As you’ve probably figured out, relationships – especially intimate relationships – are a place we have the potential to grow in a deep way… and can be similarly challenged.
One of the things I learned from was in my pattern of disregarding red flags. I used to ignore things that should have caused me to pause and say, “Hey – let’s investigate this further. Let’s talk about this, because it doesn’t feel right.”
I have some compassion for myself here. I had a history where I didn’t even have boundaries (or they were constantly violated) in my primary caregiving relationships. Maybe you’ve experienced this too. It can make knowing when to speak out about something really unclear and confusing – especially when this pattern happens in early childhood.
Speaking for myself, I ignore red flags like the partner who took forever to start telling other people they were in a relationship. And the other who had to put back at least 2-3 shots of whiskey before we went out. And the other who quickly tucked their phone away when I walked in the room.
Some of us may have had a partner who was suddenly emotionally labile and verbally abusive. Or who grabbed you a little too firmly… or groped your best friend.
When red flags start to surface in your dynamic, it’s not necessarily time to say,
“I’m out!” (although it can be). But it can also be a moment of reassessment. A time to take a step back, reflect, and even talk about it.
It’s also important to ask ourselves if we’re in a place where we can stay connected to our truth and values. To our true selves, our authentic selves. Because when we’re not and we ignore red flags that our true self is trying to warn us about, we end up betraying ourselves.
When we see the red flag and make a conscious decision in that moment to ignore it and move forward anyway – disconnected from our true self – we end up with a relationship built on unhealthy foundations and attachment patterns.
This is where we may start seeing toxic relationships or codependency further down the line.
Then, suddenly, we wake up to how toxic that relationship has become or how unhappy we are and we decide we’re ready to end things… and it’s really hard to actually do it. Even if it’s a place of suffering for us.
And we’re like, “why is it so dang hard when this is clearly messed up?”
The phrase “I’ve lost myself in this relationship” comes to mind here. For me, if I’ve lost my sense of self, it’s highly likely that I’m going to feel crappy when I’m alone. The idea is actually really scary.
Add to this our attachment styles and we find the idea of being alone – of being with only ourselves – a lot more activating, right?
But it’s important to remember here that if we leave and just move on without addressing the codependency and all that, we are likely going to see those same patterns arise in a different relationship.
So why do we gloss over those red flags? And why does that mean shit will go sideways from there?
One main reason is the way we naturally show up in our default patterns in a relationship can come from a place where we are wanting to heal our old wound, so we actually look for scenarios where we can play that out.
How are those default patterns formed?
They often stem from our early childhood experiences and the insecurities that arise from them. This makes sense, because that’s the timeframe we are literally BUILT to assess what the world around us is like and what we need to do to survive.
When we experience painful things in those early years, we are developmentally prone to thinking it’s because of who we are or something we did – we feel that we must have screwed up or we’re fundamentally flawed somehow.
For me, I have an insecurity that I can’t rely on other people, so I scan for where people let me down. I also tend to pick people to be in relationship with that, well, aren’t that reliable! Plenty of chances to try and heal that pattern;).
We also tend to overlook red flags when our happiness and stability is riding on that relationship’s success – when we’ve given up friendships, hobbies, passions, for that person.
We may also think that by overlooking a red flag, we’re showing compassion, when it’s actually codependency. We’re actually creating a pattern that will perpetuate dependence on one another as we lose our ziji – our radiant inner confidence.
Sometimes there’s a belief that because we love each other, we have to stick through however they choose to act, because love means we will tolerate anything. This one goes both ways – we may also feel we can act however we want and the other person has to be okay with it.
This negates loving ourselves, which must come first. We need to know we are worthy of love and that we cannot truly give clean, healthy love until we know that worthiness in our bones.
Ideally, our relationships can offer us a place to heal our default pattern and create a new, healthy one. For this to happen, we also need to have boundaries, enforce boundaries, and respect boundaries. Red flags are signs that our boundaries are at risk of being broken in a way that doesn’t feel safe, so boundaries are a great skill to cultivate..
The healing can also come from relationships with our spiritual mentors, elders, coaches, and therapists. It’s a chance for us to be our authentic selves without being hurt.
Stopping to evaluate at a red flag is also a good opportunity to heal how we show up for ourselves. We can ask why that keeps happening in our relationships, and why we continue to act like that.
We can also look at what was happening in us when we ignored a red flag. How we felt in that moment in our body. And how that relates back to our default pattern and to that wounded child. It’s an opportunity for us to rewrite that story – to see the red flags and say, “no thanks.”
You will learn:
// What to do when you notice a red flag in your relationship
// What happens when we choose to ignore red flags
// Why we ignore red flags in the first place
// How to Not Lose Yourself in a Relationship:
Part 1 – Episode 79
Part 2 – Episode 80
// Episode 74: How to Set Healthy Boundaries like a Buddha
// Grab my free training on how to set boundaries that actually work – and how to do this from a place of kindness and compassion. www.BoundariesTraining.com
// Want to do a deep dive into this work on your own time? To study it and practice it together with a group of people with the same goals of freedom, adventure and purpose? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.
// Want to take things to the next level in a 6-month immersion program? Apply at AdventureMastermind.com Enter into the adventure of your life in a container where you’ll feel safe enough to explore your true self with altered states and adventures during this one precious life we have. We only take a small group of people every cohort, so apply now!
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist FB group, and tune in weekly when I go live on new topics.