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          Contaminating a Relationship

          August 29, 2002

          Every one of us has an irrational and destructive emotional side to our personality. This dark side can sabotage your relationship in an insidious way.

          Below are the most common characteristics of what Dr. Phil calls “bad spirits,” and how they can impact a relationship.

          You’re a Scorekeeper
          Competing can quickly turn a relationship into an ugly battle of one-upmanship. How can you possibly be a winner if it is at the expense of making the person you supposedly love a loser? Solid relationships are built on sacrifice and caring, not power and control. Competitiveness can drain the joy, confidence and productivity out of any relationship.

          You’re a Faultfinder
          There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism if it is designed to improve the relationship. But it can often give way to constant faultfinding — in which you obsess over the flaws and imperfections rather than find value in your partner. Get off your partner’s back and you may see your partner moving toward you.

          You Think It’s Your Way or the Highway
          If you’ve always got to be right, then you’re ready to fight till the end. No truer words were ever spoken, says Dr. Phil; you will fight to the end — the end of your relationship. You can’t be self-righteous or obsessed with control and do what’s best for the relationship at the same time.

          You Turn Into an Attack Dog
          When you get in an argument, do you have a killer stare, a harsh tone and hurtful words? Attack dogs may experience short-term gain, but the target of the abuse becomes filled with bitterness and resentment. While it’s easy to fall into viciousness, it’s much harder to repair the resulting consequences.

          You are a Passive Warmonger
          Instead of fault-finding or engaging in character assassination, these toxic partners try to thwart their partner by constantly doing that which they deny they are doing — in such an indirect way as to escape accountability if they are confronted. A passive aggressive person is as much of an overbearing controller as the most aggressive, in-your-face person you could imagine — only they do it insidiously and underhandedly.

          You Resort to Smoke and Mirrors
          Because you lack the courage to get real about what is driving the pain and problems in your relationship, you criticize your partner about one thing when you’re really upset about another. What is real never gets voiced, and what gets voiced is never real. The real issues will eventually burst forth in a torrid way.

          You Will Not Forgive
          When you choose to bear anger at your partner, you trap yourself in pain and agony — and the negative energy can crowd every other feeling out of your heart. If you wallow in resentment and refuse to forgive and move on, you will tear up your own life and your relationship. You can’t change the past but you can deal with the resulting feelings and hurt by truly forgiving.

          You Are the Bottomless Pit
          Are you so needy that you constantly undermine your chances of success? Can you never get enough satisfaction, love, attention or appreciation? Your partner will be frustrated by never seeming able to “fill you up.” We all want reassurance, but an insatiable appetite for it never gives your partner any rest. Free yourself from the internalized sense of inadequacy, and find other ways to feel your self-worth and value.

          You’re Too Comfortable
          If you’re in a comfort zone, you are failing to meet your responsibilities in the relationship. You aren’t contributing, you aren’t stimulating, and you aren’t energizing. If you don’t make a move, it becomes easier and easier to stagnate.

           
          You’ve Given Up
          When so many bad spirits crowd your life, you cannot imagine there being any way out. You become so forlorn, lonely, isolated, negative, cynical and far from your core of consciousness that you believe you are trapped. Be strong enough to confront your problems instead of giving up.

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