It’s no secret that toxic relationships are damaging. But what’s not well-known is the right way to walk away from them. Here’s how I purge toxicity:Tweet
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“Well, you started a blog and wrote a book. That means you can work.” Um, no! Sadly, this statement has reached my ears on more than one occasion. It’s another example of uneducated, surface level thinking. While I can’t control what other people think or say, I can, however, walk away.
I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m done fighting with others. More important than that, I am too committed to my health to try and reason with the unreasonable. Besides, I am on a healing journey – one that is trying to help other people who know that hardship that comes with mental illness.
Some would say “All you need to do is get back to work.” A notion that I agree with. And…. not only do I agree with them, but I am also working hard to get well enough to follow through on their unsolicited advice.
Further, when I hear statements like this one, I think “Yea, you don’t get it.” But what can I do? While smiling and nodding is usually my go to, I sometimes blurt out “Yeah, you don’t get it.” But I digress.
Why these one-liners are wrong.
Sadly, many reach a conclusion based on whatever data, real or imaginary, they have in their head. For example, saying “Just don’t think about it” requires no thought and demonstrates ignorance to what PTSD really is – how it impacts a person, and what they are doing to get better.
I once had a former friend who constantly said things like this to me. So, because I valued our friendship, I sent him some information on depression, and the convo went a little like this:
Me: “Hey man, did you read that info I sent you on depression? It talks about what it is and what it’s like for people and how to support those you care for.
Them: “No, I don’t need to.”
Me: “Um, yes you do!”
Now, this former friend just didn’t bother. Why? because he simply didn’t value our friendship enough to bother. It’s precisely the reason he is a former, rather than a current friend… Man, I got enough going on without some “friend” just disregarding my hardship. No wonder so many remain silent… Furthermore, it’s the exact reason I authored my new book, The Road To Mental Wellness.
Read the blog post that started it all The Road To Mental Wellness
When I went off work because of PTSD, I was left in limbo while I waited to see if I would be awarded Workers’ Compensation. It was long and painful, hanging in the darkness of my home.
So, I began to try and figure out this PTSD thing: how did I get here? I was a firefighter, so I knew that much, but my battle with anxiety and depression was a life-long battle.
I began to write out my story, mostly to help quell the angst of being lonely and in menta- illness purgatory. It helped – immensely. I survived the dark because of it.
Now, it’s here – written for therapeutic intervention and published in hopes that it can do the same for you or someone you know…..
“You’re not alone on your Road To Mental Wellness.”
Healing can’t begin until you rid yourself of toxins.
We all have toxic people in our lives. And they tend to be tough to get rid of. I think it may be because people with darker traits see “nice” as a weakness. So, if you do have a mental- health condition, you may latch on to or maintain a toxic relationship because you’re in survival mode. This leaves us vulnerable and thus less able to fend off those who are hindering our recovery.
Similarly, our own self-worth can attract toxicity. If we think little of ourselves for example, we create an opening for negative forces. This is not good…. But if we discover this as something we need to work on, we can then discover how to learn to love ourselves. Self-love builds a resistance and a strength that can both defend you and purge you from this brand of toxicity
As a side note, it’s worth taking time to seriously evaluate if you are one of those toxic people in your life; if so, getting rid of the other damaging individuals is essential for growth. We can be toxic to ourselves, especially when there is a mental illness involved. For instance, when depression speaks, it often says What’s the point in trying?
While this statement may feel like truth manifested directly from your thoughts, it’s not factual – at all! There is in fact, a point to trying. Despite how our feelings manipulate our thinking, they can be challenged and thus changed. In short, you can also minimize the internal toxicity that makes you ill.
But John, how? Well, for me, I rail against such a negative thought. My “points” to keep going are many: my kids, my family, and the amazing friends in my life. When I reflect on all these amazing people, I do the opposite of depression’s dialogue. So, there is a point – if we dig deep enough, we can always find a point.
How I purge toxicity.
Since I’ve grown older and somewhat wiser, I have gotten better at recognizing and thus purging people who aren’t good for my mental health. Here are some of the things I do try and recognize in a potential toxic friend. But firstly, it’s important to note that it may take time to see harmful traits in another person. That said, we are all human and subject to our imperfections, so don’t rush to cut someone out of your life for the slightest thing. Also, we need to be kind. Our friends may be going through their own mental-health struggles.
However, when people aren’t good to us or for us it can look like this:
Examples of toxic behaviours
- How do they make you feel every time they are around you? If you feel angst or stress more often than not, it will wear you down.
- Are they dismissive when you confided in them? “Don’t worry about it” or “That’s stupid” are some of the uncaring statements “friends” have made to me when I needed them. It’s also not uncommon for them to re-direct the conversation.
- Despite not caring about you, do they expect you to be there for them? Always remember, relationships aren’t one-way streets.
- They chronically talk about others. It’s true what they say, if someone talks about others constantly, they are talking about you too. (MAJOR RED FLAG)
- Pay attention to how much they value other relationships in their lives. For instance, if they view their partner in a way that implies that they are in it for status, not love, it may be time to turn and run. When one views relationships from this lens, they are dehumanizing their connections. In other words, they don’t have meaningful connections, they have alliances. If this is the case, you will NEVER build a real relationship. Why? because they don’t care about you.
- Are they wreaking havoc in your life? For instance, are they in your family, in your friend group or a co-worker? And if so, is there always tension? Additionally, is “friend” this common the denominator? if so, time to save yourself and disconnect.
You need to purge them from your life
How I purge toxicity is both simple and exceedingly difficult. I know this may sound a bit strange but hear me out.
Firstly, it can take a long time to get to know a person and when their true and ugly self arises, you have built an attachment. This can make it hard to say “I’ve had enough!” Plus, we inherently want to believe the best in people. This only makes you question and deny the dark traits you are seeing.
However, if you are at a point where you are so sick of this person, it’s easy to get rid of them in one respect – ignore and move forward. The termination of this brand of relationship will almost certainly be seen as “your fault.” Since the relationship is not real to them, it means nothing to them to blame you. And in worst-case scenarios, they will truly believe that the disintegration is your fault.
Sadly, once you terminate interaction, they may try and throw you under the bus with those you are mutually acquainted with. That’s why I recommend the following:
Ways to end a toxic friendship
- First things first: talk to and resolve any conflict that has been perpetrated by this person. And be honest! Honesty will allow your mutual friends to see that you care about them and that you genuinely want to resolve conflict. Why is this essential?
- Well, because once you end the toxic relationship, there is a good chance they will try to hang you with anyone in your circle. In other words, anything you said in private that was harmless, may be stretched so it sounds sinister. An example is: Say you’ve confided in the toxic person that you like someone in your friend group; they may run to that person and tell them so. However, it will be more like, “He wants you sexually and said nasty things about it.” So, go to your friends first.
- Second: don’t engage them – ever! Walk away like you just survived a train wreck that’s on fire… It’s similar in the way that you risk being hurt if you do. They love drama and conflict, so beware!
Even though it’s never easy to end a relationship, some are so toxic that they are not worth continuing; in fact, there may be no value at all. Instead, it is a constant source of stress and anxiety, hardship, and conflict – and no one needs or deserves that…
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This is how I purge toxicity from my life. I hope that if you are going through this that you find this post helpful… Please feel free to share it, especially if you know someone who may also benefit.
How I purge toxicity.