Being in a relationship that is safe and mutually respectful is a normal human desire and we all deserve to have those qualities in our relationships. However, all too often we blame ourselves for relationship problems, rather than simply acknowledging it is toxic or dysfunctional and whether it is salvageable.
Here are 18 tips for healing anxiety caused by toxic relationships:
Instead of being concerned about whether someone likes you and focusing on how your heart pounds and if you feel butterflies when you're around them, wonder instead whether you get excited because your chemistry is reacting to meeting another dysfunctional person. Ask yourself instead, does this person have most, if not all, of the qualities you want in a relationship?
One reason why people stay in unhealthy relationships is the fear of being alone. One reason for this is because you haven’t developed a best-friend relationship with yourself. Try to reach a place where you actually enjoy your own company. And if that doesn’t help, know that being alone is healthier and preferable to being in an unhealthy relationship filled with hostile drama.
You are responsible for whatever needs fixing in your life, your financial debts, your career, taking care of your body and so forth, not your partner, your best friend or your parents. You will feel much better about yourself and your new confidence will be very attractive.
We are constantly sending out hints to other people about how we want to be treated. These are called “boundaries,” meaning your deal breakers for what you will and won’t accept. How much importance you attach to honesty, respect, and reliability are just as important as personal space, time alone, or how much physical affection or romance you require. When you uphold your boundaries, you don’t allow others to manipulate, guilt, or control you, and your inner self will thank you.
Make a point to initiate a friendship with someone who is consciously improving his or her life. Hang out with people who are accomplishing their dreams, and they’ll take you along for the ride. Worried they won’t want you around? Think again: successful people love to teach and mentor others, provided that you’re kind and appreciative toward them in return. Having this person in your life as a point of reference will highlight areas you need to work on in all of your current relationships.
Listing desirable traits is helpful in directing your focus when you meet new people, and you’re less likely to get pulled back into old relationship habits. What are the top 5 traits you would like to see in your relationships? These could include honesty, being a good listener, loyalty, being kind to animals, or being appreciative. By identifying your own priorities, you will be better able to see which areas you need to work on specifically in all of your older relationships.
Surveys show that close friendships are more equated with life happiness than marriage, so these relationships are very important to our well-being. Basic characteristics of a good friend include:
Trustworthiness - keep your promises and have integrity.
Protectiveness - defend your friends if you hear gossip about them, and help them when they need it.
Confidentiality - never gossip about your friends or reveal their secrets to others.
Non-competition - striving to be “better” than your friend puts strain on the relationship.
Mutuality - conversations give both people time and attention to share. Friends listen to each other.
Availability - we’re all busy, but good friends make time for each other.
The most successful friendships, in fact relationships of any kind, will incorporate all of these characteristics. You may need to pull away (temporarily or permanently) from people who do not honor these basic tenets of a strong friendship.
Your body is innately sensitive to other people’s energies and intentions. Check your own inner warning signals, which will alert you that you’re with a toxic or drama-addicted person. Some warning signals you may be getting are:
- You feel used, because it’s a one-sided relationship, with you doing all the giving
- You feel guilty, like you owe the person something
- You feel angry at him or her and at yourself
- After the person leaves, you feel drained and tired
- You have a desire to avoid the person.
Trust your intuition here. These feelings won’t be present in a healthy relationship.
Even healthy relationships can hit a rocky patch from time to time. At times like these, it often helps to write a letter to the person you’re upset with. Pour out your feelings, and hold nothing back. Then, in a ceremonious way, burn the letter. You can also send a more restrained version of the letter to the person, after waiting a day or two for a cooling-off period. This way, your letter will reflect your ongoing feelings instead of reactive emotions. It can be the starting point for a mutually beneficial conversation that will get you back on track.
If someone is constantly interrupting you when you are speaking, stop them early on with a firm “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished talking” If you touch the person’s arm at the same time, the impact is even stronger.
If the interruption is also a correction you can say “Sometimes I feel that you are more my teacher than my friend. I’d prefer to have conversations where it’s just us sharing our feelings.” If their style annoys you, it annoys everyone else too so you are doing them a favor.
If you feel you are being manipulated and have no choice to comply, stand firm. They might cry, threaten to hurt themselves, say that no one loves them, or remind you of the times that they helped you. But by telling guilt-trippers no without guilt or excuses, they will either find another victim to harass or will realize that these methods aren’t healthy or effective.
If someone displays their anger in a physical way, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. However, if it is someone who just gets mad at the slightest provocation but rarely takes responsibility themselves, then release the fantasy that you will find the winning combination that will finally make them happy and peaceful. They most likely will need professional therapy. Tip-toeing around until they calm down doesn’t help anyone.
The next time an unreliable person makes an appointment with you, explain that your time is valuable and if he or she is not there within 15 minutes of the meeting time, you will need to leave. Back this up with actually leaving so that when they invariably turn up late they will get the message.
Accusatory people are always looking for a fight, tell them firmly that they are mistaken in their accusations but do not engage in an argument or wander off-topic. Do not engage in blaming wars or you will get into an unending battle.
Since whatever advice you suggest will most likely be met with “I’ve already tried that, it doesn’t work.” It is best not to invest a lot of time into trying to provide a solution to their problem. Once victim-martyrs sense that you are out of ideas to help, they will move on to bending someone else’s ear about their current problem.
When someone says something hurtful it is important that you let them know it. You can say “I don’t believe you meant to hurt me with the words you chose to use, but that’s what happened.” Or, as soon as the person says something hurtful, issue an immediate, honest reaction such as, “Ouch! That hurt!” The person may explain that he or she meant something entirely different than what you heard, but they will also most likely be more tactful in future.
If you feel like your family relationships are recurring nightmares, it’s likely because you’re fighting with fragments of the past. The arguments are on automatic pilot, and no one is really present or conscious at the moment. Remember, the point isn’t to change the other person, or get him or her to apologize. The point is to help you deal with family dynamics in healthy ways. We can’t control other people’s reactions, only our reaction to them.
Be sure to carry an object that reminds you of your current life and helps you feel empowered and proud of your accomplishments. It can be something related to your profession or a hobby. This will help prevent you from reverting to your 12 year old self during the first signs of arguments with family.
You have many choices for dealing with hurt feelings, including detaching, and telling yourself, Well, it’s just their issues; or having compassion for them because they probably don’t want the conflict any more than you do.
Take your time to get to know someone before you fully commit to a relationship. At the first red-flag, such as not honoring a commitment, or showing a lack of respect; extricate yourself from the relationship immediately before getting any more involved.
As a compassionate, openhearted soul, you want to give. It’s in your nature to care for others and ensure their health and happiness. Occasionally others may take advantage of your kindness which is why it is so important to enforce your boundaries in all of your relationships.
It may feel uncomfortable for you to put these rules into effect, it might feel like you are placing conditions on how you will help people, but if you refuse to do so, you’ll deplete your own energy reserves very quickly. It all boils down to respect. If the people in your life truly care about you, they’ll respect your decisions
by Doreen Virtue