Toxic Relationships

Strategies for depression, anxiety, anger and stress

Your relationships can have a major impact on your mental health and your ability to manage stress.

How do you get along with your family members, both immediate and extended?  When you attend family gatherings do you watch as others bicker at each other and sit divided glaring at each other?  At an outing with your friends, do you cringe with the way they treat you or make you feel?  If some of these experiences ring a bell then it’s a good chance that it’s impacting your anxiety, depression, stress or anger.

First off, I’m not advocating playing the role of mediator or forcing others to accept your views.  What I’m speaking of is being aware of negative relationships in your life and how they impact you and


make you feel.  Many times, we are forced to be around people whom we don’t care for.  This is a normal occurrence that we must learn to deal with and manage.  However, when those interactions create turmoil and hurt you in a physical or psychological way, you have every right to act.

Toxic relationships are defined by a pattern of destructive criticism, manipulating, bitterness, negative attitudes and a history of verbal or physical abuse.  Maybe your partner puts you down in front of other people, you’re thoughts and opinions are discredited, you’re made to constantly feel stupid and like a child.  The wild turbulence and all the energy that often goes into these relationships can exhaust you physically, emotionally and mentally.  Another point to understand here is that toxic relationships never improve by themselves.  You could try and understand what their feelings are about you and why they treat you the way that they do, but you could end up just spinning your wheels in frustration.

My advice is to remove yourself from negative relationships.  You have every right to determine whom you do, and do not, want to associate with.  Every single person has the ability to make choices based on their ideals and attitudes.  If you find that you always feel like garbage after hanging out with a particular group of people, then DON’T ASSOCIATE WITH THOSE PEOPLE.  If you’re finding that your family gatherings are incredibly stressful cling to the one family member that you do enjoy and care about.  Have the attitude that maybe this is just a yearly thing so all you have to do is survive it.  You also can choose to not attend family gatherings where participants are going to be hostile with yourself and one another.  Once you fail to show up at more and more gatherings, people may start to realize how they’ve been acting and reach out to you.  If not, then who cares?  It’s ok to let go of them.  Remember that you always have the power to choose and the person who is going to help you the most is………..you.

If you find that you need more encouragement, there are support groups out there that can help.  This would also be a great topic to discuss with your therapist, when you do eventually get help from a mental health professional.

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