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How to heal from the pain of a toxic relationship

Removing toxic relationships from your life is only half the battle. The other half? Learning to heal from the pain of a toxic relationship.

It’s time to deal with the pain caused from a toxic relationship.

I have had chronic medical issues for the last few years. It has been frustrating that I don’t have an answer to what has been ailing me.

The doctors are stumped. They cannot seem to figure out what is wrong with me.

I participated in blood test after blood test. The results? There were no leads. My frustration increased.

I noticed something. They tested me for toxins. The doctors shared with me that toxins in low doses over long periods of time can destroy the body. Sometimes causing death.

I started to thinking about toxins and the impact they have on the body. This led my mind to wrap around how toxic relationships impact the soul.

Then I realized something important.

[bctt tweet=”Just like toxins poison the body toxic relationships poison the heart. #toxicrelationships #soulcare” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Once the heart is full of poison you have to focus on healing or it could end in the fracturing of your soul.

You are broken, empty, bitter, confused, and a slew of other things.

So the real question:

How can I heal from a toxic relationship?

Removing toxic relationships from your life is only half the battle. The other half? Learning to heal from the pain of a toxic relationship.

They say that the worst pain in the world comes from a broken heart.

I would like to amend that.

I think the worst pain comes from a broken soul. 

Let me explain:

Your soul contains your mind, will, and emotions. It is the essence of who you are. When your soul is deeply broken your heart has no chance.

[bctt tweet=”The longer you ignore your brokenness the worse your condition becomes. #brokensoul #restore” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

 It feels that toxic residue amplifies the damaged emotions we already have. 

Recently, I had exited from a toxic relationship. I truly believed that we were friends. What I did not realize was that I was allowing their toxic ways to overrun me.

Believing that I was emotionally healthy I thought I could handle the relationship.  I convinced myself that I could help them. They could become healthy because I was part of their process.

Gosh, I was so wrong.

Instead of helping this person toward health they had dragged me back to an unhealthy place.

I wanted to bring the best out in them, but they brought the worst out in me.

Once they exited from my life I was left with the residue of emotional pain.

I was confused, anxious, angry, and I could not get over the feelings of worthlessness.

What I realized was that the unhealthy places in me were amplified by the toxic people surrounding me. 

[bctt tweet=”You don’t realize how unhealthy you are until you are faced with the pain of it. #toxicrelationships” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Life can become unbearable when you add the pain from a toxic relationship.

To heal from the pain of your past you must begin to heal from the pain caused by toxic relationships.

A simple question then forms.

How can I heal from a toxic relationship?

Let me help you with a few things you can do to heal from the painful toxic relationships of your life.

Things you can do to find healing from Toxic Relationships

1. Put distance between you and the person 

What would you do if your home caught on fire? You would put distance between you and the fire. More importantly, you would do this as fast as possible. When your life depends on it; you move far away from the trouble to protect yourself. 

If we do this when we believe our lives are in danger why don’t we do this when our souls are in danger?

It is as if we would rather live broken instead of living healthy.  Or maybe we believe the life we have is all we will ever have so we would rather live even if it is jacked up living.

If I can share anything with you let it be this.

Your soul matters. The life you are living matters. Why not make it the best you can?

To do that you will have to put distance between you and the person.

One of the top questions from my last post:  What if the toxic person is a part of your family?

Family members, who are toxic, are the hardest pain to work through.

Why? Because no matter what happens they are still family. It is tough to find healing from toxic relationships when they are still in the picture.

Distance is still a viable option. 

You may not be able to break the relationship off, but you can create space. You can limit your time and interaction with them.

What distance can look like:

Say someone in your family is toxic. It could be anyone, but I have found that the closer the relationship the hard it will be to distance yourself. Don’t fret! It can be done!

[bctt tweet=”the closer the relationship the harder it will be to distance yourself. It still can be done. #health #soul” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

A tip I would give in this situation is limit your interaction. Don’t be on the phone every night. Learn to limit your conversation to 1 night. Don’t be on the phone for 2 hours with them. Make your call last 20 minutes top.

Instead of seeing them face to face every day. Limit your time to once a week or once a year. Whatever you think you need to create the proper distance. 

Remember, the goal is not isolation it is healing. 

