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A relationship does not have to be romantic to be considered toxic. A toxic relationship may occur in friendships, parent-child relationships, between siblings and in work relationships. When toxicity in relationships can be identified early, we prevent ourselves from enduring excessive negativity and improve our ability to develop better relationships.

Toxic relationships may appear different from different people. Usually a relationship that is not serving us well will have these characteristics:

  • Abuse: emotional, financial, physical, or sexual
  • Consistent and draining arguments (blame and finger pointing)
  • Feelings of worthlessness, disrespect, hurt and sadness
  • Withdrawal from personal goals, family events, and social gatherings
  • “coping” behaviours that go against personal values (drugs, violence, etc.).
  • Decrease in academic/work performance and
  • Increasing feelings of anxiety, grief and depression

Identification of destructive relationship qualities tends to be easier when we are looking in from the outside. Some level of objectivity allows us to more easily identify the relationship as problematic. This is not as easy when we are the one in the relationship, especially in romantic relationships. A few signs or “red flags” may provide subtle hints that the relationship is unhealthy, however, we seem quite able to minimize, justify and even full out deny these signals. We may take blame, hope better will arrive soon and/or magically believe that this “icky” time will simply go away on “its” own.

It becomes common to push away from friends and family who advise us to get out of the relationship. We assume these people do not understand us nor do they try to relate/accept those we choose to spend our time with. They also, most times, don’t really know the whole situation or how to solve it anyway.

So how do we get out?

An important first step is accepting that this toxic relationship does exist and we are part of the equation. Then we establish that we want better for ourselves and increase our openness to work for it and get help. These initial steps display caring for ourselves, a willingness to seek assistance to change and move forward in our interpersonal lives.

Allow us to help you with the next steps. To improve relationship skills or maybe to just assess the relationship that you have questioned for so long, contact us today.



Appreciating Fear  

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Can you imagine how you would drive with no fear or too much fear?  A healthy level of fear gives us guidance; puts some caution in our approach; directs us away from danger.

Fear, defined by Wikipedia, is “an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.” Side effects from pulling away from some of our fears may be: (1) feeling anxiety with the anticipation of having to face our fears, (2) missing out on opportunities which may promote growth and development, or (3) creating friction in our relationships as we hide from certain situation.

Psychology Today describes fear as a “vital response to physical and emotional danger.” And it is a necessity to feel this emotion to protect ourselves from legitimate threats. If we created a list of all of our fears, how many are legitimate threats?

We all enter this world with a positive perspective. We explore our environment like a fun playground, full of adventure and ready to conquer.  Unfortunately trauma and other bad experiences may trigger fear within us that we hold on to because we have not overcome such horrible experiences.

Ever look at the word FEAR like this:





If fear becomes overwhelming it may be considered anxiety. One strategy to address this problem is called systematic desensitization: “diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it” (thanks Wiki). Exposure to our own personal fears or “demons” in a safe environment is an effective way to move past them.

Contact us today to receive coaching to more effectively work through your fears.