The beginning of the year is when people normally reflect on their personal relationships and also use this time to make some important decisions and resolutions.
During this period we also make decisions to end some of the bad relationships in our lives. Have you also been thinking about cutting ties with people who are setting you back in life?
Michele Hirsch, a senior counselling social worker and facilitator at the Family Life Centre in Joburg says, “These relationships are common and most often, it is the person at the receiving end of the toxic relationship who comes for counselling.
More often than not, the toxic person does not come for counselling unless he or she is brought in by a family member.” A relationship that is not good for you is also known as a toxic relationship.
According to the Family Life Centre, you identify toxic people by the negative impact they have on your life. Some toxic people are aware of what they are doing, and others are totally unaware of the impact they have on other people.
SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF TOXIC PEOPLE:
¦ They create drama
¦ Manipulate or control other people
¦ Make everything about themselves
¦ Lack empathy
¦ Constantly play the victim or blame game
¦ Lay guilt trips
¦ Abuse substances
¦ Generally leave you feeling drained, exhausted or hopeless
“If you feel that no matter what you do, you don’t get heard and you always end up feeling awful, then chances are you are dealing with a toxic person,” Michele notes.
Michele says, “Always set boundaries. If the relationship leaves you feeling hopeless and devastated and it is possible to walk away, then run for the hills.”
She also advises that if it is a close family member, you should remain courteous but minimise contact as much as possible as research has shown that constant exposure to people who are negative and toxic causes stress.
THE BEST WAY TO CUT TIES
Very few people can hear and accept that they are toxic, as most are deeply wounded and therefore very defensive. Before you cut all ties with this person, it is important to look back on the type of relationship or bond you share with him or her.
“If you are not closely connected to the person and if they have no insight into their behaviour they could become angry if you explained your standpoint. You could slowly move away from their life,” Michele recommends.
If on the other hand you are dealing with a close family member, it is advisable to start by minimising contact and only discuss specific matters with them. She says it might be difficult to cut them out completely so set limits of minimal, short encounters with them.
If you find them trying to suck you into their drama, guilt trips or complaining, change the subject and tell them that this is simply not helpful to both of you.
“If the relationship is making you ill, then limit contact to communicating via the phone. If they are abusive, then you should cut them out of your life with the support of a counsellor,” says Michele.
WHAT IF I CAN’T GET RID OF THEM?
Sometimes it might be difficult to keep the person out of your life. Maybe it could be because they have a dominating personality, or they apologise for their behaviour or they don’t take a hint.
Michele advises also using your imagination to block them out. “Visualise a ball of white light around you that they can’t penetrate. Speak calmly to them using words like, ‘I will see you another time’. When they suck you into their negativity, walk out of the door or put down the phone,” Michele suggests.