Category Archives: Self-Help & Introspection

How to Heal Yourself from the Damage of a Toxic Relationship (Part 1)

by Shrishthi Brahmarupa

Note: This article is a guide to self-healing from a spiritual perspective.

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Unless you’ve been meditating in the Himalayan forests your whole life, you’ve probably encountered toxic people and had relationships with some of them. In some cases, you may have realized the danger early in, and at other times you didn’t until it was too late. Some of us are still involved with toxic people, as it’s not always a straightforward thing to put an end to relationships. You’re probably reading this because you’ve been hurt, damaged or abused by a toxic person. Perhaps you’re still in a relationship with said person and need some help.

Toxic people can destroy lives (both their own and those of others) in unbelievable ways. You may absorb their negative energy over time without realizing it, carrying it with you like an undetected malignant cancer. Toxic people can cause you to spiral downwards into depression, question your sanity or start blaming yourself even when you know you’re not at fault.

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For instance, if you were involved with someone who has any variation of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), you may realize too late that the psychological damage has gone far too deep for you crawl out of the mess easily (for instance, if you were involved with a Covert Narcissist, and the signs were not always clear). If you had parents who were emotionally abusive or damaging in any way, the early psychological trauma can haunt you well into adulthood.

The Internet is chock-full of articles on similar topics: how to recover from psychological damage inflicted by toxic personality types, how to identify people with personality disorders and so on. I will keep this series of articles as simple as I can. I genuinely hope something here will help you gain perspective on your situation, as well as help you on your path to recovery.

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What’s a Toxic Person?

In a nutshell, this is someone who has an overwhelming amount of negative energy about them. Their very presence is energetically damaging to others. They may appear initially to be nice, well-put-together people, but this facade doesn’t last long. Simply observe them over time and you’ll be able to tell.

They can drain people of positive energy very quickly. Toxic people may complain, whine, nag, gossip or backstab others regularly. Some types love to put people down, belittle them or find ways to make others feel bad, small or insignificant. Often, they are bullies, narcissists or both.

This type of person can be anyone in your life, even someone from your past. It could be one or both of your parents. It could be your spouse, girlfriend, partner, teacher, boss, best friend or a relative. It could be every single person in your family.

It may even be you. You may have become a toxic person as a result of being subjected to repeated abuse or negativity in childhood, or any other damaging incident that happened in your past.

However, before coming to the conclusion that a person is truly ‘toxic’, ask yourself if they’re just going through a temporary negative phase or if they’re genuinely toxic people. Toxic people tend to have a lingering bad energy about them most of the time – almost no one feels good in their presence for long. Either that, or they keep engaging in repetitive damaging behaviors such as those listed above.

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A simple Google search will reveal the many types of damaging personalities there are out there. For the purpose of this article, I will simplify the meaning of ‘toxic person’ : someone who constantly causes mental and / or emotional damage to others without any valid reason.

Part 1: How to Start the Self-Healing Process

Never underestimate your own ability to heal yourself and others. By simply learning how to channel and direct energies accordingly as well as developing the right mindset, you can harness positive vibrations and use it to heal yourself. This wisdom goes beyond this article; it is applicable to many situations in life.

Here’s the first part on how to start self-healing from the damage of a toxic relationship. You may repeat this process as often as you like, but I suggest following the order listed below each time.

Here, we’ll let the toxic person fade away into the background for a bit while we focus solely on you. You, me, us. This is our journey, and it will be a positive one all the way.

Step 1# Find a safe way to release any pent-up negative energy

You simply cannot think straight when you’re angry or hurting inside. If you’ve been badly affected by a toxic person in your life, it’s very likely that you have a lot of pent-up negative energy within you, perhaps frustrations that go deep and strong emotions you don’t truly understand.

Your abilities to reason, rationalize and analyze go down the drain when you’re suppressing negative energy. Therefore, find a way to release those bad vibes before you even attempt to do anything else. It can be any activity that works for you.

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You could have an intense workout session, go for a grueling mountain hike, hit a punching bag for an hour, do some power yoga – really, anything you choose. I strongly suggest you pick an activity that will lead to you being physically spent.

When you’re too tired to keep going about in your mental loop of negativity, you can take a break before moving on to the next step in this list. As always, consider your level of fitness and choose your activity accordingly – your safety is always priority.

Step 2# Set aside some quiet time to think and reflect

Get some pens, plenty of paper (or better yet, a journal to document your journey to recovery) and find a place where you won’t be disturbed. You can use a laptop, but I always recommend old-fashioned pen and paper for this. Keep some snacks and drinks nearby. It’s crucial that you be alone for this to work, as you need time for deep thinking, inner reflection and introspection.

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You can pick any location that’s comfortable for you – a room, café, church, temple, library, park, by a lakeside etc. as long as you won’t be disturbed for the duration of this session (no family members, friends or pets). I suggest that you allocate a minimum of an hour for this activity. I find that two hours per session works great for me. When I have ample time to think and don’t have to rush, my thoughts flow easily and I have better clarity.

