I received an email from someone who was very angry with me. She said “You should be ashamed of yourself for teaching that it is okay to break ties with family!“
She was referencing an episode I did on toxic family members and how I said if they are too toxic to be around that it’s okay to part ways with them.
In the episode, I pointed out that when you’ve tried to work things out with certain family members but they continue to be hurtful or harmful to you or your family, then it might be time to honor yourself and disconnect for a while, or longer.
The woman who wrote to me went on to ask “What about the relationship they need with you? What about how they busted their hump to give you the life you have now?“
She called me selfish and said that she was going to tell everyone she knew not to listen to my show. I wrote back and thanked her for the message.
Yes, I thanked her – and I meant it.
When you are so passionate about a belief that you are willing to put yourself out there, throw everything on the table, and tell someone:
This is who I am and this is what I believe and you are 100% wrong!
I think that’s quite courageous.
It may not always be the most tactful method of conveying your thoughts, but it does take courage to put yourself out there like that. I can only imagine, and hope, that she has this very same response with toxic people that enter her life.
But I wonder if she does.
Imagine if we could all be so bold and courageous to tell toxic people how much we dislike how they show up in our life?
I’m not recommending it as a productive way to communicate. In fact, this way of expressing yourself could work against you, depending on who you’re dealing with. But I do honor people that aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in and say what they mean.
The woman who wrote to me said she fears a world where someone like me would call themselves a “life coach” (a term I don’t use, but I get the sentiment).
I honor her passion and ability to speak her mind. However, I also honor myself and refuse to believe that anyone should ever endure prolonged toxic behavior from anyone.
When communication gets to the point where one person will not stop their barrage of negativity toward you, something has to give eventually.
One person in a relationship like this might just have to walk away in order for it to stop. When the person on the receiving end of the negativity makes that choice, the toxic person may feel as if they’ve won.
However the reality is when you walk away from someone like that who just won’t stop emotionally wounding you, you win.
I decided to walk away from my relationship I had with my stepfather. Years ago I cut him off and I no longer communicate with him.
I didn’t break ties because I was afraid of him or didn’t know how to deal with him, I walked away for one reason:
I value me and he doesn’t.
You should not endure someone who doesn’t value you.
Sometimes you have to show people how you prefer to be treated by treating yourself that way.
There are many different types of toxic behaviors that can be emotionally draining. There may be people in your life that:
- prefer to keep the chaos alive instead of finding solutions
- don’t care about creating a better relationship with you, they just care about themselves
- think the world is out to get them and will throw you into that belief system too
- want more from you than you can give, and they won’t back down
And with some people, you just have to walk away to give them a chance to rethink how they treat you.
That is, I believe, what caused that woman who wrote to me to come off so angrily. She didn’t like the idea that if someone doesn’t honor you honoring yourself that you should just walk away.
She has every right to feel that way. But I do wonder about the quality of her relationships, and if she is happy.
It’s possible she could have the most amazing relationships and the best life possible, I don’t know. Her email to me makes me think otherwise.
What I got from her message was that perhaps she was brought up to believe you keep people in your life no matter how they treat you.
I don’t think this is a healthy perspective at all.
I’ve learned that the more I am around people that have only their best interest in mind, and don’t care if their behavior toward me or others is harmful, the more I suffer by keeping them in my life.
You can try working things out with some toxic people until you’re blue in the face, but many don’t want to change and very few will ever want to meet you in the middle.
Some people just want what they want, and there’s no getting through to them. They only care about themselves and have no interest in your mental health or happiness.
To those people, I believe it’s okay to say, “I love you, and I wish you well” as you walk away from them. Distancing yourself from people that don’t care if they are hurting you or not frees your time and energy to invest in other relationships that are mutually beneficial, and not draining to your soul.
Not every relationship is easy to walk away from, but it’s often harder to stay in ones that aren’t healthy.
What’s most important is getting to that empowered place inside you that gives you the most clarity to make the right decisions for you. Once there, nothing will stop you because you will know exactly what you want for yourself. And you won’t stop until you get it.
Kindness and respect shouldn’t have to be something you have to beg for.
When those things are hard to come by, maybe you’re looking for them from the wrong people.
If you really want to create better relationships in your life, and are tired of dealing with the toxic behavior of certain people, create an unwavering declaration that allows you to keep your power and remind you of the type of people that you do want in your life.
The declaration I use is this:
I will not accept anything less than kindness and respect.
When you choose to proclaim a declaration like that, you set in motion a series of events that changes your life forever. It doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges along the way. After all, emotional strength is harder to build without the challenges.
But when you use an empowering declaration as a beacon that guides you at every point of decision, you’ll find your life turning out in a way that supports and nurtures you and those you love.
Never get stuck in the fear of making the right decisions for you. Every decision that originates from fear increases the gap between you and your happiness.
You deserve nothing less than kindness and respect from others. When you choose to declare that, you give everyone an opportunity to show those things to you.
Then, when certain people choose to be disrespectful and unkind toward you, you have the opportunity to show kindness and respect to yourself by letting them go.
Breaking ties with toxic family members isn’t always the easiest road to travel, but it can often be the most healing.
For more on handling toxic relationships, tune into the Love and Abuse podcast.