How to recognise a toxic relationship and rebuild self-compassion

It is never our intention to get into relationships that will turn out to be hurtful and abusive. When we find ourselves in a toxic relationship, it’s because we’ve entered it unconsciously.

There are a number of reasons for this; perhaps because something in us needs to heal from our childhood, we’re trying in some odd way to build our self-esteem by associating with someone we perceive as stronger, smarter, and/or if we see ourselves as empathetic (an empath), we may be trying to help or somehow rescue the other person. In any case, we are not consciously aware that we’re getting into a toxic relationship.

Empaths can easily be drawn into these sorts of relationships when their only intention is in helping the other person escape their misery. Or perhaps they tolerate the abuse simply because they fear they’re not good enough and don’t deserve any better, or maybe they’re afraid they can’t handle life on their own, so they just settle for what they have and continue putting up with being abused and/or treated disrespectfully.

Living this way, their self-esteem and sense of self-worth plunges even lower and so does their health. They feel they can’t tell anyone because they’re too embarrassed and so they suffer alone and in silence.

No two toxic relationships are the same, they come in all forms; and the most difficult thing is that a toxic relationship can sneak up on you out of the blue with no warning.

When couples first start dating, everyone is on their best behaviour so it’s hard to see any warning signs or red flags. And when we do pick up on something a little odd in the beginning, we tend to excuse it by saying, “Well no one’s perfect, so I have to give them a chance.” In my personal experience, it can take up to one year before you really see a person’s true colours. By then you are in your toxic partner’s grip without fully realising it.

This is why it is very important to take any relationship slowly and to let your intuition be your guide.

When you finally do start realising things, you’ll most likely be in denial because you do not want to go through the emotional upheaval of breaking up or maybe you’re just scared. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to escape this kind of situation and look forward with confidence to a healthier happier life.

But you can do this. And if you already have, I commend you.

The first step is to understand and recognize a toxic relationship.

Once you know the signs, you can avoid getting into this kind of relationship or find a way to get out of the one you’re in:

  1. Every aspect of your life is under your partner’s control. You are not allowed to think for yourself, much less do anything on your own.
  1. Your partner makes it clear that he/she needs you for everything.
  1. You are slowly being encouraged to stay away from your family and friends and you’re supposed to spend all your time with your partner.
  1. Your partner is intensely jealous of any success you experience or becomes angry when you’re having a good time with someone else. He/she puts you down and abuses you in front of others and/or behind closed doors.
  1. You seem to be letting your partner have his/her way all the time because you fear displeasing him/her or he/she is forcing you to do things you really don’t want to do.
  1. In public your partner puts on the charm and only lets his/her anger out behind closed doors.

I’ve listed just a half-dozen signs or red flags that point to a toxic relationship, but there are many more.

What now?

The next step is for you to imagine how much better your life could be once you learn the signs and can avoid all toxic relationships or release the one you’re already in.

You can live independently, be free to pursue your dreams, your education, your hobbies, and make new friends without anyone pulling you back to stop you. And you deserve a relationship filled with real love, respect, and kindness.

Your self-esteem and confidence will soar and you will finally reclaim your identity and personal power.

Every relationship in life is some type of spiritual assignment to help build character and provide an avenue for healing. When you leave a toxic relationship it is not a sign of weakness but of empowerment.

Once you’ve said sayonara to a toxic relationship you can begin living life on your own terms and making your own decisions. This won’t come quickly, but you will feel so good about yourself and you’ll strengthen your self-love that you’ll never allow yourself to be involved in a toxic relationship again.

Having said that, make sure you do the work that is required once you’ve left the relationship. Seek the professional help from a coach, mentor, therapist, or stable friend, to support you during this stressful time.

It’s time to treasure yourself.

Please be gentle with yourself – have self-compassion and treat yourself well. You are more aware now than what you were when you first entered this relationship. So please don’t beat yourself over the head or feel embarrassed about it, it only makes things worse.

How Do You Rebuild Self-Compassion?

Firstly, let us understand that self-compassion does not equate to self-pity. When you cultivate self-compassion you are allowing yourself to accept your humanness and to feel and process your pain. Don’t focus on what shouldn’t have happened or why it happened. Instead, get back into the drivers seat and tell yourself that whatever happened, happened, and you are going to use this situation to propel you to greater joy and self-love.

Begin with treating yourself with respect and love:

  • Allow yourself to feel your pain, or whatever emotion you’re currently feeling, and process these feelings. I find journaling a great tool to connect with myself and exercise to move my feelings out from the body as well as prayer.
  • Soothe your words with peace and love: talk to yourself sweetly. Connect with your inner child and tell her how loved and safe she is. And no matter what’s happened, she is still worthy and good enough.
  • Place your hands over your heart and think of someone that you truly love (this could also be an animal). As you think about this person, feel the warmth in your heart and visualize a golden white light at the center of your chest. Keeping this person in your minds eye, see them standing in front of you. The light now enters their heart. Tell them, “I wish you all the love and peace.” Now they are sending that love back to you. Feel that love within your heart, and feel or see the light fill your entire body. Now tell yourself, “May I be filled with love, happiness, and kindness.” Repeat this 3 times.
  • Ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” And give yourself what you need.
  • Call upon God and release a prayer. In your own words, say a prayer and ask to help you have more compassion towards yourself and whatever else you feel guided to say. Assume that your prayer has been answered, because it has.

Have you ended a toxic relationship?

Sometimes when we are in need of some guidance and we come across someone else’s story, it inspires us to make a courageous move in our own life. Let’s empower and support one another in the comments below.