaning you wish they would give and how does that measure up to your relief that they will soon be over?

.How much of it is holding together a patchwork of ideas of what is important, that is really a myth, simply not true, and no longer working?

How much precious psychic energy are you burning in efforts that leave you feeling empty, more tired that you should feel, and vaguely discontent in an eerie way?

Your comeback might be that you do this for others. Is it that, or are you threatened that these “others” will be disappointed in you that you have not played your role to assure their happiness?

You do not assure anyone’s happiness.

If you are in a position where you believe it is your job to make someone else happy, you are ignoring the myth of your own meaning making, that puts you in a DownSpiral and opens the road to depression.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Audrey Sloofman

    After spending too many years in a marriage with someone who constantly criticized me, I recovered my self-esteem and left. In the process I also re-evaluated all my my relationships. I used to feel I had to be “nice” to everyone and if they were in my life I should include them. It was not easy to be in an UpSpiral when you are with nasty, manipulative people. I have left my toxic friends behind and I am now very selective about the people I allow to be my friends. It is much easier to keep an UpSpiral when you know the people you are surrounded by are people you can trust, who work on being in an UpSpiral them selves, who respect you, love you, are kind to you and are there for you.

  • James Beeman

    A belief that I’m continuing to break through is that I cannot assure someone else’s happiness. Most notably this has played out for me as an employee, where I placed the organizational goals ahead of my own goals instead of realizing that there ideally would be a synergy between them.

    For me, this belief created an endless loop of seeking understand what would make my boss happy and then being disappointed each time I would deliver everything the boss wanted and usually a bit more, only to be asked for something else that I hadn’t thought of or prepared. The fact that this cycle occurred is not the big deal; the big deal for me was the belief that I somehow could cause happiness for someone else. Frankly, there is nothing further from the truth.

    Additionally, I see this at play with clients who I work with who are making job transitions. The challenge when going through transitions is that often the very people who you are connected closely with and have deep relationships with have a particular projection of who you are and what you can do. Essentially, they have you in box and see you in that role.

    When clients are making major career transitions, they often seek out the counselor of their current trusted advisors, friends, family, or colleagues; however, it may be better to work with someone who isn’t familiar with the person and doesn’t have a set view of how this person thinks, feels, and responds, because this new person doesn’t have expectations of this person and can help this person reinvent himself or herself.

    This is part of the value of hiring a coach because a coach is someone you hire to help you get clear about your goals, believe with you that your goals are your eventual reality, and help you reframe your perspectives of new challenges as opportunities that may lead to you receiving exactly what it is that you want.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    It is amazing to me that we hold on to myths that others will change. We hold on to old beliefs and hopes that others will truly see us as we are. Sometimes people can’t get past their (unknown) projections and see who we authentically are. Somehow it serves them, perhaps their need for superiority or their need to be right, to hold on to their negative perspectives of us.
    But what does it cost us? Worry – which is futile? Hope – that they’ll finally get us? Fear – that they won’t love us or approve of us? But my question is how loving are they if they aren’t willing to listen to us and believe us?
    This wasted psychic energy could be put to much better use. We could focus on what we are grateful for. We could give our attention and intention to building a life with supportive relationships. People, family or friends, who see who we are when we’re being honest and authentic, are much better for our development than the naysayers that believe their perceptions and refuse our truths.
    Letting go can be hard. But ask yourself, “Are these people good for me? Do these people support my higher good?” There is research to support that self-compassion is one of the major ingredients for our happiness. If a friend were in a similar toxic relationship, we would probably encourage them to let go and move on. So, maybe we need to be a friend to our self and take our own advice.
    Let’s put our energy toward creating and maintaining a happy, meaningful and fulfilling life for ourselves. A friend once said to me, when I was upset about a relationship, “If they don’t like you, they don’t have good taste.” Balming words for a wounded ego. Wanting everyone to like us and approve of us is unrealistic. Liking and loving ourselves is vital! Of course, we need to be likeable and loving! Compassion and generosity starts with how we treat ourselves.

