It’s part of human nature to seek connections and form relationships; even the most introverted personalities need human contact every so often. The problem comes when that need to create and maintain bonds overshadows one’s self-interest.
We’ve all been there; we’ve all had a friend, family member, or partner that we knew- logically- was not good for us. Whether they undermined our self-esteem, sabotage our plans for self-improvement, or otherwise hamper our positive growth, these people in our lives can hold us back from meeting our full potential.
In early recovery, these toxic individuals can also lead to relapse.
It’s hard letting go of people. We hesitate out of love or codependency, wanting to hold on to the good parts of people and believe in redemption. While it is absolutely possible for people to change, we cannot allow ourselves to let unfounded hope blind us to the damage these relationships cause us.
There are 5 signs it’s time to cut a toxic person out of your life; learn what they are to help protect yourself in early recovery.
1. You Love The Idea Of Who They Could Be
Identifying the difference between loving someone and loving their potential is difficult; how do you know if you’re seeing who your loved one could become or if you’re just creating an idealized image of them?
If you find you’re often lamenting about how much better they would be if they would just ___________ — chances are you’re not really connecting with who that person is. People change — while it is perfectly fine to be a bit nostalgic for the past, recognize that your loved one isn’t the same as they were back then, and that’s okay. Just know when it’s time to move on.
2. They Regularly Undermine Your Self Image
Sometimes it comes off as teasing — you know, we all poke fun at the people we love from time to time. But when those little barbs cut too deep and are always seem targeted toward you it’s time to pay attention.
This toxic person is the one who says “you’ll be back at it again in no time” or other equally hurtful things to make their faithlessness perfectly clear. They don’t trust the process and they don’t trust you to commit to the process.
The thing is, you don’t need to prove a single thing to them.
The old saying “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is true when it comes to the people in your inner circle. It’s unfortunate but true; sometimes the people we love just don’t want to see us improve ourselves. Rather it’s a backwards attempt to make themselves feel better by keeping you down or some other reason, it’s never nice to realize that the people you love may be undermining your for their personal gain.
Cut those people off. You don’t need them; more than that — you’re going to prove them wrong.
3. They Put Themselves Above You, Always
In the same vein as those who undermine your self-image, people who constantly prioritize their needs above yours also don’t have your best interest at heart. Sure, there are situations where we all have to put ourselves in the back seat for the sake of others, but isn’t that the point? If you find that all your “compromises” consist of you submitting to their wants and needs, that’s not a compromise at all.
Support during your recovery journey is crucial; having people who are self-centered and unsupportive in your inner circle at this time could sabotage everything you’re working toward.
4. They Are A Common Factor In All Your Lowest Points
This one is pretty obvious: this is the toxic person who introduced you to cocaine or heroin; they encouraged your heavy drinking, or turned the other cheek at obvious signs of intoxication. They could even be on the opposite side of that spectrum- offering nothing but harsh criticisms or stress that intensified your need to use.
Either way, if you are serious about turning your life around, you need to evaluate these people. If they are a common factor in all of your lowest points, consider that they may also be a contributing factor. Toxic people live for toxicity. If there is someone in your circle that’s always bringing trouble around, they may be a toxic person.
Be careful though- don’t cast aside the people who earnestly cared for you in your vulnerability: those are the people who will help you become the best version of yourself possible.
5. They Continuously Tempt You With Your Past
Your past is your past for a reason. If a toxic person wants to bring you back there, it’s time for them to go. This is perhaps the most blatant and harmful of the toxic people in your life. As you work hard to pave a new foundation for yourself and your life, they continuously chip away at it with doubt and lack of faith. They say things like “are you sure you can do this?” or “I bet you miss drinking/getting high now!” Often this type of toxic person comes in the form of old friends with which you shared a bond through your addiction — that bond is gone now.
You may feel tempted to rejoin your old circles under the noble cause of trying to get through to your loved ones and that is truly admirable; please, just don’t lose sight of your own recovery journey and end up back at square one.