What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is any relationship we have with another person that makes us feel drained, anxious or less then. Instead of building us up and making us feel good about ourselves, these relationships break us down in subtle and not so subtle ways. We can have toxic relationships with just about anyone, from the receptionist at the dentist, to our boss or co-workers, to our parents and children, to our most intimate romantic partner. The more intimate the relationship, the harder it is to recognize that the relationship is toxic- and the harder and more painful it is to change it.
What are the signs of a toxic relationship?
1. How do you FEEL around the person?
-Do you get anxious thinking about your next interaction with them? (anticipatory anxiety)
-Do you have a physical reaction? (your stomach hurts, your head spins, you feel ungrounded or unsafe)
-Are you drained emotionally and physically after you leave the toxic person?
2. How do you ACT around the person?
-Are you making excuses for or needing to constantly defend yourself and your actions?
-Do you become a person who you are not normally either by becoming overly hostile or passive?
3. Do you need to RECOVER after you leave them?
-Are you so drained emotionally and physically that you need to go to bed, eat, drink or take drugs?
-Do you swear that you will never see or interact with them like that again?
-Do you scratch your head and wonder “What was that about?”
Why is it so hard to get out of toxic relationships?
-Because we get addicted. We think we need the approval, validation and love of a person who once gave it to us.
-We keep chasing the original high, hoping it will come back to us.
-We deny the truth of the situation, because it’s painful. Who wants to admit that they are addicted to a toxic relationship. There’s an incredible amount of shame associated with that.
What to do to get out?
-Be willing to admit there is an issue.
-Because our denial is so strong around toxic relationships we need to write our feelings down and create a record of them. Keep a journal of how you feel before, during and after your interactions with your trigger person.
-Find a trusted friend or professional with whom you can test your reality. The nature of toxic relationships is that they are crazy making. They make us doubt ourselves and our self worth.
-Set boundaries. Limit your time and exposure to certain people who trigger negative emotions in you.
-Believe in yourself and trust that the universe will provide a better more loving place for you.