Why is it so hard to leave relationships that we know aren’t good for us? Logically we often know we need to get out, but emotionally it can feel like we are living in an invisible prison. The feelings of shame and embarrassment can build, tearing us away from our true self and leaving us with just the shell of who we once were. It’s easy to say, “just walk away” but there is so much more to it than that. You are not alone, there is a way out, and we have the tools to help you regain your confidence, your life, and yourself back.
A toxic relationship can come in many different forms such as manipulation, deceit, verbal, or physical abuse, and has a common result of draining you of your strength, hope, and energy. The image you once held of yourself starts to disappear and is replaced by what is projected on to you and what your life and environment is reflecting. But there are ways to rebuild your self-image and restore your strength, hope, and energy. If you embrace the following tips you are on your way to a brighter future.
- Come to terms with your reality. A lot of times we can be in a situation but deny the reality of what’s really going on. This is a coping mechanism to help get through tough times but it also is dangerous because it allows you to continue living in a toxic situation. Coming to terms with your reality forces you to see the relationship for what it truly is and breaks the fantasy of what its not. This can be a “hard pill to swallow,” as they say, but it’s a necessary step to get you into a better situation.
- Imagine a loved one in your shoes. What would you tell them? Would you think this is an acceptable relationship for them? And if it wouldn’t be acceptable for them, why is it for you? Give yourself the same compassion you would give to a loved one. At this stage you need to be supportive in your own right and recognize what you do and don’t deserve.
- Build future possibilities. If you weren’t in the relationship you’re in right now, what would your life look like? If you were able to leave tomorrow free and clear what would you do? Think solely about yourself and your future possibilities at this point. This steps helps to restore your hope and opens your world to different options. It creates motivation to work up the strength to move on to something better.
- Reclaim your pride and rebuild your self-image. A toxic relationship can chip away pieces of who you are. But those pieces are lost and it’s your job to reclaim them. Everyday it’s crucial to tell yourself how great you are despite the present circumstances. Even if you don’t feel it right away, telling yourself these positive affirmations rebuilds your strength and power to fight for a better life.
- Create a support network. You need support to help you through this difficult time. Even if it’s one person, having someone to turn to for understanding and compassion is incredibly beneficial. It will give you more strength and a stronger desire to get out of the relationship and be with people who add to your life and not just take from it.
Living in a toxic relationship can be like living in someone else’s body. You’re not living a life that allows you to be everything you could be. But it’s up to you to decide that you deserve better. The hardest part is living in the misery and once you decide on a better existence, you’re steps away from achieving a better life.
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AUTHOR: Jada Jackson, MS, LMHC – Communicator, Coach & Licensed Mental Health Counselor provides relationship counseling for couples in Dallas Texas. If you are in need of Dallas counseling for couples or recovering from a toxic relationship you can reach Jada at: (469) 757-5215
AUTHOR: Dani James (Intern: University of Central Florida)