We now live in a world where mental health is paramount, and understanding why mental health is such a primary focus these days is very important. If you stand in a room with 10 people, you can guarantee at least half of them have suffered with poor mental health, perhaps more.
While there are plenty of medical and genetic reasons for mental health illnesses, not all mental health issues come from our biology, and a lot of the time, these issues come from toxic relationships.
As we get older, wiser, and experience more of the world around us, we start to identify relationships around us that are toxic. However, we cannot deal with this forever, and sometimes the best choice is to cut the cord, saving your mental health and helping you to progress in your life.
It is a more common issue that you may think, and that is why today, we will tell you just how you can not only define a toxic relationship, but also how you can cut the cord, and be free from toxic behavior in your life. Find your freedom and peace.
How do you define a toxic relationship?
If a toxic relationship is one that has been around you since childhood, you may find it near impossible to identify.
A lot of mental health issues can be caused by toxic relationships. These relationships can bring about; depression, anxiety, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and more. It is not known well enough just how detrimental toxic relationships can be to our inner peace.
There are some ways that you can identify toxic behaviors and therefore pinpoint a toxic relationship. Here are some examples that will give you an idea of how you can define what is a toxic relationship, so that you can cut ties with the toxic relationship.
- Controlling behavior- This can mean that the person wishes to have control over you, not allowing you to have your own independence.
- Manipulative behavior- This can include gaslighting tendencies, threats, or making you feel sorry for them so that you will do what they want.
- Narcissism/ self-centeredness- This will often mean that your needs and feelings are ignored as the person views themselves as more important.
- Judgmental behavior- If you feel like you are walking on eggshells because the person may criticize you for clothing, sense of humor, interests, and personality traits, then their judgement is toxic.
- Anger- Explosive anger can make you feel unsafe.
- Addiction- Drugs, Alcohol, etc. These can make a person unpredictable and can affect how you view others.
- Gaslighting- Gaslighting can come into many of these categories. Gaslighting is when a person makes you question your thoughts, memories, feelings, and even your surroundings. It can even make you question your own sanity.
These are just a few examples of traits a toxic relationship may feature. Understanding when this behavior is not okay will help you to define the relationship, and then free yourself from it as you cut the cord.
The first step is acceptance
If you grew up with this toxic relationship, i.e. if they were a member of your family, then accepting that it is toxic can be difficult. You want the relationship to be okay, and you do not wish to see them as toxic. However, accepting it will help you to move forward.
It is also key to accept your part in it. None of us are perfect, and sometimes when presented with toxic behavior we can meet it with our own in order to protect ourselves, this is natural, especially in those who have experienced it from youth.
Accepting it may be hard, however, the moment that you can accept the toxic relationship, the more weight will be lifted.
Adapting your mindset
It is important not to view the toxic relationship as one good person and one bad person. Many toxic personality traits come from unresolved trauma, medical conditions, and previous experiences. This can be understood as a cycle of toxicity. If a grandparent suffered trauma, they may have displayed toxic behaviors to their child, the child may grow up and then display the same behaviors as they know no different, this continues. Until cords are cut and the trauma from the toxic relationship is confronted, this cycle is likely to continue.
This is why it is important to adapt your mindset, accepting the toxic nature of the relationship, and then accepting that no party is the victim, and no party is the villain. Blame doesn’t get you anywhere.
Understanding the nature of your relationship will help, and accepting that all parties have a part to play in a relationship is key to how you can then cut the cord.
What is cord cutting?
Cord cutting is the name we give for cutting ties with a person who has a negative impact on our lives.
Let us lead with an example;
If Stephanie has a toxic family member, who tries to manipulate and control her, this may impact her view of herself and the world around her, thus affecting her positive view of the world and her mental health. She may also feel drained around this family member. To save her mental health from the negative impact, she can cut ties with this family member. Removing them from her life and lifting the weight of this toxic relationship. Thus giving her room to improve and grow.
Cord cutting is simply the act of removing the presence of a person from one’s life. This is often done in situations where the person, who has been affected by the toxic relationship, identifies this as a relationship that is affecting their mental health. The person will then decide if they can successfully and happily cut ties with this person, removing them from their life.
It can often be useful to use symbolism to cut ties, you can literally cut a piece of string, or rope to symbolize you removing yourself from the toxic relationship. You could also burn or destroy items in your home that may remind you of the person, this can be useful not only for the symbolism but to completely free you from any emotional attachment the relationship may have holding over you. It can prevent you from returning to the relationship.
