Why Relationships are Important
“Are relationships natural?” Of course! “Is a toxic relationship normal?” Even MORE so!
Humans are simply not meant to live their whole lives in solitude. We are social creatures, we crave human interaction no matter how introverted we claim to be.
Relationships are arguably one of the most important parts of the human experience. They have been since the dawn of our existence, and they will be until there are none of us left!
When we have strong, healthy relationships we feel supported and unconditionally loved. But when our relationships are bad, toxic, and/or abusive, we feel insignificant and unworthy of love.
Either way, our relationships (romantic, family, and friendships) are very important to our spiritual and personal growth. Whether they are “good” or “bad,” relationships always help form our individual worldview. Especially the relationships we have early in life.
The people we surround ourselves with teach us so much. Likewise we are always teaching them. That is the divine intention of our connection–to learn and to teach. We usually don’t do this consciously, that is just the nature of any human relationship.
Because our souls incarnate here on Earth for the purpose of growth and learning, we are very careful to map out our relationships before we are born into our physical bodies. That means that every person we’ve ever known was DESTINED to appear in our lives at the exact moment they did. As well as stay in our lives for the exact right amount of time.
So when we become involved with someone who is horribly toxic, we are presented with nearly endless opportunities to grow and learn from them. Even if it’s the absolute worst relationship of our lives, we can still be grateful for all they have shown us (in hindsight).
In this blog post, we are going to dive deeper into toxic relationships specifically, why they are such an important part of our spiritual growth, and how to leave a toxic relationship successfully.
Toxic Relationship Meaning
There are several signs of a toxic relationship to be aware of. When people in a relationship (any kind of relationship) repeatedly compete, undermine, and disrespect each other, it is toxic. They can also be possessive, jealous, dominant, manipulative, controlling, aggressive, standoffish, and/or purposefully withhold affection.
This can be one sided, or both parties can partake. And it can be any combination of these patterns, plus many others. Regardless, a toxic relationship can cause great emotional strain and damage.
A toxic relationship will take more out of you than it gives you right now. In the long run, toxic relationships can actually give you a LOT to think about. But during the course of the relationship, the other person will probably not be concerned with fulfilling your needs.
This is perhaps the most important warning sign. If there is no mutual desire to fulfill social needs then the relationship will never succeed.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known a person or how you met. Any relationship you have could potentially be toxic, or become toxic over time. Even the relationships that appear to be insignificant can be toxic and have a lasting impact on your life.
If you suspect you have a toxic relationship, you are probably right. You’ll realize that you don’t ever want to be around that person, that you can’t be your true self with them, that you don’t trust them, and other people in your life hate them. Don’t second-guess your own intuition.
Spiritual Significance of Toxic Relationships
My all time favorite mantra is this: “As above, so below. As within, so without.” I feel like this mantra thoroughly illustrates the natural state of ALL things. Above us are the stars and planets, all made up of the same elements we are made of, far below them. The outer-world we experience is a perfect mirror reflection of our inner-world.
That means that all the relationships we cultivate with other people will always echo the relationship we have with ourselves. Therefore, our toxic relationships put the spotlight on certain personality traits that are hindering our spiritual/personal growth. And that can be pretty difficult for some people to deal with.
I don’t say this to point fingers or place blame. I just want to remind you that nothing is ever one-sided. Being able to take a step back from a toxic relationship and realize what part of your inner-world is being reflected by that person takes courage! And if you’re reading this blog post, I’m sure you’ve already done this at least once.
Let’s just say you have a coworker that is a horrible chronic liar. You can’t trust a single word that comes out of their mouth. They make up elaborate stories that are completely untrue, yet they will stand by it and act like it is the truth. Plus they have successfully pulled off many lies in the past which only encourages them.
You realize that this person is very toxic because your blood begins to boil when they are around, or even just mentioned in passing. At this point, you have reached a fork in the road. You have to decide if you’re going to allow the toxicity to take over and wreak havoc, or if you’re going to stop and examine on the bigger picture.
Upon further reflection, you start to recognize traits that you don’t like about yourself being expressed within the toxic coworker. Maybe you’ve dabbled in a few lies during your life, which could explain why their lies cut you so deeply. You might feel ashamed/embarrassed about your habit of lying, therefore you absolutely cannot stand that trait in anyone else.
And as soon as you start working on being more honest, that toxic coworker miraculously finds another job. They leave your life forever and you never have to see them ever again. Because of the toxic relationship you had with them, you were able to grow on a personal level and become a better person. You learned your lesson, so the relationship served its purpose.
Ending A Toxic Relationship
Unfortunately, not all toxic relationships end seamlessly and naturally like the above examples. Sometimes they do–and it is a relief. But more often than not, you will have to take steps to remove the negativity from your life for good.
Whether it is a partner, a friend, or a family member, ending a toxic relationship is such a wonderful thing. Granted it can be extremely difficult and painful, but it will always be worth it in the long run.
Your mental health is INVALUABLE, and if anyone even dares to taint it for you, then they need to be gone. They are not doing you any favors if they are depleting your energy and forcing you to be inauthentic to yourself.
Below are some guidelines to follow when it comes time to finally end a toxic relationship:
See your contributions
As stated above, everything is a two-way street. Nothing is ever completely one-sided. If there is a toxic relationship in your life that runs deep, you must accept responsibility for your part. The point isn’t to pin blame. The point is to level the playing field so you can realize what part of your inner-world is being reflected in your outer-world via this toxic relationship. This is a powerful secret weapon!
Find positive social support elsewhere
Everyone deserves unconditional love and support. When ridding your life of toxins, it’s very important to be around people with whom you share a healthy relationship. This will help open your eyes to the reality of the situation and provide the comfort you need at a time like this.
Be objective about the relationship
Take a step out of the relationship and look at it from the point of view of a stranger. What is really going on here? What’s the dynamic? Is there an equal amount of give and take? Are there mutual benefits? Answering these sorts of questions will make it easier to let go and move on.
Learn your lessons
My whole goal in writing this post is to help you realize that toxic relationships exist for the sake of growth and learning. Each situation is totally unique, so you’ll want to really dig deep and think about what lesson the Universe wants you to figure out. Only you can truly know, but once you figure it out, you can break the cycle.
Realize what your emotional needs are
Chances are, this toxic relationship has highlighted areas of your life that are lacking fulfillment. Especially if there are many toxic relationships that are similar to each other. Take the time to be honest with yourself–what do you need out of a relationship in order to feel loved and safe? Once you have answered that question for yourself, you must communicate those needs to whomever it may concern as soon as possible.
Forgive them and yourself
Forgiveness is the ultimate form of love. It’s not about justifying behavior or pretending like nothing happened. Forgiveness is about making the choice to release pain from the past so it will stop affecting your future. You will want to forgive not only the toxic person, but yourself as well. You had a role to play in the relationship just like the other person and you’ve taken responsibility for it. Now it’s time to forgive yourself and the other person for all the mistakes that were made. It will be so liberating for you!
Painful relationships are a part of life that we cannot avoid, nor should we WANT to avoid them. Being intimate and vulnerable with another person definitely has its positives and negatives. But in the end, all those diverse experiences are what make us feel alive and apart of something bigger than ourselves.
There is nothing shameful about toxic relationships, especially not when you have the courage to end them. We all have a few in our lifetimes–and each one will always have a lesson to teach us. Taking this approach is refreshing and much easier than letting the toxic patterns repeat themselves over and over.
I hope this blog post has helped you recognize the warning signs of a toxic relationship and what you can do about it. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below–what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from a toxic relationship? Thanks for reading!