What to do when you outgrow a toxic or dysfunctional person
Everyone wants to be loved unconditionally. That’s the dream. Being accepted for who you are and who you aren’t. Free from expectations, demands, constrictions and judgement.
But that’s not how it works for many of us. Especially if you’re in a relationship with a toxic or dysfunctional person.
If you’re in a relationship that causes you anxiety, depression, resentment, or dismay, you’re most likely in a relationship that operates by the “dysfunctional relationship rules”.
I grew up in a family like this. And there were a lot of rules.
There are many types of dysfunctional relationships: parent/child, husband/wife, sibling, partners, friendships, coworker/employee, and on and on.
But one thing remains, most of the rules are the same.
And if you’re born into the “family rules”, you’re much likelier to transfer those rules onto others or follow them in your subsequent relationships.
I don’t have a lock on the rules.
I’m going to share what I’ve learned from being a student of codependency for the last 20 years. Most of these are inspired by Melody Beattie ,Harriet Lerner or literature on ACoA. (Adult Children of Alcoholics).
- Don’t have feelings and if you do, don’t talk about them.
- If you notice a problem, don’t point it out and don’t have an opinion it.
- Don’t rock the boat, disturb the “peace”, or make waves. Just go with the flow.
- Don’t get too big for your britches, think too highly of yourself, or toot your own horn. You’re not who you think you are.
- Don’t be selfish or think of yourself. Put everyone else’s needs before your own.
- Don’t let your hair down, relax, or have fun. There’s work to do. Stand guard.
- Don’t trust anyone except your family. Trust them, even though they’re hurting you.
- Stay put. Suck it up. Be strong. Weakness is not allowed. Stay loyal.
- Nothing good ever happens. And if it does, it doesn’t happen to you.
- Question your own judgement and ignore your intuition. You’re wrong. They’re right.
I’m sure you can probably think of your own as well. And if you do, please share them in a comment.
For now, let’s talk about what happens when you violate a “rule.”
Let’s say that you start to grow. And one day you have an awakening that you deserve more than what you’ve been selling for.
For me, it was the recognition that I was unwilling to suppress my emotions. I was going to have reactions, opinions, and feelings around other’s behavior. I spent years suppressing my emotions.
Someone would do something hurtful to me and the old rule of “don’t feel” would kick in and then I’d stuff it down. I’d pretend not to be hurt.
Then, I’d either spend time plotting how to make my feelings known through passive aggressive ways or I’d ultimately end up numbing my feelings somehow though shopping, drinking, eating or isolating.
The truth is, you’re not avoiding pain when you follow the rules.
You’re avoiding “their pain”. But you? You’re hurting.
Likely what happens once you violate a rule is that there’s an attempt to put you back in line.
The person will do a multitude of things to punish you. They’ll shame you, reject you, abandon you, threaten to abandon you, and most likely play the victim.
They’ll gaslight you, attempting to convive you that you have made a terrible error in judgement.
For example, let’s say someone does something hurtful to you and you decide you’re going to have a feeling about it or a worse offence, tell the person about your feelings.
And they immediately launch into, “You should not feel that way. It’s not normal that you feel that way. And your feeling are hurting me. If you were a “normal” person, you wouldn’t be reacting this way and you would be fine.”
Suddenly, you start to question your own sanity.
If the toxic or dysfunctional person has abandoned or rejected you and you launch into the 6 stages of grief, surely you will spend most of your time in that bargaining stage, wondering what you did wrong and how you could have avoided all this.
Back to the rules.
The lie is that if you keep playing by the rules, you avoid pain. That is simply not true.
The rules are the source of the pain. Period.
When you realize you need to break free, you wake up.
You start to realize that not everyone in the world plays by these rules. And you set about the journey back to sanity.
The truth is, it’s a confusing walk.
You wonder, “Am I doing this right?”
“Should I just accept the toxic person for who they are?”
“Am I being unreasonable?”
“Will anyone ever love me unconditionally? Maybe this was as good as it gets?”
Then, you get lonely, blame yourself for their behavior and end up reaching out.
And the cycle starts all over again.
I’m going to give you 4 tips today to help you stay on the path to codependency recovery through self-love.
But let’s be real, you cannot change though awareness alone. Awareness is the first step. But in order to make true and lasting change, you need a system and accountability.
That’s why I created my step by step system called LYFE School. It’s a 3 month immersive experience designed to equip and empower you with the tolls you need to love yourself first. It’s a step by step process to end all toxic and dysfunctional relationships. And it will teach you how to create the relationships you truly deserve.
In the meantime, let’s dive into the 4 tips that will help you when you’ve outgrown someone. I’m going to use the acronym GROW.
- G for Get Real.
Change begins with awareness. And in this case, that means being unwilling to see your situation the same old way. That includes, minimizing, rationalizing, or justifying someone’s bad behavior. Compassion is your super power. But as I have said in previous writings, there is a such thing as Toxic Compassion. And that’s when you get so good at making sense of other’s bad behavior that you continue to tolerate it.
You have to be willing to see things from a new perspective. In LYFE School, one of the processes I walk you through is designed to get absolute clarity on the person they are dealing with.
That means, seeing them for who they really are versus the role you expect them to play in your life.
There is such immense freedom in allowing people to be who they are and simply deciding how you’re going to participate with them.
I know, easier said than done. Especially when this person is you mother, or father, or child, or partner.
But continuing to expect your loved one to love you the way you deserve to be loved is like expecting a man with no legs to walk.
When you fully understand who you’re dealing with, you take the blinders off and get real.
You deal in reality versus righteousness.
