In this article, I am going to discuss this issue from a slightly different point of view. I am also going to compare a toxic relationship with a healthy relationship. It would be to your advantage to read Part I first.
Toxic relationships occur in various degrees of severity. In other words, some are more damaging than others. But all of them can hinder your progress toward the person you want to be or the life you want to have.
Toxic relationships deplete your energies on unproductive activities like arguing, debating, emotional dueling, competing, and manipulating. These activities are a complete waste of time. In my article entitled, “9 Ways to Reduce Stress by Simplifying Your Style,” I get into more detail about this.
Toxic relationships are sometimes difficult to identify. The person who is being toxic to you may not be a bad person. He or she may not even realize that they are being toxic. Or it may just be a matter of bad chemistry.
Imagine these two scenarios.
Group A is composed of people who support, encourage, and inspire you.
Group B is composed of several people from Group A and one or two individuals who criticize, discourage, and demoralize you.
The negative individuals in Group B can really weigh you down and hold you back from reaching your goals and creating the life you want. Clearly, you would have a greater chance of achieving your dreams if Group A was your inner circle.
If you find yourself with a Group B inter-circle, then you’ll need to do some relationship nurturing, reshaping, pruning, or uprooting.
Nurturing means that you look at what actions you could take to create a positive relationship. This may involve taking an honest look at whether you have contributed to it being a toxic relationship by any means.
Reshaping is about taking a stand on your boundaries and/or presenting your concerns in writing or in person if the problem is more complex or severe.
Pruning is about cutting toxic relationships out of your inner circle and/or communication channels.
Uprooting is about removing toxic relationships from your life entirely.
So what is a toxic relationship? I feel it depends on how much toxic effect the person has on you! For example, one person may be unaffected by a person who is aggressive, opinionated, and competitive. Whereas another person would be poisoned by this behavior due to their personality and/or experiences.
The most important aspect of a relationship’s toxic effect on you is the underlining motivations of the other person. In my experience, these negative motivations are often subconscious. The person is not aware that their actions are toxic or even abusive. Or they justify their behavior in some way or another. They may see it as helpful, dutiful, or in line with their religious, political, or professional beliefs. For example, if they work in the field of psychology they may act as a diagnostician in their relationships and not as a friend. If the other person in this relationship rejects the notion of psychotherapy and antidepressants as being a pathway to success, then their interactions will likely be toxic.
For the purposes of clarity, let’s compare the differences between a healthy relationship and a toxic relationship in terms of how you are treated by the other person. Note: It is best to read them line by line, left to right, as each line is a comparison to the other column.
|Healthy Relationship||Toxic Relationship|
|Encourages you and your activities.||Criticizes you and your activities.|
|Withholds criticism of your activities.||Withholds praise of your activities.|
|Points out your successes.||Points out your mistakes.|
|Encourages you toward your dreams.||Encourages you toward their dreams.|
|Appreciates your strengths.||Appreciates your weaknesses.|
|Behaves respectfully toward you.||Behaves disrespectfully toward you.|
|Listens carefully when you talk.||Listens carelessly when you talk.|
|Makes jokes about themselves.||Makes jokes about you.|
|Makes inquiries about your progress.||Makes inquiries about your problems.|
|Makes you feel uplifted and motivated.||Makes you feel discouraged and depressed.|
|Looks for things you’re doing right.||Looks for things you’re doing wrong.|
|Searches online for good stuff about you.||Searches online for bad stuff about you.|
|Tells other people good things about you.||Tells other people bad things about you.|
|Looks for ways to support you.||Looks for ways for you to support them.|
|Gives without measure or expected return.||Gives with measure and expected return.|
|Takes with gratitude.||Takes with entitlement.|
|Regularly checks their contribution.||Regularly checks your contribution.|
|Takes 100% responsibility for their part.||Takes little or no responsibility for their part.|
|Loyal without a fault.||Loyal with self-serving conditions.|
|Loves to give love.||Loves to receive love.|
If you are in a toxic relationship of any degree, nurture it, reshape it, prune it, or uproot it. You’ll be much happier and more productive.
Here’s Toxic Relationships: Part 1 if you haven’t read it.