FBS: If I’m Not in Control, Something Bad Will Happen

A healthy True Belief System (TBS) to move to is “My needs are my responsibility, your needs are your responsibility.”  

If I'm Not in Control
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

This post is part of a series I am doing on False Belief Systems (FBS).  What we believe matters because it affects how we think, which affects our emotions, which affects our behaviors.

A starting place to understand the FBS “If I’m not in control, something bad will happen” is to acknowledge that it comes from a good heart.  The reality is, you don’t want something bad to happen.  That’s good.

But, the main problem with it is the belief that you can and should control things you were never intended to control.  Some people would say you are “trying to play God”, but even God doesn’t control other people.  He has given us a free will.  So, the truth is, you are trying to create a happy and comfortable reality for yourself and for those you love.

But desiring to create a happy and comfortable reality for yourself isn’t the real problem.  Where it crosses into a problem is when you try to control things that you are not authorized to control, which is mostly other people’s decisions.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, “but if I let a loved one make this decision (or not make a decision), something bad will happen!”  And with that hypervigilance, fear, panic and eventually exhaustion set in. An accident might happen, divorce might happen, failure might happen, or worse.  And there are actual consequences you may have to live with because of it.

So, if it comes from a good heart, why is this belief system so harmful?  It’s harmful because you take the freedom from others to make their own decisions.  This control fosters resentments, irresponsibility, rebellion, tension, and broken relationships.  You stand back scratching your head thinking, ‘this person (who won’t be controlled by me) has major problems.’  And maybe they do.  But it blinds you from seeing your part and letting go.

A healthy True Belief System (TBS) to move to is “My needs are my responsibility, your needs are your responsibility.”  The importance of letting others be responsible for themselves means they also must bear their own consequences.  This can feel devastating when it’s a loved one who loses a job, ends up homeless, leads to divorce, or ends up in jail (or worse.)  But the freedom you both experience and the health that comes to your relationship is amazing!

The truth is bad things might happen.  However, by attempting to be in control of other people’s decisions you ensure that bad things will happen because you’ve attempted to take away the autonomy of another and that is bondage.  Using fear, obligation, and guilt to control the outcome can be (and usually is) oppression, even when it comes with good intentions.

If (or when) bad things happen, you will need to take care of your responsibilities, and you can let others take care of their responsibilities.  If they don’t (or don’t do it in the way you approve) then it’s on them.

If panic is setting in right now, you have some work to do.  You are not alone as this is a common FBS that I work with people on.  Gather some community around you to help you let go of control and be accountable to them.  You will find freedom and so will those around you.

FBS: Don’t Trust Anyone, Ever

Relationships and experiencing emotion in relationships (even hurt) is an important part of our mental health and well-being. 

FBS_Don't Trust Anyone, Ever
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

False Belief System (FBS): Don’t trust anyone because they will just let you down. 

The problem with this FBS is that people will let you down.  The opposite belief of “trust anyone because they won’t let you down” simply isn’t true.  So how do we think about this wisely and what is a healthy True Belief System (TBS)?

Relationships and experiencing emotion in relationships (even hurt) is an important part of our mental health and well-being.  So, let’s start by looking closer at the FBS.  “Don’t trust anyone” implies ALL people will let you down ALWAYS.  Of course, this simply isn’t true, but your guard is always up so it can feel true.  But ‘all people will let you down occasionally’, probably is true.  And, you will at some point let others down.

“You will just be let down” implies to be let down is bad, horrible, and you must control the relationship to not experience the pain.  My guess, is that when someone does let you down, you go into shut down mode in order to ‘not care’ and turn your emotions off.  Am I right?  It’s normal if you do.  The problem is once you start shutting down your emotions, it leads to shutting down all of your emotions because we can’t select to just turn off some emotions.  This leads to being numb, which leads to depression.

So…if I am right…the healing work that needs to be done is to list out those who have ‘let you down’ in the past, and actually let yourself FEEL the emotion of being let down; cry, get angry, have the regret.  Ask Jesus to come alongside of you to bring comfort, telling him of your emotions.  Share it with a few friends.  And then offer forgiveness.  Not because ‘they didn’t mean it,’ or ‘it was alright’ or ‘it didn’t matter’, but because IT DID MATTER and their actions were actually wrong and they hurt you.  You forgive by trusting the person and the hurt to God and letting God heal it.  To forgive does not mean that you need to trust the person who let you down.  But it also does not mean you can’t trust anyone.

You then trust God with the consequences their actions had on you.  For instance, if you told your best friend in 6th grade a secret and they told it to your class, that wrong needs to be forgiven.  It affected you.  You felt like you couldn’t tell anything about yourself to anyone and never learned to develop deep friendships again.  This affected your marriage because your spouse feels shut out and you ended up divorced.  You need to accept responsibility for your part of the fail marriage, but you also need to forgive your 6th grade friend again for the affect their actions had on you.

