LIVING WITH TOXIC: OR NOT.

Living with an extremely negative person can be very difficult. I have many clients who have come to me at the end of their rope, completely frustrated and exhausted.

“I can’t do this any more…” is a common phrase I hear when a client is living with a very negative or toxic person.

Negative people can make you feel depressed, anxious, or angry.  They may invade your space, and they may demand more of your time than you feel able to give. They may try to control the things you say or do by manipulating your actions or your words.

The negative person is the person who you makes you wonder, is he really for me, or is he just looking out for his self interests? A negative person can be quiet and subtle, yet full of rage and resentment at the same time. There may be outbursts of anger directed at you when you are wondering why you are being blamed. Again.

Exhausted? At the end of your rope, you may be. But still trying?
Great!

Let’s look at eight ways we can address the toxicity.

1) Notice, breathe, detach.  When you are experiencing a negative interaction prompted by your living partner, notice it. Observe your living partner’s emotions, but pull back and detach. Don’t get sucked in. This may require a simple statement like, “I see that you are feeling…..” (fill in the blank once you have emotionally located your living partner’s feeling state).

2) Quietly, calmly and gently name the effect the toxicity is having on you. For example you may say, “I am feeling very anxious as we have this conversation.”

3) Remove your self from the situation. Retreat to a different room. Take a walk.

4) Suggest a different time when you might address the issue at hand, or

5) Simply remove your self from the conversation. Some toxic people feel entitled to process their feelings with their significant others or family members in the heat of a conflict or after a conflict. However, this is isn’t always helpful nor is it productive if the toxic person has low insight, irrational beliefs or poor coping skills. Choose your battles. You don’t have to talk about it.

6) Seek to increase your level of compassion for your family member. Notice where the emotions are coming from, look into his past. See if you can feel the helplessness of her actions and words.

7) Forgive. Even if she doesn’t ask for it. Keep short accounts.

8) Finally, look at and evaluate your living situation and consider its effect on your emotional health. If you are an adult and you are living with a parent or a family member you have no legal obligation to, look at the progress you are making and notice whether or not your living situation is healthy and worth the shared living space at this time.

If you are committed to working on the relationship: learn about detachment, meditation, and prayer.Find space to be quiet and still in your spiritual center and learn about surrender and forgiveness. Keep walking the long road forward.

Some of you have lost all hope. You may be living in a situation that is not only unhealthy but dangerous.

Despite all of your hopeful intentions, it may be best to release yourself from a toxic relationship if your spirit and/or your physical safety is in danger.

Here are nine signs forgiveness won’t fix your toxic relationship*:

1) Your significant other treats you like a project, not a person.
2) He/she forces you further sexually than you’re comfortable with. You say no and he/she acts as if you said yes.
3) Your significant other screams at you or uses derogatory language.
4) He/she twists Scripture to accuse you of wrongdoing.
Your significant other calls you a slut when men “notice” you; you can never “act appropriately” around men.
He/she hits you, pushes you, strangles you or threatens you … even just once.
7) He/she tells you no one else would want you and you’re lucky to be with him/her.
8) He/she plays the victim and blames you instead of taking responsibility.
9) He/she pouts, withdraws or withholds affection to “punish you.”
Your significant other has to know where you are at all times and says he/she needs to “keep an eye on you.”

You don’t need to check yes to all. I imagine things are becoming a little more clear.

May you find the hope and courage to step into the greater story of who you are—one defined by healthy boundaries and selfless love instead of negative toxic relationships.

*some signs adapted from Relevant Magazine’s BY RUTHIE DEAN’s “forgiveness won’t fix your toxic relationship”