Signs of a Toxic Relationship

SIGNS OF A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP
By Deborah Tensley-Jones

Have you ever been so close in a situation that you didn’t recognize the danger signs or red flags that were present? This is often the case when in a toxic relationship. Something that is toxic causes damage to you, drains you, or depletes you. A toxic relationship similar, it is a destructive relationship that can definitely cause you emotional and psychological harm.

Being able to see a situation for what it is and accept that it isn’t going to change can be empowering. It gives you the ability to look at things through an objective lens and make a decision that is in your best interest. To help you get there, I have identified the biggest signs that you’re in an emotionally toxic relationship.

Signs of a Toxic Relationship

• Lack of Communication or Poor Communication. If your partner no longer communicates with you in a calm respectful manner, but is critical, says demeaning things or even calls you bad names.

• Hypersensitive and Defensive. If your partner is always on guard, hypersensitive to everything you say – taking it negatively and is defensive all the time.

• Lack of Encouragement for your passions. If your partner doesn’t take interest in or supports your interests and actually criticizes and makes fun of things that are important to you.

• Lack of Acceptance for your flaws. If your partner does not have tolerance and forgiveness of your imperfections. After all, no one is perfect and you will make mistakes. If your partner does not have tolerance for your human-ness and blames you for everything that goes wrong, that is a BIG red flag.

• Lack of Acknowledgement of your Friends/Family. No one person is an island, and you had friends and family before you met your partner. A toxic partner will want to isolate you from your friends and family. This is a method of control and manipulation – RUN!

• Lack of commitment. If your partner wants 100% commitment from you, but is unwilling to reciprocate – that’s a problem. The relationship is unbalanced and headed for trouble.

• Passive Aggressive Behaviors. Healthy relationships are built on mutual trust, open communication and each partner accepting the others’ true, authentic self. If your partner is not comfortable with you, and uses passive aggressive behavior instead of being direct, this is a path to unhealthy communication and behavior.

To create a safer, more secure relationship you need to know what a healthy relationship looks like. Healthy boundaries are identified by being able to;
• Say no without guilt
• Ask for what you want or need
• Take care of yourself
• Do things out of interest / desire not obligation
• Behave according to your own believes and values
• Be supported to pursue your goals
• Feel Energized and alive
Setting boundaries is difficult, but possible.

For more information regarding identifying and setting boundaries dealing with a toxic relationship watch for the upcoming workshop

Setting Boundaries in Toxic Relationships: Dealing with Hidden Abuse” offered by Gateway of Hope.
SAVE THE DATE: July 15th, 2017; 9:30 am – Noon; $40 registration fee.

Another resource for you, website on defining healthy boundaries.  Click here

 

The Problem With Settling

SettlingMost of the time, we think of being settled as a good thing – a safe emotional place. When we feel anxious, we want to settle down and relax.

But the type of settling we’re talking about is different. This sad “S” word means we have chosen something we do not really want instead of waiting for the best.

Sometimes we settle in relationships. We have been taught marriage somehow holds the key to security and happiness. For some women – that does happen. For others – not so much.

Or we settle for a relationship built only on financial security, live with a guy and finally discover he’s only using us for his own type of security. We’ve settled for less than the best. Remember: a man is NOT a financial plan.

Settling can manifest itself in many ways. We buy clothes on sale just because they ARE on sale when we really don’t love them that much. The unused clothes hanging in our closets testify to this truth.

Sometimes we settle for an apartment or a house just because it’s the only thing we can afford. Years later, we suddenly wake up and realize we hate where we live. We’ve settled and a portion of our souls has become tarnished with regret.

We settle for jobs that don’t fulfill us just because they meet a need and/or they provide health insurance. Then we hate getting up every morning and live for the day we can take a vacation. We’ve settled for a life’s work that feels empty.

Settling is easier to accept because settling means we don’t have to change. We don’t have to deal with the difficult decisions.

We just live in the same old rut and keep breathing. But the stress of settling becomes a hidden cancer that changes how we think about ourselves and our world.

Settling breeds a hopeless existence.

So how do we stop this negative pattern of settling? What can we do to move forward and change our perspective – to live within the best possible scenario?

Know Your Core Values

Once you know how to guard your core values, you’ll be able to make wise decisions based on those values.

For example: if your core value is creativity, then you’ll probably be unhappy settling for a tiny house where you have no freedom or space to create. You’ll need large windows that let in light. You’ll want an area where you can walk and enjoy nature, then come home and feel refreshed to paint, write or sew.

If one of your core values is integrity, then you won’t settle for a relationship with a guy who is deceitful. You’ll be careful to whom you give your heart, and you’ll check out every date to see if he has integrity.

If a core value is to help people, then you won’t be happy sitting in a cubicle all day working on Excel charts. You’ll need a job where you can be with people and serve them.

Pay Attention to Your Gut Instincts

As women, we are particularly instinctive. We have an inner voice, a soul temple that shares protective nudges with our brains.

We need to pay attention when “something” tells us a certain relationship has red flags, a certain house isn’t right for us, a certain job is toxic.

Some women like to make lists of the red flags to watch out for. Other women just keep an inner checklist for any type of decision.

Whatever you choose to do, listen to your heart. Pay attention to what you’re feeling inside. It’s much easier to say, “No” at the beginning than to live with years of regret.

Don’t Ignore Your Dreams

One writer quotes, “Don’t downgrade your dreams just because of reality.”

Many women do this. We ignore the dream of a higher education because we’re afraid of the costs: time, energy and money.

