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It’s Time To Let Go Of Your Toxic Relationships, With Others And Yourself.

New Year – the time to reevaluate your relationships with others and with yourself. None of us want to kick off the new year feeling miserable.  

It’s always shocking how many people I’ve met who have been stuck in toxic relationships, whether romantic or platonic. I’ve seen how it can change them as a person and it’s heartbreaking to remember that I was once there. I think most of us have been at least once.  

‘Toxic’ relationships might not always be recognised as a term, but the word toxic refers to a poisonous substance. Sometimes we can be poisoned by the ones we thought were the antidote. It can also mean being extremely harsh, malicious or harmful – such as negative jokes and disregarding the feelings of those around you. According to Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, toxic people are often competitive, negative, and may resist your growth and change. There are many reasons why relationships can become unhealthy: jealousy, competitiveness, attention-seeking, or simply because they’re a horrible person.  

Toxic relationships are nothing to dismiss, hoping they’ll improve with time. Lisa R. Starr Ph.D found that “interpersonal dysfunctions can be a main mechanism through which anxiety disorders promote later depression.” They can greatly lower your self-esteem and affect your perception of yourself. But they can be mended through honest communication and care, not always but sometimes.  

Signs of a toxic relationship with others:  

  • Drawing attention to the things you’re insecure about/making fun of your insecurities 
  • Giving backhanded compliments 
  • Not being happy for you when something good happens 
  • Saying (mean) things about you, or embarrassing you, in front of other people 

Everyone always discusses the heartbreak and toxic traits that can come with romantic relationships, but we rarely talk about the platonic ones. Toxic relationships can also take form in friendships, not just romantic relationships. They can bring out the worst in you rather than letting you face the sun and grow; maybe you swore that you wouldn’t engage in gossip past the age of 16, but they actively convince you to engage in gossip and drama. As with any relationship, a healthy friendship should only add to your life in positive ways. If staying friends takes from you emotionally, physically or mentally, it’s time to address it and maybe put an end to it. They might make everything about themselves and not listen to how you are feeling or how your life is going or they might start petty arguments with you.  

'Toxic relationships are nothing to dismiss, hoping they’ll improve with time.'

But toxic relationships aren’t always with others. I’ve caught myself a few times criticising myself over things that others have said there is nothing wrong. I’ve told myself that I am not worthy of being friends with certain people, that I can’t see why my partner would want to be with me. I’m being overcritical of myself despite there not being an issue in the first place. It was then I discovered that you can have a toxic relationship with yourself. The only way to break these habits within yourself, is to first identify them. Listen to yourself in social settings and when you are on your own, be vigilant and take note of anything you spot. You could also ask someone to help you, maybe they will pick up on something you’re doing subconsciously.  


How to deal with removing someone from your life:  


Realize It’s OK To Go Your Separate Ways  

While it may hurt to be the one to end your relationship, in the long run you’ll realise that it was what was best for you and your growth. It’s okay to go your separate ways.  


Focus On Your Healthy Relationships  

Identify who has a positive and healthy influence on your life. Maybe schedule more meetups (if possible) or video calls with one another.  


Don’t Wait For An Apology  

You might feel like you deserve an apology, and honestly you do. But you won’t likely get one. They might not even realise what they did wrong or know what they did and believe it’s fine.  


Let Yourself Move On But Allow Yourself To Be Sad  

While it is beneficial to be sad, to mourn, it is not ideal to dwell on it forever. You might need a few weeks or months to get over what happened but when you’re ready, moving on with your life is how you can progress.  


Consider Writing Them A Letter  

Even if you don’t send it. But writing down your feelings, pouring them out of your brain onto paper you can throw away, burn or send away can play a critical part in moving on from this.  


Reflect On What You Learned 

Have you learnt that being friends for years does not equate to the quality of the relationship? Have you learnt the signs to watch out for when meeting new people? Whatever you have learnt from this experience, remember and reflect on it. 


Rediscover Your Passion 

Toxic relationships can take a toll on you. You might have enjoyed painting or reading or hiking and stopped because of the toll it took on you. Now’s the time to go back to what you love doing; what brings you joy.  


Don’t anyone make you feel less about yourself. Whether it’s about your appearance, mental health, physical health, your interests, your career, family, partners, literally anything. And remember, it is OK to end the relationship whether romantic, a friendship or with a family member. It may be difficult, but you’ll feel so much better in the end.  


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