We all yearn for social relationships, but not every relationship is beneficial to our emotional and mental health. There might be people and personalities you even need to avoid interacting with. This is especially true when you are recovering from mental health problems. You may need to work with mental health experts when navigating challenging relationships during recovery.
Assessing the Health of a Relationship
When a relationship is working out well, both parties will feel fulfilled and happy. That overall positive feeling is a good indicator. The health of a relationship is important to your recovery. You will thrive when a relationship provides a deep connection that is based on mutual respect and trust. Apart from enjoying each other’s company, being able to communicate openly with each other is also a good indicator.
However, if a relationship has been exhausting to maintain or even painful to keep, it might be time to examine what went wrong. For example, you can be in a relationship with someone who is selfish and does not really care about other people’s needs. Or maybe the relationship has become too co-dependent that you cannot have your own space to make decisions. Sometimes, personality disorders are another set of factors regarding challenging relationships that you may not realize.
Identifying Toxic Traits in Challenging Relationships
The word “toxic” is sometimes used to describe the negative influence of one person. He or she could be always difficult to deal with, and their behaviors tend to cause lots of stress for people around them. A toxic personality is someone whose patterns of communication and behaviors always produce negative ripple effects in social circles.
There can be underlying mental health problems to toxic personalities. For example, people with narcissistic personality disorder tend to lack the ability to understand or care about others’ feelings. But because they can also be smart, competent, and successful, these behaviors may just brand such people as selfish.
If you are able to identify some common toxic traits in new relationships, you may save yourself from a lot of unnecessary emotional exhaustion that stems from challenging relationships. Below are a few toxic traits to look out for:
- The tendency to manipulate by twisting your words or making you feel guilty
- Using insults or sarcasm to make you feel bad about yourself
- Being judgmental almost all the time
- The tendency of seeing the negative about everything and everyone
- Patterns of passive aggression by snide comments or sabotaging others’ efforts
- Showing outbursts of anger
- Controlling tendencies to restrict your communication with other people
- Never makes an apology even when he or she is at fault
Creating Boundaries for Self-Protection
When you do not feel fully comfortable around people with these toxic traits, it is essential to prioritize your own emotional and mental health by creating some boundaries. Ask yourself if you need to stop hanging out with this person or reduce the frequency of interactions. Avoid conversations where the person hurls negativity at you.
While trying to set up some relational boundaries, you should also build up your self-confidence. This may mean that you need to learn how to say “no” to some requests. When they cross the line, you may need to verbally communicate the need to distance yourself. Always remember that you do not need to be stuck with a person displaying toxic traits. You deserve to have healthy, not challenging, relationships.
Supporting a Loved One to Change Their Toxic Traits
Many people find it hard to manage toxic personalities because these are their loved ones – it is too painful to cut them off. One bit of good news is that toxic traits can be changed, but this is going to take a lot of work. If your loved one is willing to change, you can help them identify these traits, communicate the impact of these toxic behaviors, and ask them to have more self-awareness in controlling these behaviors.
Meanwhile, if you need time to recover, it is not your responsibility to accompany a loved one through this challenging relationship. There can be deep-rooted trauma in the past that only a professional therapist can help address. For now, your priority is to diligently practice self-care. And if that self-care means you need some time to stay away from a loved one with toxic traits, then do it.
The rationale of self-care is like in an emergency flight situation: You need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping your child put on one. Always trying to be the person who gives in to offenses or sacrifices out of kindness is not self-care. You should be your own number one priority to care for.
If you have been in challenging relationships with toxic personalities in the past, these experiences could have contributed to some current mental health issues. You may need to seek professional help, including guidance from a relationship counselor who can teach you how to set healthy boundaries in life.
Do you face relationship challenges when recovering from a mental health emergency? Are you not sure whether you should maintain a challenging relationship or prioritize your own mental health? Maybe it is time you reach out to mental health professionals who can coach you through this process. The Mindfuli platform excels as a support system for people who are in recovery. We use the latest technology to enhance the collaborative relationship between clients and providers. High connectivity and reliability provided by a therapeutic alliance is what you get from working with Mindfuli. To learn more about our range of virtual mental health services, reach out to us today at (866) 973-4415.