Life is fraught with situations and things that are deemed no good for us to ingest not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. Just like cyanide and arsenic are considered to be poisonous to the body, toxic relationships are considered to be poisonous to the mind, body, and spirit.
Recently, I was reading an article about toxic people and in the article the author said that toxic people use you as a dumping source tearing your spirit down and draining the life out of you for their own selfish purposes. Sometimes we don’t realize that is happening to us because we get caught up in the toxic person’s situation. I began to think about this subject and read a little more closely because I thought the subject was interesting and many more people than we think could be suffering through this issue. So I started digging deeper to get a better understanding of the meaning of toxic relationships and what happens in these relationships.
A toxic relationship can happen in a friendship, with a spouse, coworker, partner, or any other person in your space who dwells on negative things and sucks you into that scenario causing you to feel drained after speaking with them. Sometimes you don’t recognize that this is going on because you become fully engaged in what is being discussed. Oftentimes, the conversation is one-sided where the person giving off the poison is discussing things that are extremely negative. They are not interested in a solution to the problem or problems; they just want someone to dump on.
According to Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter, in an article written for Psychology Today entitled, “The Hidden Health Hazards of Toxic Relationships,” she says in order to determine if you are in a toxic relationship, ask yourself a few questions like do you feel content or energized when you’re with or after you’ve spoken to the person, do you feel better or worse about yourself after you spend time with the person, do you feel physically or emotionally safe with the person, and is there equal give and take in the relationship? Once you determine the answers to those general questions, then you will know whether or not you’re in a toxic relationship.
In addition to what was stated by Dr. Carter, I would like to add my own question regarding the toxic person. Does the person have narcissistic tendencies like making you feel bad about yourself, being self-centered the majority of the time, making demeaning comments, and constantly being negative? Just so you know, these types of people are looking for a soap box to stand on to share their “woe is me” moments, but they are not looking for a solution to the problem or problems they are sharing. They just want to dump on you since you’re available.
Where friendship is concerned, Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends says there must be balance between the friends in order for the relationship to be healthy. One cannot dominate conversation to discuss issues over and over again. Isaacs also says in a toxic friendship, one friend often feels drained, unsupported and unsatisfied in the relationship. In addition, if this behavior continues, it can impact a person’s self-esteem.
Ways to remove yourself from these types of relationships are to recognize what is going on, take responsibility for your part in enabling the situation to occur, set boundaries for yourself by standing up for yourself when someone has brought you down, keep yourself connected with positive people, and end the relationship when necessary especially if you see no positive end. It is not fair to you to continue to allow yourself to go through pain and suffering and aggravation because of someone else’s unkind behavior.
There is an underlying problem that occurs from continually allowing yourself to be exposed to this type of negative behavior and that is to your physical health. It was stated in Dr. Carter’s article that toxic relationships can be just as harmful to your body as eating fast food. These relationships can possibly lead to depression due to stress and anxiety. In addition, possible physical problems that can occur are high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, or stroke if you allow the relationship to continue. These ailments might see extreme, but they can occur over a period of time.
Once you determine that you are involved in a toxic relationship, “…believe that you deserve to be treated with respect, love, and compassion,” according to Dr. Carter. People tend to stay in unhealthy relationships because their self-esteem is low and they do not feel they deserve better treatment. Then, if you feel safe, you can express to the person how you feel when they say certain things to you. If things do not change after you express your thoughts, then consider “…distancing yourself from the source of toxicity,” either with less contact or no contact according to Dr. Carter.
Ultimately, “the longer one remains in a toxic relationship, the greater the damage to health,” according to Dr. Ann Clark in an article entitled, “Unhealthy relationships cause unhealthy bodies,” written by Erinn Hutkin.
You do not have to subject yourself to this type of behavior. Because you have such great value and great worth, it is important to recognize the damage that a toxic relationship can do to your mind, body, and spirit. You need to be available to others to provide them with your gifts and talents—even to share your testimony. Someone is looking to be uplifted by your story. You may not have the energy to share with anyone if you are on the receiving end of degradation, hurt, and pain.
To remove yourself from toxic situations, pray about it and then act by moving toward the positive. God did not promise us a life without situations to deal with, but he did promise us he would be there to walk with us through them so that we can get to the other side in victory. If you are in a toxic relationship, start with moving toward getting yourself out of it. Take small steps today. You can do it. Believe in yourself as God believes in you!
Live, laugh, love, and pray.
God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness,
Antoinette Shar’ron Johnson
“Empowering, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting your mind, body, and soul!”
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