What to do when a loved one crushes your spirit… again, and again, and again
Today I’m going to share a challenge one of my clients faced quite a few years ago. Sadly, this particular challenge is common in swiftly-evolving men and women. I’m pasting the client’s initial e-mail to me below, with her permission; in fact, it was she who suggested I use our correspondence to help others with the same dilemma! (what a great lady) Even so, I’ve changed her name.
Here is her letter:
For the past few years I’ve received harsh resistance from my husband every time I attempt to talk to him about the positive changes I’m experiencing in my life, especially relating to the growth of my swimwear boutique. Whenever I show any excitement about my business’s progress or share ideas I have about new designs, not only does my husband NOT want to hear about it, but he belittles my accomplishments giving me the feeling he doesn’t want me to succeed. The strangest and worst part is that once I’m feeling down and lacking confidence again, he suddenly gives me attention and love as if to reward my smallness.
When he and I first married, I was much meeker and more submissive than I am now, and I think he enjoyed that woman more than the woman I am today. But I feel so much stronger, healthier, and less like a doormat these days and I don’t want to stop feeling those things out of fear of my husband’s disapproval.
Even though my boutique and life are developing okay as is, I know I would be even more successful if I was supported by my husband. At the very least, I would be happier if he stopped crushing my spirit every time I share my dreams with him. I thought to reach out in your direction for guidance.
I’m hoping that instead of the complimentary introduction you can offer me some advice in an e-mail and then we can set up for weekly sessions from there? What I’m looking for right now are some techniques I can use to help me get through the moments I feel myself getting crushed. I’m NOT looking to discuss my marriage as a whole right now - I realize that discussion needs to happen, but for now I’d love some practical advice on how to deal with this particular issue until I’m ready to make a bigger decision about the entire relationship.
Thank you for your thoughts,
I first want to send you a heartfelt congratulations on your many accomplishments, both internal and external. It sounds like you’ve come a long way and you aren’t stopping any time soon! Give yourself credit for being so dedicated to self-growth and for being as reflective as you are to realize something must change. It takes courage and ambition to ask for outside guidance, and I’m happy you reached out in my direction.
Progress, as I’m sure you know, is not always linear. We are sometimes thrown backwards or sideways on tangents when life challenges us in new & necessary ways in order for us to evolve. In your case, one of these challenges has presented itself in the form of the resistance you’re feeling in your relationship. As you’ve already realized: the situation must be addressed head on (and gracefully conquered) before you can truly thrive.
It’s a hard battle to be in company with individuals who resist your spirit’s development. Our spirits naturally want to soar - and our friends and partners should encourage our growth, rather than bring us down. Even so, as difficult as your relationship is at this moment, think of everything you’re learning about yourself. My guess is, the things that are really important to you are rushing forward in your consciousness and letting you know they will not be silenced, no matter what. That may not have happened if you weren’t given this particular challenge. I say this simply to acknowledge the silver lining of your situation: you’re coming to an even greater understanding of yourself because of this conflict. You may even be facing some of your own self-doubts and fears.
Your husband’s insecurities and personal challenges aside, let’s look at what you do have control over in this situation: you. Ask yourself if you are afraid of anything about this conflict. Are you afraid if you take a leap and go ‘full throttle’ with your business (and your entire life), your husband will love you less? Leave you? Cut off any financial support he gives you? Are you afraid of the power you’ll gain–in the world and in yourself–if you make the decision to truly THRIVE? Are you ready for the responsibilities that will arrive with that power? Are you afraid that although you dearly love your husband, he may no longer be the right match for you along this journey?
More directly responding to your beautiful and troubling inquiry… Though the suggestions I’m about to offer will help you to ‘better deal’ with the immediate conflict, I highly encourage you to further reflect upon your marriage itself. No matter how much transformative work you do on yourself, if your husband is not actively addressing his own harmful behaviors, fears, and insecurities - and if you two are not working together on the marriage’s continual development - it will always be a challenge for you to remain in a healthy relationship with him.
Also, I’m assuming you’ve already communicated with him everything that you’ve shared with me? I hope so! That would be the most authentic, heart-felt, vulnerable thing to do. Sit down and, in a very peaceful and non-accusatory fashion, share your thoughts and feelings. I’m going to assume you’ve already done that and are still not seeing a change.
Having said all that, here are three techniques to use to avoid being ‘crushed’ by someone close to you:
Option One - Avoid the person
This doesn’t mean you must completely avoid the person… but you must avoid sharing your most sacred & meaningful ideas, dreams, goals, and spiritual explorations with anyone who may respond with unwarranted negativity, harm, or unconscious judgement.
This may be simple to follow when it applies to staying mum around co-workers, acquaintances, or distant family members; it’s much more difficult to censor your excitement around someone you’re extremely close to such as a spouse, good friend, or business partner. But you must be disciplined enough to only share yourself with people who lift you up and encourage you to fly. (Or, at the very least, people who offer constructive, balanced, loving critiques.)
Of course this is easier said than done because we long to share our most vulnerable selves with the people we love the most - but if one of those people is causing you grief, you must learn to avoid him/her.
Why should I have to do that? you may ask. That person is the one person in this world I want to be open with?!
Well, you shouldn’t have to do that! That’s the bottom line. So please reflect upon what keeps you in a relationship with someone who is constantly snuffing your candle light.
Option Two - The Bubble
It helps many people to actively visualize a physical barrier surrounding & protecting them from the outside world. Create a metaphorical barricade, wall, circle of white light, bubble, shield, or other means of protecting yourself from whatever harmful words or experiences are being thrown your way.
It’s important that you remain calm and in control of your emotions when inside this bubble. You can further visualize the harmful words bouncing off your shield, or dissolving as they touch the outer lining of your bubble, or being fried as they’re electrocuted by your invisible electric fence! It may sound silly, but it helps.
Remember: visualize yourself standing tall and strong in a protective place so that nothing can penetrate your sense of peace and confidence.
Option Three - Smile at the child and go.
This was my mantra for quite some time while dealing with an individual in my life who could not stand to see me glowing. Whenever he unjustly attacked my dreams or passions, I compassionately looked upon him as if he were a child struggling to exert his sense of ego/self for the first time. Instead of getting defensive or upset, I smiled at his anger as if he were simply a child - not remedial, not stunted, not less than I - but simply a child.
You wouldn’t let a child get to you, would you? Not to your innermost core! You wouldn’t scream at a child for saying something ignorant. You wouldn’t feel a burning desire to defend your beliefs. You would simply know you were wiser and further along the path - so you’d say what needed to be said, then move on happily & naturally.
Smile at the child and go. Don’t let the child’s words affect you. The child is, after all, still learning. We all are.