Toxic Relationships

As this year comes to an end, so many of us are looking at the things in our lives that fit and don't fit anymore. In an effort to help each of us as we examine the people that we still want and need in our lives, I wanted to share this information.

I found an article entitled "Confronting Your Toxic Relationships" authored by Cheryl Richardson, a life coach, in an Oprah magazine originally published on October 9, 2000. In Cheryl Richardson's book, "Take Time for Your Own Life", she sets forth a quiz to help identify toxic relationships. These questions are paraphrased below:

First, write down the name of a person in your life you suspect may be "toxic". Then ask yourself :

1.Can I be myself with this person? Do I feel accepted by him/her?
2.Is this person critical or judgmental of me?
3.Does the relationship provide an even give-and-take exchange of energy?
4.Do I feel upbeat and energized when I'm around this person, or depleted and drained?
5.Does this person share my values? My level of integrity?
6. Is this person committed to our relationship?
7.Can this person celebrate my success?
8.Do I feel good about myself when I'm with this person?

After answering the above questions, you may realize that the relationships you have with some individuals constantly drain your energy in both obvious and subtle ways. There seem to be different types of people who are exhausting or who seem to deter you from your path to living a happier, healthier life. The people you suspect--or know--to be toxic will likely fall in to one or more of six categories, described by Richardson below:

1.The Blamer :
This person likes to hear his own voice. He constantly complains about what isn't working in his life and yet gets energy from complaining and dumping his frustrations on you.

2.The Drainer
This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever she needs to feel better in the moment. Because of her neediness, the conversation often revolves around her, and you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you during the conversation.

3.The Shamer
This person can be hazardous to your health. The shamer may cut you off, put you down, reprimand you, or make fun of your or your ideas in front of others. He often ignores your boundaries and may try to convince you that his criticism is for you own good. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity before his.

4.The Discounter:
This is the person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, she has a strong need to be right and can find fault with any position. It can be exhausting to have a conversation with the discounter, so eventually you end up giving in and deciding to just listen.

5.The Gossip
This person avoids intimacy by talking about other behind their backs. The gossip gets energy from relaying stories, opinions, and the latest "scoop." By gossiping about others, he creates a lack of safety in his relationships, whether he realizes it or not. After all, if he'll talk about someone else, he'll talk about you.

Now that the relationships have been identified, it's time to decide if they can be repaired, reshaped, or resolved. Fortunately, Richardson has set forth a script for this process, outlined below:

1. Set the stage.
"In an effort to honor our relationship, I need to tell you the truth..."

2. Follow up with how you feel.
"When you _______ it makes me feel ______..."

3. Then ask your family member or friend.
"Are you willing to stop doing that?"

Now that you you know how to identify and handle these relationships, you can go about repairing, reshaping, resolving...or even reconciling with yourself that it's not worth any of those things and it's okay to move on. Best of luck clearing the toxic relationships from your life!


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