How I believed it was UP TO ME to Fix Problems in Relationships


I used to have a pattern (like a default way of responding) where I would give a lot more attention to the people who ‘fought me’ and told me I was wrong, compared to the way that I responded to people who agreed with me and validated my thoughts. I noticed that I actually tried harder and put more effort into relationship with people who didn’t accept me! This was my relational style with my family and friends when I lived in the dysfunctional relationship system of having to try harder all the time just to be accepted in the group and it took me awhile to recognize how much more energy that I gave to people who were fighting me and even how much more attracted that I was to people who looked down on me!  I had this weird attachment to ‘proving my worth’ proving that my opinion was valid. I was also so steeped in and accustomed to “trying harder” that I didn’t even know there was anything unbalanced about doing it.

Even when I started Emerging from Broken I noticed that I did it here too but the way this behaviour presented itself then was that I was more affected by the negative people and I would give them more ‘energy’. (Giving them more energy often meant thinking about their negative and judgemental comments and letting it drag me down way more than the hundreds of thankful and positive comments telling me that I was making a positive difference and letting those impact me for good.) For instance, I could get 50 thank you notes in a week and just one complaint or argument about what I was saying sent me off. I would engage with people who ‘told me off’ as though what they said was about me was true, instead of remembering that what they said was about them and their beliefs. I noticed that I wanted to work very hard to convince those judgemental people that they were wrong ‘about me’. I would spend so much energy thinking about ‘why’ that person was upset with me and how I had communicated in such a way that they had misunderstood me. I finally realized that this was also a part of my belief system ~ and it stemmed from the belief that I had to try harder and the false belief I had, that the success of any relationship was always up to me. I had come to understand this as one of my default modes; in certain situations I ‘defaulted’ to certain feelings, reactions and behaviours. Once I realized the belief system this was rooted in, I was able to break the default mode reaction.

It was important for me to change this belief system and begin to view things from a more truthful grid of understanding. In order for me to make this change at the root where it actually originated, I had to understand how the root got so firmly planted in the first place.

There were several things operating under the surface when it came to the way I tried so much harder with people who were not actually that nice to me;

1)    I was caught up in a cycle of having to prove my worth. I had done that my whole life, I had been taught and trained to do that and it was very familiar and even comfortable for to me to try harder. I was used to it and it had been a part of my survival mode since childhood. This cycle had to be broken.

2)    I didn’t know that relationship was a two-way street or that I deserved equal value and respect. I didn’t even understand that I was on the same playing field with the person who had set themself ‘above me’.

3)    I was comfortable carrying the burden of the entire relationship. I didn’t know anything different and because I had so long been convinced that the problem was ME, I was stuck in this pattern of having to be the one to fix whatever was lacking in the relationship.

4)    Since I had long ago given up hope that anyone else would change, (it is not safe for children to believe the parents will change or to try to change them so in childhood it is natural for the child to try harder to ‘be good enough’ or ‘not upset the adults for fear of what might happen; this is part of a child’s survival mode’ and a huge part of victim mentality that needs to be changed in adulthood.)  I believed that I had to be the one to change and it was automatic for me to accept that. This childhood survival mode may have been necessary in childhood, but in adulthood it was a lie I had to break though before I could change that automatic response.

5)    I believed that if I stuck up for myself that I would be ‘just like the abusers and controllers” in my life who were “never wrong”. I related ‘arguing’ and defending myself with being ‘just like them’. It seemed more comfortable for me to accept that it ‘must be me’. 

6)    My default mode had always been that I was forced to prove my worth and that somehow only the people ‘who convinced me that they had more worth’ than me, mattered. I got these people mixed up with everyone who didn’t accept me because the ‘lack of their acceptance’ was the same as the controlling people who made demands of me all my life and it kicked me into approval gear.

It was very important for me to see the TRUTH about people who insisted that I was the one that was wrong in order for me to break this cycle and re-wire my default mode of assuming responsibility for fixing relationships and blaming myself for the difficulties in them;

1)    I had to learn that I didn’t need proof. I had to learn to stop trying to prove that I was ‘right’ and learn to believe myself that I was right. I am not lying about anything and I am not making anything up. I know that and that has to be enough. I didn’t need everyone to agree with me.

2)    When people don’t agree with me, it does not prove that I am wrong. It just means that they don’t agree with me.

3)    There is a way to actually SEE the truth about the actions of others; Talking about the way to actually see the truth is what I devote my time in this website to. Busting through the defences of abusive and controlling people and how they have brainwashed other people is what got me started on the path to freedom and wholeness.

