Whether the relationship is one with a friend, family member or intimate partner, it is likely that you or someone you know has experienced a toxic relationship. So what are some of the telltale signs that you might be in a toxic relationship?
1. You don’t feel like you can be yourself: Feeling that you constantly have to “act” a certain way in a relationship is a sign that you might be in a toxic relationship. Healthy relationships are characterized by authenticity. In toxic relationships, there is a belief that you have to sacrifice many elements of yourself to make the other person happy. You might even find yourself sacrificing your core values to make the other person happy or “love you.” Those who genuinely care about you may point out to you that you are not quite yourself.
2. Feeling emotionally silenced: In toxic relationships, you don’t feel very comfortable bringing up your feelings because you don’t want to make the other person upset. Hence, you learn to keep quiet.
3. You never do anything right: You feel that you can never do anything right because you are constantly being put down or criticized. Even if the toxic person has done something wrong, he or she may make it seem like you are the reason for his or her transgression. In such a relationship, you tend to second guess yourself and you may even begin to belief that you are the person at fault.
4. The toxic person is always the center of attention: For the toxic person, everything is about his or her agenda. Your agenda is irrelevant along with your feelings. He/she will tend to dominate discussions. You might feel like you are being scolded or given a lesson in your communication with him/her. You are there to be seen and not heard in that discussion because the toxic person needs to always have the last word.
5. Your inner voice is always telling you to leave: In such relationships, you might find yourself consistently telling the person or others that you will leave the relationship. You know that this relationship is no good for you but you stay against your better judgment. While your inner voice is telling you to leave, there is a louder voice in your head telling you that you need to stay with this person. Undoubtedly, this feeling that you need to stay is related to feelings of insecurity born out of ongoing criticism and judgment within the toxic relationship.
If you are experiencing one or more of these signs, you might be in a toxic relationship. So how do you extricate yourself from the toxicity? Here are a few tips:
1. Seek professional help: It would be helpful to speak with a professional who can help you to extricate yourself from the relationship. Mental health professionals have years of specialized education, training and experience and can recognize behavior or thought problems objectively. They can offer interventions that have proven to be effective based on research.
2. Get acquainted with your wise mind: Additionally, become acquainted with your “wise mind” or intuition by taking at least 10 to 15 minutes out of your day to sit silently with your thoughts. Some would call this practice meditation or mindfulness. Thisis an opportunity for you to get in touch with your real feelings and learn to make more effective choices.
3. Surround yourself with positive people and institutions: Social support is a great buffer against emotional distress. Additionally, spiritual and religious institutions can be a great source of support and empowerment.