A toxic relationship can be one of the most emotionally-taxing things that we can experience. They can leave us feeling drained, angry, worrisome, and, of course, stressed. Because a toxic relationship can feel so incredibly overwhelming and confusing emotionally, there are times when we feel as if we will never be able to not be affected by the person's toxic behavior. We may feel that there is no way that we can ever truly heal.
Here are steps that we need to take in order to help ourselves heal from a toxic relationship:
1. Set Your Boundary
When a person exhibits toxic behavior, we can find ourselves confused about what it is that we need. This is because the person has used emotional manipulation and guilt in an attempt to make you feel like you're feelings, needs, and thoughts are wrong so they can get what they want. The key here is to recognize when the other person is being toxic and to set a clear boundary when that happens by saying something like, "Don't talk to me like that" or "I don't appreciate your comment." It is also good to follow up that statement with a comment like "If you don't stop then I will leave."
Most of the time if you're in a truly toxic relationship, then the person is probably not going to accept and respect your boundary. So it is very important to be very firm and to really follow through with what you say you will do if the person doesn't stop.
2. Create Distance
Regardless of whether the person is really respecting the boundaries you set with them or not, I feel it is vital to create at least some distance. In creating distance, you will give yourself the opportunity to fully focus on and deal with your own stuff — which is something you can't really do when in a toxic relationship.
3. Commit To Focusing On Taking Care Of You
Make your own self-care a daily commitment. Start every day with a meditation or prayer. Go for a daily walk out in nature. Do yoga. Go for a run or do some other kind of cardio. Eat more fruits and veggies and less processed foods.
It is also important to start a practice of regularly checking in with your body. Before you sit down to eat a meal or when you notice that you are stressed, stop and focus on your body, and ask yourself "How does my body feel?" Because of the fight or flight response, our body reacts when we experience anger, worry, and general stress.
The more and more we take the time to stop and tune in and ask ourselves how our body feels, then the easier it is to calm down and find peace.
4. Seek Out Support
Because toxic relationships can be so emotionally draining, it's very important to find a support system when learning how to cope. Find a therapist or coach who specializes in relationships and boundaries. Find a therapy group with other people going through a similar thing. If you are on a budget, attend a CODA (Codependent's Anonymous) meeting, as they are only donation-based.
You can also seek out friends who can empathize and help you through the process. Just be mindful about falling into the whole "blaming game" trap when with friends because it happens very easily. Remember to own your own experience and take personal responsibility for what happens to you in your life.
Take action now!
Out of the four steps that I listed above, which one do you most need to focus on doing right now? Do you need to learn how to set boundaries? Do you need to create distance? Do you need to focus more on your own self-care? Do you need to find a support system? Share it in the comments below!
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