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4 Healthy Changes that Come from Ending a Toxic Relationship

4 Healthy Changes that Come from Ending a Toxic Relationship

A meaningful relationship tends to plant its roots very deep in the lives of two people, and it doesn’t stop there, because its influence also extends to families and social life. When those roots are ripped out of the little universe these two people tried so hard to create, things can get really messy.

Ending a long relationship is ugly, no matter what kind of person you are. In my case, it was six years of love and sharing and a bonus year of hatred and hurt. There were dark moments after our breakup when I thought it wasn’t worth it because it was too much anger and frustrations in the end, and both of us were left with deep scars that still haven’t healed.

Although I didn’t believe this – time does heal, and for some, it may take longer to get back on their feet, but it does happen eventually. However, it won’t happen on its own and it’s not simple – it involves a lot of hard work and you need to do it by yourself, because no one else will.

1. Back to Independence

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    Sharing your life with another person can be very beneficial for both sides – managing incomes, planning the future and helping each other out is a wonderful thing, but it does imply mutual trust and that you’ll depend on another person. Both have a tendency to fade out when a relationship has ended.

    Fear is a great factor when the relationship comes to an end – at least it was for me. I completely lost all faith in my skills and my confidence was in the negative spectrum for longer than I’d care to admit. That being said, my decision was impacted by me being afraid that I’m not capable of being on my own.

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    Naturally, that isn’t something I realized right away – it was buried somewhere in my subconscious. Therefore, the very first piece of advice I’d like to give to anyone who’s ending a relationship that became poisonous for both parties is not to run away from solitude and treat it not as being alone but as being independent.

    I’m sure you must remember how excited you were when you first left your parents’ home to make it on your own. Well, this is a chance for another fresh start. Besides, if you can’t trust yourself, chances are you can’t really trust anyone.

    2. Introspection and Growth

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      I was able to see some clarity just before we decided to take different paths in the very next intersection because a single thought filled my mind. I don’t know if I read or heard it sometime earlier, but it came to my memory in the right moment – I won’t get anywhere if I continue repeating the same actions and continue expecting different results.

      The thing is that I did everything in my power to save what we had, but that still wasn’t possible because we were so deep in a rut that we couldn’t help each other out, no matter how much we tried. I was constantly angry with him, and me as well, because it wasn’t clear to me how two smart people who love each other very much can be that helpless.

      The worst feeling I ever experienced is having my hands tied. It seemed like anywhere I move and get my hopes up just for a bit, and it turns out I’m actually going two steps backward. That’s just frustrating, to say the least.

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      Unfortunately, I know a few couples who happen to be my close friends, who have gone through the same things and I had their example (not) to follow. Some of them became impossibly ignorant to the world around them and being unable to realize that their disappointment made them dull, while others fell into despair and started questioning everything because of their insecurities.

      Instead of doing any of those two extremes, I tried to turn to developing introspectiveness. That’s a lie actually; during the first period, I was all about not thinking about the relationship at all, because that made me feel depressed. After that was over, I started thinking about what actually happened. What were the events that lead us to the point of no return?

      I’m not speaking about nostalgia and crying over spilled milk – I tried to use retrospection to my advantage and learn from my own mistakes so that (hopefully) I never have to repeat them again. I’d say this method was fairly successful and that I was able to grow as a person.

      3. You Become Stronger

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        Which brings me to my next point – co-dependence implies weakness. I understand that this might sound a bit bitter, but I have my reasons to be resentful and question this whole philosophy that stands behind monogamy and everything that goes with it.

        My ex and I made a mistake in the very beginning because we started a relationship where there were no adults – we were just a couple of immature children, nothing more. I wouldn’t even dare to deny we had a couple of golden years when we worked as a well-coordinated team and when every problem we encountered was simple to solve. We were each other’s gravity and just being able to feel that kind of connection makes everything that came afterward worth the trouble.

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        However, growing into an adult isn’t easy when you should be one already, and taking responsibility for things that happened in your life feels like being cornered. Obviously, it’s necessary for you to give yourself time to mourn the possible future that’s never going to happen, but you also need to realize that it’s not like anyone died.

        So, you have two different choices here (although only one of them is the right one) – you can either spend the rest of your life as a shadow of a real live person, or you can come out of this stronger and more powerful than you ever were. A variety in experience makes us tough; I know this doesn’t sound very comforting right now, but the fact is that you can learn from this and go into the next relationship prepared for whatever’s coming.

        I read somewhere recently how a significant percentage of relationships are doomed to failure because the two people involved in it spend way too much time and effort working on their other half and thus they neglect themselves, their future individually, and the plans they made as a couple. In order for a relationship to work out, two people need to stand firm on the ground before entering a serious relationship – you shouldn’t be each other’s project, you know. The only project you should be working on is building a future together.

        4. Time to Work on Yourself

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          And now, I’d like for you to be realistic and ask you this one question – what would your future be like if you stayed together? Many couples fool themselves by taking drastic measures in times of despair, like moving in together, getting married and even having kids, in the hope that they will solve their problems.

          All of the aforementioned are temporary solutions which can create an illusion of happiness for a month, a year, or a couple of years at best. If you do have a good reason to break up, something that simply makes you unhappy, you shouldn’t try to cover it up with life changes.

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          Being uncertain of yourself and the decisions you make will reflect on your relationship sooner or later, and trying to sweep the dirt under a brand new carpet doesn’t mean that the nasty will go away. As a matter of fact, it will only multiply and become even more difficult to clean up in time.

          Whether you decide to treat it as a gift or a curse, you are now single and you should use this time to become everything you always wanted to be. Your focus is now on you and you alone, and the vision of your future self is yet to be fashioned; this is something terrifying, difficult and exciting, all at the same time.

          A breakup shouldn’t define who you are, nor should it control your future. Relationships past should be there to make you learn what you really want and teach you not to settle for anything. Be that partner you want for yourself and the pieces of the puzzle will fall in their place eventually.

          Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/fk3XUcfTAvk via pexels.com

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

          How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

          Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

          For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

          But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

          It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

          The Importance of Saying No

          When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

          In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

          Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

          Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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          Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

          “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

          When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

          How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

          It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

          From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

          We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

          And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

          The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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          How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

          Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

          The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

          1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

          Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

          2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

          Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

          3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

          When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

          6 Ways to Start Saying No

          Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

          1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

          One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

          Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

          2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

          Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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          Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

          3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

          Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

          Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

          4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

          Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

          Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

          5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

          When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

          Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

          A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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          6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

          If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

          Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

          Final Thoughts

          Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

          Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

          Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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          Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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