The Secret to Having Healthy Relationships After Experiencing Painful Relationships

Anyone with a traumatic childhood often experiences painful relationships and emotional hurt in adulthood.

This was my experience.

I wanted to live a happy and healthy life, but, at the time, I didn’t know how to move forward. I didn’t know how to manage the pain from my traumatic past that often surfaced in my current relationships.

If this you, then there is a way to have healthy relationships and to heal your hurt. Changing our ways is rarely easy, but it can certainly be done with effective emotional intimacy coaching.

What is relational freedom?

I call this relational freedom… when you experience life and relationships from a healthy alignment and can manage and tolerate uncomfortable emotions while maintaining self-care.

It doesn’t mean that sometimes you won’t get hurt. Or never feel intense emotions again.

It’s about having a choice to stop and acknowledge what you feel and understand where those feelings come from instead of behaving in an old pattern.

It’s about having the freedom to choose taking action that won’t harm you or other people.

How can you achieve relational freedom?

The first step is to pay attention to the actions that you would normally take when different emotions are triggered.

For me, for example, I noticed that my wounds would get activated in situations that weren’t even troubling. I began looking at how I could shift, or pivot, away from that part of myself that was getting activated, towards a healthier action – which I call relational or relationship alignment.

Relational alignment is the process of thinking (good rational thinking), feeling (high level of emotional intelligence) and doing (healthy actions) with congruency. And it is doing these in alignment that leads to healthy actions.

I used this internal process to pivot from my old way of thinking, feeling and behaving to a healthier action.

The most important part of this process for me was learning that even though I got triggered with my abandonment issues that I could still care for and love myself. I didn’t need to make anyone responsible for my pain.

Overcoming Relationship Challenges & Achieving Relational Freedom

I admit, this process isn’t easy. But learning to do this set me free from my old survival patterns.

To use the relational alignment process, start by asking yourself:

  • Do my feelings make logical sense to me?
  • Do my actions align with what I’m feeling?
  • Do my actions align with what I’m thinking?

This will help you think, feel and do in a healthier way, so you can be free to attach to others without feeling like the victim or taking others hostage. The result is a healthy adult.

It’s About Making Healthy Choices

To test if you are moving towards being a healthy adult, ask these questions of yourself:

  • What part of me can make healthier choices in relationship with myself and others?
  • What part of me can say yes or no?
  • What are my healthy choices right now?
  • What emotions am I feeling, and do I take responsibility for them?
  • Can I continue to take care of myself no matter if I’m in an uncomfortable or complicated situation?

These questions are the foundation for living as a healthy adult.

The good news, when you have the foundation for living as a healthy adult, then you can achieve relational alignment and attach securely and healthily to others… no matter what childhood challenges you’ve faced.

As a healthy adult, you choose to make healthy choices even though you may be in a situation that would normally trigger you and activate your survival patterns. It is having the freedom to make these choices that leads to a healthy attachment to others.

Relational Freedom: What It Really Means

Relational freedom comes from relational alignment. It means that if you can think, feel and do in a healthy and congruent way, then you can attach to others in a healthy way.

In other words, you’re free to be who you are and make healthier relationship choices, which is the definition of relational freedom.

With relational freedom, you have a higher level of consciousness. You are more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This means you can make the best choices for you.

This gives you the safety of connecting in a healthy way and building deep relationships.

And if relationship challenges occur, you can create healthy solutions, instead of running away from situations or being triggered to react.

The result, life becomes more joyful, loving, healthy and easier because you are aware of what you need to do to take care of yourself. And you choose to have healthy connections.

Understand Yourself With #1 Emotional Intimacy Coaching

I know this process may seem like hard work. However, if you take the time to go through the process, then you will have a deep understanding of yourself and what needs to change. The good news is that no matter what childhood experiences you had, you can create healthy relationships with some courage and perhaps some relationship intimacy coaching exercises.

If you want help to move away from old patterns and create relational alignment and freedom, then contact PIVOT. We’re here to help you with all your relationship struggles, whether you’re afraid that your partner doesn’t love you, want to know if love is all a relationship needs, or struggle with being emotionally intimate with your partner.

At PIVOT, we render transformative relationship coaching for individuals and couples and hold intensive couples retreats at The Glass House, our residential facility that provides a comfortable environment for facilitating positive change. Reach out to us today!

What Are Your Survival Patterns in Relationships?

Do you use survival patterns… and not even know it?

What Are Survival Patterns?

They are skills you develop to help you navigate your emotional pain. These patterns, often referred to as love styles, help you manage and tolerate the feelings you have.

Survival patterns tend to show up when you have some unresolved emotional trauma.

Unfortunately, survival patterns don’t always serve you.

How Your Childhood Affects Your Love Style

To help you see if you do have patterns and show you how traumas create negative patterns in relationships, let me share my story.

I was born into a beautiful family. My parents loved each other, and this love flowed to my older sister, Joy Ann and myself. For the first couple of years of my life, I felt loved, wanted and cared for.

I felt happy and secure, especially with my father.

Then, when I was a toddler, tragedy struck.

My father drowned in a canoeing accident at the coaching camp we attended together.

He was in a canoe with another coach and two basketball players. They were joking around, splashing water on each other. And then my father fell out of the canoe. He never resurfaced.

It took a long time to find his body.

That day changed my life forever.

