Kellyn Simpkin-Two Girls Walking

Three Ways to Cut Out the Toxic People in Your Life

I remember being younger and pinky promising friends that we would be best friends forever.

When you’re younger promises like this seem easy to keep, but as we get older and life happens, we learn that promises like these aren’t so easy to keep.

I can be a very naïve person, and I choose to believe in the best in people.

These traits can sometimes lead me to stay in friendships and relationships that take a negative toll on my self-esteem and mental health.

I would always make excuses for people or choose to see the positive aspects of the relationship that had once existed.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea that it is OK to end a relationship or friendship, even one with someone you’ve known your whole life or you once called your best friend, because people change.

The relationships we have with people can change over time, but that’s a way of life.

To me it felt wrong to end these relationships with people, but there is only so much effort I can put in before realizing that these people are not returning the favor to try and fix our relationships.

Your own mental health is the most important, and it took me a while to realize this.

When you realize a relationship with anyone in your life is putting pressure on your mental health and doing harm than good, that’s when you should put yourself first.

It might be difficult to imagine how to go about cutting out toxic relationships from without it being a big, dramatic production, but it is possible.

Here are three ways to cut out a toxic relationship from your life in a healthy and mature manner. 

Communicate and be honest 

This might seem like obvious advice, but when I was dealing with a toxic friendship it seemed easier to just continue to make excuses and to  distance myself slowly.

And while this idea of distancing oneself from a problematic relationship seems easiest, I recently learned how much less confusing and being open and honest with people can be, even if it is more uncomfortable.

I have always struggled with confronting people and I honestly hate it;  it makes me feel uneasy.

However,after I’ve had people step all over me in life because I was too nice to say anything, I finally stood up for myself and was upfront about how they were treating me.

While the initial start to the conversation and the lead up to it made my stomach churn, once I actually was truthful about how I felt, it allowed for me and the people in my life to not play games to and address the issues at hand, head on.

It may be awkward when you and the person you are having problems with realize there is no solution and that sometimes people just outgrow one another.

But when you are straightforward, it allows you to say that you tried to fix things or, at the very least, you were able to stand up for yourself and your emotions. 

Find yourself and be open to growth 

Sometimes the toxic relationships and friendships I have been involved with include people that I share friends with, or we were involved in the same activities.

To be constantly around a person that is toxic to you and your mental health can be emotionally draining.

A great solution to this is to try out new activities and branch out and make new friends.

In Psychology Today, therapist Erin Leonard Ph.D. states that a great way to try to distance oneself from a toxic friendship is to, “pursue activities and friendships independent of the toxic friend. Hitch your wagon to a friend with healthier interpersonal capacities.”

When we surround ourselves with new people and hobbies that separate us from the toxic people and relationships in our lives, we allow ourselves to see what being in a healthy environment with healthy people is like and how much better that situation is for our mental health. 

Require actual change 

Often,when we get into fights with people or just tell them that something they are doing is hurting you, there is usually some sort of solution or agreement from one or both people involved to try and make things better.

But as great as these apologies might sound in the moment, they may just be words.

Words without action or intention behind them don’t mean much.

A person can say sorry all day long but if they don’t change their behavior to match their apology, then no actual progress has been made.

It is easy to hear an apology and soften up and believe that things will get better.

When a person does not follow through on their apologies with actual change, it’s time to cut off that toxic relationship.

It is easier to end a toxic relationship or friendship when you have an actual reason as to why you want to cut them off, like no change in their actions toward you after an apology. 

When we are young it’s easy to believe that the friendships and relationships we forge in life will last forever.

But as we get older we meet all kinds of people and experience all sorts of relationships, and get the opportunity to see how we want and deserve to be treated.

It is hard to come to terms with the fact that a person that you once considered so important and close to you in your life could one day be somebody that made you feel less than.

It is even harder to come to terms that not one specific event but simply outgrowing a person and their attitude, could make them toxic for you.

In the end, I hope these three tips help you and remind you that you are worth more than what these toxic relationships make you feel.