3 Ways a Toxic Relationship Can Open Doors for Growth

*Mini celebration for all the strong men and women that decided to leave a toxic relationship*

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Relationships can be your greatest teacher 

Trust me… I know what it’s like to be in a toxic relationship, and I know what it’s like to leave one.

I had a pattern of getting involved with a guy, moving fast, acting like we had been together for years, and then doing what I had apparently done best… dip OUT.

I admit, I wanted to be seen and accepted for who I was.

But I had to learn that there was a difference between giving information about myself from a place of insecurity and from a place of genuine vulnerability.

I let men in believing they could fulfill this void and I was disappointed each and every single time.

Somehow, I thought that this “void” could be filled by someone or something outside of me.

My boundaries were broken. My deal breakers weren’t honored. And the red flags? They were covered up by my rose-colored glasses.

Because I had to learn how to transform my relationship with the only person that mattered – ME – I truly believe that my relationships have been my greatest teacher. Every relationship challenged me more than the last.

One major realization that I came to: if I am welcoming situations that are far out of alignment with the way that I prefer to live my life, change is needed. If change doesn’t happen within, then it won’t happen out there.

This is how my relationship with myself had leveled up. It was also my first real-world lesson in responsibility; a HUGE ingredient in self-empowerment.

There’s no quicker route to self-empowerment than taking responsibility for your s%^* now, realizing how you contributed to it, and then actually doing something about it.

What it means to be toxic

By toxic, the saying “misery loves company” comes close to how I define it.

Whether they are conscious of it or not, these are the people that are bringing everyone down with them.

They don’t feel whole and complete within themselves. They have a distorted self-perception, so they project them onto other people to cope with it.

They’re unable to stand in their truth, wholeness and completeness.

It takes a strong character for someone to realize that they need to work on themselves and heal from their past hurt in order to be able to contribute to a quality relationship.

Toxic relationship tendencies look like:

  • Emotional dependency
  • Having sex to cover up relationship problems
  • One sided relationship
  • Lacking communication
  • Acting out of integrity for the relationship
  • Pretending the relationship is okay when it’s not
  • Holding each other to past mistakes
  • Bringing out the worst in each other

Relationships were never designed to be perfect because we’re not. It takes two complete people, coming together with the goal of supporting each other through each other’s growth.

I’ll repeat: it takes two complete people. It’s not a 50/50 game, it’s a 100/100.

Relationships can grow stronger when the people in them are committed to their own personal growth, thus overcoming any part of them that contributes to a toxic relationship.

But if one or neither partner is committed to their own personal growth? Then, yeah, growth in the relationship is unlikely to happen.

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How a toxic relationship can contribute to your growth

1. Learning compassion

Compassion is what allows us to understand that everyone has a different background. Everyone has their own share of trauma and hurt.

But here’s the catch: compassion can only be given when self-compassion is present. As we all know that we can not give something that we don’t already have ourselves.

Self compassion is the foundation for dealing with and healing from our own trauma and hurt. We can do this by,

  • Realizing that we are more than our trauma and emotionally triggered responses. Yes, behaviors and identity are two separate things!
  • Developing compassionate self-talk.
  • Maintaining awareness towards our existing self-talk and emotional patterns.
  • Taking responsibility for our contribution to the relationship.
  • Making necessary changes within our own attitude and actions.

Self compassion is the space where self-forgiveness can be born. For example, if we can compassionately understand that our reaction to X, was triggered by an event we had when we were only a child, then forgiving ourselves become natural, no?

Extending compassion also becomes natural once this is understood and practiced.

But, compassion doesn’t disregard accountability. How likely is growth to happen if people aren’t held responsible for their actions? Not very likely.

2. Learning how to honor yourself

We have to be our best selves in order to live our best life. And in order to be that, we must honor ourselves.

Melanie Santos said it beutifully, by not honoring our intuition, we’re saying ‘no’ to our purpose and to the reason that we exist.

I had to learn this the hard way. I was too caught up on what I wanted to be doing and had completely ignored what I should be doing.

If you had asked me back then if I were honoring myself, my answer would have been yes. But my actions? They would have been saying otherwise.

Here’s how to prove, straight through your actions, that you are honoring yourself:

Honor the patterns from the experiences in your life and in others

Everything happens for a reason. One way to determine that reason is to observe patterns. Why do I keep attracting the same type of men? How come I keep getting into toxic relationships? This must mean that something deeper is going on and it would probably be best not to get into another relationship without doing some soul searching.

In addition to noticing the patterns in our life, we can also notice them in others. We can literally tap into the wisdom and experience of someone who has been around longer. This is also a form of honoring ourselves because we’re being open minded to the way we receive guidance, instead of believing that we know everything and therefore have nothing new to learn.

Honor your intuition, hunches and gut feelings

Intuition, hunches, and gut feelings don’t come from our rational mind. They come from the creative and emotional side of our minds (and one of the languages of intuition is ‘patterns’).

While we all have intuition to different degrees, we can all strengthen it by being aware of its presence and by acting on it.

Before I found myself in bed with the very man that I ended up becoming a single mom from, I had a strong, prophetic dream that warned me. Unfortunately, I did not listen.

This lesson, like all others, go beyond getting into toxic relationships.

I once heard about someone who really wanted to move to California, so she went, despite having a dream that had warned her about going. A few months after moving there, she found herself caught up in drugs and bad influences, landing her in jail for life.

For life, y’all.

Ignoring that voice in your head or that feeling in your gut could really cost you just that, and that’s a high price to pay, right?

Honor your red flags and deal breakers

We also honor ourselves by honoring the red flags and deal breakers that come up.

The reason why this is so important is because it takes away the guess work of “is this meant to be?” We’re going strictly based off of bahaviors, here. Anything that raises suspicion isn’t something that should easily be overlooked. And none of that trying to read someone’s mind and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Actions speak.

And anything that falls under a deal breaker is just that, and it should be honored. No letting that slide. I’ll save myself the self-inflicted pain, suffering, and wasted time, thank you very much. #next

FYI: red flags and deal breakers don’t need to be discussed with them. This is between you and you.

3. Learning more about the person in the mirror

We are always given the beautiful opportunity to create ourselves anew. Do you know why? Because we can choose to be the person that we prefer to be.

Relationships happen for a reason; they reflect exactly what we need to experience because they reflect us. Because of this, they allow us to explore and discover more of who we are choosing to be.

Who were you choosing to be when you attracted this toxic relationship and who are you choosing to be in the presence of it?

Reality check: you did contribute to this in one way, shape or form, but the point isn’t to sulk in regret. Instead, it’s to take responsibility for your role. That’s the only way to walk-away the most self-empowered version of yourself.

Are you,

  • Displaying toxic behaviors yourself?
  • Making it okay for someone else to do the same?
  • ot drawing healthy boundaries?

Be real with yourself. That’s the only way to grow.

Last Point to Walk Away With (pun intended)

What is the role of other people in our lives, anyways?

Their role is to help us define ourselves more. We perceive ourselves in comparison to other people and our relationship with them.

Being in a toxic relationship taught me that I ain’t responsible for changing someone else so that they can fit my agenda. I am not here to fix or control anyone.

That caused me way too much pain and suffering.

The key to growth and self-empowerment? I am only responsible for changing, fixing, or controlling myself.

And if someone does not fit in with my personal vision of self-transformation and personal growth, then it may be time to chunk up the deuce. ✌🏼