When you hear the phrase “toxic relationship”, what does it make you think?
In our world today I think most of us fall into two general categories: Those of us who will bail, unsubscribe, unfollow, cancel at the first sign of anything uncomfortable or that we disagree with in a relationship; and the rest of us who fall into the other side, where we don’t want to hurt anyone, we are always assuming the best, we are scared to be alone, and we fail to cut off from relationships that are truly harming us. Regardless of what side you fall on, today I hope to share encouragement on how to overcome a toxic relationship in a healthy way.
KNOW YOUR WORTH
Before we can make any kind of decisions or have any form of clarity about anything, we must be grounded in the truth of who we are. We are created beings who have enormous intention woven into us. Who we are is worthy. We need to be grounded in the truth of our identify and safety in order to make any kind of sound decisions about anything. Regardless of the proclivity you have in relationships, when you make decisions out of a mentality of lack, you will make unhealthy ones. Do the inner work you need to know how to ground yourself in this truth. You are worthy. And remember that the person on the other end of the relationship is also a being that is worthy of honor. Honor doesn’t mean letting them do whatever they want (more to come on this), but it means viewing them and responding to them from a place of peace rather than of bitterness and vengeance. To make clear decisions, you need to maintain this perspective on both sides.
RECOGNIZE RED FLAGS
When we can begin to ground ourselves in this truth then we can begin to look with clear eyes at what red flags might be showing up in our relationship. Does someone not respect your time or your space? Does this person seek to control? Is this person constantly leading you to spaces that bring out the worst in you? Are you giving far more than you are receiving? Do you feel uneasy when you are around this person? Pay attention to how you feel about yourself and your safety when you’re around this person. What kind of impact do they have on your life, and what choices do you make while you are with them? Remember the first step we went through – are they honoring of YOU? My guess is that if you have someone in mind while you are reading this, there is something that needs to change in that relationship.
Once we identify the red flags, for many of us it would feel much simpler just to cancel this person. To be done and move on without any further thought or discussion. However, I believe the healthy first step is to try to have a conversation with this person. Give them a chance to share their perspective and to own up for their mistakes. Maybe this area is a blind spot for them and you are offering an opportunity for growth. As you have this conversation just make sure you also lay out some healthy and clear boundaries. “I will no longer be ok with you doing ____. If it happens again then I will _____.” Depending on how they respond to that conversation you can determine if further steps are needed. If this is where you stop, make sure you have some accountability from a safe friend/leader that can check in with you to make sure you are following through with these boundaries. (Note: If this conversation would put you in physical/emotional danger then skip this step!)
BRING IN LEADERSHIP
Having wise leaders in our lives is something that is essential to healthy living. As you attempt to navigate these conversations and relationships, bring in leadership as a third-party perspective. Bring them in on your decision process and ask for their thoughts and wisdom on what they believe your next step is. Don’t make this decision alone and invite them in to help with accountability so that you can stay true to setting the boundaries you know are needed.
BE OK WITH ENDING IT
Have you tried to have a conversation with the person and they have been shut off or not followed through with your boundaries? Have you have sought healthy leaders and they agree that this isn’t a healthy relationship? If so, don’t be afraid to end it! Not every person is meant to be in our lives forever and cutting off an unhealthy relationship can help us step further into who we were created to be. Though you might feel bad about this decision, it is actually the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your decision might even allow the other person to see their need for growth. It is essential to guard your heart and treat yourself with the same honor that I spoke of giving to others. You are worth it!
About the Contributor:
Brittany is a former Marriage and Family Therapist, a church leader, and a coach, who is passionate about helping people move out of the spaces they have been stuck in. She has also walked through her own journey of healing from decades of depression, anxiety, anger, and a deep sense of inadequacy. She is the host of the ‘Morning, Mama’ podcast where she helps women heal from the past, parent with purpose, and live out their calling. You can listen to her podcast on all podcast apps or at bit.ly/MorningMamaPodcast.