Maria Connolly, LPC

Category: Healthy Relationships

How to Respond to Psychological Projection in Relationships That Are Strained

Understand why we project our thoughts and feelings onto others and learn how to respond to psychological projection in relationships in healthy ways. “Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.” ~ Byron Katie

Have you ever noticed how people hate or get irritated by the qualities in others that they themselves unknowingly possess? Take for example, Don, the husband of a close friend. He’s always making comments like, “I can’t stand people who are so controlling,” or “That woman has a control issue, for sure!” He adamantly proclaims that he hates men who control women, but those around him glance at each other with knowing looks, because we see him trying to control his wife and kids in little ways all the time.

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How to Let Go of Hurt, Hate, Anger, and Pain & Nurture Inner Peace

We feel hurt when we feel used or betrayed. Yet this suffering can stay far too long. To recover, we must learn how to let go of hurt, hate, anger and pain.“Whatever comes, let it come, what stays let stay, what goes let go.” ~ Papaji

We’ve all been hurt by another person at some time or another. We’ve all felt used, unseen or betrayed. And while this pain is normal, sometimes the suffering stays for far too long. We relive the experience over and over, and have a hard time letting go, because we’re trying to figure out what went wrong. This not only causes us to be unhappy, but can distract us from our lives, making us hesitant to open up to new things and people. We get trapped in a cycle of hurt and confusion, and miss out on the beauty of life as it happens.

It’s vital to learn to let go of the hurt, to be able to forgive, so we can move on and be present for what matters most. This is something I learned the hard way, not once but several times. Moving forward, I want to love deeply and let go more easily when the time comes.

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How to Let Go of Emotional Attachments When “It’s Over!”

How to Let Go of Emotional Attachments when “It’s Over!”“You can’t possibly embrace that new relationship, that new companion, that new career, that new friendship, or that new life you want, while you’re still holding on to the baggage of the last one. Let go… and allow yourself to embrace what is waiting for you right at your feet.” ~ Steve Maraboli

Out of the blue, Lisa’s significant other announced, “I’m leaving you.” She was thunderstruck. She didn’t see it coming and she felt totally shattered. What was she going to do? How could she carry on? She’d made this man her life for the past six years, and now he says, “It’s over!” How can this be happening to her?

This scenario occurs all too often today. Perhaps you yourself have lived through a similar situation. If so, I am so very sorry for your loss. Please accept that you will get through this.

It’s natural to form emotional attachments to people and things, because they help us feel connected. That vase your grandmother gave you is priceless, because it reminds you of her. Your job is important because it gives you a sense of belonging and purpose. You love your sporty red convertible because it reminds you that you’re a success. You’re proud of your handsome partner, because he makes you feel needed and loved.

When the vase breaks, the job ends, the car dies, or your romantic partner calls it quits, you feel so much shock and pain! Your strong emotional attachments cause you to go through stages of mourning — including denial, anger, blame, and depression. In the case of the romantic partner, it can be worse, because he’s choosing to leave. It’s a personal rejection that cuts deeply.

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When Relationships Change or End, Maintain Your Peace and Happiness

We thrive on healthy relationships! But when relationships change or end, you can still maintain your inner happiness and peace by enhancing these 5 skills…“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ~ Ann Landers

Life without any relationships would be unbearable! We thrive when we invest time and emotional connection on healthy relationships, such as family, friends, and a romantic partner. The challenge arises when expectations aren’t met…when relationships change or end. How you navigate the sea of emotions that arise when a relationship doesn’t work out, will determine if you continue moving forward in life or you get stuck in time.

There can be a great deal of pain when relationships change or end. Sometimes, it’s hard to make sense of it all. It’s normal to ask, “Why did it happen? Who’s to blame? Why me?” Navigating all the emotions that flood through you at times like these — anger, sadness, betrayal, abandoned, fear, shame, vindictiveness, loneliness — can be difficult to understand and manage.

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Choose Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Others or Taking Offense

Choose Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Others or Taking Offense“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” ~ Steve Maraboli

A husband and wife were driving through an unfamiliar section of the city.  She read the map and told him to turn left or right at the intersections. He faithfully followed her every direction, until finally she wailed, “Now YOU”VE gotten me lost!” True story? Yes. (It wasn’t my honey and me, it was an acquaintance of mine.) It just illustrates that we, as humans, are quick to blame others for the results of our own actions. We take offense instead of taking personal responsibility.

People have become very confused about how to respond to life, because of conflicting messages they’ve received since childhood. For example:

  • It’s common to praise children for everything, which can inflate the ego and instill a mentality of, “I’m entitled. The world owes me”.
  • Parents make excuses for their children and blame the teachers, when the child gets in trouble or under performs.
  • Rather than learning that actions have consequences, many young adults get bailed out of their problems, so they never learn resilience or what their own strengths are.
  • We’re told “you’re entitled to your feelings and to let it all out”, without learning how to responsibly manage those emotions productively.
  • We’re taught to stand up for ourselves and not be doormats. However, by not giving an inch we hear feedback as criticism from which we must defend ourselves.

We’ve lost our sense of humor and take ourselves too seriously. Becoming offended over real and imagined slights has grown into a problem of epidemic proportions. We see evidence of this in the irritation, sarcasm, hostility, resentment, pouting, grudges, rants, rioting, assaults, road rage, “going postal”, school shootings, and even terrorist attacks.

Here are some things people say in order to avoid taking personal responsibility:

“It’s not my fault!” While excusing ourselves, we hold others to an impossibly high standard.

“It’s not fair!” Because we fail to develop gratitude, we compare our life to others and become embittered and perceive the good others experience as a personal grievance.

“It’s his fault!” Shifting blame, when things go wrong, is easy.

“He started it!” When someone slights you, you respond by giving him the cold shoulder. Your own hurtful behavior is okay, because he did it first.

“He’s out to get me!” It’s all about us. We don’t make allowances for others’ good intentions. Instead we cynically search for their “sinister” reason.

If you want inner peace, cultivating the habit of personal responsibility is vital. I love how Iyanla Vanzant puts it:

“One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else, be angry with someone else, point a finger at someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your life.” 

Taking personal responsibility for the good and the bad in your life is one of the most empowering things you will ever do. Only then can you shape your future. Consider this: the word responsibility is made up of two words…response and ability. That means you have the ability to mindfully choose your response to whatever happens. As Viktor E. Frankl said,

“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

Taking personal responsibility is a habit you can cultivate over time. It’s like a muscle memory. You do it often enough, it will become automatic. So it’s up to you to decide. What kind of person do you want to be? If taking responsibility is important to you, start with these suggestions…

  • Before responding, honestly ask yourself, “What part did I play in this situation? How did I make it worse? How could I have made it better?”
  • Recognize your own limitations. You’re not perfect, so give yourself some slack and avoid becoming defensive and prickly, when others point out your “faults”. Accept it with grace and humor. And give others some slack too.
  • Sincerely apologize for your actions or your lack of actions.
  • Welcome feedback and learn from it. Even if you think it’s undeserved, you can find something positive in it, if you look hard enough.
  • Look for the good in others and don’t impute wrong motives. If you’re suspicious, respectfully ask them why they said or did something, rather than jumping to negative conclusions.
  • Accept your life, without judgment and resignation, rather than wishing things were different. View today as a starting point from which you can create something better.
  • Let go of the past. You have the choice and the power to change your future.

Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’re not taking personal responsibility for our actions. If you’d like to enhance your emotional intelligence and communication skills, so you can turn even the most trying situations into positive outcomes, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). You can do this!


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