Let's face it. We've all encountered individuals who negatively impact us - those people who drain us of energy, demand more than they can provide, pull us down instead of push us forward, and can turn the happiest of moments into a miserable affair.
Oftentimes, whether it's to avoid confrontation or because the optimist in us wants to assume the best, we put a large amount of effort into maintaining these toxic relationships, which leaves us with less time and energy to focus on the positive relationships in our lives. Severing these relationships may seem like an impossibility, but the reality is, not only is it possible, it's necessary!
Below, we'll tell you how you can spring clean your life by weeding out negative relationships. Read on to learn how to identify toxic people, evaluate the situation, and commit to action.
How to Identify a Toxic Relationship
You might not even realize that a toxic relationship exists between you and another individual. In a lot of cases, the relationships don't begin that way, and when a friend or partner becomes a negative influence in your life, it's tempting to chalk it up to a phase and focus on the many good memories you've had in the past. And sometimes, that might be the case! I am in no way suggesting that you should give up on a relationship simply because times are tough and it requires a little effort on your part.
That said, here are a few key questions to ask yourself to determine whether a relationship has become unhealthy:
- Does my relationship with this person take more energy than it gives?
- Do I often feel compelled to act in ways not of my choosing to satisfy this person?
- Is there emotional blackmail, a struggle for dominance, and/or attempts to keep you from growth and change?
- Are you uncomfortable being yourself around this person? Do you constantly fear how they will react to what you say and do?
- Do I constantly feel that I'm not being heard?
- Do we have a mutually beneficial relationship, or am I the one doing all of the giving?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a toxic relationship on your hands. Now it's time to evaluate and deal with the situation.
How much do you value the relationship?
You might wonder why anyone would stay in a relationship defined by the characteristics above, but sometimes long personal histories, family ties, and other situational reasons make dealing with these relationships a difficult process. You must first determine the extent to which you want this person to be a part of your life, and then act accordingly.
Communication is Key
If this person is someone you want to keep in your life or who cannot be removed, one option is to try and work it out through communication. Instead of constantly bending to his or her desires, you need to be assertive and clearly communicate your concerns. Stop pretending that their behavior is okay, speak up for yourself, and put your foot down.
It is essential that you show respect when doing this, and also make it clear that you expect this respect to be reciprocated. Chances are, this new attitude may rouse a negative reaction at first, as he or she realizes that their control over you is threatened. Make sure that you remain calm and stick to what you say in this conversation. If this person truly should remain in your life, they'll adapt their behavior. If not, you may have no option then to proceed with more drastic measures.
If this person refuses to change their treatment towards you, it's time to set some boundaries. Toxic people often try to use you for their own purposes, so you must refuse to be manipulated. Make it clear what you are and are not willing to do, and stick to it.
Most importantly, stop defending yourself. Refusing to give in to toxic people frequently leads to accusations being thrown your way. While you might find them totally undeserved, defending yourself tends to prove futile and only unnecessarily prolongs the encounter. Save your sanity and energy by refusing to be caught up in their manipulative games.
Sometimes it really is necessary (when possible) to cut off your relationship with a person entirely. When you've attempted to communicate effectively and set boundaries, but the person, unwilling to compromise, remains a toxic presence in your life, it's time to let it go and move on. If possible, avoid any form of contact and cease communicating with this person. It may be helpful to remove them from various forms of social media, so that you aren't tempted to reach out to them and fall back into old patterns.
Before cutting ties, I recommend explaining to the person that you've done your best to remedy the relationship, but since you're unable to do so, you think it's best to stop communicating. Be wary! Oftentimes, when a toxic person realizes that you are being serious, they will temporarily change their actions as a means of keeping you in their life, only to return to their old ways once they feel they have secured control over you once again. Don't fall into this trap!
Whatever your decision, commit to it! Don't doubt yourself and remember that you deserve to be treated with respect.
Remember, just because you feel frustrated or hurt by this person, it doesn't mean that you should talk negatively about them. In fact, doing so can ultimately make you a toxic presence in someone else's life. Take the steps you have to take, and then let it go. Refuse to participate in the negative person's childish games, and don't attempt to seek revenge.
Also, make sure that you take time during this process to self-reflect. While it's tempting to place all of the blame on the other person, it's essential to know that you may be unconsciously contributing to the unhealthy relationship, so make any necessary changes to avoid future toxic relationships.
Though removing toxic people from your life can be an extremely daunting task, it is incomparable to the relief you will feel when you are no longer channeling your energy into a mentally and emotionally draining relationship, and are instead surrounding yourself with positivity.
What do you think?
How have you dealt with negative relationships? Let me know what worked, what didn't, and what you suggest in the comments below!