COMMENTARY: Fixing Toxic Relationships

Are there people in your life who regularly cause you to feel bad about yourself? Most of us care what others think of us, so knowing that someone doesn’t like or approve of the judgments we’ve made or how we look can be hurtful. And when we’re judged by someone whose approval we crave, such as a parent, spouse, teacher, or boss, the criticism can cause intense distress and damage self-esteem.

Harsh or relentless disparagement from people who love us, often clothed as caring advice or helpful prodding, can be particularly toxic.

It’s helpful to realize that it’s one thing to feel bad when someone doesn’t approve of us; it’s quite another to allow their disapproval to shape our self-image.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was absolutely right. Negative comments about our lives are opinions, not facts.

How we feel, however, is a fact, and an important one at that. Thus, it’s rational and healthy to nurture relationships that bring out the best in us and to cut off or distance ourselves from those that bring us down.

There are, however, two strategies worth trying before you limit or eliminate contact with critical people whom you care about.

Try to fix the relationship by respectfully confronting the negative influences in your life. Don’t attack them for hurting you, just explain how you feel when they criticize you and see if they care about you enough to modify their conduct.

If that doesn’t work, try to build immunity to their negativity. Think of the hurtful comments of your incorrigible critic as irrational ravings – and ignore them.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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Comments 5

  1. I work in an adverse environment with adults who should be developing positive character for young people. Instead they are putting down individuals daily and not considering the effects it may have on them.
    I hope this information will improve relationships building. I’m passing it along to the entire group and confident it will have some effect on their attitudes towards one another. Continue to share the great and wonderful news. It has also made me look closer at myself.

  2. My grandfather (Lord, Bless his soul) knew of the exact hour of when the Messiah’s arrival. Once when I was upset with the neighbour’s son (we were both about 14) Grandpa told me the exact time and hour of the great event. My grandpa was hardly incorrect in everything he did and said so please read this carefully. According to my grandfather, the Messiah will arrive at the hour when all of us when meeting a stranger will embrace the stranger (and each other) with such love as if he was one of our own!

    We should always pray for those individuals who are upset with us and will not speak to us. Yes, even a foe!!

  3. I can so relate to such toxic person topic above. My father in law, may he live to 120 years but toxic is an understatement. I endured for many years up close and personal his rules which apply to all but him. It came to a head about 4 years ago and I have broken all relationships with him, there was no other way. My husband and kids see him out of pure obligation, but for, me, the further away I stay from him, the saner I will be.

  4. I understand that limiting or eliminating the effects of toxic people can be extremely difficult – if not impossible sin they continue pressing their victim endlessly as if the bully, and their followers, wanted to destroy mentally their victim.
    I have experienced this situation particularly with one of my daughters at school and when we explained it to the director she argued that for some kind of reason some persons are specially prone to be molested by cause of the characteristics of their behaviour.
    As you can imagine our daughter got out out and is now in another school.
    Can you ebven imagine how this situations can be solved with this attitude in the side of people responsible of kin ds care and custody?

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