By SHANNON SKAE, Health and Life Coach at Revive with Shan
Many if not all of us have dealt with toxicity or toxic relationships sometime in our lives. It could be in our past, present, or even in our future.
A toxic relationship is one in which two people do not relate to each other in healthy ways. The relationship is characterized by behaviour on the part of the toxic partner that can be emotionally and often physically harmful.
A toxic partner may criticize you, blame you for things that are not your fault, they may be selfish, and they may even seek to harm you. This can be tiring and draining, and it can leave you feeling out of control of your own life. Which in itself may leave you feeling hopeless and stuck.
When dealing with a toxic person – whether in a relationship with them or not – we tend to blame ourselves. There can be several reasons for this. But one of the most critical reasons is that a toxic person will use manipulation to control you. If you try to speak out about what is happening, they may gaslight you – which is to say; they will deny that your experience is accurate and will lead you to doubt yourself.
Sadly, toxic people get away with what they do because they are very good at manipulating others and because their victims often have low self-esteem, feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and a lack of understanding about how beautiful they are inside and out. For instance, they may not have always had low self-esteem, but their encounter with the toxic person has brought them to this state.
These relationships and patterns can go on for months and years, causing real damage and emotional and psychological scars. If you think you may be dealing with a toxic person, whether in a personal relationship or the work (or any other) environment, here are some red flags to look out for:
- They bring you down or criticize you;
- They make you doubt yourself;
- They blame you for their problems or try to guilt trip you;
- They are never wrong;
- They may lie to you or be secretive;
- They are inconsistent in the way they treat you (one moment they love you, the next moment they do not even want to talk to you);
- They have an inflated sense of themselves and think they are amazing;
- They are selfish;
- They only want you around when it is convenient and if it benefits them;
- They may be controlling;
- They may be extremely jealous – often with no reason;
- Their moods fluctuate.
If you are in a toxic situation, know that you are not alone, and remember that this is not your fault. You may be experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, confusion, anger, and self-doubt; these are normal as you come to terms with having been in a relationship with a toxic person.
It may feel impossible to end things in a romantic relationship or a toxic work environment. But you are capable of leaving and putting your needs and healing first. You may feel alone but remember, some people care about you.
If you feel bullied by, manipulated, emotionally or physically abused, victimized or uncomfortable around someone you are in a relationship, friendship, or working relationship with, reach out to someone. That someone could be a psychologist, counsellor, health coach, or someone you trust.
Lastly, and this may be difficult to hear, try to seek the positive in this encounter. While you may have endured an awful experience, you have also learned a lesson or two. And hopefully, the most important lesson you’ve learned is that you deserve to be treated with kindness, love and respect.