  • Sandra Lintz

    The most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. Having a good relationship with our self improves our relationships with others. As writer and photographer Susannah Conway said, “Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything.” She compares it with the safety instructions on airplanes: Put on your oxygen mask before putting it on anyone else, even a child. So what does a healthy relationship with yourself look like? Some basics of this include caring for our own needs, our basic physical needs as well as connecting to what feeds our mind and spirit. How do we feed our mind and spirit? Joy is an important aspect of this as is gratitude; these increase our emotional reserves and increase our Positivity Ratio. As we are aware of what we are thinking and feeling and we can learn to increase positivity. “Any time you hear the negative put-downs swirling around your head, think about what you’d say to your best friend or sister or daughter, and then rewrite the script with love,” Conway said. We must have a relationship with our self every moment of every day so we might as well make the best of it. It is possible to spend most of our time in an UpSpiral.

    When we have our priorities straight, when we are number one with ourselves, we can relate better to others and when those other relationships are toxic and harmful we know where to place our loyalty – with our self. Be someone that makes you happy.

  • jeris hollander

    Over the years and through various relationships, I have realized how difficult it can be at times to discern between true meaning and our meaning making myths. We become so distracted by the “should’s” of our lives – what we should feel, what we should say, what should be meaningful to us, what we should do to ensure another’s happiness. When we are skating through life just trying to satisfy everyone else’s expectations of us, this is where our true meaning making becomes lost and unclear. How can we understand what deeply drives and inspires us when we feel perpetually responsible for the happiness of others? We give in to this cycle by denying our own personal self discovery, attempting to be the meaning in someone else’s life, which then further enables that person to continue denying their own self discovery as well. And the cycle spins on and on. I have been on both sides of this coin in past relationships. Whichever side you are on – whether it is allowing others to make or break your happiness, or enabling others to depend on you for happiness – both sides are emotionally risky, eventually creating a downspiral for one or both parties involved. The truth is, we can bring an incredible amount love, compassion, connection and support into each others lives, but the true value in all of that begins with bringing to ourselves first. All relationships require some level of effort, compromise, and adaptation, however, pointing fingers in blame or running on the treadmill of people pleasing only distract us further away from discovering our own truths and taking responsibility for our own lives.

    This comment from Dr. Larkin really stood out to me, “How much precious psychic energy are you burning in efforts that leave you feeling empty, more tired that you should feel, and vaguely discontent in an eerie way?” When we are engaged in healthy relationships, we do not feel perpetually drained and emotionally exhausted. The best way to create a loving, reciprocal relationship is to first grow your own upspiral. When both parties are taking responsibility for the evolution of their own happiness, they can begin to enjoy to beauty of an authentically meaningful relationship.

  • Audrey Sloofman

    Amen to that, Dr. Larkin! I spent 20 years of my life in an emotionally abusive marriage. I loved my husband very much. He had a lot of wonderful qualities, and he also had a big temper. I tend to be a bit spacey, he is very exacting. My errors made him enraged and I decided I was wrong and needed to get “better”. As his behavior got increasingly more intense, my self-esteem diminished equally. Though I knew his behavior was inappropriate and cruel, I believed I needed to change, to get better, to not make so many “stupid” mistakes. I also believed that if I loved him enough and in the right ways I could help him heal and everything would get “better”. Yes, I got deeply depressed as I neither got better (in fact, with my nervousness waiting for the next shoe to drop, I got worse), nor did he get “better”.

    Well, he did improve. He’s outward behavior became less dramatic, but his internal process of making me wrong was still present. I decided to believe something different…”I deserve to be loved, I deserve to be loved as I am, to be cherished and to not live in fear.” I also decided to believe that he would not change for a very long time. After 20 years, I left and it was the smartest thing I had done in my life. And at that scary point I decided to “believe” that even though I had no idea how I would make it on my own still with kids to care for, I would figure it out somehow. And I have.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute