Although removing toxic people from your life won’t always be a walk in the park, sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for your mental and physical well-being. It might not take you long to think of which person or people in your life are unhealthy for you. They may treat you cruelly, manipulate you, or criticise you constantly. They may cause you to feel bad about yourself to the point that the shame drives you to engage in destructive behaviours. Interacting with someone like this can constitute emotional abuse.
Despite these red flags, it isn’t always easy to understand or accept how dangerous these relationships are. You may think that such a person really does have your best interests in mind. It’s vital to be able to recognize when a relationship is causing you serious turmoil or is negatively impacting your mental health.
While the thought of creating space can be scary or overwhelming, it is important to prioritize your mental well-being. Although you are not responsible for how people behave, you can end relationships that do not treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Here are a few tips to help you end an unhealthy relationship to allow your mental health to blossom:
IDENTIFY THE TOXIC RELATIONSHIP
The first thing you need to do is identify the person or people negatively affecting your mental health. You may already know exactly who this person is, or it may take some careful thought. Try to think about whether anyone in your life makes you feel bad about yourself or tries to control or manipulate you. Does anyone in your life make you feel anxious? Do you feel overwhelmed with dread by the thought of talking to or seeing someone? These may serve as indicators that this person is toxic. In general, people should not make you feel anxious, depressed, or cause you to doubt your self-worth. Instead, they should lift you up and bring joy to your life. Here is a list of toxic traits to look for:
- They manipulate you
- They make you feel bad about yourself
- They judge you constantly
- They are consumed by negativity
- They are passive-aggressive
- They are overly self-centered
- They have issues with anger management
- They are controlling or demanding of your time and attention
STAND YOUR GROUND
When deciding to cut a toxic relationship out of your life, there is a chance that you may experience backlash. A toxic person is not likely to immediately go away or change their behavior just because you asked them to. They may make promises that they will change or attempt to manipulate the situation, sometimes even making you feel like it was your fault. No matter what they do, stand your ground. Be upfront with them about why you are choosing to move on with your life and stick to it. Although this conversation can feel uncomfortable, it is necessary for your mental safety and stability. You can be kind, but you must be firm.
Setting boundaries is an important tool to keep you from accidentally slipping back to old habits. For example, if you have decided that you will cut all contact with a toxic person, take measures to eliminate your ability to reach out to them and prevent them from reaching out to you. Block or delete their number, email address, and social media accounts. Remember that it is equally important for you to maintain your boundaries as it is for them to respect the boundaries you set.
FIND YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
Removing a toxic person from your life is a difficult process that can make you feel numerous negative emotions. It is important to find a healthy support network that you can depend on to help you maneuver through this painful time. Surround yourself with people who bring you joy and lift you up. Reach out to friends and family who will be there to listen, validate, and help you move forward.
In some cases, a toxic relationship can isolate a person from their friends, family, and others who might serve as a support system. Don’t hesitate to make first contact; you might be amazed by how many of those friends and family members have been waiting for this day and will welcome you back with open arms. In other cases, reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you through this new chapter is the healthiest decision you can make.
Choosing to close the door on a toxic relationship can feel challenging and scary. The person who is unhealthy for you might be a close friend, relative, work associate, or even your spouse. No matter who it is, if your relationship is harming your mental health, the best decision you can make is to cut them out of your life. Toxic people can make you feel consumed by a negative outlook on yourself or isolate you from people who truly are good for you. It’s crucial to take the necessary action to get your life back and be treated with the respect you deserve. Learning to stand your ground and set boundaries is one of the first steps you can take to eliminating toxic relationships.