Toxic Relationships and how to cope

By Samantha De Bono

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to keep away from, or avoid toxic people. They may be family members, close friends of the family, colleagues, partners, bosses or personal friends, so it can feel as though we are trapped by them.

However, there are ways we can remove the effects toxic people have on our lives.

1. Establish Boundaries
Toxic people will drain you by constantly insisting that you should be working harder to please them. Their sense of entitlement makes you the one doing all the compromising and making sure they’re ok.
Ask yourself if you really think their demands are acceptable. If your gut is telling you no, push back. Put your boundaries firmly in place. It is not all about them. Remember you are also entitled to respect, regard, care, consideration, empathy, sympathy.
Boundaries are not selfish, they are necessary. Saying no and not putting up with bad behaviour, or demands on your time and good nature, means you are respecting yourself and setting a president for others.

2. Understand that they will never change
No matter how much you want to believe they will change, it is highly unlikely that they ever will. Probably because they believe they are the victim, they’re never at fault and it’s you who should change for them. You might be given a glimmer of hope when, after yet another break-up, or upset, they tell you they’ll make changes - being the fixer that you are, you’ll probably want to help them, but this is invariably a hopeless and thankless task. In fact, you’re better off letting them go.

3. Don’t get hooked into their drama
There is always some or other crisis when it comes to toxic people. And once again, being the care giver, you see this as being needed by the drama fuelled toxic person. Take a look at the crises... it will almost always be of their own making. You’re not needed for anything more than giving them the attention they crave and to be part of the manipulation process they so badly need to feed their insecurity and ego. No doubt you’ll find it hard not to rush to their aid the next time they cry for help or tell you how they’re struggling with their next crisis, but be mindful that this is not a genuine need for help, you’re being manipulated.

4. Projection
Toxic people will project onto you the negative traits they possess themselves. They will accuse you and attack you for all the worst of their traits and behaviours. Don’t take it on. See it for what it really is, a refusal to own the truth about themselves.
Try not to take it personally, they’ve done it to others before you, and they’ll find others to do it to after you.

5. Focus on You, not them
Even when you’ve ejected the toxic person from your life, you’ll probably feel angry and hurt. You’ll go over and over what they did or didn’t do. This rumination and intrusive thought process must stop because it’ll keep you in the controlled state they kept you in before.
Now it’s time to concentrate on your wellbeing and how to heal your life. Don’t sit there trying to understand the toxic person. There’s no point because you’ll never understand their reasoning or their behaviour. Don’t spend another minute of your precious time fixating on a toxic person’s negativity, that’s exactly what they would want you to do. You’re out... rejoice!

6. Understand your part in how they got to you
When you’re in a toxic relationship of any kind, you’ll notice that the toxic person will highlight your flaws and insecurities and use them against you. The best way to combat this is by understanding and getting to know yourself. Commit to self-improvement. If you don’t know where to start, Counselling can help. Learn to accept yourself for all your strengths and weaknesses. Empower yourself by accepting that every human being has flaws, find out how to counter them against your strengths. Believe in yourself and refuse to let anyone or anything take that away from you. When you validate yourself, the toxic person find it easy to manipulate or disempower you.

7. Don’t give in, stand your ground
Toxic people get angry when they aren’t getting the feed they expect from you. Don’t be surprised if their behaviour gets worse, but if you stand your ground and don’t give in to their control tactics, they will eventually move on to an easier target when they realise you’ve wised-up.

8. Lose the battle to win the war
Don’t go to battle if you can help it. Toxic people are charged with negative energy, so fighting to them is a normal behaviour. Flying off the handle about some perceived slight or disrespect is a normal day in the life of these people, so don’t engage - it will cost you too much time and energy. Instead use that energy to take care of yourself and nurture healthy relationships.

9. Look for healthy relationships
Cleansing your life of toxic people can be very painful process. The sad thing is, you probably love some of these people despite how badly they’ve treated you.
To maintain your focus and strength, don’t isolate yourself. Surround yourself with people who make you feel safe, cared for and happy. Healthy minded people have healthy relationships, they have genuine friendships that they do not want to control or manipulate. You’ll begin to see how terribly damaging your toxic relationship was.

10. Get Counselling
If you are in, or are still feeling the effects of, a toxic relationship and would like Counselling to help you move on, please call Samantha De Bono on 07588931401