4)    What other people say is about them. It is a reflection of what THEY believe and is not a reflection of me. Their judgements are about them, their lives, and their fears and very often about their denial.

5)    I had to discover and embrace MY OWN WORTH; I had re-define my value and accept it as the real truth about me.

I had to see where I was so stuck in trying harder and ‘proving my worth’ that I never considered that perhaps relationship should be a two way street. My mother was really good at communicating the rules of relationship when it came to what was expected of me, but the truth is that she didn’t live by them herself. I had to realize that not everything is up to me; the success or failure of relationship does not depend ONLY on one person and all healthy relationship, regardless of the title one person holds, (father, mother, teacher, police officer, lawyer, grandparent, doctor, judge etc.)  is based on mutual respect and equal value.

Please share your thoughts with me about the subject of feeling or believing that if there is a problem in the relationship, it must have something to do with me. Feel free to share anything else this post may have triggered. Looking forward to the conversation!

Exposing Truth one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


Related posts: Giving and Receiving in a Healthy Relationship

Controllers and Manipulative People don’t question themselves

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143 response to "How I believed it was UP TO ME to Fix Problems in Relationships"

  1. By: Momma Posted: 2nd March


    Thank you for this reminder. I tend to take on the responsibility for any disrupt in my relationships whether they be family or friends.

    The morning tends to be the hardest time for me, as I get weighed down by all the baggage.

  2. By: Carlos Posted: 7th February

    Darlene this post brings me back to something I did 4 years ago at 18yrs old. I tried to be the “repairman” in my relationship with the abusers in the family. I remember telling myself: “Okay let’s give them a three day trial (In those three days, I will talk to them respectfully, I will not do anything “bad in general”) and if you manage to be civil with each other after the three days then hip hip hooray! Happy dance all the way! Little did I know back then that I was just creating my own “trap”. At least I finally “snapped out” or starting to.



  3. By: miki Posted: 25th January

    You definitely described both my childhood and my first marriage in your post! I was in charge of keeping the peace with the parents (of 7 kids)and I knew I was completely responsible for the relationship in my first marriage. The only way I got out was because he cheated on me and that set me free. Was told you just stayed in a marriage and made it work. Before I married again, I got counseling for the abuse and co-dependency. What a world of difference that has made!Thank you for all the support you give!

  4. By: Andria Posted: 25th January


    Yes, I am a people pleaser too! I am learning not to do this. I have also learned that you can’t “fix” others. You can’t even make them see your point of view if they refuse to do it!

    I don’t need to be liked by everyone, but I wanted to be liked by my family. But guess what: they don’t like me! I would try to do extra nice things, but none of it mattered. I tried to like them too, but I didn’t. Why? Because they treated me lousy. It made me depressed. I am still getting over it because I still think about it every day.

    You know it is not worth it to hurt yourself over this person who most likely doesn’t even think about you. I don’t know why you respond this way to a person’s disapproval of you. I thought it funny to turn the tables and get rid of her! LOL I understand how it makes you feel bad when you can’t figure out why someone does not like you. I have gone through this too. It is true that one person’s opinion does not amount to a hill of beans. Good luck going back to work.

  5. By: Andria Posted: 25th January


    I am so sorry that your sister and her associates have spread lies about you and have ruined your good name. I am not so sure that they have had no consequences for their lies. I believe that eventually people will get their just desserts. You may never know about it or see it with your own eyes. I believe in the universal law of cause and effect. I know this does not help you feel better right now.

    I have never been fully “ostracized” from my family, but I always knew that I was the lesser one and not important. By not being a “preferred member”, it is like saying “we don’t care if you are in our group.” I told my family that I was not being treated well and they did not care and just kept doing what they were doing. I don’t know if anyone in my family talks some bad smack about me.

    You know the kind of person you are. I think there has to be some people who do not believe the stories told my your sister and her cronies. Not every person goes in for people who like to bash others. Is it the same story being told over and over again? If it is the same story, folks get tired of hearing it, disregard it, and even start questioning if it is even true.

    I am sorry for 26 years of pain for you. No one should have to suffer that much. I hope you find some comfort in knowing that others here have also suffered from ill treatment from family.

