Before we get to today’s post I wanted to quickly remind you about the FREE webinar I’m hosting Wednesday and Thursday of this week called:
Alright, lets get back to business.
So, last week this question landed in my inbox:
As an ACOA, how do you stop pushing the people you care about away?
This is such a great question not only because relationships are such a hot point for ACOAs but this topic in particular is one that I personally struggle with.
I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m much more comfortable pushing people away then I am with being vulnerable and letting people in.
Mentally, I know why I do it and given my past it makes complete and total sense. However, emotionally and with the relationships I really care about, it’s not healthy and not how I want to live my life.
The way I see it – it’s not that we ACOAs don’t care, I think the reason some of us work overtime to push people away is because at one time we cared too much and got burned.
If you can relate, this post is for you. Today I’m sharing 4 insights and tips that will give you a new perspective on how to stop pushing people away – especially the ones you really care about.
You know this post wouldn’t be complete without your thoughts, insights and ideas. So in the comment section tell me what you do to not push the people that you care about away.
Or if letting people in and being vulnerable scares the shit out of you, tell me why you think that’s so in the comment section.
Remember your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing.
Until Next Tuesday,
#1 Make Friends With Your Shadow
Whether consciously or subconsciously, your past, and all that you’ve experienced casts a shadow on the life you have today. Now when I say shadow, I don’t necessarily mean it in a negative context. This shadow can also refer to positive past experiences too.
But for ACOAs who are looking to answer the question, “How do I stop pushing people away?” I think it’s important to first understand how your past could be blocking you not only from finding the answers you’re looking for but also from the relationships you crave.
For example, in her book – “Children of Alcoholics: It Will Never Happen To Me!” – Claudia Black talks about the 3 rules present in the alcoholic family. They are:
I’m not going to go into detail here about the rules but I will say that children in alcoholic homes adopt these rules in order to adjust to the alcoholic in the family. They make the dysfunctional, alcoholic family system work. And in their own twisted way they make sense.
But what happens when that kid becomes an adult and carries those rules with them into their adult world and relationships?
They no longer work or make sense and only get in the way of the life that adult child wants live.
So how does this apply to ACOAs who push people away? Well just as it’s important for an ACOA to become aware of the outdated rules from their childhood they still may be following, I think it’s also just as important to understand how the experiences in your childhood could be driving you to push people away.
Now I’m not asking you to dip back into your past and get stuck there. Instead what I’m suggesting is that you use it as a reference point aka make friends with your shadows.
Then once you build that awareness and understanding you can then decide whether or not you want to continue to allow that junk from your past to be driving the choices you make today.
#2 Go Back To High School
If the thought of going back to your high school days makes you cringe, don’t worry you’re not alone.
I can honestly say that even if someone showed up at my door tomorrow and offered to pay me $1 million (tax free) to go back – I’d slam the door in his or her face.
Most of the friendships I had in high school were with really toxic people.
And that’s because I pushed away the people who really cared. This is something I truly regret.
Even though I can’t alter the choices I made way back when, I can try to understand what triggered me to push those people away so that I can work to avoid making those same mistakes today with the people I truly care about.
You don’t have to go as far back as high school to find these examples. I’m just using this one because it has weight for me.
Remember the point isn’t to get stuck in the past and beat yourself up over pushing certain people away. But it is about getting curious about the choices you made and understanding why you made them so that you can do or try something new and different today.
#3 Take It One Relationship At A Time
While exploring how to stop pushing away the people you really care about, I’ve learned that it’s best to focus on one relationship at a time. And even better if it’s a relationship you have with someone you can be open and transparent with.
For example, if you have a friendship you really care about or even in your own marriage you could tell your friend or partner,
“Hey, I really care about our relationship and I know that I have a tendency to push you away when I feel vulnerable.” This is something I’d like to work on and I could use your help.”
From there you could ask him or her to act as your accountability partner and to call you out (kindly) whenever you start to push him or her away.
I know it may sound ridiculous and you may not feel 100% comfortable asking someone to keep tabs on you but having that accountability in your relationship could go a long way in helping you identify what you say and do to push people away.
And as you become more away of what you do, you’ll be better able to catch it and change it or try something new.
#4 Take A Look In The Mirror
Finally, if you really want to learn how to stop pushing people away, you’ve got to stay focused on you.
What does that mean?
It means that you’ve got to get insanely curious about your triggers, the thoughts you keep, the beliefs you’re holding onto and your perceptions.
As Roman Price says:
“If you’re still looking for that one person who will change your life, take a look in the mirror.”
Once you see yourself in action, you’ll have a better understanding of what you need to change in order to feel comfortable and confident in your relationships.
Yes, you can read books and blogs and ask people for advice but ultimately the answers you’re looking for are going to come from you.
Stay curious, be patient and you’ll find what you’re looking for.