To understand how I came to find myself in a violent relationship, I had to go back to the root cause of my lack of self-esteem, where it was seeded in my childhood. To understand how I’d come to be this way.

It wasn’t easy or obvious to me. I wasn’t from a violent home. My memories of childhood were overwhelming, happy ones. It took a time and a lot of work.  I attended support group meetings regularly, I read every self-help book I could find.  We didn’t have the internet or courses like this back then.  So, most of it I had to discover on my own.

It was a difficult and painful time.  I’d always thought I was the strong one.  I realised I was anything but.  I was insecure inside. I feared abandonment so went into a relationship with someone I thought needed me, so would never leave me.   Instead, he was incapable of looking after my needs and in the end, was violent towards me.

I knew I had to do this to break the emotional hold he had over me, the unhealthy addiction I had for him so I didn’t rush back. Which every bone in my body was struggling to resist.  I also had to do this so I wouldn’t repeat the pattern and go into another dysfunctional relationship, the arms of another abusive man.

Then when I had done this and faced my fears it was time to start combatting that pull I had towards him, by filling the void I had inside.  The only way to do this is nurture that damaged inner child and meet those emotional needs that weren’t when you were young. To learn how to love yourself.

The first step is to understand our parents aren’t perfect.   They made mistakes.   Like us, they were only doing the best that they could at the time.  They were replaying their own tapes.  Passing down the negative patterns and messages they too learnt as a child.  Whatever those were doesn’t matter right now.  This isn’t about blaming them.  It’s about you and finding your self-worth now.  To do that you need to just understand where those messages came from, why they embedded in us and acknowledging they were wrong.

As children, we are too immature to understand the complexity of other people’s motives or issues.  We trusted our parents and other adults and took their word as truth.  I trusted my mother when she said I was wrong, over my gut instincts that she was denying my emotions.  I see now that how I was treated as a child was just a by-product of my parents upbringing, attitudes and collective experiences.   In some way their emotional needs were not met as children either.

It’s time to let go of what is their truth and start focussing on your own.  That you are valuable, worthy, loveable and important. And to learn how healthy people behave.

If you want to know how healthy people behave, watch what they do.   First and foremost, they take care of their own needs. They create the world they want to live in.  They take action, rather than adapt to situations that aren’t good enough for them or make them unhappy.

They surround themselves with people who add value to their lives.  They only allow those into their lives who are of a similar mindset.  Those who add value to their lives.  Who are positive.  They don’t surround themselves with people who suck their energy, bring them down or who are negative and unhealthy.   They don’t moan on to others who love wallowing in drama and being victims.  They don’t take responsibility for other people’s issues or behaviour.

They live their lives and let others live theirs.  They take accountability for their own actions. And expect others to do the same. They choose how they respond to others’ behaviour.

They don’t get overwhelmed with doubt.  When they come across a difficulty or obstacle, they focus solely on finding a positive solution, not on the problem.  They don’t make up excuses or find distractions. They lean into fear and get on with it.

They have a good support team.   And strong family bonds.  They’re surrounded by close and supportive friends, in whom they can trust.

They don’t engage with anyone who disrespects them.  Or mistreats them.  They don’t waste time with anyone who doesn’t bring out the best in them.

They don’t depend on others for their happiness. They don’t look to others to show them their worth, or need others to validate them.  Nor does their happiness depend on the moods or behaviour of others. They are confident and have a positive view of themselves.

They take responsibility for their own lives.  They let go of trying to control others around them and focus on themselves, believing that they are solely responsible for their lives and outcomes.  They don’t blame others when things go wrong either.

They look after themselves physically.  They eat well, they exercise and look after themselves.  They don’t abuse alcohol or drugs.

They do things that make them happy. They laugh a lot.  Which speaks for itself.

They have firm boundaries.  And aren’t afraid to speak up and take action when others cross them.

They act with integrity.  Always walking a straight, honest line.  Doing the right thing by others.

They believe they are capable of achieving their goals.  They don’t have a critical voice inside their head tearing them down.  Or get bogged down with uncertainty, guilt or shame.

They are reliable, responsible and dependable.  

It sounds a long way to get there I know.  And I’ve been on this journey myself.  Some of you may be thinking: ‘I’ve tried that already’ or ‘I can’t, my situation is different’.  Or just feeling ‘How long is this going to take!’.

But I’m afraid there are no short cuts.  And nobody can do this work for you.  If you want to get healthy you have to be committed to working hard to change and to take responsibility for your own progress.

It takes time for these changes to sink in, but if you want to be a person of value, start by acting like a person who values themselves.  Take action and keep practicing self-care every single day.  The more you do this, the easier it comes naturally.  If you can fill that void inside and banish those insecurities, you will start to notice a dramatic change in your life.

Get support when it gets hard.  And remember you are good enough.

You were always good enough!

 Are you ready to learn healthier behaviour?  To start loving yourself?  Let me know in the comments below. 

Are your relationships – past or present – good enough for you?  Do you deserve better?  Try my FREE QUIZ to find out!

Written by Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Executive Producer who makes documentaries for major US, UK and Australian broadcasters.  She is also a survivor of domestic violence.  Her book ‘Unbeatable (How I Left a Violent Man)’ – her story of surviving abuse to finding success in love and life – will be published soon.  She hopes this blog will help others to become strong, fearless and successful too.  Find out more about Vivian Here.

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One thought on “Learning to love yourself. How do healthy people behave?

  1. I love the positive vibes here on understanding why we draw ourselves into negative situations. I’ve beeen doing some reading about negative behaviour being passed down from generations before us. It’s so great to read your reinforcement. There’s much positivity we can draw from our darker and troubled sides by just being understanding and caring to ourselves first and foremost. The rest should just all fall into place.

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