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Tips on what to do if you are in a toxic relationship or friendship


Article by Dr Lynda Shaw

toxic friendships

  1. You Can’t Change Who They Are

It’s virtually impossible to change a person’s perception and behaviour, but you can change the way you deal with them.  Those who possess bullying traits thrive on confrontation, but if you take a calmer and a more confident approach, they’re less likely to challenge you.

  1. Negative Energy

Toxic personalities are very good at passing their negative energy onto others around them and using others as metaphorical punching bag.  Show kindness and empathy where it’s due, but be aware that negative energy can very quickly be transferred onto you if you’re not cautious; and remember insults are simply unacceptable.

  1. Set Your Boundaries

It’s very easy to give into their demands for a calmer and more peaceful life, but this is not healthy nor is it conducive to your overall health and happiness.  Set your boundaries and stick to them.  If the boundaries get repeatedly crossed, it’s time to walk away.

  1. Find Time To Relax

Managing difficult relationships can be draining and a relentless process.  Establish some ‘time out’ to unwind is essential to give your body and mind sufficient time to recuperate and recharge.  Finding ways to keep your mind motivated and enthused will not only help to perk up your mood, but it will give you something to look forward and set the endorphins flowing again.  Remember the problem lies with them.

  1. Avoid Investing Too Much Time Into Their Stories

It’s understandable that you want to be sympathetic towards their needs, but there is also a danger that you can get yourself too immersed into their problems.  Being drawn into their dramas time after the time will eventually wear you down.

  1. Harden A Little

Toxic personalities will find ways to say something hurtful or belittling, but try not to take it to heart.  If it starts affecting your self-esteem, it’s a sign that you should be limiting your time around them.

  1. Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Share a funny story or something humorous that you’ve seen.   Maintaining a sense of humour can help break the monotonous cycle and provide some temporary breathing space.

  1. Tell Them

Tell them that the relationship is getting toxic and you feel unhappy and give them a chance for reflection and change.  Then there is no excuse if the behaviour doesn’t change and if you decide enough is enough.  You may wish to say this with someone else present whom you trust, especially if this is a working relationship.

  1. Diversion

Toxic personalities can be very manipulative and unpredictable but once you have read the warning signs try to divert their attention on to something more positive, preferably something that isn’t about them as most toxic people are also narcissistic.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

It’s easy to fall into a pattern and make excuses for their bad behaviour, but it’s your priority to look after yourself.  It’s important to remember that these situations are unlikely to change or be any different.  Ending a relationship may be painful, but it may also be your saving grace.

 

 

 

 

Profile photo of Dr Lynda Shaw

Dr Lynda Shaw

Dr Lynda Shaw has lectured in Psychology and Neuroscience at Brunel University and conducted research on brain function and impairment, specialising in consciousness, emotion and the effects of ageing

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