In my last post about toxic relationships I discussed the signs and symptoms of the toxic relationship disease. As I stated in that post, we’ve all been affected by this disease and maybe even some people have been that toxic person in a relationship. If so, I hope that that post enlightened you and I hope my next one will, too. Now that you’ve learned how to recognize some of the signs of a toxic relationship, I want to discuss how I effectively handle these types of relationships. I want to forewarn you that it’s not easy, it takes a lot of practice and you will experience lots of resistance from the “toxic” person. Just hang in there. Stand firm in this new way of thinking and keep telling yourself that it’s okay to set healthy boundaries for yourself so that you can be your best self. Below are my tips on how to effectively handle toxic relationships.
Recognize when you’re in one: The first is probably the most important and that is to recognize when you’re in a toxic relationship. As I stated in the last post, it’s so easy for us to excuse away this type of behavior because unfortunately, it’s often coming from someone who is close to us. Pay attention to the signs. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re around or with this person. If you feel mentally exhausted, anxious, on edge and overall, just not good when you’re with this person or in anticipation of seeing this person, that may be an indication that you’re in a toxic relationship.
Set clear boundaries: Now here comes the hard part – you have to set clear boundaries for this person. If you feel as if you walk on eggshells around this person, tell them. If you feel like he or she is always putting you down, let them know that you’ll no longer tolerate that behavior. If that individual is always all about themselves, give yourself a very brief time limit for listening and then disengage. Learn to firmly communicate how you feel, give that person room to accept or decline the invitation to treat you how you deserve to be treated, and choose your action accordingly. This will feel awkward at first because it could be a parent, a family member, or someone you consider a close friend. Just keep in mind that people won’t know how you feel unless you communicate it to them. It might also be helpful to seek counseling from a third party, especially if the person is a parent or spouse.
Limit or cut off exposure: Once you’ve clearly expressed your boundaries and that person has chosen to decline your invitation, now is the time to decide to no longer participate. I read the following quote yesterday and it really resonated with me. “Remember, you can’t control someone’s negative behavior but you can decide to longer participate in it.” At this point, it is best to learn to love this person from a distance. Don’t argue back and forth. Don’t keep explaining how you feel. Don’t keep begging the person to change. Staying entangled in a toxic relationship will not be helpful to your mental fitness and certainly won’t motivate that person to change. Decide to accept what is and then disengage.
Nurture your healthy relationships: [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]So often, toxic relationships monopolize so much of our time. When not spending time battling that actual person, we are consumed by the negative thoughts as a result of this person.[/clickandtweet] Toxic people can consume you and it’s important to not allow them to take you away from the healthy relationships in your life. Instead of spending time wishing this person was different, spend time nurturing the relationships that are actually what you’re wishing for.
Don’t hold on to anger or resentment: I know I said the first tip was the most important, but this one runs a very close second. Don’t allow toxic people to consume you even after you’ve distanced yourself from them by holding on to anger and resentment. Accept that person for who he or she is instead of who you wish they were and forgive them. Then delete whatever messages have been programmed in your head as a result of your relationship with them and move on. Anger and resentment will only eat away at you and it allows that toxic person to still have power over you. Forgive, let go and move on.