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Why Banishing Unhealthy Relationships is the First Step Towards Finding Happiness

December 18, 2018

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the relationships I have with the people in my life. In the midst of reflecting on past romances, toxic family connections and long forgotten friendships, I had an epiphany. I realised that somewhere along the way I never really understood the importance of a healthy relationship.


When I evaluate the importance of my relationship with another, I far too often assess the situation based on how I feel, rather than how healthy, positive and productive the relationship actually is. Growing up, I was never surrounded by positive relationships, so I guess it's taken me until adulthood to discover that the health of the relationships we invest our time and energy into has a significant impact on our overall happiness.


I've realised unhealthy relationships affect us in the following ways:


If those around us don't value us, then we lose sight of our own self-worth. These types of relationships leave us in a constant state of unease, and the longer we allow them to go on, the more we start to believe that we're deserving of this behaviour and the harder it is to realise that we don't.


When our relationships are plagued by conflict and stress, we have very little chance of feeling happy and content in our lives. Unhealthy relationships bring an immense amount of pressure, pain and strain. We find ourselves so caught up in all the drama of these negative relationships, that we forget all the good things we have going on and have no energy left to enjoy the beauty of life.


Unhealthy relationships are almost always formed by unhealthy behaviours. It's impossible not to pick up bad habits when you surround yourself with them, so the longer we accept these toxic behaviours as part of our life, the more chance there is of us acting out in the same unhealthy ways.


In working through my own unhealthy relationship track record, I've come up with the following list to help me determine whether or not a situation is healthy for me. I found the process tremendously fulfilling and look forward to looking more logically at my connections with others in the future.


  • You each take ownership of your happiness and don't expect your partner to be responsible for how you feel.


  • During times of crisis, you turn to each other rather than away from each other.


  • You notice the little things about each other, from likes and dislikes, to their quirks and non-verbal communication.


  • You praise each other's efforts, support each other's endeavours and celebrate each other's victories as if they are your own.


  • There's a sense of safety and security, and you're never left wondering how they feel about you.


  • You share a high level of mutual trust.


  • You share dreams, goals or interests.


  • You speak proudly of each other.


  • You do what is respectful to each other, regardless of whether you're together or apart.


  • During arguments, you're still considerate of each other's feelings.


  • You're thankful to have each other in your lives.


  • You show appreciation for each other's efforts, no matter how small.

  • It's all about teamwork.


  • You accept each other's flaws and don't use them out of spite or to place blame.


  • You take comfort in knowing that you can speak openly, without fear of judgment or persecution.


  • You're both willing to compromise without regret.


  • You value each other's input, advice and suggestions rather than taking it as criticism.


  • You're able to work through issues together then put them to rest.


  • You choose each other when it really matters.


Relationships are never easy but there's no doubt in my mind that they are far easier if you rid yourself of the toxic ones and focus all of your energy into nourishing the healthy ones that you have. Unhealthy relationships suck us of our positivity, optimism and energy, and have the ability to impact every aspect of our lives.


In my own experience, letting go of the relationships that cause me misery and disfunction, has given me a greater sense of self, an increased love for life, and a lot more clarity about what I want from my life. I've realised that emotions, feelings and desires mean little if they aren't supported by a shared interest in maintaining a healthy, functional relationship.


The bottom line really is - if a relationship is not conducive to your happiness and wellbeing, then more often than not, it's something you need to let go of.


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