So, if “trust everyone because they won’t let you down’ isn’t true, what is a TBS I can go to?  One possibility is to replace the FBS with a TBS of “When people let me down, (because they will…I even let myself down) I can trust God because He is bigger than the disappointment.” God, in His amazing grace, can take any loss and bring good out of it (Genesis 50:20).  That never makes the original offense ‘good’, but we can expect good to come out of hurt when we trust God with it.

Or perhaps the new belief is “To love others well means I will be hurt by them.”  You see…God wants us to be conformed to HIS image.  He uses others to rub away our self-centeredness in order to sculpt us to His image.  If He is trying to help us be forgiving people (because He is a forgiving God) then what do I need in my life to become a forgiving person?  I must have people offend me.  There’s just no other way.

You see, relationship IS in the emotions.  If we deaden ourselves in our emotions so we don’t get hurt, we hurt ourselves because we end up in isolation.   In relationship, you will also experience joy, excitement, interest, a sense of not being alone, etc.  It’s all fine and dandy to sit and have an intellectual talk with someone, but you don’t have a relationship with them in the intellect.  If a person FEELS excitement or connectedness in the intellectual talk they can feel friendship.  But if a person FEELS dissension or disconnectedness in the intellectual talk they can feel like enemies.  So, relationship happens IN emotion.  It’s shared enjoyment in life that brings connectedness.  It’s hurt that brings disconnectedness.  When we shut down all emotion it brings isolation, even when people are present.

It doesn’t mean you trust everyone, but you learn to identify safe people who are willing to forgive you as well.  You will need to know how to process that hurt so you don’t shut down in isolation.  Being willing to experience hurt in relationship is a risk worth taking.

Love & Relationship Addiction

Recovery isn’t about ending a particular romantic relationship.  It is about healing and growth in several areas of our life within relationship.

Love & RelationshipAddiction
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

Love & relationship addiction is identified when a romantic relationship isn’t about love.  It’s about fear of being alone or achieving validation because of a relationship, and it tolerates damaging behaviors without resolution.  As a person addicted to romantic relationships, we may know the relationship is wrong, but we can’t walk away.  The painful cycle includes attraction, bonding, rejection, panic, reconciliation, and the cycle starting over.

Patterns of addiction to “Love” are:

  • Love at first sight
  • Going quickly into the relationship without time to establish common values, goals, or to build trust
  • Neglecting ourselves or loved ones in order to be with this person
  • Feeling isolated and detached from family and friends
  • Feeling overwhelmed by daily living and see their only way to survive is to attach themselves to someone else
  • Mistake intensity for intimacy
  • Romanticizing about the object of affection
  • Attracted to needy people
  • Seek to avoid rejection and abandonment at all cost
  • Afraid to trust anyone in a relationship
  • Using others alters mood or relieves pain
  • Highly manipulative and controlling of others, self & circumstances
  • Desperation to have peace in a relationship is defined by a cycle of begging and pleading to win the favor of a partner regardless of previous mistreatment
  • Escalating tolerance for high-risk behavior
  • Partner comes back with demands that the addict changes, but is not looking for a healthy relationship
  • Cycle continues of the partner leaving and the addict panicking

The Cause of Addictive Relationships

The beginning of an addictive relationship often starts in childhood where relationships with parents were absent, abusive, or neglectful.  We seek to heal what has been broken.  As children our emotional needs were not met when we faced rejection and/or abandonment. We came to believe we were not worthy of love.  The cycle continues as we seek validation from a person like the parent we were missing the affection from.  

The Process of Recovery

Recovery from love and relationship addiction is possible. The first step is to admit our need for a healthy change.  Here are some possible steps:

  • Recovery begins with admitting the relationship is addictive
  • It’s necessary to recognize and desire change in ourselves
  • Realize that obsession is not the same thing as love.  
  • Using relationship to prove you have worthiness is a warning sign
  • Understand your emotional triggers.  Being alone can trigger feelings of unworthiness. Believing that you are only worthy in a relationship can also be a trigger.
  • Connect your emotions to your childhood and recognize that your feelings and emotions are valid.  Also realize that they are not an excuse to stay in a destructive cycle.
  • If you feel immediate bonding and a sense of complete dependence in a romantic relationship, pull back as this is a sign your relationship addiction has been triggered.
  • Get a support team to help you seek out healthy relationships.  Possibly consider counseling to help heal childhood issues.

We start the process of recovery and working through the 12 steps to heal and start living the life God has planned for us.  Recovery isn’t about ending a particular romantic relationship.  It is about healing and growth in several areas of our life within relationship.  The foundation is spiritual healing.  Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  It’s also about finding healing physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally.  Romantic relationships have played a domineering and oppressive role in our life.  The goal of recovery is about finding their healthy place in our lives and to build healthy relationships with God, self, and others.  

Celebrate Recovery is a 12-Step Support Group designed to bring healing to all of our hurts, habits, and hangups, including Love and Relationship Addiction.  It can be a great place to begin your recovery today!