A toxic relationship, as defined by Thomas L. Cory, Ph.D. in his article at HealthScopeMag.com, is “a relationship…(which) drains energy…(and) is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control.”
Dr. Cory also defines a healthy relationship as one where the people involved show “mutual caring, respect, and compassion, an interest in (the other’s) welfare and growth…a shared desire for each other’s happiness.”
We find ourselves in toxic relationships in friendships, with romantic partners, in working environments, and in families.
I have lived through my share of these types of relationships. Truth be told, I have been just as toxic at times in my lifetime.
We humans work through our issues over time. We grow up watching the people that influence us in our upbringing as they controlled, manipulated, guilted, shamed, and influenced us in ways that doomed building healthy relationships until we learned better ways to behave. Each of us has been party to less-than-desirable interactions.
We learn and emulate some of the same behaviors, and find people who are just as damaged as we are. We enable one another to live in the muck and mire we know so well. We, like those before us, do not know any better.
At some point as we mature, we begin to recognize what we do that is unhealthy and we choose to live some things differently. We begin to understand our triggers, and what makes us behave as we do. We see our patterns, as we recognize patterns in others.
As we begin to explore, learn and grow throughout life, we come to an understanding about what it is we want, what it is we know, and what we believe is best for us. The choices we make in our careers, our friendships, our romantic partners, etc. start to evolve, as we leave behind that which no longer works well for us.
We start to move past that which is not good for us.
There are some people, however, that stay stuck in the past. They cannot or do not move on. They refuse to get help, or to look in the mirror recognizing the part they play in the pain and heartaches they experience. They are quick to blame others or situations or their G/god for their “lot in life.” They become toxic to themselves and to others around them.
Over the years, I have struggled to learn how to recognize those relationships that are life-affirming, and rid myself of those that are damaging to me. It took many years working with coaches and counselors to learn how to set boundaries, and to minimize the guilt I felt taking care of myself.
I find myself tested every once in awhile. I am a firm believer that we will continue to get the same lessons until we learn them. This past week, I have had one person from my past trying (in triplicate, thus far) to work (his/her) way back into what I feel would be doomed to failure.
I have moved on from this relationship, but it does not make it easy to ignore the manipulation. Instead, I write articles–“Moving On from Toxic Relationships”–to say what I need to say.
Who am I targeting? Convincing? Reminding?
I know that I need to be vigilant in setting boundaries, and keeping steadfast in truth. I cannot change others, nor can I help another who cannot yet see.
So, the reminders are for me to continue to stay-in and seek-out healthy relationships of all kinds, and to avoid or eliminate those interactions with the people and situations that are toxic and damaging to me.
Genuine relationships depend first on a healthy relationship with ourselves. ~Sonia Choquette
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