Although this title looks controversial, it comes from a good place. A good place that many may look at as an unfortunate truth. Of course, we do not think highly of those who only love others conditionally when it benefits them whether it’s people who only love their romantic partners when they do certain things in the bedroom, people who only accept friends who can do favors for them or even parents who expect too much from their children and withdraw their love if their children can’t meet their unreasonable expectations. These are all examples of toxic situations that anyone would agree with, but what about the other extreme? What about the loving parents who give their kids everything they want? How about the people who are loyal to their friends or romantic partners no matter what? In this post, I will be discussing what I call, “the unintended consequences of good intentions.”
Hey, everyone! I’m very sorry that I have not made a blog post in a while. I needed to take some time for myself to re-evaluate things, catch up financially, and, of course, finish college! However, I am back now with my philosophical rants! I will be discussing things that I’ve learned through both personal experiences and objective research in regards to some of these issues in the contexts of different situations.
Parents & Their Children
I figured this is a good place to start because it is the most important relationship that can impact the rest of a person’s life. After all, the first 18 years are critical. Many assume that people with certain mental health challenges were brought up in abusive households, and although that is true in many cases, we often do not realize that mental illness can result from the other extreme; over-nurturing or pampering.
Don’t get me wrong, parents who pamper their children and give them lots of love and affection come from a good place. They mean well, and they want their kids to be happy and know they are loved. Although certain things may make their kids happy in the short-term, consequences usually don’t manifest until later in life. Too much love and affection not only promotes weakness and unhealthy dependency, but it can also foster a sense of entitlement and even grandiose narcissism as they grow up. To better understand this psychological phenomenon, I invite you to read this article on Pampered Child Syndrome.
To all the pampering parents out there reading this, I do not mean to offend you or make you feel guilty. Instead, I wish to make you aware of these issues so that you and your children can have a better future and avoid issues later on. It may be tough to see your kids struggle at times, but it’s a catalyst for growth. Of course, your children will need your help and support in their early years, but as time goes on, we want them to grow up to be confident and independent adults who can survive on their own, not burden you when they become adults, and, of course, be in a position to take care of you one day if needed.
I struggled a lot early in life, and I had a rough upbringing, but I see now how it shaped me into the man I am today. The most important lesson we need to teach our kids is that we will always love and support them with what they need, but the only way they can truly have everything they want is through hard work, dedication, commitment, and personal growth! For a better understanding and more strategies, I highly recommend checking out this video by family psychologist Dr. John Rosemond, who explains why saying “no” is critical to your child’s character development.
Friends are a blessing, and they definitely make life a lot more enjoyable. However, it is important not to get too caught up in our personal feelings and the concept of loyalty. Of course, loyalty is important in all personal relationships, but it can be misused. Being loyal to the right people will create healthy, mutualistic long-term bonds, but being loyal to the wrong people will create toxic, one-sided, and energy draining relationships that make you question who you are. In life, we must understand the difference between loyalty and integrity.
I grew up having a handful of toxic friends over the years who would do things that I didn’t agree with, but I passively accepted because I was weak, submissive, and did not think highly of myself at the time. I would often feel guilty and apologize for things they did! I hung around with those crowds for so long that I questioned myself, and it was all I really knew. Later on, I realized that I was an enabler, which made me a part of the problem. Luckily, I learned my lesson, and I no longer associate with people like that.
On the other hand, I did have a handful of good friends who came and went. Many who naturally just went a different path in life, and many who cut me out of their lives because I was a toxic friend. I wasn’t aware of that at the time because I was in so much emotional pain and wanted people to comfort me, yet I was not willing to get the real help that I needed. It wasn’t until I lost about 99% of all my friends that I did what I had to do.
The lesson here is not to ditch all your friends but to take an honest look at not only them but yourself as well. Never hang around with people who you do not want to be like. Also, don’t feel pressured to be loyal to people who aren’t healthy for you to be around. Remember that social detoxing is the best form of detoxing for your mental health. Having been on both ends of these situations, I can honestly say that I felt guilty about hurting people’s feelings when I cut them off, even though it was best for me. In addition, when I had good friends cut me off, it hurt like Hell, but I see now how it benefited me. If they stayed in my life, they would’ve been enablers, and I never would’ve had the chance to learn that valuable life lesson and grow. We must prioritize ourselves, and the right people and circumstances will come into our lives.
Again, we come across the conflict between loyalty and integrity. These relationships are obviously more intimate than friendships, so we need to be aware of the impact we have on the other person. Passively accepting a person’s negative behavior not only harms you, but it also harms them. Unless a person has a strong enough reason or desire to change, they will not change. In the past, I have made this mistake in every relationship I had. I had relationships where the women I was with were toxic, and a few where I was the toxic one. Just like the friendships I had, I also experienced both ends in these scenarios.
Of course, when people we love have issues, we want to help them and take away their pain. However, healthy changes are entirely dependent upon the person’s willingness to make those changes. When someone’s problems become your problems, and the situation harms you more than it helps them, it’s okay to walk away. In fact, that’s what you should do because it will benefit you both. Your intentions may be good, but remember that being an enabler is just as harmful. It only took me 23 years to finally figure that out!
Here’s a little story about me: when I was 16 years old, I dated this girl, and things were great in the beginning. I had a lot of personal issues because I was neglected as a child, and I was addicted to the unconditional love she gave me. Unfortunately, I was way too clingy and needy, and I was not aware that it was an issue. She eventually confronted me about it, and I tried to stop being that way, but I didn’t try hard enough. Long story short, she did break up with me, and I was devastated. However, I realized later on that she taught me a very valuable lesson. My behavior was toxic, and if she never broke up with me, I’d still be that needy, clingy guy who never would’ve learned the lesson that led to my personal growth, and she would’ve been unfortunate to experience the emotional wear and tear of dealing with the guy I used to be. I used to be ashamed of who I was, but now, I take a lot of pride in where I’ve been because I see how I can help others by providing unique insight.
Later on, I ended up in relationships where I experienced the other end of that toxic dynamic where they were the needy ones and I was the enabler. I did genuinely care for them and want to help them, but it took a toll on my health every time. I have no regrets because it taught me some valuable lessons about how I was back when I was 16, and how to better handle certain situations.
The lesson here is to find healthy love. “For better or for worse” only really works when both people are committed and willing to work through things together. Don’t feel obligated to bear the weight of burdens you cannot handle. For more information on signs of a toxic relationship, I recommend this video by Psych2Go.
What Should I Do Now?
The most important thing you can do is know yourself well enough. Everything starts with self. Know who you want to be, and get a solid understanding of your core values to see if they match up to those you associate with the most. If you find your kindness being taken advantage of, it would be beneficial to get an understanding of the underlying reasons why. You want to do so to benefit not only yourself but others as well. One of best ways to understand yourself objectively is through the help of psychotherapy, you can find a local therapist on Psychology Today.