Look, I know you’re a good person! You know how people should behave and how they should treat people. But that’s not what you have. You have a person who behaves the way they behave, not the way YOU think they should behave.
Once you Get Real, you start to operate from a position of power because clarity is power.
Without it, you’re driving in the dark, without headlights, blindfolded.
- R. Release the hostage.
When you feel like a prisoner to the need for other’s approval, it’s time to realize you hold the key to your release.
No one will set you free but you. You need to release the hostages.
In this case, you’ve realized that the person you’re expecting to love you cannot love you the way you deserve. Let. Them. Go.
Stop waiting for them to “get it.”
Stop waiting for them to see your value. You see your value.
If you’ve gone through the process with me, this will be an easy step. You’ll have an understanding unlike anything you’ve ever had.
If you’re trying to do this on your own, it will be much harder because you’ll keep expecting the person to change.
You want to know something? This might sound crazy coming from a life coach. But people don’t really change- They evolve closer to their true nature.
Changing implies that they can be one way and radically shift who they are at their core. Kind of like Scrooge.
But Scrooge only “changed” because he remembered who he really was. Not because he became someone he wasn’t.
Hear me. People are who they are. They may take a detour from their true nature, engaging in addiction or dysfunction. They may even stay there. But if they get well, they will only return to their true nature.
If without addiction they were anxious, depressed, or mean, then without drugs and alcohol, they will be anxious, depressed and mean.
When I was working in treatment as a life coach and counselor, I created and facilitated a family program for loved ones of addicts and alcoholics.
Hundreds of people went though that program.
And one after the other, they expected their loved one to radically change once they got sober.
But what happened?
They still had problems. They still had all the issues that led to the drinking and drugging in the first place.
In other words, the using wasn’t the problem, it was the solution to the pain they were already in.
And you want to know the crazy thing?
Many times, the pain came from the RULES we talked about earlier.
So, even with them, it was about learning NEW RULES. I taught them the 7 I teach in LYFE School.
With the new rules, they were able to return closer to who they really are.
And so can you! You can become who you are meant to be! But in order to do that, you have to get out of the prison you’re in of delusional and wishful thinking.
3. Own your shit
You can’t see others clearly without being willing to see yourself the same way. As I have heard said, true enlightenment is being able to see through your own bullshit.
So, what’s the real reason you stick around for this bad behavior? Why do you keep going back for more of the same? What prevents you from taking a stand and setting boundaries? Why do you get paralyzed or sucked back in?
We can go on and on with hypothesis. But the truth is, you don’t love yourself enough to walk away and stay gone.
Your unworthiness is getting in the way.
You want their approval and acceptance more than you want peace and authentic happiness.
So, you might get this. You see that you need to learn to love yourself.
In fact, when I was working as a teacher and life coach in one of the worlds leading drug and alcohol treatment centers I coached thousands of people ho were in toxic relationships.
They kept going back, kept getting hurt and then would numb their pain,
They grew up in extremely dysfunctional households.
I would ask day after day, “what’s the one thing you can learn that would change your life forever? That would set you free from all self destructive behavior and free you from all dysfunction?”
And time after time, they all said some version of, “I need to learn to love myself.”
You know what the problem is?
We know this, but we don’t know HOW to do this.
Most people conflate self-care with self-love. But here’s the truth…there aren’t enough bath bombs in the world to cover up a deep seated feeling of inadequacy.
You can’t expect to walk out of a salon feeling worthy, though most marketing would have you believe it.
You need a step by step system. At least I know I did! And when I created my signature system that I teach inside of life school, and I applied the 7 self-love steps, I freed myself.
I freed myself from the need to be loved by people I know can’t.
Does it hurt?
Of course, sometimes it’s extremely painful. But now I have the tools to cope. And it passes.
And I’m happier.
And after my students started applying the 7 steps, their lives radically changed too!
But in order for anything to change, you have to own your own shit.
You have to be willing to say, “I see that I have not loved myself enough. I see that I was following the old rules about putting everyone else before me.”
You have to be willing to recognize that how you love yourself is a mirror to what you will tolerate from others. Love yourself more, tolerate less bullshit. Period. Be free. Be happy. Attract only those who love you unconditionally.
But you have to allow me to come along side of you and teach YOU how to love YOU unconditionally.
- W. Work . Have you heard the saying, “before enlightenment chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood carry water?”
It’s a good one because it reminds us that insight without action is useless.
Maybe you’ve read this today or watched the video and thought, “I get it!” and the light bulb went off.
I live for those moments and nothing brings me more joy than to hear my clients tell me they never thought of something the way I was able to out it to them.
But even my ego knows better.
Because without working at staying well, we regress.
It’s the natural state of affairs.
Think about it this way, you can have the awakening that you need to lose 100 pounds, but unless you eat the salad or climb the stairs, that weight is staying put.
And let’s say you do all the things to lose the weight, you have to continue to maintain.
And as it’s been said, you’re wither working on your recovery, or you’re working on your relapse
We go back to what we don’t want because we think there’s nothing better for us.
How do you fix that?
You work on your self-esteem. You go to work on loving yourself first, for a change.
You follow my 7 new rules to replace the old ones and you practice them until they become a part of who you are.
You implement the self love system into you life.
Sure, you can try and figure this out on your own.
That’s what I did to create the system in the first place.
I was a slave to other’s opinions. I craved love from people I knew secretly hated me. And it was torture.
It took me 20 years to figure it out.
I don’t want that for you. Take the path of least resistance for once and follow me. I have a shortcut.
I hope to see you inside of LYFE School
We are breaking the cycle and changing the world! Watch the video below.