Is it always necessary to cut ties?
What if you do not want to cut ties with this person? Is it possible to get involved in a toxic relationship with someone? Yes, it is. However, you must ensure that this decision is the best one for you. It also depends on the nature of the toxic relationship.
For example, if the toxic relationship is one that revolves around traits such as negativity, judgement, or narcissism/ self-centered behavior, then it is possible that you can simply decrease the amount of time that you spend with the person. This can keep the person in your life, while at the same time decreasing the effect that they have on you.
However, if the toxic relationship is one that revolves around traits such as controlling behavior and manipulation, then it is unlikely that this will work as well. The person of whom displays these traits will likely still try to maintain their influence over you, therefore making it more difficult to sustain distance from them. In these scenarios, the act of simply getting distance can be either very difficult or may not work at all. Sadly, in these cases, the only fix is to cut the cord.
In the latter example, this is where physically performing a cord cutting ceremony of some sort will come in handy. Toxic relationships will often persist due to a hope that they will not always be this way.
Oftentimes, you have an emotional attachment to the person. When this is the case, performing a cord cutting ceremony, such as getting rid of their things, or things that remind you of them from your surrounding environment, can be very useful in your attempt to cut ties with them.
If the relationship does not require complete cord cutting, then you can simply decrease time spent with the person, this can apply to any relationship. You can also decrease the amount of time spent around things that may make you think of them. Spending less time with people who you find mentally and emotionally draining will vastly improve your overall health.
How do you cut the cord?
Before you cut any cords, it is important to be as sound of mind as possible. Relax, do this however best suits you. Meditation can be a great way to relax your mind, you could take a bath, or go to your favorite quiet location, perhaps on a forest walk, or sit in your garden for a while.
If you wish to try meditating then here are some tips;
- When meditating, try to sit upright to avoid accidentally falling asleep.
- Focus your mind on nothingness. You can picture a filing cabinet, or doors and lock away intrusive thoughts, to keep your mind clear.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Ensure that you will not be interrupted while you do this.
- Soothing music, incense, candles, or aromatherapy can help you calm your mind.
You can start off by giving yourself a wash before you mentally cut the cord, as a cleansing. Stay hydrated to keep your body calm. It can also help to write down how you feel, you could always write a letter to the person you are cutting ties with, or even just write their name. Make sure that you are comfortable, with peace and quiet around you. Calm your mind and your body, focusing on your breathing.
You can visually cut the ties, imagining it in your mind. You can physically cut rope, string, or burn the letter or paper with their name on it. However, you can always perform a ceremony to cut ties simply by visualizing it, visualization can be very emotionally powerful.
Whichever way you choose to do this, whether it is by visualizing it, or physically performing a cutting of the cord action, feel the release. Sometimes we may not feel like we are fully released, keep on doing this until you feel satisfied and a release from cutting this cord.
Ensure that you spend some time relaxing, meditating, or just clearing your mind afterwards.
Additionally, you can also affirm your actions. You could say something such as;
“I release you from my life, thank you for being a part of my life and my journey. I wish you well on your journey, yet I must sever any ties that do not serve me best. I wish you well, you are free.”
Saying this out loud will not only confirm your mental cutting of ties, but it will also allow you to release pent-up emotions and resentment. Wishing the person well can help you release the resentment and let go of these emotions.
Recovering from a toxic relationship
Once you have cut the ties both emotionally and physically, you will be on the long journey to recovering from enduring a toxic relationship. The nature of the relationship will have a great influence on how you recover.
If the relationship was a short term relationship that you found draining, it will be easier for you to move forward. However, if the relationship was long term, and it impacted your mental health, it will take longer. It doesn’t hurt to seek out help, support from friends, speak to a therapist or your doctor, and spend time with yourself to rediscover who you are without the toxic relationship as part of your life.
The biggest factor in how you recover from having toxicity in your life is to reconnect with yourself, and make sure that you uphold your boundaries and respect yourself. Understand what a healthy and non-toxic relationship can look like, so you avoid any repetition of the past.
Cutting ties is never easy, it can be very hard to do. However, if you decide you need to do this then do so, and ensure that from then on, you make the best decisions for yourself and your mental health.