can feed us, grow us and sustain us or;  they can also drain us and create a toxic atmosphere that shrinks us and chips away at our self-belief and self-confidence.

They can also even do both.  Perhaps the person we have a relationship with (whether than be an intimate relationship, a transactional relationship such as clients/suppliers or a personal/family relationship) might not even be aware that they switch from sustaining us to draining us!

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to make an assumption and pre-suppose that the person is not being deliberately and consciously manipulative; they are not gas-lighting you or being a narcissist and manipulating/pulling the strings of control.  The same thing still applies to these kinds of people – but often there is an intention to exhibit and retain control at a more conscious level.

Recognise the warning signs

We talk about this in our relationship events, recognising the warning signs when people or their behaviours are becoming toxic to us.  Toxic is a pretty harsh word as well, isn’t it – I mean it sounds pretty extreme and to our unconscious minds and thought processes it can be!  A constant small barrage of words, actions and being unable to be ourselves can slowly and surely end up poisoning our own beliefs, thinking and outlook on life.

There is an art to recognising a draining relationship and it’s something that I didn’t learn about until I was in my mid-30’s.  One particular person who was in my life at the time (then) was a friend, who I’d known for many years and whom I’d set up a couple of businesses with.  They were within hindsight, a toxic person, they were able to get the best out of me and also nurtured some of the worst aspects that grew into a lack of self-belief at the time and unsustainable behaviours.  I stopped being able to say no.  I stopped being able to have the confidence to share what was going on for me and I was constantly trying to ‘please them’.  I became someone else in the pursuit of happiness at someone else’s beck and call.

And everything suffered.  My life, my health, my businesses, even my marriage and relationships with long-term friends… ripples and ripples that radiated out for many years afterwards and I felt quite isolated.

If I’m honest, I can also recognise I’ve been toxic to others (after all you tend to model and reenact what happens in your life) and I’ve drained and been toxic to them by acting in ways that, when I reflect back on my behaviours, I can acknowledge and learn from for future conversations.

Here are some signs that a relationship might be toxic to you

  • You walk on eggshells around them
  • They concentrate on the negative aspects of you or your life
  • You find yourself acting in a way that ‘is not you’
  • They show their emotions irrationally and also you find yourself unable to express your own emotions rationally
  • You often don’t feel heard or that your opinion doesn’t matter
  • They lie or leave out information and you also find yourself avoiding any conflict with them
  • You are the one that makes all of the effort
  • Everything is a competition, when you tell them something they have done it, been there, worn the t-shirt!
  • Their behaviour makes you feel belittled or guilty
  • You have heart-sink syndrome when they message or call you as you know it will be a drain on you
  • They are prone to using emotional blackmail
  • You feel that you give more than receive, perhaps you give a lot and yet don’t feel appreciated
  • They like to keep you to themselves
  • You avoid dealing with issues with them
  • Jealousy gets the worst of you and you start comparing your life to theirs
  • You may find yourself anxious, nervous and stressed out when with them or thinking about being in their company

Do any of these resonate with the person(s) you are thinking about?

Do they know how to press your button?

And fixing this is not about walking away from that person, leaving them behind and never speaking to them again, it’s often about redefining the boundaries and relationship for the future.  Taking back control in a way that suits you.

Once you know what you really want from the relationship and why it’s important to you, you can ask yourself the questions:

  • What do I want this relationship to give me?
  • What’s stopped me having this already?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • How will I know when I have it?

We will be covering aspects of toxic relationships and relationships in general during our next live and virtual training session on the evenings of the 19th & 26th August, join us for the workshop that will enable you to learn and redefine how you can interact and communicate at your best. has all the details, it’s only £29 for both sessions.

Also if you feel that a 1:1 coaching session would benefit you alongside/as well as this, reach out and contact us as both myself and Jo offer this as well.

Your past does not define you the choices you make next and lessons you take out of what’s happened shapes your future.

What would you like to have happen?



Photo credit Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash