Our ego and pride are often the biggest and stubbornest stumbling blocks that we face when we choose to turn the search light upon ourselves. This makes any authentic and lasting change in us difficult without having first received the grace that is necessary to be humble enough, to allow our eyes and hearts to be opened to our real flaws.
As difficult as it is to do, this first step is absolutely crucial if we are to change for the better. A sick person who believes he is well cannot be healed, even if the doctor was present before him.
Here are four necessary steps in your journey towards a healthy and drama-free life.
1.Walk away from other toxic people
The only problem that is bigger than dealing with a toxic person, is two toxic people who don’t know they are toxic and who keep trying to detox each other. This is all the more so when good intentions are involved. As a famous proverb once said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Just as the blind leading the blind leads you nowhere, a toxic person who has yet to be healed cannot help in healing another, especially when the other person in question has yet to reach full awareness of their own toxicity. Any attempt to do so will only serve to complicate matters, hinder your own healing, and create new wounds in the process.
2. Take a time out, and spend quality time in solitude
Spending a significant amount of time alone is absolutely necessary in order to detox. There are no two ways about it. This time and space away from anyone else allows us to find ourselves without undue influence from others, even well meaning friends, and to reflect without the distractions of any activity that having other people in the picture would create.
Because a busy life is always an unreflective life. We live in a society that is already moving at a frenetic pace. We owe it to ourselves then, to have that pause amidst the madness – to recharge, recalibrate, and renew. So go for a silent retreat, meditate, or if you are a non-religious or spiritual person do an activity you love – read a book, draw, or travel alone. Anything that helps you to reconnect with yourself again, without needing to define yourself and find meaning in your life through others.
For many of us, the fear of loneliness is a primary cause of our toxicity, as we suffer from chronic relationship addiction, jumping from one relationship to another without allowing ourselves enough time and space in between relationships to be alone. Yet allowing ourselves to enter solitude is a very necessary step in our healing process. To find out how loneliness can be an ally instead of something to be afraid of, read this article here by Ann.
3. Deal with difficult emotions the healthy way
As humans, we have been programmed to hate having to deal with difficult and negative emotions. As such, we often find ourselves artificially numbing our feelings or distracting ourselves with other people and activities that temporarily take our minds off the source of our pain or anger. Yet these are unhealthy and ineffective coping mechanisms that only increase the toxicity in us over time. Read my article on mastering emotions here.
God created all things to be beautiful, and that includes our difficult emotions. Each of these emotions are a very real part of us, in need of our attention. They should never be suppressed, cut away, or numbed. So allow them to be expressed and speak to you. Befriend your emotions, and you will learn more about your true self, and how you can better master them and care for them over time.
4. Downsize your social circle
I have found that one of the best ways to improve the quality of my life, is to simplify it. For me, this begins with my choice of friends, who I spend the most time with. There is a good book by Greg McKeown called “Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less“, in which the author shares the benefits of decluttering your life.
We often place a huge emphasis on how others see us while growing up, and have the need to be well liked. Because of this we often surround ourselves with huge circles of friends, befriending almost anyone without having first come to an understanding of our identity, what we want out of life, and the right kind of people to make up our inner most circle of friends who have the greatest influence on us.
When we indiscriminately become friends with the world, we give others the power to define us, and we lose ourselves in the process, becoming used for the agendas of others and buying into their beliefs without a second thought, confusing us from our true identity, making us toxic as we go in search of our meaning in others.
So simplify your life. Surround yourself with people who grow you, remove those who tear you down.
While the article above contains some suggestions to help you cope and deal with your struggles, I strongly suggest that you seek professional counselling and/or spiritual direction if you have been struggling with the same issue(s) for years. The road to healing is never easy, and should never be done completely alone without the help of those who have walked the same path before you and walked others through it. May God’s peace be with you.