“I look tired and feel fat.” “I have no energy and still have so much to do.” “Everyone else seems to have it all together and I struggle with even the basics of everyday life.” You don’t look the way you want to look, act the way you wish you’d act, and “mom” the way you wish you’d “mom.”
Sound familiar? Most of us have been in, or are currently in, this toxic relationship with … OURSELVES. It’s unhealthy and perpetuates habits of thoughts and actions that become engrained in who we are. We focus on what we do wrong, what our spouses and kids do wrong, what is not done to our standards and likings, and what falls short in comparison to all the perfection we see in the social-media-rose-colored glasses.
The root cause of our toxic relationship is likely due to self-inflicted, small, destructive habits that we have built slowly over time. Whether learned behavior from our childhood and environments, or a result of coping from stressful situations, we all have habits that are not ideal, and these habits can become poisonous to our potential and happiness.
I’m not talking about bad habits like not drinking enough water or eating bad foods or biting your nails. No, let’s go a bit deeper than that – let’s confront those hidden, toxic habits inside your head. That’s right, the thoughts that you let consume you and fester until you manifest them in your words, actions, and relationships. These habits are less visible to the outside, but cause far more damage to your happiness than biting a fingernail ever could. And don’t be naïve, your family feels the weight of your heavy thoughts. They may tiptoe around topics, alter their behaviors and avoid conversations, all in efforts to keep you from reacting to your own negativity.
But there’s hope for healing, and it’s as easy as building a new habit. Ok, ok, it’s not THAT easy. But it is indeed possible, if you’re ready to break up with your toxic self.
Take a chance on your happiness, do something different to jolt your routines, and try one or all of these steps toward restoring a healthy relationship with yourself.
1) Take an inventory of your “why’s”
Why do I react a certain way to triggers, why do I instantly think something negative when I look in the mirror, why do I criticize my husband’s flaws, why do I speak negativity into my life? You don’t have to answer these questions alone. Baton Rouge has some amazing therapists that can help you on your journey. Many health insurances cover appointments, and many employers offer EAP programs that give you up to 3 free appointments if needed. Take advantage of the experts that help people every single day. Excuses not to only feed your toxic relationship with more reason to stay. Don’t have a therapist? Start your search journey here.
2) Read and listen to things that reinforce building good habits
The more you allow positive things to occupy your mind, the less time your mind has to spend on your negative thought habits. A couple of my favorite reads that made huge impacts on my own life include Atomic Habits by James Clear, Stop Doing That Sh*t by Gary John Bishop, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
3) Make yourself accountable, even if it means addressing your bad thoughts head-on
My husband is my absolute best friend, and I surround myself only with friends and family that are genuinely interested in my well-being. They are willing to listen to my “why’s” because I’m willing to communicate them. Once I become aware of my habitual thoughts, and I’ve done the work to understand the root of where those thoughts were born, I can help others better understand me and why I have such a toxic relationship with myself. My spouse and loved ones can help me with my journey, in both reassuring me and holding me accountable. No one ever wants to hear that they are being irrational or that their feelings and thoughts are invalid. But if I’m trying to break a bad habit, sometimes I NEED to hear these things, out of love of course, so that I can make efforts to change.
4) Give yourself some grace and rejoice when even small changes happen.
You are human, and habits are tough to conquer. And walking away from toxic relationships can sometimes leave scars, but you’ve got this! One day, one thought at a time.
You are not alone. Everyone reading this has likely struggled, and we can all use a little more encouragement in our times of transformation. Don’t give up!