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Most of us, at some point in our lives, have experienced at least one toxic relationship, and many of us go on to repeat the pattern. If you have a pattern of being in toxic relationships, the first step is to own it. On a deeply subconscious level you have chosen it and have been sabotaging your own happiness for years. But before you go into self-blame and self-hatred (a big no-no), understand that there is a big difference between taking the blame and accepting responsibility. Blame says “I am guilty, I stuffed up”. Responsibility says “I accept that I created this, I don’t know how I did, but I did, and I’m willing to explore why.” Because the truth is, it’s not your fault! Not on a conscious level anyway.

It all goes back to our earliest experiences and what we experienced in our family. Many of our family relationships were dysfunctional and less than loving, and the various events and circumstances affected us, because from these, we created beliefs that now create the lives we life. For example, your father may have ignored you a lot of the time, and from this you acquired the belief “I’m not worthy of love and attention”. The upshot is that you find yourself with men who aren’t capable of loving you enough. Or your mother may have had a short temper and blew off at you on a regular basis. From this, you acquired a belief that said “I can never get it right”, the result being that you feel inept, victimised and angry. These beliefs are deep, buried in our subconscious, and are often referred to as core beliefs. Our parents are our greatest role models, and from the youngest age we are watching them and taking on beliefs about what love looks like. Let’s say your mother was a strong woman who took charge, while your dad had a hard time getting his act together and was often unemployed. The likelihood is that you’ll be a strong, capable woman and have a pattern of attracting useless men.

Why do we attract the very scenario that damaged us in our early years? Because, on a subconscious level, we feel safe and in our comfort zone when we are in a scenario or with a person similar to our childhood situation. On an earthly level this seems totally unfair – but on a spiritual level it is absolutely perfect. Patterns are repeated until we get the lesson we are meant to have, transform our incorrect beliefs and realise who we really are. That we are perfect, whole and complete, fully capable of loving and receiving love.

It’s important to realise that whatever we believe becomes our reality. Humans don’t believe possible what they have not yet experienced. If we have only ever experienced dysfunctional, toxic relationships, we don’t know what it’s like to experience a healthy, loving relationship and often don’t believe it’s possible that we can. Often, toxic relationship behaviour becomes part of our identity – co-dependence, rescuing, caretaking and the victim mentality are not always easy to let go if that’s how you’ve always been and that is how your mother always was. If you let that go, then who are you? Loss of identity is a common occurrence when we decide we are going to change.

So how do we start the journey of transforming our pattern of being in toxic relationships? The transformation needs to take place on the inside first, not the outside. We begin by becoming aware of the beliefs we are carrying and change them around to the truth.

“I’m not worthy of love and attention” can be transformed into “I am worthy of love and attention” because we all are!

“I can never get it right” can be transformed into “I do my best and my best is good enough”.

As you begin to transform your thoughts and beliefs, your outside world begins to change. Sometimes the one we are in a relationship with will also change, but many times not. As your beliefs change, your self-esteem begins to grow and you start to see yourself in a different light. Personal transformation is neither overt nor dramatic – it is a peaceful, quiet phenomenon – and when the time is right, you will just “know” that you deserve better, and from this knowing, you will choose to leave. You will also become more aware of the early “warning bells” when you begin dating again, and to know it’s in your highest good to steer clear of certain people, even if you are attracted to them.

Changing your beliefs is Step 2 in 5 Steps to Finding Love.