If you want to know how to tell then read my article: Your friends could be the reason you’re not thriving. That should help you determine who is and is not toxic in your life.

[bctt tweet=”Remember, not everyone is toxic, but everyone is damaged. #revelation #truth #soulcare” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Removing toxic relationships from your life is only half the battle. The other half? Learning to heal from the pain of a toxic relationship.

2. Create proper boundaries

I read of an experiment. It is found in a book called Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

As the experiment goes, there was a school on a hill. At the bottom of the hill, they erected a fence. After the fence was erected they allow the kindergarteners to play outside. They played near the fence. There was climbing on the fence. The students felt comfortable and free to play wherever they wanted. 

Then they removed the fence. The next day the kindergarteners never left the front of the school. They could no longer see the boundary and thus were full of fear to go further than they were.

A powerful story that shows us something important.

[bctt tweet=”A boundary that is well defined is a boundary that gives us freedom to move within its area. #createhealth” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

A boundary does not confine me. 

A boundary frees me. 

With that in mind we if we are going to fight for our health then we must have well-defined boundaries. These boundaries will inform people where the limit is. When people know where the limit is they tend to operate within the limit.

If they don’t follow them then you have to remind them what the boundary is. 

Continued violation of a boundary should incur a consequence. 

Consequences can be as easy as saying, “this conversation is over.” Take it a step further. Let them know, “If you cannot follow my boundary then we need to rethink our friendship.”

It’ll be tough, but you got this.

The hard truth:

A toxic person will remain toxic unless something happens in their life to force them to find help.

[bctt tweet=”Just because people are toxic doesn’t mean you have to be. #wakeup #soulcare” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

What a proper boundary looks like: 

Last night I had a conversation with someone close to me. They were unhealthy in their speech towards me. I kindly said, “I am not going to be unhealthy in this conversation. If you cannot speak to me with respect then I will have to end the conversation.”

This person continued in the behavior. I replied, “I care about you. Yet, this conversation is now over. I will not be unhealthy or go to an unhealthy place. Have a great night.”  

I ended the conversation. 

Did I hate doing that? YES!

My heart is sensitive. 

Was that the best thing for my health? YES!

My health is incredibly important to me. To help others be healthy I must first fight for my health.

Removing toxic relationships from your life is only half the battle. The other half? Learning to heal from the pain of a toxic relationship.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I want you to know that it matters a lot to me. You matter a lot to me.

My heart is to give you tools for the journey towards health.

I would love for you to join the conversation! In the comments below let me know ways that you have healed from toxic relationships.

Also, if you would be ever so kind. I would love to hear what type of topics you would like to read about. Please put a suggestion of two in the comments!

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About the Author Jim

  • Esther says:

    I enjoyed this and it was helpful, my toxic relationship was 44 yr.’s with my husband. He passed away in Nov. 2016, so I’m just starting the healing process . He was the best provide, and father, but to me he was hateful. and bitched constantly. I dealt with it well until he retired in 2001. and my life went down the tubs , so I went to work to get a way from him for 12 hours 5 days a week. 7 hours on Saturday, and I’d go to church on Sunday for 5 more hours. but 4 years after I started working I had a heart attack, and working wasn’t an option , so I retread to a separate bed room. Even now I find myself in there. thank you for posting this.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you kindly for your reply. I am going to send up a prayer for you. 44 years is a long time to be in a toxic relationship. Let me encourage you: The journey in front of you may be harder, but your healing is not impossible. Keep fighting the good fight of faith and keep working on your healing. Your life is starting again learn to enjoy it.

  • Kristin says:

    Thank you for sharing. I especially liked your insight about how you thought you were healthy enough to help your friend, because you were a part of the process. I think it is so easy to feel like you can be a part of someone’s solution, to the point where you can actually blind yourself to your own needs because of getting too invested. It’s nice to help the people you love, but self-care is just as important if not more so.

    • Jim says:

      You have caught the heart of this site. That self care is very important. Your joy in life is all dependant on how healthy you are. Thank you for joining the conversation!

