How to Heal from a Toxic Relationship: 10 Steps
A toxic relationship is a damaging relationship characterized by insecurity, control, and abuse.
Whether it is a romantic one, within a family, or a toxic friendship, a toxic relationship typically pulls you in a cycle of abuse where you doubt yourself, always feel guilty, and desperately seek reconciliation. These relationships can diminish your self-esteem and seriously damage your mental health.
Toxic relationships can happen to anyone, so don’t beat yourself up for engaging in an unhealthy relationship. It is often difficult to spot any warning signs at the beginning of a relationship. Your partner can appear charming, charismatic, and caring, making you feel loved and valuable.
Once you get deeply involved with them, however, you realize that your significant other is a narcissist who doesn’t look for an equal partner but for someone they can manipulate and control.
No matter how much time or energy you have invested in a relationship, it is never too late to cut ties with an abusive partner or a friend. Once you leave a toxic relationship, you’ll be ready to take the next steps to heal.
- RELATED: How Dating a Narcissist Changes You
The first step in healing from a toxic relationship is understanding why and how you attract toxic people in your life.
Understanding: Why Do I Attract Toxic People?
Most people in toxic relationships feel overwhelmed by shame, fearing that there might be something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you, but there are a few things you need to figure out.
Firstly, you need to discern the difference between guilt and shame is an essential step in healing from toxic relationships. Guilt helps you identify mistakes and wrong choices you’ve made, motivating you to improve your behavior.
Conversely, shame causes feelings of worthlessness and defect, often triggering anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Also, you may have certain traits that attract toxic individuals. For example, you may be kind, generous, willing to help, and non-confrontational to the borderline of people-pleasing.
If you always please others to get their approval and feel valued, you may become a magnet for toxic people and engage in codependent relationships.
Don’t mistake people-pleasing with kindness. If you are a people-pleaser, you have difficulty turning others’ requests down because you fear being rejected. So, you never stand up for yourself and allow toxic persons to mistreat you in the hope of acceptance and validation.
You may have grown up in a family with unhealthy attachment, with negligent or abusive caregivers, which established approval-craving and desire to please others as patterns in your adult life.
How to Get Away from Toxic People
Breaking the abuse cycle in a toxic relationship is not easy, but it is possible. Here is a list of ten strategies you can use to get away from toxic people and recover from a toxic relationship.
1. Set Firm Boundaries
There is no reciprocity in toxic relationships. For example, your narcissistic partner may see you as someone who exists to satisfy their own needs, so they may not respect your boundaries.
If you have to stay in contact with a toxic person (e.g., you share children), make sure to set firm personal boundaries. Stay calm but firm and consistent, and let them know which behaviors you will not tolerate.
2. Follow “No Contact” Rule
Once you break up or end the relationship, don’t contact your toxic partner or friend again. “No contact rule” means:
- Unfriending the toxic person from social media
- Deleting their phone number
- No calls
- No messages or emails
- Do not contact their family or friends
3. Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion involves a persistent attitude of self-acceptance. It means treating yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a dear friend. Self-compassion allows you to forgive yourself and stop battering yourself from past mistakes.
4. Make Self-Care Your Priority
There is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. Work on ways to boost self-respect and self-love and find happiness inside. Turn to yourself for inspiration, joy, and peacefulness. Here are a few ways to practice self-care:
- Connect with nature
- Try new hobbies
- Spend time alone
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Practice mindfulness
- Eat nutritious food
5. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Spend time with close friends and family and other positive people who make you feel good about yourself. They are your strongest support group. Surrounding yourself with positive people can boost your confidence, increase your mood, and improve your well-being.
6. Focus on the Present
Instead of digging in your past, mindfully focus on the present. Practice mindfulness meditation and relaxation. If you are mindfully attentive to the present, you can become more relaxed and resilient to stress.
7. Write a Journal
Also, journaling will enable you to recognize negative behavior patterns that cause distress and let go of them. This can help you restore self-esteem and inner peace and bounce back from the crisis more quickly.
Writing about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings can help you control your emotions and negative thoughts. Also, journaling about painful emotions such as sadness or fear can help release their intensity.
8. Practice Reframing to Overcome Negative Thoughts
A negative mindset prevents us from finding solutions to our problems. Reframing is learning ways to overcome negative thinking patterns and change your perspective. It allows you to look at the situation in a new way that can minimize the toxic relationship’s effect on your well-being.
9. Make New Memories
Making a firm decision to end a toxic relationship can motivate you to develop new interests and give you a sense of getting your life back on track. Staring a new chapter helps create new memories that are not related to your toxic relationship.
10. Find Support
Coaching related to healing from heartbreak can help you address toxic relationship issues and come to terms with your negative experience. A trained coach can help you work through your emotions after ending a toxic relationship.
Coaching can help you move through what you are feeling and into a generative place, helping you replace negative thinking patterns with positive ones that will boost resilience, boost your self-esteem, and encourage personal growth.