Removing toxic people from your life may be one of the most challenging points in your life. It’s difficult to discuss and even harder to admit to yourself. Don’t stress. Most people face this problem at least once in their lives and leave happier than ever. Robyn Openshaw, author of VIBE, shares how to give yourself permission to step aside from a negative relationship.
Remember that every time you talk to someone, you’re exchanging energies. Your words, and also your body language and your many other ways of communicating, are transmitting subtle energies that profoundly affect whomever you are talking to.
Shouting, swearing, and abusive language harm your energies quickly. When you’re the doer of those actions, you’re also far more likely to be the receiver of them! Sometimes the problem is with the relationship—the dynamic between two people trapped in a pattern of communication or behavior that neither likes, but they haven’t done the work of disentangling those patterns and rebuilding better ones.
But sometimes it’s the person you share space with. Perhaps he was raised in a terrifying and unsafe environment, and he learned some coping mechanisms that aren’t serving him in his relationship with you.
It’s also possible he has a diagnosable personality disorder or mental health issue that gets in the way of a more authentic and loving way of interacting with others. (This is likely to be the case when he repeatedly has the same problems in other relationships that you are experiencing with him.)
And long-term chemical exposure, drug abuse, or a traumatic brain injury can change a person’s personality and harm his brain, even eat holes in it—and that can show up as behavioral and emotional disturbance that affects relationships.
This is a difficult topic to discuss, because casting people aside is not something Jesus, or Gandhi, or Mother Teresa would do. That said, I’ve watched people close to me and people in therapy work with a drug-addicted sister or child for many years, and they all eventually come to the conclusion that they have to have boundaries; they need to protect their own families, property, money, and energies; and they are not bad people if they set limits.
If you haven’t given yourself permission to sidestep energy vampires in your life, may I give you permission to do so?
For a time, I felt the need to defend my decision to end my twenty-year marriage. After all, he wasn’t a porn addict, he wasn’t a drug addict, he was a good provider, and he didn’t cheat on me or hit me.
As Amy Poehler said in her memoir recently, about the end of her marriage to the actor Will Arnett, “I don’t consider a ten-year marriage a failure.”
What a brilliant thought. I’m happy that I had the experience of being married and of working out difficult things for many years—and I love the four beautiful children that came from that twenty-year marriage. And I do not consider it a failure. Others felt differently at the time of my divorce, and that is their prerogative. But, as the saying goes, how they feel about me and my choices is none of my business.
Being peaceful with change in relationships is key to health and happiness too. I’m not suggesting that marriage isn’t an important commitment. I’m suggesting that we do survive when relationships end, and that as we live at higher frequencies, a natural consequence is that some relationships will die a natural death. As we release them in a peaceful way and accept that things have a life cycle, we embrace the whole of the experience. We achieve more peace, because most relationships are not lifelong, and that does not mean they don’t have value and meaning.
There is happiness and growth after the end of a relationship that no longer serves (or never did), and there have to be limits to the energies that an unhealthy relationship in our life is allowed to consume.
Admitting you’re in a toxic relationship is the first step. Know the 7 qualities of a good friend.