Healthy relationships don’t come with handbooks, and there are no courses or tests to make sure that everyone is fit.
Plus, sadly, many of us were brought up in dysfunctional environments and end up repeating negative patterns taught to us at a young age. Because of this we often pick the wrong people to share our lives with and end up in toxic relationships.
But we can learn from past mistakes and move forward to have healthier emotional relationships.
This process starts with being aware of certain toxic traits in other people and staying away from those people. It also includes listening to ourselves and honouring our needs.
Here are some of the most critical self-preservation and self-care tips to remember in toxic relationships. These points are also essential for healthy relationships to thrive.
Know when “it’s their stuff.”
-Here is how to figure out if it’s their stuff. Imagine telling a few people the same story. Each person would probably react differently. Those different reactions are “their stuff.”
For example; tell four people, individually, that you’re wearing a new red dress to an event that both of you will be attending.
Three out of the four people would probably say something like, “How lovely; I’m sure you’ll look great.”
But the fourth person says, “How dare you wear red, you know it’s my favourite colour, are you trying to look better than me?” This last reaction shows a person who is taking something that is completely unrelated to them and making it about them. So, their reaction is “their stuff.”
Learn how to stop the worrying and ruminating.
-Try using this technique. When caught up in worrying, ruminating, or a bout of anxiety, ask yourself the following question(s).
“Is everything okay at this minute (or second)?” “Am I okay right this minute?” If you focus on how everything is fine, THAT MINUTE, and you’re okay, THAT MINUTE, your worrying and ruminating will decrease.
If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask the question.
-We often ask or say things out of habit, to be polite, or to just make conversation. But let’s say your friend is a notorious self-centred complainer. Then to help stop these interactions don’t ask them anything that could illicit their complaining.
Instead of routinely asking, “how was your day?” perhaps say something like, “today’s sunshine was much better than yesterday’s rain, wasn’t it?”
In turn, for self-preservation don’t engage in provoking subjects or situations with people who have a history of reacting poorly.
You don’t have to respond to everything.
-You don’t have to respond if you don’t want to or are uncomfortable. For example; comments either in person or online.
It will often take the wind out of someone who is trying to antagonize you or be derogatory in some way if you don’t respond.
Learn to leave it with them.
-In other words, don’t keep or hang on to what doesn’t belong to you. Other people’s shit is their shit, not yours.
“What one small thing can I do for myself today?”
-Make this your priority every day over everything else. It’s not selfish; it’s a healthy mentality.
Ask yourself, “why am I reacting/feeling like this?”
-Is this really your fault or not?
Say “thank you,” at the end of every day.
-Either say a few words of thanks and gratitude in prayer, in a journal or as a good night to someone.
Only apologize for what is your fault.
-Stop automatically saying you’re sorry if another person complains. Also, never say ‘you are sorry’ just to keep the peace or to be nice. It’s self-deprecating.
For example, if your partner comes home late without letting you know and then complains about the cold dinner. Don’t apologize; it isn’t your fault.
Walk away when you need to.
-This one is tough for many people. But walking away from things that are bad for you is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
Like refusing to continue an argument that is going in unproductive circles, disconnecting from people who affect you negatively, and staying away from places that are bad for you, are all things that promote your well being.
Think of it this way. Would you keep going to a restaurant which served food that always made you nauseous, or keep trying to use something that’s broken? No, of course not, you would stop doing those things, you would walk away. So try to practise this same standard in all areas of your life.
Learn about boundaries.
-Learning about proper boundaries and particularly knowing what you expect and need is essential. Also, don’t only expect but demand that other people honour your boundaries.
“Three times and you’re out,” can a good standard.
-This rule can be useful in situations where a person or circumstance will change. But mean it and never go past it.
Sometimes, second chances are not deserved or appropriate.
-It’s your right to decide if and when you will give someone or something a second chance. Generally, things like murder don’t qualify.
-No, demand it!
Toxic traits to always avoid:
Lying is never okay.
– Also, remember that “not telling” is a form of lying or deceit.
The “silent treatment” is a form of control.
-This type of behaviour is used to control, punish, or hurt others.
Manipulation is never okay.
-Be particularly alarmed if you feel manipulated but the person accuses you of being the one doing it.
Blaming and excuses don’t count.
-Beware of people who equate all of their problems or bad behaviour with excuses or by blaming or being judgmental towards someone or something else.
A horse thief is a horse thief.
-Meaning, if a drunk horse thief stops drinking, they’re still a horse thief. Just a sober horse thief.
Love doesn’t hurt.
-Caring and respect are the basis of love; it doesn’t hurt emotionally, mentally, or physically No excuses!