5 Steps to Letting go of a Toxic Relationship
While a relationship can serve as a source of happiness, fulfillment, and support, a toxic relationship can have the exact opposite effect on one or both of the people involved. A toxic relationship bleeds its poison into almost every other aspect of your life, and can ruin the other familial, social, and professional relationships you’ve built. As Dr. Judith Orloff, MD puts it,"Letting go of toxic relationships and energy vampires, the people who suck you dry, is so essential to the ecstasy of surrender. Identifying these people and letting them go so they don't have a toxic effect on your energy."
The importance of letting go of and moving on from a toxic relationship cannot be overstated. These five steps can help you let go of a toxic relationship and better prepare for you a new, healthier relationship in the future.
Acknowledge the truth
Of course, nothing is perfect. However, a relationship that has you feeling depressed, alone and down on yourself is toxic and needs to be ended. Taking the time to write a pros and cons list about your relationship is a great method for acknowledging the reality of your situation. You may also benefit from speaking with a counselor about your relationship if you’re struggling to acknowledge and accept the truth about your toxic relationship.
Find positivity in your life
You’ll no doubt feel a hole is left in your life that was once occupied by your toxic relationship. Filling that void with drugs, alcohol, or other negative influences can lead to another toxic relationship as well as your own decreased mental and physical health. Embrace this change in your life with positive things: brunch with friends, quality time with your family, a new hobby. Find an activity or two that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, and you’ll spend less time focused on your past.
Your goal is to let go of your toxic relationship, but that’s such a massive goal. Instead of focusing on this huge hurdle that you have to overcome, set out smaller goals for yourself and keep journal of your progress. For example, a smaller goal that’s more easily accomplished would be going an entire week without communicating with your former partner. Each time you accomplish one of these smaller goals, you’ll feel that much more adjusted and content in your life without the toxic relationship.
Repeat life affirmations
The internet is a goldmine for life affirming mantras that you can adopt for yourself. Take some time to research these and find one that really speaks to you. Then, when you’re feeling sad or vulnerable, take a few deep breaths and repeat your affirmation to yourself. This not only gives you time to reset your mind, but also fills you with the positive thinking you need to move forward.
Be kind to yourself
The saying, “You are your own worst enemy” works the opposite way as well. You, in fact, are your own best champion. After a toxic relationship, a person can feel beaten up and defeated, and you’re going to need time to heal. Take the time to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Whether that means treating yourself to a mani/pedi or beginning a new exercise routine, find methods way to make yourself content.
Dr. Barb Nefer, PsyD, is a licensed counselor who's worked with couples and families for more than 10 years. She specializes in relationship counseling, self-esteem issues, and working with adults who grew up with addicted or dysfunctional parents. She takes an eclectic approach but favors cognitive/behavioral techniques. Barb is also the author of "So You Want to be a Counselor," a career guide from Frederick Fell Publishing.