It is hard to contest the fact that all of us have been in toxic relationships at some point in our lives. Everyone else can see that we are in an unhealthy relationship except for us. It’s almost comical that we often fail to understand ourselves ! And we are the last to know what is right for us until we get a rude awakening. Don’t we own our mind, heart, body, and emotions? Actually – NO! Sometimes it takes a lifetime of mistakes and blunders to truly understand oneself. Why is it the most difficult thing to do?
A humungous amount of control is given to others and we rely on them to make us feel beautiful, validated, loved, respected and desired. Most of the time we function by basing our life decisions on circumstances or people to change. We place so much importance on getting validation from others that we forget to focus on who we truly are. Validation is extremely important and if it comes from the right source it catapults us into the right direction and improves our life by leaps and bounds. The golden rule to follow is that the world changes from the inside out. Our mind is a universe in itself – the world we create in our head is what will reflect outside. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he shall be” ~ James Allen
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Relationships are a very big part of our lives – we thrive on them, they make or break us. Life is better when shared. However, sadly, we alone are responsible for having the wrong people in our lives and allowing them to treat us badly. First and foremost, we need to be able to recognize toxic behaviors only then can we eliminate toxicity from our life. We are so mentally and emotionally invested in these dynamics that it makes it that much more difficult to see things clearly.
8 SIGNS OF TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS:
1. Drama, Drama and More Drama
I used the word drama because toxic relationships are high on emotions, control issues, and accusations. They are nothing short of a theatrical extravaganza. Shouting, tears, stonewalling, abuses and violence are an everyday story. You can never communicate in a civil and adult manner without it turning into a crazy neurotic argument. You do not feel you have a safe space to express your feelings, have a meaningful dialogue and come to logical solution beneficial to both parties involved.
This is when you create your own reality which is far the from the truth. You make excuses to justify tolerating bad behavior so that you feel better about yourself. Small signs are usually a big indicator of bigger problems. You are not ready to confront the bigger reality because your fear the outcome won’t be as desired and you wouldn’t know how to deal with the consequences. Hence, we suppress it by denying the truth and make excuses like “Ok, he had a very bad day and maybe that is why he insulted me in public” You start to accept bad behavior as normal and always back it up with logical reasons and ignore the blatant disrespect you are being awarded. This is how you make it okay for others to treat you badly.
3. It Is Always Your Fault
No matter what the issue is, you always feel your efforts are one-sided. Even though you need them in a difficult situation, the tables are turned, and you end up comforting them and taking care of their needs. It is not your fault but somehow you are manipulated into feeling guilty and responsible for all the downfalls in their life. You are always the one apologizing because you want the argument to end. As long as you are in agreement with them things seem to be fine. The moment you try inducing change, you are accused of being controlling. You are made to feel that you demand too much and should not have unrealistic expectations. You do not see any signs of remorse or the willingness to correct their behavior. They are insensitive and absolutely unaware of your feelings because they are so self-absorbed
4. You Are Always Belittled in Toxic Relationships
Your ideas, beliefs, and desires are stupid! Your desires or passions are snubbed even before they come to fruition. You get so used to having your wishes being thrown in the bin, you forget you have a mind of your own and begin losing faith in your abilities. People who don’t encourage others to evolve, grow and explore have major ego and control issues. They feel powerful by belittling you and enjoy being in control of your life. They get a high from the fact that you cannot function without them in your life. This inadvertently robs you of your confidence and you become fully dependent on them which they heavily take for granted.
5. Controlling and Manipulative Behaviour
There are many ways people try to control others. It could be through smooth manipulation, isolation, intimidation, fear, abuse, and brainwashing. When you lose the freedom to express and act as per your wishes, you become hostage to a controlling toxic relationship. You fear for safety, for the lack of peace, judgment and hostile reaction every time you want to do something for yourself. Sometimes you do not realize what is happening with you because controlling behaviors are masked so well. When you feel like you have to seek permission or approval and cannot make lone decisions, the reigns of your life are in the hands of another person. A healthy relationship encourages you to grow, evolve and try new things and constantly help each other grow. You go through life as equals.
6. Epitome of Negativity
People who spread toxicity are sometimes unaware they are doing so and do not necessarily mean any harm. They could be bogged down by their own problems in life and are unable to see their own shortcomings. Their unhappiness and frustration infiltrate in the lives of people around them. They are constantly complaining, whining and unable to make positive changes in themselves. Negative people cannot bear to you see you succeed, instill fear when you venture to do things for yourself and are masters at being judgemental and extremely critical. Sometimes, we also become extremely pessimistic ourselves as it is easy to get sucked into the web of blaming others to get respite from taking responsibility to change our own lives.
7. Narcissistic Behaviour
Narcissists believe they are the best at everything, are a gift to mankind and that everything does and should revolve around them. They also come across as arrogant and overconfident and it doesn’t take a minute for them to put someone down. Being so self-obsessed and having such a huge superiority complex hinders them to be sensitive and aware of others feelings and temperament. They derive satisfaction from the fact that people are not doing as well as them and they are sure to be constant reminders of that.
8. Temper Issues and Lies
Anger issues are very common in toxic relationships. We all got angry at times and it is only natural. Although when someone starts being short-tempered with the intention to intimidate, evoke fear, to feel powerful, to win an argument and get out of a sticky situation it is not acceptable. Rage takes over one’s mind and body and can have serious implications. Being around a person with temper issues is extremely difficult and unsafe. People feel claustrophobic in relationships with short-tempered individuals, as they just do not have a safe environment to express themselves and fear for their safety.
Lying or being lied to sucks. Occasional white lies every now and then is common but when someone is a habitual liar it is a huge cause for worry. It breaks the most fundamental foundation of a relationship which is ‘trust’ and that makes the relationship even more complicated and stressful.
Why do people behave in such a toxic manner and why do some of us put up with it? It is all deeply rooted in feelings of low self-worth and insecurity for both parties involved. Toxic users believe this is the only way for them to feel relevant, shift blame on others, so they do not have to be accountable and also feel powerful. The ones being abused believe they are not worthy of love or are too scared to stand up for themselves because they lack the confidence to go through life alone.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way out to eliminate toxicity from your life. It is a lot of hard work –for your entire life. The first thing you need to realize is, to live in a toxic-free environment you must be ready to leave toxic relationships when you do not see a change. Sadly, we cannot change others, we can only change ourselves. It is as much your fault as others to let someone treat you badly. The more you tolerate such behaviors the more it becomes okay for them to do it and for you to tolerate it. There is no greatness in being unhappy and the ‘sacrificial goat’ for others. When you will love yourself and believe you are worthy of better treatment – you raise your standards. That’s when you start attracting quality people who add immense value to your life rather rob you of your self-worth.
Talk and listen to people who genuinely care for you – usually, they can see these signs much before you can and learn to understand how you are feeling and why. Be brave because only you can change your life. Life may seem scary to take drastic steps when needed but you will realize this was the only way and absolutely the right thing to do. Sink or Swim! Life is not short – just that we understand the meaning of living a full life very late. Work towards living a rich, fulfilling and happy life – free of people who try to drag you down and full of love for yourself.