Toxic people can wreck havoc in our lives so think carefully before inviting them back in
Have you ever broken off a relationship with someone because you knew they weren’t healthy for you only to find yourself questioning your decision a few months later?
Whether it’s an intimate relationship, a family member, or a friendship when we finally decide to break away from a situation that isn’t good for us we can feel an enormous amount of relief that the struggle is finally over.
For many months afterward, we may feel lighter and freer than we’ve felt in a long time. It can feel like all the exhaustion and stress that this relationship caused is leaving our body and the more time that passes the more we can feel ourselves returning to who we once were.
Coming home to ourselves after a long time away and rediscovering who we are without this relationship in our lives can be a deeply moving and beautiful experience.
But it is not without its challenges for as we journey deeper inward and our lives empty of relationships that were not a vibrational match for us we can find that all the space being created in our lives is often accompanied by an acute sense of our aloneness.
That feeling of being alone can spark a sense of panic in us. Why? Because we’re not taught how to be with ourselves. We’re not taught how to listen to the thoughts and feelings that arise in the stillness or to tune into what they’re trying to teach us. We’re told to run from ourselves. We’re taught that being alone is scary. We’re taught to fill up our days and to always be busy. We’re a society that is all about the doing at great expense of the being.
It’s easy to mistake our aloneness for loneliness and it’s even easier to think that the reason we feel the way we do is that we made a mistake removing that toxic relationship from our lives. Often, it’s months down the line when we’re starting to feel more like our old selves that we need to be the most vigilant in ensuring we don’t make decisions that are going to cause us further harm in the long run.
If you previously removed someone from your life for your own health and well-being and are considering renewing that relationship then here are three questions to ask yourself before making that decision.
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1) Do you miss this person or do you miss what they represent?
It pays to give this one a lot of thought because often we’re inviting someone back into our life not because we miss them but because they are in some way symbolic of what we deeply desire to have in our lives.
If you’ve been through an experience of walking away from someone you love who wasn’t good for you then you know what it feels like when those waves of longing and nostalgia come crashing in. But one thing that can help a great deal is thinking about what it is we actually miss.
Do we miss this person for who they truly are at their core and for everything that makes them, them? Or do we miss what they represent to us?
If we’ve let go of a relationship with a family member is it this particular person that our heart aches for or is it what we believe family to be that we long for?
If it’s an intimate relationship do we truly miss our ex-partner or do we miss the things we most love about being partnered with someone – the affection, the days spent wandering the market together or having adventures, knowing we have someone to come home to, and the joy of sharing our lives with a person who loves us as deeply as we love them?
It can be such an easy trap to fall into to take our loneliness and to use it as evidence that we made the wrong decision so think long and hard about your reasons for wanting this person back in your life.
Don’t use your loneliness as an excuse to reconcile with someone you know to be toxic for you.
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2) Have they changed?
There is, of course, an exception to the above and that’s if the person you removed from your life has, over a period of time, consistently demonstrated to you that they are making changes in their life.
If you removed a member of your family from your life who was constantly running you down and they come to you and announce they’re in counselling because they’ve realised that their frequent criticism of you stemmed from their own lack of self-love then that’s a relationship that might be worth salvaging. Dynamics can shift when you have someone who’s willing to do their inner work and heal so that they can have a healthier relationship with you.
Or perhaps you ended an intimate relationship with someone who was stuck in victim mode and leaving caused that person to begin the process of making big changes in their life.
Over time you watch them remove the things in their life that were causing them unhappiness and go through a period of massive growth and transformation. Again, if someone is showing you sustained effort over time to change their life then you might feel able to reconsider your position.
If you choose to allow someone back into your life do it slowly. Ensure that you are seeing action and not just hearing words. Prioritise your own health and well-being above all else and only grant someone full access back into your world when you feel sure that the changes they are making are genuine and long-lasting.
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3) Does the relationship shrink or expand you?
In situations where you’re trying to decide whether or not to let someone back into your life, you need to ignore both your head and your heart. While that may sound like poor advice both can lead you astray. Just because your heart loves someone that doesn’t mean they’re good for you. Just because your head tells you that you should be compassionate and give someone another chance that doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes we need to be less selfless and more self-full so that we can do what’s best for us.
So if you can’t listen to your heart or your head what should you be paying attention to? The answer is, your body.
Think about someone that’s no longer in your life. Now think about seeing them again. How do you feel? Did you feel a momentary flutter of excitement or a sense that your body was expanding? Or did your chest feel tight and heavy? Things that expand and energize us are things we need to pursue. Those that shrink us or leave us feeling a sense of dread are things to be avoided.
Always be guided by your intuition and how something feels in your body. This is something we’ve been raised to detach from in favour of living in our head so committing to a daily meditation practice or a form of movement like yoga can allow you to become reacquainted with yourself.
Think of your physiological responses as being like your internal alarm system or GPS. If you pay attention and take on board what they’re saying and act in accordance with that then you’ll never stray from your path and you’ll always end up exactly where you’re meant to be.
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When you go through massive change and your life goes from full to almost empty don’t panic. Remind yourself on a daily basis that removing the wrong people from your life is creating some much-needed space for the right people when they come along. Embrace this season of solitude because that’s all it is, a season. Use it wisely to learn the lessons you need to learn and to grow as a person so that you attract more of what aligns with you.
Nothing lasts forever and someday soon when your life is full of relationships that nourish you you’ll realise why it was so important that you let those who were wrong for you fall away.
Don’t use your loneliness as an excuse to invite toxic people back into your life – if you do you’re only delaying all the beautiful gifts the Universe is wanting to send your way. Be patient because everything you’re searching for is searching for you too.