Boundaries & Toxic People
Today’s topic comes to you because it seems to be a recurring theme in my energy field- both from client inquiries and personal experiences- and therefore, is something I feel needs to be discussed.
Now I’ve been on a ‘self-improvement’ journey for 10+ years, and if there is one thing that I’ve learnt to be mindful of- it’s WHO surrounds me in my circle.
It may seem redundant or unimportant to most, but truthfully, the energy of the people in your life DOES affect you- in more ways than we can even begin to understand. Just as a motivational speaker Jim Rohn, once said:
“You are an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn
When we are working towards certain goals, we are 10x more likely to achieve them when the people in our lives hold similar values or are supportive of the changes that are required.
However, when we are trying to achieve something and the people around us do not value nor support this, we are likely to give up or quit much faster.
Not to mention, the effects of a toxic relationship can lead to a significant increase in depression, anxiety, negative self-talk, compulsive or binging behaviour, unstable mood, poor mindset, lack of ambition, disorganization, lack of productivity/focus, and can even affect our physical health- such as our heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen exchange and more.
Therefore, it goes without saying that creating awareness around toxic relationships is crucial– and doing something about it (like setting boundaries), is even more important.
Let’s dive in!
How to determine if a person or relationship is toxic:
It’s important to note the difference between toxicity and natural human emotions. Sometimes we can confuse the two, especially in the beginning when we are just learning how to navigate our own healing journey.
Here’s the thing- at some point or another in this lifetime, we are ALL going to face some sort of challenge/roadblock/trauma that can cause us to respond in what we perceive as a ‘negative’ way. This could be with anger, sadness, jealousy, annoyance, fear, judgement- any emotion, really.
Experiencing these things is natural, and it is important to allow yourself and others to feel/express these emotions too. We are not supposed to be happy and positive all the time.
Feeling things is okay, and being not okay is okay too.
Therefore, when we begin to look for the ‘toxic’ people or relationships in our life, we want to make sure we are not grouping those who are experiencing a momentary challenge/trauma into this.
For example, a friend who has had a loved one pass and is struck with grief is not a toxic person– they are a human going through a natural and expected emotion, and should be encouraged to let it all out.
A toxic person or relationship rather, is one that is unchanging and has a negative impact on you or your life, long-term. It’s a constant battle where the pattern of behaviour is hurtful to you in any way, shape or form.
In these relationships with these people, we often leave the encounters feeling low or drained, and with a less-than-ideal mood or mindset. This could be anger, annoyance, frustration, sadness or even an overall vibration of negativity, like ‘victim mindset’.
Generally, toxic people usually believe that the world is out to get them, that they have ‘bad luck’, that their life isn’t good, and are often complaining about something. They lack drive and determination, and often make those who have it feel bad for doing so.
They tend to talk about others behind their back in a negative way, are jealous of the things others have/do, tend to judge harshly and make others feel bad about themselves, and talk a big ‘talk’ without ever ‘walking the walk’.
They will lack ambition and motivation, and target those who have it. They also often expect things like love, friendship, and kindness to be traded for favors. And finally, they will often only come to you in their time of need- rarely being present when you need help.
The examples above are the ‘most common’ ways to pinpoint a toxic person or relationship, but please note that this list is NOT extensive and does not cover everything.
The biggest way to understand the difference between a toxic relationship and a healthy one, is to turn inward and see how you feel before, during and after your interactions with this person.
Are you dreading seeing/talking to them?
Would you prefer to avoid them?
Do you find yourself pre-planning how the conversation will go and coming up with answers or things to say to them?
When you interact with this person does it feel good?
Do you both get to share in the conversation?
Are you getting equal benefit from the relationship overall?
Do you find yourself coming up with excuses to leave the interaction early?
After you leave the conversation with them how do you feel?
Are you lit up and feel like you have more energy, or are you drained and cranky?
Do they positively influence your mood and mindset or do they have a negative impact?
Answering these questions is likely going to get you to the answer you need on whether or not that person/relationship is toxic. And my guess is that you probably already have the answer for whether or not they are, just by reading over the questions above.