  • CourtneyLynne says:

    Omg so much yes!!!! I went through and eliminated all of the toxic people I knew last year and omg…. life is definitely a whole lot more peaceful

    • Jim says:

      You are so right. When you start removing toxic relationships from your life you start seeing a great turn around. I am so blessed to hear that you have a life that you want to live! Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Helen Vella says:

    I totally agree with everything you are saying. Many of my clients who come to me with depression and anxiety do not realize that some of the time it is due to a toxic relationship. Once this is realized things change for them so much. Thank you for sharing your information and insights.

    • Jim says:

      You are welcome! Thank you for joining the conversation. If you check the rest of the site you may be able to find some more tips and thoughts that could prove useful in helping your clients.

  • Crystal Gard says:

    One of the hardest things to do is to identify a toxic relationship and to break its cycle. These are all great tips on making this work,.

  • Leigh Borders says:

    This is a great and informative post. I often find that there are times when I have to deal with it. it is especially hard when it is a family member. Great tips on how to handle it. I know I will put some into place for our current situation.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for joining the conversation! I have had a couple family member that were toxic for me. I never stopped loving them, but I had to distance myself from them. It was the hardest thing I had to do. However, I am healthier than I have ever been! I will pray for your continued journey towards health!

  • This is a really good post. Thank you for tackling this subject.

  • R U S S says:

    Acknowledging that you’re dealing with a toxic relationship is the first step. When you’re aware of it, that’s the time that you start to take action. It may take a lot of work and sometimes it might be painful, but when dealing with toxic people we have to think of ourselves first. When we do this, it doesn’t mean that we’re selfish because it simply means that we choose to love ourselves more.

    • Jim says:

      Yes! Thank you for bringing this point out. I think you are right one with it. We have to acknowledge that we are first in a toxic relationship. The first step to healing any issue is to acknowledge that you have a problem! Thank you so much for saying that.

  • These are really good pointers. Time is the greatest healer and would help one to get over toxic relationships.

    • Jim says:

      Next weeks post will be about the concept of healing and time. I hope you can join me. I would love to hear your perspective on that post.

  • Cheryl says:

    Jim,
    You are so keen and right about dealing with a toxic person. In my case, my husband was very angry and abusive (bullying and intimidation) to our children and I. The bible says to stay away from an angry person. I finally have the courage and strength to leave him after 21 years of marriage.

    I feel sad that our family has to be separated, but I feel lifted and no longer a slave to his bondage. I pray to God everyday for directions and healing. I know that he is always with me!

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for the kind word! It must have been so hard for you to live in that environment. I applaud you for staying 21 years, but I know that must have damaged you in very deep way. God has a beautiful path for you. My heart hurts that you have had to endure that pain, but I am happy to see how God will (and is) changing that around. I am furthering the conversation next week. Thank you for joing this conversation.

  • Lhourdes Mercadero says:

    This post hit me. I think your quote is right about the broken soul. I just like to say thank you for taking time posting this.It is a very good thing to read. It will help a lot of people .

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I am blessed to hear that this post made an impact on you. May it continue to inspire you to be the best version of yourself!

  • ang says:

    Wow, so many great ideas here. I haven’t felt that heart broken feeling in my soul for a long time. Which is good. But you are so right, you have to keep working towards finding you, keeping strong and great health.

    • Jim says:

      Yes! It is not enough to walk away from this type of relationship. You have to keep working and fighting for your health. So often, we walk away from things without even thinking that we have to heal from them. We believe that the walking away was our declaration of healing. However, we often times forget that there was damaged done. That damage must be repaired! That is when the hard work starts. Thank you for joing the conversation!

  • This is a beautifully written post. There is a lot to learn in being a relationship that leaves you emotionally drained. Many people think there is one step and that is to just get out, but you truly uncover the second most important step: learning and growing from it. Thank you for a wonderful read!

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! In life, you have two options. You can either grow through something or fall under the weight of it. I am trying to live my life in a way that allows me to grow through things. Admittedly, I am not always successful. There are times when I fail and fall under the weight of something. However, I realize that when I am down I cannot stay down. The same could be said about toxic relationships. I was involved in a few. My heart was more loyal than sensible.So for a time, I allowed the toxic relationships to rule my life. Then it dawned on me. I had to get out. I had to heal. So I did what was needed to find freedom. Thank you for joining the conversation!

