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Toxic Relationships

Toxic Relationships: Do you or don’t you……

As a coach,  I see a couple of toxic repeat offenders: 1. Surrounding self with toxic relationships and 2. the occasional toxic friend or family member.

In either example – the challenge has been, how do we rid ourselves of the  toxic relationship – and still have a relationship with the individual.

Example 1 is the person who says everyone around me is messed up, they are wrong, bad, weird, abusers, neglecters, self-centered….oh they used to be so sweet…. but now they are yuk. If this is you, then look inside before looking outside.

To look inside, first ask yourself – what five words would do friends (or  co-workers) use to describe me.  Then what five words would you use to describe yourself.  Next ask yourself -If there is one thing I could change, what would it be? Now wait for it….. Our first AH-HA happens right…here.

The comparison of what you believe your friends say, and what you personally  believe may be a bit scary. Try not to be judgmental. Give yourself permission to just explore, write it down, step away, then come back and review.

To detox a relationship, first understand how you got in it to begin with.  We look for acceptance and validation from those closest to us.  The more we enable the other person, the more they take advantage of us, and we want to be loved, so we enable them some more.  I frequently see this with  nurturers.  We are so busy being the person the other person wants us to be, we forget who we are.

Real example – mother/daughter relationships.  Mother wants to tell you how to do everything in your life.  You may be 38 years old, a business success, wife, mom, and still your mother criticizes everything you do (from what you wear, how much you  drink, how you spend your money, how you treat your husband, what size you wear, what you do in your free time). You get the picture.  Oh but it get’s better – something happens in YOUR life, such as you are getting a divorce, or one of the kids was busted smoking pot, and now your mother not only says “if you’d only listened” the very next words out of her mouth – “what will MY neighbors/friends think”.

This is where I would ask – what is the one thing you want to change….

In this example – we don’t want to ditch mother (well maybe you do) so we begin by having a conversation that puts boundaries into place.  I personally like putting the conversation points on an index card, practicing what I want to say – then keep the emotion out of the conversation as I review what I want or need to happen: Mom, I love you and want you to be a part of my life. I don’t appreciate your making judging comments to me.  I need you to (and the power word here is need.  This word evokes an emotion)I need you to  - support me so I have a healthy transition, – l need you to listen in silence,  - I need my voice to be heard.   – I need you to accept me for who I am.  Mom, if you choose to criticize me, I choose to walk away from the conversation.

As you realize your personal power, you create self confidence and inner joy.

Use the same technique when dealing with occasional toxic “friendships” – I may choose to assess the relationship  and if there is no emotional investment,  it’s okay for me to close that door.

Detoxing relationships is not easy. Be honest is your assessment (five words they would say, five you would say, and what would you change if you could), identify the desired outcome, write your steps down on how to get there, keep emotions in check.


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