I tend to switch to a meditative state when I do this. It helps tremendously in clearing away outward distractions to solely focus inward.

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Step 3# Start thinking and jotting things down

This exercise will teach you a lot about yourself. It may seem simple, but remember that there’s often great depth in simplicity.

I find that it’s quite beneficial to physically WRITE things down. Doing so gives you interesting results and insight about yourself. For instance, I realize that I get more clarity when everything is down on paper instead of a big swirling chaos in my head.

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You may notice just how much your mind is trying to deal with all at once. You may be surprised to see that your hand reveals deep things about yourself that you may not even realize, merely with the aid of a writing instrument. So, go ahead and write. See what unfolds. Learn about YOU.

There’s no need to go into complex methods, especially if all this is new to you. Forget about all the difficult and complicated psychology stuff. Keep it simple.

What works for me is this: I mentally role-play as my own psychiatrist, asking myself questions. Then, I write down those questions (about 5 to 10, sometimes up to 20). Once I’m done, I reflect on each question and jot down my answers / thoughts below them in point form.

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Examples of useful questions to ask yourself:

  • Who is the toxic person in my life?
  • Who are the toxic people in my life?
  • Why do I think this person is toxic?
  • How have I been affected / damaged by this person?
  • What has this person done that has negatively affected me?
  • How do I feel about this person now?
  • What has this person done to damage me?
  • Do I need to talk to someone to gain more perspective?
  • How long have I been a victim of this toxic person?
  • Did any mental or emotional abuse start in my childhood?
  • What are all the emotions I’m feeling right now?
  • Am I avoiding facing up to certain truths because I’ve been made to feel guilty?
  • Is someone in my life guilt-tripping me? Is this causing me to suppress my real feelings and emotions?
  • Is all this too much for me to handle alone? Do I need professional help?

Be completely honest with yourself. Be like a child. What you pen down is for your eyes only. Remember, until you bring everything out into the open, until you acknowledge and accept the damage and pain, you can’t begin your healing process.

So go ahead, let yourself loose and take it all out on paper. If you’re afraid what you pen down may be discovered by the toxic person, you can use codes or pseudonyms only you would understand.

Step 4# Take a short break

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Once you’re done writing down your questions and answers, take a short mental break (about 10-15 minutes). You can do a short session of meditation if you wish. This is important so your mind can digest and process the information from your recent activity. Also, it helps you calm down – your thought process may have been emotionally difficult or painful, especially if you’ve had to revisit unpleasant memories or relive traumatizing incidents.

Step 5# Reflect on your questions and answers

Take a good, long look at your questions and answers from a neutral standpoint. Don’t judge or second-guess yourself at this point. Just study what you’ve put down on paper. See what you can learn about yourself. Again, keep it simple – forget about complicated concepts and theories. This is an exercise in self-awareness so you can embark on your own journey of self-healing.

Do you notice any patterns about your thoughts, feelings or emotions, perhaps things you’ve not realized before? How do you feel reading about your honest thoughts and feelings on paper? How deeply have you been affected by said toxic person (or toxic people)? Was your childhood affected?

Reflect a little more on how you feel after seeing everything you’ve put down on paper. You may make more notes on a separate piece of paper if you wish.

Conclusion of Part 1

Finally, gather everything up and put them away safely – papers, pens, journal and all. Pack up and leave your spot. Do nothing more at this point. This concludes the first part on how to heal from the damage of a toxic relationship.

Note: Remember to write the date on your paper(s) or journal page, as it will be helpful for future reference.

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You might be puzzled as to why this session ends without any follow-up action. There’s a good reason for this.

The subconscious mind plays a big role in self-healing. It is often ignored or overlooked in most self-help articles. It is linked to many crucial things, such as intuition and instinct. Your subconscious mind holds the key to deep, highly spiritual  parts of yourself.

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By performing this seemingly simple activity, you’ve given your subconscious mind plenty to work on. You’re acknowledging the power of your inner self and engaging it to work for you. Your subconscious will need some time to process the information properly before it can begin to act as your healer and guide, to help you discover your personal methods of self-healing.

Respectfully tell your subconscious mind that you need help, and that you’ve laid all your cards on the table. That’s all you need to do to get your inner mechanisms working.

Give yourself a 3-to-7-day break before you start on Part 2. From this point on, stop contacting the toxic person (or people) you’ve listed down in your worksheets.

If contact is unavoidable (such as if you have a child together), keep it to a bare minimum. You’ll need peace of mind to really look inward and start healing. The last thing you want is more of the toxic person’s negative energy in your life when you’re trying to work on you.

Don’t give them any more of your energy unless absolutely necessary – you now need that energy for yourself.

Upcoming Article:

How to Heal Yourself from the Damage of a Toxic Relationship (Part 2)