The label “toxic” is a popular buzzword these days as many of us are dissecting relationships and evaluating the elements that are detrimental to our search for human connection. For I believe, it is through human connection that we have a chance to fulfill our potential. We need to do it together, we are not meant to go it alone.
What makes a relationship toxic?
After doing some research, I was able to find some elements that are common in toxic relationships: All take and no give , Feeling drained, Lack of trust, Hostile atmosphere, Occupied with imbalance, Constant judgement, Persistent unreliability, Nonstop narcissism.
It becomes clear that there are distinct “winners and loser” in the dynamics of toxic relationships. The ethos of these connections is not about mutual support, love and growth. It’s an imbalanced attention on one person’s needs, desires and wishes, to the peril of the other person.
Having been in several of these dynamics and occupying the giver role, I am curiously reflecting on why I stayed as long as I did?
This type of toxicity permeated several of my relationship dynamics- work colleagues, friendships, and intimate relationships. So clearly the common denominator was me!!! I firmly believe that people treat us how we allow them to treat us, so what was it that made it ok for the toxicity to continue?
The easy answer is that my beliefs in what I thought I deserved was extremely low. Throughout my life I learned that my needs didn’t matter, and my role in relationships was to serve other people. To anticipate what was needed of me in various situations and give it until I could give no longer. Through by deep dives in personal development, I understand how and why these patterns evolved. A web of various expectations: familial, cultural, gender to name a few. So my time has been to understand and dismantle this web and in many ways to start over.
Cutting out these toxic relationships has been a difficult process which has taken time. First I needed to re-write my “personal bill of rights.” I needed to establish what I now know I deserve in relationships. I needed to learn how to speak up for my needs and use my voice to talk about what I needed. The next step was to figure out how to establish healthy boundaries; first, figuring out what this meant, and then how to enforce them. And finally I needed to figure out discernment; learning how to evaluate when relationships or new people were not meeting my new standards. Trust me the mental chatter and the time second guessing myself during this time has been fierce! I frequently ask myself
“ Am I being reasonable? Am I expecting too much? Am I being extra?”
But I know the value of what I have to offer my relationships so that is now my North Star. I now believe deeply that what I offer is what I deserve and anything less than that is not helping me serve my higher purpose.
But here’s the rub…
At the moment this process of weeding out and not letting unhealthy people in has left me in a space with few connections in my relationship bullseye with few in my inner circle. So it can be a lonely place, but those people who are in my inner circles are real, quality, lovely relationships that are filled with mutual adoration, trust and respect.
My solace during this challenging time is two fold; first, at the centre of my bullseye is ME! Firmly rooted and grounded in a healthy relationship with myself. And secondly, I have faith that I have cleared the space to allow awesome, healthy and growth oriented people to enter my life and it is worth the wait!