We have all had toxic relationships. They may have been with family, friends, partners, coworkers or a boss. Toxic relationships are dominated by hurtful and belittling comments, constant sarcasm and passive-aggressive behaviors. These unhealthy relationships drain your energy, bring unnecessary conflict and drama to your life, trigger feelings of low self-esteem and cause significant long-term stress.
Having a chronic illness can certainly put a strain on relationships. Healthy and supportive relationships can be our greatest asset. But when someone makes you feel bad about yourself or guilty over your illness – that relationship is toxic and has a negative impact on your health.
Numerous studies have shown the damaging health effects of toxic relationships. Chronic stress weakens the immune system and can lead to chronic illness. People who have a chronic illness and experience emotional stress from a toxic relationship are likely to see a worsening in their symptoms.
Dealing With Toxic Relationships
A healthy relationship is give and take. But if you are constantly giving and the other person is always taking, you are putting your health on the line. While you cannot control the actions of toxic people, there are some ways you can deal with their effects on your life.
Here are 5 ways to deal with toxic people:
- Don’t make excuses for their behavior. – Toxic people won’t change their behavior if you make excuses for them. See the relationship for what it is. Calmly let them know their toxic behavior is not acceptable anymore.
- Don’t take their behavior personally. – Difficult and negative people have toxic things to say about everything and to everyone. They are often subconsciously trying to make other people feel how they feel about themselves. So don’t take what they say personally.
- Set boundaries. – You cannot control the other person. You can control your own boundaries…the amount of time or frequency of contact, your behaviors and your responses. Setting boundaries that respect your needs can help you redefine a relationship on your terms.
- Put yourself first. – When toxic people are causing you stress, the last thing you want to do is allow a toxic person to influence your physical and emotional well-being. Feel free to excuse yourself to relax and reflect away from their obnoxious behavior.
- Know when to let go. – Do you really need this person in your life? Sometimes, it is just too difficult to deal with a toxic person’s behaviors, and you may be better off without that person in your life. It doesn’t mean you hate this person or wish them harm. It simply means you care about your own health and well-being.
There are times when relationships need to be recognized as damaging. It’s important for all of us to routinely take inventory of our support systems and care enough about ourselves to free ourselves from toxic relationships.
Dealing with chronic illness is draining enough, we do not need to put up with toxic relationships on top of it. We have to minimize the things in our lives that can make our symptoms worse. As painful as it can be, sometimes that means eliminating people.
Have you had toxic people in your life? What ways have you dealt with these situations? Please share by leaving a comment below.