We push down our dreams of becoming a writer, a painter or a concert pianist because someone else has made all the choices for us – choices based on economics and reality.

But the truth is … God gave us those desires for a reason. He planted those dreams in us because he wanted us to live an abundant life.

When we pay attention to our dreams, then we refuse to settle for second best. We march toward the best possible scenarios in life, and we end up feeling more fulfilled.

Take the Time to Be Patient

When we make hurried decisions, that’s when we often settle. We want to make something happen, and we think a certain answer will do – even if it’s not what we really want.

The best decisions are based on godly wisdom, logic, figuring out the pros and cons and looking at all the possible consequences.

It takes time to consider all the variables of a wise decision.

Plus … if we take the time to ask God for wisdom, he always has a perfect timing involved with his good plan for our lives.

So take the time to be patient and then choose the decision that is truly best for you – not settling.

Rely on the Wisdom of Others

It’s great to have wise people in your corner, especially when you have a tendency to settle. Every woman needs a solid confidante she can depend on or even a group of dependable friends.

When we try to make life-changing decisions all by ourselves, we often end up settling. But a corps group of smart and intuitive friends can help us sort out all the possibilities.

An accountability group that focuses on NOT settling will help point out where we might be compromising our principles or making foolish choices. Having a few wise friends is a great gift.

At GateWay of Hope, we have Counselors and Coaches who will help you work through decisions, then provide accountability as you move forward.

Be Cautious about Life-Changing Decisions

For women who have a tendency to settle, caution is the key word. You might want to keep a journal with “Remember When” sentences:

  • Remember when you believed those lies about that relationship?
  • Remember when you bought that expensive sweater you didn’t even like?
  • Remember when you settled for the wrong house because it was cheaper than the one you really wanted?
  • Remember how you ignored your dream of becoming a dancer and how miserable you felt?
  • Remember your little girl soul and how happy she was living in the country?

By reminding ourselves about other times we settled, we can be more cautious when faced with the next life-changing decision.

Trust God’s Love for You

God is not waiting around for us to make mistakes, ready to zap us if we choose the wrong path. He promises, “I will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

WHEREVER YOU GO.

No matter what decisions you make, God will be with you, still loving you and still helping you.

Sometimes, of course, we make really bad mistakes and then we have to pay the logical consequences. But if we refuse to settle for anything less than God’s best for us – then we’re definitely surrounded by his protective angels and the covering umbrella of his desires for us.

So believe in God’s never-ending love for you and stop settling. Wait for the best. Check out all the circumstances and listen to the wisdom of others.

Then move forward with joy and a renewed sense of self-confidence.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

How to Counteract Stress

We all experience it in some form or another and sometimes – we actually expect it. Within our busy lives, we expect to meet some version of stress.depressed woman

Stress usually makes itself known as we react to it. We yell at the kids, kick the dog, scream into our pillows and tear old love letters into pieces. We write long passages in our journals, comfort ourselves with a half-gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and promise ourselves that we’ll never, ever do whatever it is that has caused the stress – again.

And even if we manage to take a refreshing vacation, soak in a lavender bath or finish off that half-gallon of ice cream – stress can reappear. We can learn how to manage it and find some relief, but living with stress on a long-term basis can be downright dangerous.

At GateWay of Hope, we deal with the issues of women in a holistic atmosphere. We know that emotional stress can cause physical illness and spiritual apathy. Studies have suggested that prolonged stress may be a factor in certain cancers or the onset of early dementia and Alzheimer’s. And stress can cause a number of joint ailments, headaches, stomach and digestive issues as well as affecting our social relationships.

In our American society, we focus on productivity. We work hard, play hard, exercise hard and expect our bodies to keep up with the demands. Talk to a woman who has flamed out from stress and she will tell you – it’s not worth it. Yet most of us continue to do whatever we can to keep up with all the busyness, sometimes not even realizing what we’re doing to ourselves – until it’s too late.

As insidious as stress can be, it can also lead to burnout – which is even more dangerous. Burnout often manifests as numbing. We’ve become so stressed by a toxic relationship that we no longer have feelings. Or we’ve worked so hard and so long, we can no longer think clearly and lose a job. Or we withdraw and isolate ourselves, wrapping our souls in a false sense of comfort that may lead to depression. Check out some of the signs and symptoms of burnout.

So what can we do to counteract stress?

At GateWay of Hope, we have several ideas:

  • Boundaries – this summer we’ll offer a class called “Beyond Boundaries.” Register now by calling 913.393.GATE (4283).
  • Group relationships – it helps to share with other women who are feeling the same type of stress.
  • Counseling – check out our website  for the counselor you would like to see.
  • Coaching – move over those obstacles that are causing stress and march forward in life.
  • Pay attention to your body – it will often tell you about stress, so listen and learn.
  • Break unhealthy habits – what can you do to eliminate some of the stress?
  • Set realistic goals – perfectionism often causes an increase in stress. Be realistic and practical but at the same time, reach for your dreams.
  • Develop new and healthy relationships – any time we’re in a toxic relationship, it causes stress. Check out the book “Safe People” by Cloud and Townsend.
  • The Serenity Room – we have a special room at GateWay of Hope where women can come to de-stress, spend some time journaling, read a book and/or pray. Our sign-up calendar is in our front entry.
  • Journaling – we’re beginning another journaling class in April. You can register now by calling 913.393.GATE (4283).

All of us deal with some type of stress, but we can learn how to counteract some of its effects. Let us know if we can help you find some peace and protect yourself from too much stress.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Transforming the lives of women to create new legacies