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Most of us are not in a position to just leave nor do we feel we want to, or that it’s the right thing to do. So what do we do when a toxic relationship (friend, family, partner or even a co-worker) seems to be adding more stress and negativity than positive, good vibes? How do we deal with the feeling of obligation, guilt, confusion or heartache?

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It is important to note that not everyone’s family, partner or friend is there for them to lean on, call on or go home to. Not every relationship supports stability and connection. Sometimes family simply means that you share a bloodline, a friend -that you are someone to talk to or go out with, a partner -someone to ease loneliness or fulfill your sexual desires. Some friendships build you up and some suck your energy dry.

There are relationships and friendships that just aren’t fixable—this can include family. There are situations that you can endure for only so long before you’ve outgrown them. There may come a crucial time when you have to separate yourself from these relationships in order to do what is best for you. It could be, and usually will be, what’s best for them too.

What Is Unacceptable Treatment?

Rejection, abandonment, not taking the time to get to know you or to be in your life, making you feel unwelcome, someone being competitive or hypercritical of you, pressuring or forcing you to be someone you are not, blaming, ostracizing, manipulating, neglecting, talking down to or any other sort of abuse both physical or emotional. These types of experiences can make a deep imprint in our hearts and inhibit our ability to react without them being present in the back of our mind’s. Our reactions to life become skeptical, doubtful, fearful and we more often see the dark instead of the light in both people and situations.

These negative experiences can jade us for a lifetime, unless we learn to process these experiences and let go of our past, and create an environment for ourselves that is a lot more suitable for us and less draining.

What Are Some Signs Indicating You Could Use A Change?

  • Your own health and mental well-being is damaged
  • You feel emotionally, physically and/or spiritually drained
  • Your other relationships seem to be suffering
  • There is violence or physical / emotional abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • There are constant struggles for power
  • There is unnecessary distrust and disrespect

What can I do to change this cycle? Here are some tools to consider when you are having troubles deciding if this is a relationship you care to continue or not.

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Don’t Judge The Situation

Everything that happened in this troubled relationship has served you in many ways. It has brought you to a better place of understanding yourself, what you desire and what you are willing to accept. I’m sure under all of the bad that there were some great times together. People come into our lives for a reason, season or lifetime. Take what you can from this experience and move forward with all that you have learned.

Seek Assistance

If it’s possible and the other person is up for it, seek an outsiders view and tools.

Allow Yourself To Feel The Emotion

Use it productively. Exercise. Do sports. Use art and creative expression. Write in a journal. Don’t withhold your emotions.

Limit Your Time & Set Boundaries

Do whatever it takes to limit the amount of time you have to spend with the toxic member. Limit visits, do what you can to prevent as much conflict as possible. Try to not allow yourself to get sucked back in. You can love and wish them the best from a distance.

Protect Yourself

Practice meditation. Learn to be patient with yourself and others. Observe your reactions. Become more self-aware in order to break negative patterns as much as you can. Do good things for YOU, things that build self-esteem, things you enjoy and invite others that love you. Take care of yourself physically and eat a balanced healthy diet. Be aware and be cautious of things you may do compulsively (eating, shopping, drinking, etc)

Take Charge of Your Life & Your Happiness

Don’t wait for others to give it to you. Letting go can prove to be more helpful than grasping at toxic strings, looking for what ifs or chasing disillusioned beliefs. At the end of the day, we are all certainly in this together, but each of us have an honest obligation to do what is best for ourselves.

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