To heal from a toxic relationship is a difficult and emotional journey, it takes time. If you have a history of childhood trauma then that’s another layer added to the process of healing that you have to work through. Relationship with a toxic person has the potential of triggering a lot of your inner child parts.

Most relationships don’t start out as toxic. In the beginning everything might seem fine. Sometimes it takes a long time before you realize that the person you are with is toxic.

 This is not limited to a romantic relationship. You can experience toxicity in friendships, parent child relationships, sibling relationships and work relationships.

How will you know that the person in your life is toxic?

You might experience a lot of frustration and confusion around them. You might feel dismissed by them and feel not seen or heard. There is no space for a calm grounded conversation because they get defensive every time you express something that hurts you. You might feel like you walk on eggshells around them because you don’t want to say something that starts another conflict. There is no space for you in the relationship. You might start having self doubt and feel like you are not doing enough. You might feel a lot of guilt and shame. 

Traits-of-a-toxic-person

Here are few behavior traits of a toxic person-

They are not able to regulate their feelings and take their anger and frustration out on others. 

For example, your partner is having a bad day and he gets mad at you for sleeping in.

They want you to dim your light. 

For example, if someone compliments you in front of your mother in law and she tells you not to take the compliment too seriously.

They are not happy for you when you achieve a goal. Some of them might minimize your accomplishments too. For example, if you get promoted at work, a friend might say something like, if you can do it anyone can. They don’t celebrate with you, they listen to you share the news but don’t share your happiness. They just move on to the next topic.

They dismiss and minimize your pain, calling you too sensitive.

For example, you share with your sibling that you were hurt by something they said or did and they say something like you are too sensitive, it was just a joke.

They don’t respect your boundaries. 

For example, you tell your mother not to come to your house without calling you first. But, she doesn’t respect that.

They don’t take accountability for their actions. They don’t apologize. And even if they apologize it’s very dismissive and there is an expectation that you should move on. 

For example, They will say something like I am sorry you felt this way, but how was I supposed to know that you were going to be hurt. A genuine apology is when a person says, I am sorry, I understand how this hurt you. How can I support you right now?

When they randomly make negative comments on your weight or the outfit you are wearing. Under the guise of a joke, say something mean and when you get upset they say why do you take everything so seriously.

They lie and hide information and when you confront them they will get mad at you like you did something wrong and deflect the conversation by bringing up something that you had done that they are upset about. 

They blame you for everything. It feels like you can’t do anything right. 

They will not necessarily be verbally abused. But they will break down your self confidence and slowly you will lose your own inner voice and trust them more than you trust yourself. 

To heal from a toxic relationship takes time because it hurts our sense of self.

There are different traits of toxicity, not everyone is a narcissist. Toxicity can range from someone not being supportive, being disrespectful to gaslighting and manipulating. 

They are never consistent. Sometimes they are really mean but other times they might be really nice and loving. That’s why it’s so hard to recognize toxic people. One thing common among all of them is they are not receptive and don’t invest in repairing the relationship. Instead they feel entitled to forgiveness.

Sometimes it’s difficult for us to see someone we care for as toxic. Instead of rationalizing their behavior, believe the toxicity when you see it.

How to heal from a toxic relationship?

Stop blaming yourself- 

Many people blame themselves for relationships not working out. They try to figure out what they did wrong. What could they have done differently for this person to respect them and love them. Some of us also have negative self beliefs like we are not good enough or we are not loveable. We believe That the relationships failed or friends don’t care about us as much as they care about other people because we are lacking in some way.

Stop making excuses for their behavior- 

We tend to make excuses for people’s behavior to make sense of it. For example, my mother was in an abusive relationship and that’s why she was always angry. My partner has had a rough childhood that’s why he snaps sometimes.

how-to-heal-from-a-toxic-relationship

It’s important to stop doing that and understand that we are all responsible for our own emotions and can’t hurt someone else because we are hurt. By making excuses for their behavior and tolerating it we are just enabling them.

Accept that there is toxicity in the relationship– 

To heal from a toxic relationship you have to accept that the way you are treated is not right. We all have an inner voice that tells us when something feels scary. Listen to that voice.

 If something doesn’t feel right then it’s probably not right. Don’t rationalize their behavior. There is never a good reason to disrespect and manipulate anyone. Even if they are having a difficult day they need to be able to regulate their emotions and take care of themselves. Denying the reality of the situation will keep you away from healing.

Notice how you feel around that person– 

Some of my clients tell me that it’s hard for them to recognize toxicity because this is what they have grown up around. In that case it’s important to remember that noticing your feelings around that person will tell you if they are toxic or not. 

When we feel safe around someone we can be ourselves with them and express our opinions and needs freely without any fear of backlash. We don’t feel burdened by their feelings. We don’t feel anxious about expressing ourselves.

Self compassion-

Showing kindness to yourself is the first step to healing from any toxic relationship. If you treat yourself well then you will not tolerate any one treating you badly. If you dismiss your own needs, prioritize others and over extend yourself then you will overlook their abuse and think that you might not be doing enough or you have to work harder to be accepted and acknowledged.

Self compassion is not only self love and kindness. It’s accepting yourself and not beating yourself up. While growing up many of us develop this part called the self critic. This part is very mean to us. This part comprises of all the negative comments you grew up listening to. After a certain point in life this part becomes our voice. Self compassion is when you can navigate that voice.

How-to-deal-with-a-toxic-person

Express yourself-  

Another way to heal from a toxic relationship is to express your feelings. If you keep it within you then it’s a burden you will be carrying for a long time. Self expression has nothing to do with how someone reacts to what you say. We get caught up in what if they don’t accept what they did, what if they get defensive and blame us for what happened. 

These are all valid concerns if your reason for self expression is to be validated and to hold someone accountable. But if you express to just stand up for yourself and support yourself then how they respond will not matter.

Work on your past trauma-

A client of mine once mentioned that their boss’s toxic and disrespectful behavior towards her reminded them of one of their parents and they found themselves responding to their boss the same way they responded to their parents. Working on your childhood trauma is an essential part of the healing journey. This will help you heal from the inside out. You will learn about your subconscious patterns and the trauma bound you are getting into.

Talk to people about your experience-

When we are in a situation it’s hard for us to make sense of things. It doesn’t feel right but then self doubt takes over and we talk ourselves out of it. It feels like maybe ending the relationship, quitting a job or going no contact with your family is the right thing to do. But then a part of you tells you that maybe you are overreacting.

During these times of doubt, reach out to a friend or someone you trust. Talk to them about what you are going through and what you are thinking of doing. Someone who can be a support for you in this journey.

Seek professional help-

I have worked with a lot of people who have had toxic encounters at work. Had to walk away from their families for their mental health. Had to end relationships for their self respect and dignity.

It takes a lot of courage to go through these situations and then prioritize yourself enough to make space and time to heal. To heal from a toxic relationship takes time, self compassion and courage to face the difficult emotions like shame, guilt, anxiety, fear etc.

A trained professional’s support and guidance as you heal from a toxic relationship will provide you with a trusted safe space where you can process, find clarity, grieve, make space for all your parts and conflicting feelings. And get to a place of acceptance and closure from within.
Check out this article if you want to read about why people keep going back to a toxic romantic relationship.

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