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5 Ways to Detoxify From a Dysfunctional Relationship

04/08/2015 06:36 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2015

The following five ways to detoxify from a dysfunctional relationship are excerpts from my upcoming book, The Karma Queens' Guide to Relationships:

Relationships that start out with the best of intentions and loving feelings can quickly turn toxic. It's difficult to change a dynamic when strong emotions are already involved, and even more difficult to escape from a toxic relationship when emotions have become warped. A toxic person may become obsessed and irrational, or even turn dangerous. They may no longer see a love situation logically.

Recognizing the signs that someone is emotionally toxic is not always easy. Often, we meet people when they're in a good state of being and then, after we've grown attached to them, they show their true colors. We all put on our "best face" in the beginning, but time peels away that protective mask to reveal our insecurities and faults. Sometimes, it's stress that brings out the worst in a person. Out of loyalty, we want to make the relationship work, remembering that person's potential for being good. The desire to hang in there through bad times is noble, but we can become badly hurt if we don't tread carefully.

Remember, the goal in relationships is to foster healthy, nurturing, uplifting human connections, and avoid poisonous relationships that drain you of joy and energy. When a relationship turns sour, pay close attention. If you listen to your instincts, you will know when to cut off someone whose obsession has become unhealthy. To find the strength and courage to go through with it, recognize your self-worth. Recognize, too, that you are doing the other person no favors by allowing the creation of bad karma between you. Let that person go their way and work on personal issues without you being enmeshed with him or her. And if it's you who is becoming too needy, clingy, or dependent on someone, you need to revisit what's within and find security in a relationship with yourself, your healthy ambitions and aspirations, and Spirit.

The most unfortunate aspect of any toxic relationship is that is diminishes your ability to trust others. You can lose faith in other people and yourself, and start to withdraw from people before you establish emotional intimacy. Trust is a very delicate and hard virtue to recover once it's lost. If you leave your trust broken in pieces, all your future relationships will suffer. If you think you can bypass having trust in others and that this isn't a crucial element of a relationship, please listen: a stable sense of trust must be developed or you will drive people away--except those drawn to work through their own trust issues, and those are not the kinds of people you want to attract. Those people often lie and cheat, which means that no matter how vigilant you are, they are able to betray your trust. Therefore, you must resolve the issues of trust within you before they can be resolved outside of you.

There are effective ways to detach from someone, and the process doesn't have to hurt. Breaking free of an obsessive, dysfunctional relationship takes time and effort on your part. Here are five simple actions to take every day to help you let go:

Step one: Start your day with empowerment. Say a quick prayer of empowerment each morning. Ask the Divine to make this a stress-free day and believe that it will be. Affirm to yourself as soon as you wake up that your happiness is not dependent on this person. Recite quotes that strengthen your independence and commitment to taking care of yourself and your needs. Instead of reverting your thoughts to this person, divert your attention by performing an activity centered around you and your own needs: go to the salon, get a massage, etc. Perform any empowering activity that will refocus your attention on you
Step two: Replace your obsession. Exchange your obsession for a much more positive activity. Every time you find yourself thinking of the person, force yourself to have more productive, positive thoughts. Contemplate a project, think about an upcoming event that excites you, or evaluate the outcome of a different concern. Tell yourself that you have bigger things to worry about than that petty person. The more you force yourself to think about something else, the more you train your brain to function on other elements of life.

Step three: Turn to others. This is not a time to isolate yourself. Rely on the support and compassion of friends and family, especially those who have experienced similar situations. It becomes easier to wean yourself off of a person when you open yourself up to others and allow their energies into your life. If you're in a toxic relationship, simply sitting down to talk to an uplifting person comes as a breath of fresh air.

Step four: Practice self-care. This is the time to take care of yourself. Invest in yourself and your needs. You are your own main priority. There's nothing wrong with a bit of self-pampering; exercise regularly, take care of your health, splurge on one item, reinvent your look--anything to make yourself feel happy and confident in your attractiveness and worth! In this way, you learn to appreciate yourself enough to rise above the dominant influence of a single person.

Step five: Get into a new routine. In the beginning phases, you'll need to distract yourself, even force yourself to look the other way when all you want to see is this person. This is admittedly the hardest part, but once you do develop new habits the process becomes much easier. By performing new activities that are unrelated to the person in question, you rewire the neurons in your brain to form new patterns of thought. Daily activities help with this. Take up a new hobby, join a club--anything positive to fill your schedule and keep busy. Don't give yourself time to obsess. Then, make these new activities part of a new, everyday routine. Rebuild your life around other priorities.

Dysfunctional relationships can greatly damage our well-being. But learning to detach and cleanse from the toxicity of a turbulent relationship restores inner peace and emotional balance. Practice these five steps to cleanse your spirit and regain trust in the power of positive relationships.

To Functional Relationships,
Dr. Carmen Harra

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