Be sceptical how much blame you take when in a toxic relationship.
A toxic relationship can spring up anywhere.
A friend who makes you feel guilty for not wanting to go out drinking.
An overbearing manager jealous of your talents and insecure your potential will outshine them.
Or a relationship where your significant other never takes responsibility, and it’s always because of something you did.
As a self-declared retiring type – growing up it was not so much I lacked self-esteem, but whether that esteem existed in the first place.
When faced with conflict in my relationships, I always came to the same conclusion
“It’s my fault.”
It’s my fault my friends don’t want to be seen with me anymore.
There is nothing wrong with taking accountability for your faults, but where it becomes damaging is being unable to recognise when you weren’t in the wrong.
From self-depreciating child, I evolved into a people pleasing adult…
I’ve learnt throughout those years that those with a questionable sense of morality will take advantage of that.
When people give you feedback to improve you as a person (that is false)
In my post What To Do With Constructive Feedback? (When You Think It’s Wrong) I shared a story of being given some “friendly” feedback from a senior team manager with the (alleged) intent that this would improve my performance.
This was based on a scenario I had no memory of being part of, with the manager giving advice – based on something that they’d heard I’d done.
Looking back through the lens of being me – a people pleaser, you can understand that if I’d let it, it could have destroyed me physically, mentally and spiritually.
It monopolised far too much of my time trying to find a fix to tape over the flaw so I could do better in future.
But what did not compute was – the feedback did not sound like my personality at all, and after much speaking to others, and personal reflection, I came to the realisation:
It was not me – it was them!
I’d spent so long looking at myself as a person, I never examined their flaws.
But then I reflected on the meetings where they would always make themselves the centre of attention.
The lack of leadership and trust delegating work.
And the tribalistic attitudes to their ways of working –
“My team”, “Our team is like a family…”, “They [some other team] did that wrong”
It was no coincidence that I was soon to start a new job, and in there eyes I had become “them” – the enemy that needed to be threatened and put into place.
And they’d let the mask slip, exposing the narcissistic, insecure personality behind the façade.
It’s not you, it’s them!
Your Relationship ended – that didn’t mean you did anything wrong
My first adult relationship lasted about as long as a cup of coffee.
I told myself she was the one, but my lack of self-confidence in myself as a person led to five years in the friendzone, before making a breakthrough on a drunken night out.
We enjoyed the next month meeting up in secret, I figured a move taken until she got the confidence to reveal to our mutual group of friends, we were now a couple.
I was wrong.
She told me it had been fun, but she’d met someone else.
Somewhere within the five stages of grief I questioned myself as a person… as a man for not having the balls to declare my interest in them years ago.
I wondered what was wrong with me, and why I could never be loved.
And then I realised, it was not me – it was them.
I’d spent so long pining after this girl, I realised they’d never had self respect for me.
I had to find meaning that they would not be part of my life.
Within this I accepted my wrong doings, and changed who I was as a person, making a better, more confident me who could have future relationships.
The pain that there was something wrong with me subsided, I was greater for it…
I had not been dropped for being me, they just could never see what they had!
It’s not you, it’s them!
Closing thoughts – Facts not feelings
In my research about imposter syndrome, something that has always resonated with me – is your ability to recognise the difference between a fact and a feeling.
This can apply to any toxic relationship in your life whether it’s someone telling you something hurtful about yourself, or it’s something you tell yourself –
You need to separate the fact from the feeling.
If a “friend” tells you your ugly – this is NOT a fact, it’s a feeling.
If your manager tells you, you need to improve your performance without providing any valid feedback or data to support you – this is NOT a fact, it’s a feeling.
If a new relationship ends prematurely, and you tell yourself you got dumped because you’re a loser – that is NOT a fact, it’s a feeling.
Beware of the toxic relationships in your life, you need to recognise and control these, before they take control of your life –
Toxic relationships can come from anywhere – it could be a friend, parent, manager, lover, or you!
Wishing you the best in your success
James @Perfect Manifesto
Copyright © 2023 James M.Lane perfectmanifesto.com
3 thoughts on “It’s Not Me – It’s You”
My pleasure. Those are indeed the intended or the unintended results in many families. It’s a struggle then for us to be able to distinguish what we choose to carry forward into our adult lives, and which things we choose to question and find our own answers to. Yes, some family members will purposefully try to derail us, while others do so out of good intentions of trying to save us from heartache or struggles in our lives. It can be very grey and murky areas to sift through.
I resonated with so many of your points, plus your starting point in life and what effect that has had on you and your relationships. It was difficult for me to learn where I ended and the other people began, so every opinion someone formed of me became a “fact”, born no doubt from my mother fabricating negatives about me, most were there own deficiencies projected on me, and my life with her where I struggled to be seen and battled against the unfairness of her harsh and sometimes cruel criticism. I was accustomed to those patterns, not realizing that’s not how healthy people interact. In fact I had no idea that she was a narcissist and that our relationship was so unhealthy, much less how healthy relationships look. This lack of knowledge keeps us locked into old patterns, one of which is to accept blame that isn’t ours in the first place, simply because our original abusers couldn’t ever accept blame, much less have the capacity to apologize or to change.
Good for you for going through all the changes you have! One piece of advice that stayed with me: before accepting what someone says about you our your life, look carefully at the source! This was eye opening for me to realize that I could reject what someone was saying about me, that I didn’t have to unhappily accept their negativity!
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Thanks Tamara – I relate to the ‘facts’ others told me I don’t know if it was there own insecurities, jealously, but ever “you can’t do that…” spawned from somewhere and I always listened to it as a truth, that would hold me back.
It’s amazing depending who are family is the positive or negative impact it has on how we view ourselves – sometimes it’s not intended, other times it is, I’ve always had a hard time that those closest to us want to sabotage us the most, but another lessons learnt is not everyone sees the world the way we do!
I love your advice –
“before accepting what someone says about you our your life, look carefully at the source!”
I think that summarises what I wanted to get across in my post.
Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts 🙂
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