So, with that in mind, what do you do next?
Well, if the person/relationship is found to be healthy- that’s great! Nothing needs to be done in this case, except for continuing to invest in that relationship in a positive way.
However, more than likely you are looking at this blog post because you have a toxic person in your life that you need to do something about. In that case, there are THREE things you can do:
1. Accept that these are the terms of the relationship and this is the way that person is, and allow them to continue to play the same role in your life as they always have with the same impact/influence (I do NOT recommend this).
2. Change the dynamic of that relationship by creating and maintaining boundaries.
3. Move on from or let go of that person/relationship and accept that they no longer serve a purpose in your life.
Creating & maintaining boundaries:
Sometimes we have people in our lives who we love and want to keep around- but we also recognize that they have toxic traits or patterns that are causing a negative impact in our lives.
Instead of eliminating these people, we want to try and ‘see the good’ and maintain the relationship. Therefore, the way we do this is by creating and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Boundaries basically mean that we are deciding what we will no longer tolerate in our lives, and we are changing the dynamic of our relationships to match this new standard.
Boundaries come in all shapes and sizes- and what you are comfortable with and what is going to serve YOU the best is up to you. Before implementing anything, I recommend taking some time to think about or journal about the current relationship, and ask yourself what you would like to change.
For example, perhaps you love your best friend and don’t want to let go of that friendship, but find it is incredibly hard to be around her when you are ‘just talking’ because she is always stuck in a ‘victim loop’ of everything that is going wrong in her life.
You note that when you are both engaging in activities together this doesn’t happen, and therefore decide that moving forward your new boundary is going to be to engage in some form of activity each time you get together- like a workshop, class, event, etc.
Not only are you decreasing the chance of this happening, but you are also doing something fun, continuing to build and grow the relationship, and still get to have her remain as an important part in your life.
Alternatively, perhaps a boundary in your life might be something as simple as saying ‘no’ more often- especially if this person tends to take you for granted and comes to you only in a time of need.
Boundaries could be putting certain topics ‘off limits’ to be discussed, they could be restricting the hours/times when you are available to ‘chat’, it could be having an honest conversation about their behaviour/patterns, or it could be changing the expectations for the relationship.
Truthfully, there is no right or wrong when it comes to boundaries.
Whatever feels good to you and helps make that relationship feel more aligned with you is a good place to start. Tune inward and tap into your heart- what do you think would make the difference in that relationship to help it be more healthy?
Moving on or letting go:
Finally, sometimes when we are in a relationship, we recognize that this person is toxic and needs to be removed from our lives permanently.
Generally in this case, we understand that this person/relationship is damaging to us, and no amount of boundaries are going to make a difference.
For instance, think of an abusive relationship, an unhealthy work environment, a narcissistic family member, or someone who constantly judges/criticizes/bullies you, etc- in all of these scenarios, simply changing the dynamic of the relationship and instilling boundaries will likely do nothing to change that person or the toxicity.
In all of these cases, ending the relationship is what needs to be done.
This might mean breaking up with a partner, eliminating contact with a family member, quitting a job, or ending a friendship- which are all things that are not easy to do.
For this reason, I like to encourage my clients to adopt the terminology of ‘moving on’ or ‘letting go’. When we stop looking at a relationship as if we lost that person- and instead think of it as moving on or letting go, we instantly create a more positive separation in our minds.
Remember that we are not doing this to be ‘mean’ or ‘selfish’ or anything else our ego might come up with- but instead we are doing this to become our healthiest and happiest selves.
As I always say, it is important to fill our own cups first, and part of that responsibility means letting go of the things that no longer serve us so that we show up better in our own lives.
The best part about this, is that although we are doing this mainly for ourselves- this will have an incredibly positive impact on everyone else in our lives as well, allowing us to show up as our best selves for them. <3
There you have it babe! I hope this post helped to shine some light on creating boundaries and toxic people.
If you have any other questions, by all means, please let me know. And if you’re looking for a video version of today’s topic, you can view that HERE.
I hope you have a fabulous rest of your day. Talk to you soon.