Self-work is the hardest work but worth it.
Do you ever notice how we tend to shift responsibility of a toxic relationship solely to the other person? It’s so easy to think that if we just end this toxic relationship we no longer will have the problems we have or better yet — not attract another toxic partner again. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why are you attracting toxic partners?
This is a question I asked myself many times in the past. I thought I was destined to be with only broken toxic people because of my childhood. I also thought that if I just stopped this pattern of behavior of falling for a toxic person that I’d someday have a successful healthy relationship.
And in some ways I was right.
Attracting a toxic person in your life is very different from signing up for a toxic relationship. I think people who are naturally empathic and sensitive tend to attract people who are looking for support, advice and nurturance. In a sense, you are a healer.
People feel safe with you so much they naturally gravitate towards you. It’s a gift to be someone people feel safe around but it’s up to you to learn how to use this gift and know your boundaries.
When you find yourself repeating the same cycle of toxic relationships like me you might start to think you need to change.
Toxic relationships tend to look like:
- Hot and cold connection, i.e. cycles of being together & breaking up
- Controlling behaviors
- Silent treatment, ignoring and punishing one another
- Constant giving and no receiving
- Lack of trust
- Lack of support
- Enabling & engaging in this cycle
- Judgment and not feeling safe to share your feelings/thoughts
- Persistent unhappiness or lack of joy
- Feeling sad, angry or anxious frequently
- Avoiding conflict resolution and not addressing problems in the relationship
- Constant complaints and no positive feedback
While one partner may be more toxic than the other it’s definitely important to do some personal self-inquiry.
For myself, I started noticing my own pattern of behaviors within the relationships when I got angry. I tended to feel insecure when triggered, judgmental in arguments and made my partners feel unsafe in conflict resolution.
It wasn’t just about what that person was doing to me but also how I was creating a toxic environment. It was also about identifying my boundaries and working on my self-esteem to know I deserved more.
We can notice these toxic signs in our relationships but ignore them or fail to address them. We might think overtime the person will change or things will get better only to realize they don’t.
If you are also realizing you have some toxic patterns of behaviors in your relationships, it’s okay. With consistent self-work your patterns will change and so will your lens of what a healthy relationship looks like.
For starters working on mindset is key here — and let me tell you, it’s not easy.
Mindset I think is some of the hardest work. We can get in these habitual patterns in thought and behavior. If you change your thoughts, your actions will change. If you change your actions, your thoughts will begin to change.
This simple trick was and still is everything for me.
For example, I can be impatient sometimes with my partner. So I work on visualizing how I will be the next time I feel impatient. Rather lose my cool, I imagine I go for a walk, get air, take a break from the conversation and then revisit it when I get speak from a non-reactive place.
How to change your toxic patterns:
- Journal out what triggers you and what happens. Notice if you have extreme thinking when you are triggered like ending the relationship versus having a healthy conversation about what bothered you
- Write out the consequences of coming from a reactive/emotional place versus a calm and more collected mindset
- Pay attention to one toxic habit you have and come up with a new plan of action to change it. If you are someone who avoids conflict perhaps you can set up a time to chat with your partner for 1 hour to discuss your concerns versus not speaking about it at all
- Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend or loved one. Be kind to yourself in your efforts to grow and change these patterns.
- Acknowledge yourself for handling a situation differently versus practicing an old pattern of toxic behavior
Self-work is the hardest work but with consistency and commitment you will see results like any other task we dedicate ourselves to. Your mind will change and the way you live and see relationships will also transform. Trust in your process and celebrate the results.