  6. By: Shelley Posted: 25th January

    This is so me! I made it my mission to right the wrongs in my relationships, and got frustrated that I couldn’t and not only that but the relationships seemed to get worse! I finally realised that realationship is a two-way straight and others have to want to be invested in it too! I was on my way to recovery and wholeness but they aren’t! I had to let go and release my expectations – that my dad was never going to be able to have a healthy relationship with me, just because I had decided to become healthy. It was a hard lesson to learn. I had to come to terms wiht the fact that I was still trying to fix them, hoping that they would see the changes in me and want to change themselves.
    I am also having issues with people who decide they don’t like me. I NEED to be liked and approved of and when I’m not, I become very down. I am the same, in that people can encourage me and tell me what an awesome job I’m doing but one look from a particular person has the power to ruin my entire day. With one particular person I even got to the stage where I felt so helpless, hopeless to solve the issue that I decided that killing myself would be an option. Immediately after that thought I changed tact and considered that killing her instead would make better since! My need to be accepted by this one person and driven me to into extreme depression.
    It’s not this person I am concerned about. What I am concerned about is how I am responding to her. What is going on in me. I am back to work in a few days and am partially dreading it. Although her hours at work have dropped, there are still two days a week that she is there. I don’t think that completely avoiding her is the answer to my problem either. There will always be someone else who decides they don’t like me – I have to unlearn my need to be accepted by everyone, my people-pleasing (which I learned in childhood) and realise that my worth doesn’t lie in one person’s opinion of me.

  7. By: kathy Posted: 25th January

    Hello Colleen and Karen: I just read your posts from some time ago…“ostracizing someone from the family is very powerful, and also very painful for the person being ostracized. But it will happen every single time someone tries to stand up to abuse or neglect of any kind and to any degree” “while the abusers are still alive it is like a death sentence because they will turn everyone against you. They will make it out so that you appear to be not only crazy, but they will make everyone think that you are bad. There’s no worse feeling than having your entire reputation ruined and your entire family turned against you. The guilty parties easily spread rumors and provide a permanently bad impression about the one who spoke up and asked for change. People will usually never think the same about someone who they heard horrible rumors about.”
    This is what has happened to me and it is true…once people hear the filth about you , they never bother to find out if it is true and the disgusting lies will stick to you forever.Abusers know this when they spread the rumors and their lies.My sister and the people that she associates with, did this to me ,and to this day, 26 years later, they have had had no consequences for their lies and their actions . The filth that they spread still sticks.My good name has been ruined . They will do anything and say anything to keep the truth about what they did, and continue to do , from coming out and preventing them from having consequences for the horrible thing that they did.I am being bullied everyday of my life by these people. they have stalked me and spread lies about me for 26 years.No one bothers to ask me what the truth is…they just judge.

  8. By: kathy Posted: 25th January

    The other issue that you brought up in this post…taking responsibility for the relationships – I never , ever, -not once- thought that the other person might have to meet me half way or have any responsibility whatsoever in the relationship. I took full responsibility until I was depleted and resentful. No more of that. I am very happy alone .If someone comes along , the relationship will be mutual ,with mutual responsibility and commitment ,or not at all.

  9. By: kathy Posted: 25th January

    I, too, gave more importance to those who rejected me and chased after them.
    It was so important to me to be approved of by everyone. I finally realized that was a mechanism used to control me, keep me trying harder, and most of those people ,if not all, I didn’t even like or want in my life.Sometimes I notice that I will give so much more importance to a negative comment than something positive… people too. It was almost like – if they approved of me and wanted to be friends, I didn’t want them.What is that saying attributed to Groucho Marx …” I don’t want to be a member of any club that would take me as a member ” ( not an exact quote , but you get the message.) I guess that rejection was the norm and anything else felt strange.Through the years I have changed and am more receptive to positives in comments and in people. I know who I like and stay away from those that don’t feel good- even if I am not sure why they don’t feel good.Thanks for this post.

  10. By: Amber Posted: 6th April

    J you already are acceptable! You have been so since you were born. You were born worthy. Like me, you apparently were given the wrong messages from other people and that lead to you constantly wanting to improve yourself. I’ve been the same way, always wondering what was wrong with me and never figuring it out. It never ever occurred to me that other people could have programmed me, or groomed me to feel this way through constant false messages when I was very young and impressionable.

    J, reading this blog has given me lots to think about. It is the first time in my life I have questioned the behavior of others and started connecting how nasty messages and treatment given to a young child destroyed my confidence and self esteem. So, as Darlene suggests throughout these blogs, I go back and look at my past. How certain events and messages molded me, made me fearful, made me feel inferior. It is not a quick process but it is working. I am starting to feel better and more confident and in the last few weeks have become a little more assertive and less quivery and not as much rapid heartbeat when I have to confront someone. Start by reading these blogs, try journaling, and thinking outside the box. Instead of thinking it’s you, look at the actions of others in your lifetime especially as a child and think about how it affected you. It’s about the messages you got from others and so many are untrue! This has helped me enormously.

    Good luck, J. Wishing you good health and healing.

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