I think as we get older, we seem to get into some pretty toxic relationships. These may be romantic relationships, friendships or even between family members. Toxic relationships draw us in and drain us emotionally which ends up draining us physically and are really not worth it. Unfortunatly, for many of us it's incredibly difficult to break off from these toxic people, but it's necessary for our peace and happiness. Here are 12 lessons I've learned after breaking off a toxic friendship.
1. Only you should have power over your happiness.
Toxic relationships are probably best characterized for the impact they have on our happiness. When we allow another person to have too much power over our happiness, all we end up doing is making ourselves miserable. We end up strugguling to find happiness outside of that person but at the same time end up unhappy when we are with this person because they put us down.
2. A memory is not your reality.
I spent so much time reminiscing on the old time with this person that I was completely blinded to the reality. Yes, at the start this person made me happy, they listened to me, made me feel important, loved, and special. We used to have great conversations and were always together. Unfortunately, that was then. It's tempting to hold on to memories in hopes that one day things will be the same again, but don't allow your eyes to be clouded by memories that make you ignore the pain and hardships.
3. Don't let anyone make you feel small.
Don't surround yourself with anyone who makes you feel small and insignificant. You desereve to be treated with love and respect. You don't need someone who constantly ignores and/or belittles you. Do not let their attitudes toward affect your perception of yourself.
4. You are worthy of more.
Don't cling to a toxic relationship for fear of loneliness. Don't allow yourself to believe that you are not worthy of something better. Loneliness will twist our reality and ask us to stick by toxic people simply to not be alone. Yet, sometimes it's better to be alone than with someone who makes you believe that you are not worthy of love and respect.
5. Stress relief.
You will be much happier once you let go. Toxic relationships leave us in a state of constant stress where we spend our days overanalyzing, overspologizing and having to make up excuses for the other person's behavior. While it's hard to not go looking for that person, it's also freeing to not spend your entire day worrying about why this person isn't replying, why they did something, if you should treat them badly back or be the bigger person. This is exhausting and unnecessary. If you spend more time overthinking, stressing, and suffering - the relationship is not worth it.
6. There is such a thing as being overly forgiving.
Don't get me wrong, for your own peace you should always be forgiving but that doesn't equal allowing someone to step all over you time after time. Forgive someone for their behavior towards you, but don't constantly allow them to come back after hurting you. There is a time when enough will be enough. While we all make mistakes there is a difference between being conscious of the pain we cause others vs. misbehaving and doing as you please simply because you know the other person will forgive you no matter what. The more you allow someone to step all over you without any consequnces, the more they'll do it.
7. Find your bliss.
Letting go of any relationship is incredibly difficult. It's been over a month since I last spoke with my toxic friend and while it's been one of the hardest things I've ever done, it's also one of the best. The first few weeks were miserable! I wanted desperately to speak to this person but I forced myself to begin to drift away and while I still greatly miss this person, I feel genuinly happy because my days are no longer spent stressing over being ignored and feeling inadequate.
8. Self-esteem boost.
Being in a toxic relationship takes a huge toll on your self-esteem. Since so much power is put into someone else's hands and they have such an influence on our mood, we begin to confuse our own perceptions about ourselves with theirs. Once we untangle ourselves from a toxic person our worth begins to return to us and we finally see that we are much more worthy than we had been believing.
9. Don't settle.
Sometimes our head runs wild with daydreams of what could be and so we stick it out in hopes that that dream will become our reality. That's when we start to settle. We think that if we really want to have this person in our life, to build a future with them, we need to settle. Note the difference between settling and compromising though. In order to make any relationship work, compromise is always necessary but when you have to put your own needs and desires aside in order to meet someone else's, it's unfair. Relationships are two sided, so make sure the other person pulls their weight too.
10. Make room for the new.
When you finally let go of old toxic relationships, you open yourself to new relationships. Once you open yourself to new people you will be able to measure them up to the past toxic relationship and realize what a really worthy relationship is vs. one that causes pain and unhappiness. New people will always come with new perspective and new love that will erase the struggles of that toxic relationship.
11. Never going back.
Once you let go and you allow your mind to process the toxicity of a relationship, you make a mental note to not go back to that relationship and to not allow yourself to be in that position again. Freeing yourself from the toxic shackles will help you realize what you need and deserve and will open up your mind and heart to healthy relationships that help you grow instead of stifle you.
12. Media lies.
Movies and tv shows have romanticized the idea of the "bad boy gone good" or "complicated" relationships that after years of pain finally make it. Hollywood has glorified men and women who treat each other terribly and fail each other constantly yet end up together. Don't buy into this. While all relationships come with hardships there is a different between overcoming hardships together vs the other person constantly making you struggle and having no accountability.
13. The myth of "too busy."
We're all adults, we're all busy. School, work, social life, whatever it is, we all have things going on. However, this day and age, technology makes communication super easy. We all have stuff going on, but if we care about someone, we will make time for them. It takes a few seconds to reply to a text message, a visit can be 5 minutes long, a phone call can be for a quick hello. We are all busy with life but it takes only a few seconds to check in on someone and show them you care. If someone isn't making the time for you, it's because sadly they just don't want to.
14. Love is not suffering.
We've all heard the phrase that "love is suffering" or "love is pain." I think the meaning has been grossly misconstrued. Love is suffering and it is pain but it shouldn't be suffering and painful because of the person your with. This phrase shouldn't mean "oh he/she ignores me" or "he/she puts me down" or "he/she hurts me physically/emotionally." No! This phrase simply means that love isn't always easy, that there are hardships but together with the strength of love you can overcome them. Do not allow someone to step all over you and call it love. Instead, be with people who see your suffering and suffer alongside you.
Toxic relationships are a trap that makes us believe that we are unworthy and have to bear someone's cruelty simply because we love them. Sometimes love simply means knowing when to let go and knowing when self love is more important than loving someone else. Letting go of a toxic relationship doesn't mean you stop loving that person, it simply means that your love now will be from a distance. You can talk once in a while but you will break free from the chains that bind you and break you.