From that moment onwards, my mom checked out due to grief. She shut down. Worse still, the doctors told her that she should start drinking a couple of glasses of wine each night, to help her sleep.

She started with two, but this quickly grew to eight glasses… and developed into alcoholism.

At the age of four, I essentially lost both parents.

My mother was a beautiful woman and soon after my father died, she met a man in a bar. She remarried within six months.

My stepfather had no idea what he was signing up for.  He began to control our environment because my Mom had lost control.  It felt like he took her away from me. For the first time in my life, I had feelings of jealousy.

To deal with this I started to develop survival patterns, or skills to deflect the emotional pain I was feeling. The survival pattern I developed was secretive behavior.

And one of the secretive habits was stealing my stepfather’s peanuts. This helped me feel in control when everything around me had been lost.

I wanted to feel like something was mine.

I was only five, and I remember taking six to eight peanuts at a time. I knew if I took more than ten, he would notice and yell at me. This level of detail was a result of the trauma that I had early in my life.

Stealing peanuts was a silent way to control my emotional pain.

It was my way of rebelling against someone who took away my mother and started her alcoholism – or so my five-year-old self thought.

Does Childhood Trauma Ever Go Away?

Survival patterns typically remain the same in our adulthood. When my inner child was activated in my adult life, then I would once again turn to my secretive behavior as a survival pattern.

I would secretly go out on a quest to obtain something that I could take and claim as mine.

I developed these secretive behaviors because I felt abandoned as a child and wanted to have something of my own.

When I was a teenager, I’d steal clothes, so no one would know how screwed up things were at home.

When I was an adult, I continued being secretive by hiding my feelings and trying to control the outcomes in relationships.

Today, when I work with my clients as a relationship coach, I see them incorporating survival patterns to manage and tolerate their feelings. Feelings that trace back to their childhood.

They continue using the same love styles to cope in their adult lives.

The result… the drama continues, and the past trauma continues to get activated, even in situations where it’s not reasonable to have intense emotions.

It’s important to consider how your survival patterns are still showing up today and to see how they negatively impact your adult relationships.

What Is Your Survival Pattern?

See if you recognize any of these patterns below:

The Avoider Love Style

If you’re an avoider, you’re probably sensitive to criticism, rejection, and failure.

You may try to escape getting hurt by making yourself smaller or invisible.

You live within your controllable comfort zone, but you criticize yourself before anyone else can do this to you. You are constantly on the lookout for signs of judgment, criticism or danger.

As an avoider, you remove yourself from relationships where you have the risk of getting hurt.

The Pleaser Love Style

As a pleaser, you may believe that to avoid getting rejected or abandoned, you need to please everyone, making sure that everyone is “ok” with you.

As a pleaser you may have a role, such as:

  • The caretaker – you may feel very responsible for others;
  • The chameleon – you can fit in everywhere;
  • The joker – you try to win people over by being fun and the life of the party.

Whichever role you take, it’s all about putting others first.

As a child you may have grown up keeping the peace by helping. And as an adult you feel burnt out and unfulfilled. As a pleaser your sense of self-worth and safety depends on the approval of others.

The Controller Love Style

As a controller you feel you need to dominate people and situations. You may feel that you need to control outcomes in relationships, as well as every aspect of your life.

You may even take on the role of being the authority so you can enforce your ideas and rules on others, just to avoid feeling exposed, powerless and unsafe.

By controlling others, you feel more empowered and secure. However, underneath this you may have deep feelings of inferiority, vulnerability and pain, which trace back to traumas from your childhood.

The Achiever Love Style

Are you known as a go-getter, the one who achieves a lot? And who always exceeds everyone’s expectations?

Do you strive for the next achievement, never taking time to enjoy what you just accomplished?

Do you sometimes call yourself a perfectionist? And can’t accept mediocrity?

Your identity and self-worth are defined by your successes because your self-esteem comes through achievement. However, although you achieve goals, deep inside you may still have the fear of not being good enough, which motivates you to keep achieving.

This may lead to you feeling burnt out, empty, or unfulfilled. The result is that your relationships may suffer.

How Do I Overcome My Survival Pattern?

These survival patterns are your “go-to,” but you’ll see that most of the actions and behaviors no longer serve you. And they ultimately stop you from creating healthy relationships with other adults.

It’s not easy to change your behavior because it’s ingrained in your relationship dynamics. This makes it challenging for you to develop healthy emotional intimacy with your partner.

The first step is to be aware of your old patterns. See what triggers it. Early childhood relationships are the first place to look to identify survival patterns.

The next step is to know what your core wound is. Search your history to see what childhood trauma is unresolved. And GET HELP.

My core wound is abandonment and not feeling good enough. As a child, I constantly feared that I would be left.

The good news is that no matter what survival pattern you have, it doesn’t mean you’ve got this for life.

Let An Experienced Relationship Coach Help!

If you are committed to change, then you’re not stuck with your unhealthy love style forever. Instead, you need to be open to change and find a relationship expert to talk about the pain that’s inside of you and learn how to love yourself first.

Relationship coaching can also help you if you can’t seem to accept love or need help dealing with being ignored, as well as with a whole range of other issues. Remember you are worthy of happiness and love, and a healthy relationship.

Looking for a relationship coach online? If you are ready to create meaningful connections and overcome addictive relationships, then contact PIVOT. We offer effective relationship issues workshops at The Glass House, as well as transformative individual relationship coaching. We’re here to help.