How to Let Go of Toxic Relationships

Do you have a 'friend' who constantly tears you down, breaks your trust, and hurts your feelings?

Does this 'friend' repeatedly make you feel bad about yourself, and feel more like a burden than a good friend?

Toxic people enter our lives in all forms, some come in the form of relationships, others as college friends or family members. Regardless of the relationship, if a person has proven themselves to be an unhealthy companion time and time again, perhaps it's time to consider parting ways.

Chances are, if you're reading this, you already know that specific person is toxic, but you don't how to approach cutting them out of your life. Perhaps this person is a longtime family friend or a boyfriend you've been with for quite some time.

By clicking this article, you've already taken the first step: recognizing the problem and wanting to form a solution. 

If someone is stifling your personal growth or causing you severe stress, they may be a toxic relationship. Someone who is toxic will hurt you and lie to you time and time again. They will break your trust repeatedly, with little to no remorse. They are usually people who have little self-confidence and self-love, which causes them to prey on you so that they can tear down your positive energy.

It's important to understand how they treat you is not a reflection of your self-worth, and that you deserve to be treated respectfully. A true friend is kind, supportive and wants you to succeed.

So how can you let go of toxicity in your life? Here are a few simple approaches to this complex problem.

Understand It's Not Your Fault

When someone is unkind to us, it's easy for us to look introspectively and search for a problem with our attitude. We think that we might have brought this type of treatment upon us because of something we said or did. In a healthy relationship, if you did something to hurt another person, you can communicate about the problem and overcome what may have occurred. An unhealthy and toxic relationship will constantly use one mistake you committed to shame you over and over.

You don't deserve bad treatment in any capacity, and when you are in a toxic relationship, blaming yourself is exactly what the toxic party wants. They take little to no responsibility for their actions, and will often try to use excuses or blame someone else to deflect their wrongdoings. Keep in mind that you are not the problem, they are, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to cut negative people out of your life.

Lean On Your Real Friends

Don't be afraid to reach out to friends who have supported you in the past. When removing someone from your life, it's important to have positive influences around you. It can be emotionally exhausting to lose a friend, regardless of how bad they treated you, and having a support system can take some of the burden off your back. Talk to someone you trust, such as a loved one or a therapist, if you're feeling like this friendship 'break up' will affect your mental health.

Cut Them Off Completely

If you're going to remove a toxic person from your life, don't give them any way to contact you. Block them on social media, delete their number and ignore them. If you're in a situation where you see this person on a daily basis, try to modify your schedule a bit so that you don't have to see them, and gradually reduce contact. Sit with new people at lunch, or surround yourself with another group of friends. Don't seek this person out, and focus on your own mental health and stress management.

If you've had a long history with this person, you might be tempted to send them just one more text, or stalk their social media to see if they've mentioned you. It's natural to want to see that person miss you; it validates your relationship in a way. However, understand that this behavior is unhealthy and doesn't help you move on. Watching them afar and hoping they will realize their mistake will not change their past actions, and it fails to give you closure.

Know It's Okay To Mourn 

Naturally, this isn't an easy choice to make, so don't punish yourself for being upset. Even people that treated us horribly were once kind, and we once trusted and cared for them. It can be painful to recall memories with that person or go places where you once went together. Seeing mutual friends can also be a stressful experience. It's okay to cry and mourn what once was.

Some believe that if you cry or feel hurt, it means that the toxic person has 'won'. I disagree entirely, it shows that you truly felt for this person, and you were betrayed. If anything, you have 'won' in this situation because you are now free. There is nothing wrong with really feeling your emotions and properly expressing your sadness. Bottling up these feelings will only make you feel tight and resentful. In order to really let go, feel your feelings and release them.

Keep Your Mind Off It

This is easier said than done. I can say for me personally when I have a bad memory with a person it leaves a much deeper impression than a good one. You find yourself thinking about that person, feeling bitter or upset all over again. You may wonder 'Do they regret how they treated me?' or 'If I could talk to them one more time, I'd tell them this!'. These hypotheticals stifle your healing process, and the more time you dedicate to wondering about this person who has hurt you, the less time you dedicate to healing yourself.

Be proud that you have chosen yourself, and your happiness. If a stray thought about that person pops into your mind, acknowledge it, but finish the thought with a self-loving mantra such as  'I'm so much better off now' or 'I choose my happiness!'. You did the right thing, and validation can only come from within.

In summary, life is too short to waste on people who do not respect and care for you. You deserve happiness, you have a right to walk away. The decision is not an easy one to make, but it's the most self-loving and kind thing you can do for yourself. Time will pass and you WILL heal. I believe in you!