  • Brenda says:

    It is really hard when the toxic relationship is in your family. In my case it’s with my sister in law. We do already have distance between us because we live far away, and my husband has limited contact with her. It was really hard to do, but it is better for us.

    • Jim says:

      I can be incredibly hard to work through when it is your family. The closer the relationship the harder it is. I applaud you for fighting for your health!

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a great read! Growing towards happiness and the feeling of peace in ones life after a toxic relationship is key to healing old wounds of it. Takes time and strength to move forward. A lot of time, but it can be done with these ideas and stronger faith then any toxic person anyone is dealing with or had to deal with. I pray for them.
    Thanks Jim! Totally sharing!

  • I love this post. In the last year or so, I’ve been working on removing (or at least, limiting) toxic relationships in my life, and I have noticed a REMARKABLE difference in how I feel about myself and about my life in general. Thanks for sharing these tips – for the reminder that distance in important, AND for the reminder that defending boundaries can be as important as setting them.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for joining the conversation! I am blessed to hear the huge difference that these tips have made in your life. Next week, I am sharing a few more 🙂 Jan is dedicated to healing from toxic emotions 🙂

      • Well it’s definitely a hard process, but it must be done. Toxicity was ruining my life and my health, and I’m learning that the painful habits of one toxic relationship often lead to choosing toxic relationships over and over. For me, it finally got bad enough after a long life of issues (I am the grown child of a highly dysfunctional and abusive family) that I was diagnosed with C-PTSD. I’m in therapy now and it’s making a world of difference in my life.

        • Jim says:

          I love your realness. I have been reading your blog and have been moved by your story. I love that you are moving towards health. If it were me I would set smaller step by step goals. Then celebrate each step. By the time you reach the later steps you will have made it so far. 🙂 My prayers are for you on this journey!

  • michelle says:

    This is great, I will share with a friend in a similar situation.

    • Jim says:

      Let me know if there is anything I can do to help! I am very passionate about helping people find healing! Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Kat says:

    I agree with everything you wrote. I can only add that, you can’t expect love and respect from the others if you don’t think you worthy of it. Loving yourself is a key to happiness.

    • Jim says:

      Yes, Yes, and Yes! You cannot expect love and respect from others if you don’t think you are worthy of it. I love that statement. Health is multifaceted. We need to be working on ourselves while healing from the pain others inflict on us. Thank you for bringing that point up!

  • Very powerful post indeed. I agree that toxic relationships are so damaging to your soul and really get at the deep root of who you are and it changes you, and not for the good. These types of relationships even when you can see them, are difficult to brake away sometimes and can be so damaging.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for joining the conversation. You are spot on, there is a pervasive damage that happens when you are in a toxic relaitonship. The longer you are in the relationship the greater the damage. That is why it is so important to fight for your health!

  • Cathy Carson says:

    You make very good points here. I am at a time in my life where I feel like I am struggling to set boundaries with my immediate family. This was helpful. I am going to try a couple of things here.

    • Jim says:

      I would be very interested to hear how it went. If you need help let me know! I would love to help you fight for your emotional health!

  • sonja says:

    Great post! I will try som of them in the office!
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  • Rebekah says:

    Wow, thanks for the advice! I’m definitely going to be putting these tips into practice in my life sometime in the future!

    • Jim says:

      I am so blessed to hear that these tips spoke to you! I am going to be giving everyone a few more tips next week 😉 Once you start using them please shoot me a message. I would love to hear how it has worked out for you. Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Bex says:

    This post is so well put. Thank you so much for sharing your journey a bit. This one hit home pretty hard for me. Keep up the writing 🙂

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for joining the conversation. Thank you for your kind words. As long as I can help someone I will continue to share!

  • miras pstr says:

    I think all of us have or had a toxic relationship, yes we have to get out of this relation and thank you for those advices but sometime we learned from bad relation and it help us to grow up and become more strength , thank you so much for this article .

    • Jim says:

      I think you are right on. Everyone has had an encounter with a toxic relationship. Sometimes, we are the toxic one (I’ll post about that in a few weeks). I think you have a great perspective. Every relationship can make us stronger, but we still have to heal from them! Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • Joei says:

    Good pointers! I will definitely try some of these out especially in the work place.

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