Some relationships come into your life for a season, others – for a lifetime. The eb and flow of relationships throughout your life allow you to reflect on deep truths about yourself and the world around you. While both positive and negative relationship experiences can encourage personal growth, it’s important to know when a relationship is becoming toxic for you, so you can put an end to it.
You have a say in who you share time and energy with. The key is to choose wisely and honor when changes need to be made to support your wellbeing. I’m going to teach you how to recognize a toxic relationship, share the ways it could be contributing to illness, and finally – present a 3-phase guide for ending the relationship to “detox” negative people from your life.
Any one or combination of these situations can indicate the relationship is unhealthy.
One of the longest running studies on adult life from Harvard University examines aspects of the subject’s lives including health, wellness, and relationships. (1) The study followed 724 men from adulthood to end of life and still continues for some remaining subjects after 77 years. Profound discoveries are being made from analyzing the subject’s survey responses throughout their lifetime – especially in reference to how relationships affect health and longevity.
There was a significant trend in subjects living longer healthier lives if they had healthy relationships. Subjects who did not experience positive close relationships throughout life were more likely to develop chronic conditions and diseases such as cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death for both men and women. Emotional pain was associated with magnifying physical pain.
Studies linking stressful life conditions to death or disease show that stress has a direct and measurable effect on the body through “allostatic load,” which is overall stress-induced physiological wear-and-tear. (2)
Stressful relationships can have this effect on the following bodily systems:
Maintaining or tolerating toxic relationships takes a terrible toll on wellbeing and quality of life in the long-term – it actually ages you faster. A major barrier to ending bad relationships is an addiction to the adrenaline release that can be experienced in response to drama. It’s important to know that embracing chaos for the sake of small “hits” of thrilling hormones is a sure way to expedite wear-and-tear on the bodily systems mentioned.
In contrast, attracting intimate relationships throughout life, as defined in the Harvard study as – “someone you share most of your joys and sorrows with,”– is an amazing health booster. It’s protective of the brain and body. Memory was sharper, mood was improved, and feelings of fulfillment were all reported by study subjects that maintained healthy relationships.
Analysis of the study data showed chronic loneliness can be compared to chronic smoking as far as being deadly. So, it’s important to seek healthy relationships after ending toxic ones. Here’s the steps you need to take to accomplish both of those things!
Phase 1: Dissolve Toxic Relationships
The first part of phase 1 is releasing fear to access your way out of the relationship. You may feel fear when you consider ending a relationship for a variety of reasons, but no matter what – you must release the fear on a psychological level, an energetic level, and a cellular level. Ask for advice from trusted family, friends, or a therapist to determine the best way forward to release the relationship. Remind yourself why it’s the best course of action for you so you aren’t tempted by fear to back down on your decision later.
If it feels safe to do so, sharing your feelings with the individual you’re ending the relationship with can give you a sense of relief while helping you find inner strength. Know there is no perfect way to end a relationship except the way that results in you being safe and happy. This may mean you end the relationship with a trusted friend nearby or over the phone instead of in person. If the relationship isn’t serious, you may be able to simply distance yourself without having to express that is what you are doing.
This process might not always mean ending the relationship completely, it could mean the relationship is evolving – but it is highly important that you express your truth, feel heard, and see tangible action steps taken to improve the relationship. It should be a collaborative effort, not one-sided, if the relationship is just shifting instead of ending.
You shouldn’t anticipate that making a change will be hard. Sometimes, changes are meant to be easy. It’s much better to approach a situation without allowing yourself to catastrophize the outcome in your mind over and over again. Visualize that it will go peacefully, ask your guides or higher power for guidance and comfort as you carry out the dissolution.
Perform this “Cord Cutting” practice from a previous blog post to help energetically sever the relationship.
Phase 2: Integrate Your Lessons Learned
All change involves learning.
Accept that negative choices, attitudes, and thought patterns attract negative relationships - so it’s important to shift the energy you put out into the world to improve what you get back. This past blog post can assist you with that worthy pursuit.
Don’t let past negative experiences rule how you perceive relationships. Set healthy boundaries moving forward and open up to new experiences with a fresh perspective. Release the need to control the relationships out of fear and allow them to evolve and change, or dissolve and end out of love. Feel them, grow from them, cherish them as part of your evolution as you move through life.
Phase 3: Attract Your Tribe
Healthy social networks and interactions have been shown to increase longevity and quality of life. Know that you have agency when it comes to attracting healthy relationships, you don’t have to sit around waiting for them to appear. Visualize yourself meeting role models, mentors, and new fun fulfilling relationships. You’ll be amazed at the ways they come through for you when you set a clear intention.
Attract a tribe you can trust that allows you to enjoy the spirit of togetherness and that helps you come into your power – supporting you and your dreams. Connecting with people that can help you when you’re in need and genuinely be happy for you when you succeed is one of the best feelings on Earth.
Know this grouping may change over time. Nurture these healthy relationships as they nurture you. Express gratitude and show love to these people when you have the pleasure of enjoying their company. Know that even when you are in between tribes, you are never alone because the Universe supports you, always.
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1. Mitchell, John F. “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life From the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development.” American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 161, no. 1, 2004, pp. 178–179., doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.1.178.
2. Johnson, Blair T., and Rebecca L. Acabchuk. “What Are the Keys to a Longer, Happier Life? Answers from Five Decades of Health Psychology Research.” Social Science & Medicine, vol. 196, 2018, pp. 218–226., doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.001.