We have all experienced toxic people. They have been our friends, coworkers and family members; people we have met recently or relationships that we have had for a long time. Frequently, they can start out healthy and disintegrate into a non-healthy relationship. We often feel the negativity way before we recognize its impact on our day to day lives. Sometimes we confront the person but many times we justify that it is just who they are and attempt to navigate around them. Yet, we are left with this nagging feeling that something is just not right.
What is a toxic relationship? It is a relationship that doesn’t serve your higher good. Although it comes in many forms, the result is the same. It affects your peace and happiness. The relationship leaves you feeling like something is wrong with you or a sense of trepidation. It is commonly difficult to recognize because it can often be presented by the offender as “constructive criticism”.
These justifications leave you feeling like you should keep yourself open to this person’s judgement even though your gut is screaming at you that something isn’t right. A voice in your head starts questioning if this person really has your highest good at heart. Remember to pay attention to how you feel when you leave them. You might not remember what you talked about, but you will always remember how they made you feel.
The 10 signs of a toxic relationship are as follows:
- 1. You are afraid to be direct and tell YOUR truth to this person; often finding that you are passive aggressive with them in order to express your point of view.
- 2. There is continual criticism even if it is often presented as “constructive”. This is often used as a channel to devalue another.
- 3. You frequently argue without really communicating. There is often yelling involved. Neither party really feels “heard”.
- 4. There is a negative energy between you. The feeling is one of tension and being uncomfortable.
- 5. You find it difficult to be authentic around them.
- 6. You question if you do anything “right”.
- 7. Personal growth and change are discouraged.
- 8 You find yourself walking on eggshells, afraid to set them off.
- 9. You just don’t feel internal joy or happiness when you are with them.
- 10. It sometimes feels like a competition between the two of you.
Now the question is, what can be done about these negative relationships that we have welcomed into our lives. The first step is to take a long and hard look at each one and decide if we can let them go. We must remember the old adage “A reason, a season and a lifetime”. Maybe the person is someone that was just meant to enter our lives for a lesson and now it is time to move on. Appreciate what you shared together and put that new-found energy into yourself. Taking care of our spirit is the highest form of self-love.
If you have accessed the relationship and are not ready to leave, it is time to have a heart to heart talk with this person. Do not numb yourself to what is really happening between the two of you. Take control and be very clear about your expectations of the relationship and how you want to be treated. Be clear that sometimes it is not just one person’s fault but the dynamic between the two of you. Again, if you have been clear and set your boundaries within this relationship and it does not change, be prepared to walk away.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses and demonstrate both with the people we care about. Yet to live our lives to our fullest potential is the goal. To do this, we must evaluate the people we bring into our fold. Are we having a relationship with them coming from our strongest or weakest self? Life is short, time is limited, choose JOY.
Judith Keigley, M.A Counseling/Psychology
Life Coach Practitioner, An Optimal You