I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all experienced toxic and unhealthy professional or personal relationships. These are often the relationships which take instead of give back, instil a sense of doubt and low self confidence within you and leave you feeling unfulfilled and emotionally and even physically drained.
At these times, you may feel disempowered and unable to change the situation. Perhaps you may even want to continue with the way things are or avoid the situation because it’s easier and feels safer to do so.
Yet, whilst you may want to own a magic wand to rid yourself of these people, it is not always possible. The reality is that you need to begin to understand how you feel and how you react within these situations in order to start to heal and to live a healthier and happier existence.
10 Steps to Help Cleanse You of Toxic Relationships
1. Relationships Are Like Film Projectors
Similar to a film projector, we project qualities we like or dislike ourselves onto other people with the hope that this person will hold and accept our strengths and insecurities. In a relationship this is like a 2-way mirror. So, when you experience difficulties within a relationship, ask yourself ‘is this my stuff?’ or is it a projection from the other person onto me? When we begin to understand and to own what is yours and to disown what is not yours, you will begin to feel more empowered.
2. Can I Live With or Without This Relationship?
Be honest with yourself and ask do I have to work with this relationship? Or can I afford to detach myself and escape? Of course, you may find feel confused as to what to do and relationships are by no means black and white. However, by being honest with yourself about what is negotiable and non-negotiable, your personal boundaries become clearer and you will begin to value yourself and your needs.
3. Stand Back and Take a Birdseye View
In difficult situations, we become so focused that we forget to stand back, to breathe and to take a different perspective. By slowly breathing, finding a sense of inner calm, standing or sitting with a different posture, and standing back from the situation, it is likely that you will be able to see things from a different perspective.
However, this is one of those situations where you may say ‘its easy to say and harder to achieve’. So… a great tip is to ask yourself ‘if I were watching this scene in a film, what would I advise the character to do?’ Or if I were watching my best friend in this situation, what would I advise him/her to do?
4. Start A Conversation
These words can instill a feeling of dread within most people (whether it is a difficult situation or not) However, if you feel able to have an honest and calm conversation with the other person about how you are feeling, it can often be a real game-changer.
On the other hand, if you are unable to have a conversation or it’s too risky, try to find some inner calm within yourself and find an outlet for your built-up emotions. Firstly, practice having a conversation with this other person or imagine what it would sound like. Perhaps choose to write a letter if words are difficult (whether you choose to send it or not is up to you) The effect of having a cathartic outlet will enable you to find some release and healing.
5. Your Inner Hero and Cheerleader
If you’re having a tough time and feel lacking in support or energy, reconnect to your inner champion of cheerleaders. If this is difficult, consider who is your hero/heroine and what soundtrack would accompany this character? Then in the difficult situation, imagine that you are this character and start to silently reflect on the theme tune. This tip will help you to build resilience and confidence when you feel the chips are down.
6. Your Tribe
We won’t always be able to please or to befriend everyone. Life is full of harmony and friction when it comes to relationships. However, one thing you do have control over, is to ask yourself who are the people you could call on 24/7 and they would be there for you? It’s easy to focus on the negatives in tough times, but the positive people and experiences in your life are the situations, which will pull you through! Start to practice gratitude and connect with as many positive people, friendships and situations as you can. By doing this, you will be building a solid foundation for yourself.
7. You’re A Thriver Not Just a Surviver
Most people just choose to survive through life. However, the secret is that we all have the potential to thrive! Ask yourself, ‘what will help me to thrive through this time?’ You have been through worse than this, so be a Rocky Balboa! Keep a journal of all the times you have felt proud of yourself and how you have overcome obstacles. You can do it again!
8. Make Your Home A Sanctuary
Whether you’re experiencing difficult times or not, your home needs to be a relaxing sanctuary. Consider how you can achieve a sense of calm within your home. Perhaps you like to light a candle, create a beautiful library of inspirational books, have photos of family and friends in photo frames, enjoy a relaxing bathroom with pampering treats, buy yourself some fresh flowers, or create a relaxing ‘sanctuary room’ which is free from work and outside pressures. However, If your difficult relationship is within your home, find another place or a hobby, which could be a sanctuary for you to escape to. By doing this, you will be able to refresh, revitalize and return to the situation with a new energy and fresh perspective.
9. The Long-Term and Short-Term Effects
Ask yourself, what are the long- term and short-term effects to your health and happiness? Is this relationship doing you more harm than good?
Then ask yourself, where do you want to be in 6-10 months and is this relationship part of your vision? If not, what environment and who is a part of that vision? If it is part of your life, what needs to change in order for you to experience a healthier and happier existence?
10. You Have A Choice
It may seem difficult to accept that we all have a choice, especially when we are commited to work, to a romantic relationship, a marriage or a long-term friendship. However, consider are you going to stay with the situation as it is and just accept the effects it is and will have on your health and happiness? Or, are you going to confront the issue, to work with it and to see if it changes? Or do you choose to value your needs, cut your losses and leave?
The simple choice is that even in disempowering situations, deep down you are still empowered to make the right choices for you and your future.