Many of us have experienced toxic relationships (perhaps with a “frenemy”) at some point in our lives. Toxic relationships leave you feeling angry, frustrated, irritated, confused, miserable, and drained, and yet you can’t seem to say “no” the person. You can find toxic relationships at work, among friends, and in families.
Some time ago, I woke up to the fact that a friend of mine (I’ll call her Holly) was starting to profoundly irritate me. The cause of our friction was a fundamental personality difference: I am usually very positive and optimistic; at the time, Holly was unrelentingly negative and constantly complained about everything bad in her life. As time went on, I became ever more sensitive to her whining, and I started complaining about her to other friends. I spent more and more time being irritated, then frustrated, and then downright angry at Holly, and it drained my energy.
A coaching client of mine, Meg, was involved with the parents’ group for her son’s soccer team. There was a clash between the parents and the team coach, and the situation quickly devolved into name-calling, backstabbing, and a lot of anger and fighting all around. She was absolutely exhausted by it, and she used several of our coaching appointments (during which we had intended to work on building her business) to talk about this situation and how she could deal with it.
We’ve probably all felt trapped in a toxic relationship or situation from time to time. If we’re lucky, the situation is short-lived or resolves itself, and we can move on with no hurt feelings. Sometimes, though, the toxicity really takes hold and just drags on and on, draining our energy and happiness. It can be damaging to stay in a negative frame of mind for too long—we spend energy and time dealing with the bad stuff, which steals away what we need for the good things in our lives.
How do you break free and detox your emotional life? How do you get back in control?