Updated: Jul 26, 2019
In our post on how to identify toxic people, we ended with the opportunity to decide how to deal with these relationships. Unless we live off the grid, completely void of human interaction, we will encounter toxic people. Once we decide that we no longer need them in our lives however, we can start on an internal action plan and free up our energy to spend on people and experiences that enhance our lives. Keep in mind that we are not responsible to “fix” anyone. Just because they are toxic to you, doesn’t mean they are the worst people on the planet either. We aim to free up our own space, mentally, physically and spiritually so that we can thrive, regardless of what they do with their lives. We are not judge, jury or executioner, we simply detach from them in a way that is healthy for ourselves.
One of the biggest backlashes and mental anguishes from removing ourselves from toxic relationships is guilt. Toxic people gravitate towards good, incredibly loyal people with potential. Once a relationship is established, our moods, energy levels and thoughts can become consumed with that person. Our subconscious mind is trying to tell us something isn’t quite right. This could lead to sleep and eating disorders and disturbances, social withdrawal or not enjoying the activities we once enjoyed.
As a good person, we tend to think that others will treat us with the respect we treat them and without any negative intentions. Unfortunately, this is not the case with toxic people. Whether they mean to or not, it affects us negatively. This is what we wish to focus on as a self-care strategy. What can we control? We can do some inner work and become strong within ourselves that the hold they have over us no longer matters. Guilt is the opposite of that. It’s hard to understand how some people can be so callous, malicious and self-centred, especially if our values are the opposite. Our minds try to explain their behaviour or somehow make it reasonable. This creates more inner turmoil and we could feel guilty for cutting them out of our lives, especially if they have been a part of it for a long time.
Traditional belief systems, religious ideas or culture could also play a role in how we view ourselves. Our upbringing can influence how we see ourselves, as second best, not to make a fuss or not to challenge authority no matter how unfair. These narratives that we told ourselves on how to behave and how to view others can add to the feelings of guilt. Am I doing the right thing to let these people out of my life? How will this influence my spirituality?
Guilt is defined as a deep feeling of remorse for an act which may or may not has occurred in the past. Therefore, guilt becomes an experience which is renewed in the present moment. Guilt shows that we can show empathy, we try to understand and feel bad. When we keep reliving our experience, that is where our energy lies. The toxic person took up so much space in our lives that we now feel empty and guilt is the first emotion to fill that void.
Come back to the present moment. For example, the first time we don’t send a happy birthday text to a toxic friend, a happy father’s day to a toxic family member or declining a visit to a co-worker’s event is always the most difficult. We can talk ourselves into saying maybe it’s not that bad and start second-guessing our intuition. The guilt for not being seen as a good person, child or employee is our perception.
Below is a journaling method to help us get through those guilt-triggered events:
In your journal, write down the most recent interaction with the person. Without judgement to yourself or them, how did they make you feel?
Write all the words on a page.
On the next page in your journal, write the complete opposite of those words.
Come back to the present moment. Close your eyes and envision yourself surrounded by the joyous and abundant words on the second page. Let them make a shield around you.
Open your eyes.
When we fill ourselves with inner power and positivity, surround ourselves with people who are good for us, guilt no longer has space. Our focus is on our mental health and we no longer need to live in the past.
Underneath the positive words page write:
I no longer feel guilty for putting my wellbeing first. I forgive myself and let go of all feelings and people that held me back from living a full and wonderful life.
This method could work the first or fifth time. Everyone’s circumstances are different and timing is also unique to your situation. Be patient with yourself while keeping the end goal in mind: to detox and detach without any guilt.
Keep journaling, keep growing.
Journaling Through Divorce and Separation: The perfect guided journal to keep your divorce on track, on time and save lots of money in legal fees. Transform this event into one with a positive outcome for YOU!