In my first reflection on the hit song “Flowers” I broke down my thoughts on why it was so wildly popular amongst even those that weren’t in jaded toxic relationships and who weren’t single.
In this second part I want to break down my thoughts on relationships (platonic and romantic) and the toxicity in which we bring. After all, its not always ONLY the other party that is toxic.
In order to love ourselves, buy our own flowers, and set the precedent for how we want and expect to be treated we must also be real with ourselves about the role we play in our relationships. What toxic behaviors do you bring to the table? Are you aware of them? Do you use them as an excuse? Or do you actively work on said behaviors?
None of us are perfect and often in relationships we bring the unhealed parts of us and combine it with the unhealed parts of either a partner, friend, coworker, etc and it ends up like trying to mix oil and water. This can be conscious or unconscious behaviors. What can that look like? Judgment, jealousy, resentment, anger, lack of trust, just to name a few.
In my own relationship, something we implemented years ago was what we called “the check in”. About once a month at least we would check in and see where we both were, how we were feeling, and what we could/would/should do differently to enhance our relationship, do we still love each other and want to do this thing called life together. Nothing was off the table and ego was placed to the side. We never had these conversations in the midst of an emotional flair up because then that would seem like finger pointing and blame. High emotional topics were best discussed at night, laying in bed with the light off. There was no interrupting, just space to talk and express your feelings. Why the light off? Because this way if the other parties body reacts to something you say via facial expressions, tension, slight shifts you can’t see it therefore you don’t shut down, you just keep talking and expressing what needs to be expressed.
“When emotions are high, intelligence is low”… For this very reason, the time for problem solving in any relationship is not in the middle of a heated argument. Know when to say hey, we need to calm down and discuss this later. Not everyone is capable of being amicable and holding emotional intelligence in certain phases of their life and therefore it’s crucial that you decide to extend grace or patience with them in that phase or if it’s time to part ways. It’s also much easier to place blame on someone else for the problems than it is to deep dive into self reflection and change our own habits that cause reactionary responses from others.
Let’s unpack. Your toxicity is not a badge of honor. Read it again. It's one thing to own your toxic traits and actively work on them, it's another to use them as a crutch. Since the topic of mental health is a pretty wide discussion now and the verbiage in correlation with it is being thrown around a lot let’s think about trauma. Trauma by definition is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience; physical injury. Toxicity in relationships can cause trauma.
A few years ago, my wife said something to me in one of our “check ins” that was like a punch to the gut. In this moment she was raw and honest. She said, “everyone else gets the best of you, and I get what’s left over.” That was the hardest pill for me to swallow because it was true. I was in grind mode in my business, customer service took over during the day and by the time I got home I was emotionally, physically, and mentally spent and had little left to give. As a result, I was often easily angered at home by the slightest inconvenience. But in that moment of her truth and honesty, I didn’t get defensive and try to explain, I didn’t deny it. I validated her thoughts and vowed to myself, her and my family that I would actively work on it. And I have. Changes do not happen overnight, but when you’re conscious of your own toxicity and evaluate how you show up in relationships then you can make the daily changes necessary to have a larger impact.
A practice I started trying to internally do a while back is ask myself “why are you feeling triggered?”, when I would find myself starting to get emotionally charged by a situation. For example, traffic. I would always find myself in traffic mad as hell. When I started to take stock of those emotions I realized, Im not triggered by the traffic I’m actually frustrated with myself for lack of time management. I’m not triggered by the condescending tone in someone’s voice, I’m triggered by the unhealed wound of being made to feel not good enough. I’m not triggered that my load is heavy, I’m triggered that I didn’t stick to my boundary.
This is essentially a lot of words to say evaluate your emotions in situations in relationships and understand their origin. Learn how you can show up better for those you love. Figure out how to set boundaries and stick to them. 𝐁𝐮𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨!