By Chay Tanchanco
This may turn into a rant because I am deeply frustrated. But it is worth the rampage. Because people are hurting and this needs to stop.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard people struggling in relationships, recounting their issues this way:
“Well, he said that he was trying to understand, and I think, I mean he said that he was gonna be there, and something came up so like that’s not his fault, but I was still mad and he said I shouldn’t be mad and I just don’t know. And I mean he’s gonna come to my next thing and so that’s like coming up. And I told him that I just needed him to listen and I just want to know what he’s thinking.”
“She wanted all this stuff, and I just didn’t know what I wanted but she’s mad and she thinks that I’m lazy and she’s probably right. She said I’m not trying at all. And I should be doing more, but… yeah I’m just lazy I guess.”
I feel so heartbroken for these trains of thought.
Cuz I’ve been there far too many times to count. And I want to help everyone still riding the train to get off.
Male or female or trans or gay or straight, we are seeking in our partner, our friends, our family, a reflection of love and compassion; a depth of seeing who we are, what we care about, and how we want to grow in this world.
And along the way, we can get so, so very twisted in mistaking *seeking self-worth in others* …as love.
What does seeking self-worth behavior look like?
- When describing situations, a person will constantly refer to the other person’s opinions/actions. They are hung up on the action or words of another person; they will keep going back to it and asking “what does it mean?”
- Describing “should’s” or what they’re “not doing”
- Reactive anger or irritation, shutting down conversations
- Stonewalling (shutting down, refusing to speak)
- Ultimatums (setting a choice between two extremes in an attempt to order to control the other person’s desires)
There can be more, but these are examples. I’ve been through every single one. I know what it’s like to feel as though your significant other, your friends, your sibling, your parents, even people you don’t know that well are the ones who can hand over a sticker that says “You are Good” or “You are Right” and expecting that to change how I feel about myself.
Your (Self-)Worth is in The Way
I chose this title because it has two opposite meanings.
1) If you are constantly trying to figure out how another person feels or what they are thinking, if you are closing yourself off to someone in hopes they will come crawling back to you with sad puppy eyes, if you are angry and hurting and telling yourself you’ll never let another person in the way that you did for them: your self-worth is in the way of genuine connection. Why? Because you’re expecting to receive it from them.
If that person feels a certain way, then you’ve figured out how to change their mind or talk to them so that you get the outcome you want. If you are closing yourself off, you’re hoping they’ll come back to you to show you that they are wrong and you are right, and therefore worthy. Despite your defenses, you have given them control of how you feel about yourself.
On the flip side…
2) Your Worth is IN the Way You Handle These Conflicts.
If instead of racking your brain to figure out how they feel, you focused on 1) how you truly feel and 2) what you truly need, you will start to see your self-worth shine through your own actions.
I’ll say that again.
You will start to see your self-worth shine through your own actions.
You feel hurt, and you need to be heard and held.
You feel angry, and you need someone to hear out your frustrations before you problem-solve.
You feel sad and jealous, and you are hoping to feel more connected to your significant other in a way that is deep and meaningful.
These conversations can feel very foreign at first. We have not been taught how to navigate honesty in moments driven by emotion. But when we begin, no matter how small it seems, I cannot stress enough how powerful it becomes.