The Detox You Don't Think About
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You've detoxed your body, your digital life, and your stuff. But have you ever thought about detoxing your relationships? They can be seriously toxic, causing you tons of stress, which—BTW—can negatively affect your health in tons of ways.
That's why we consulted Rachel Sussman, a NYC-based relationship expert and therapist, for tips on how to evaluate your relationships and decide which you should save and which you should ditch. Follow this day-by-day to evaluate each of your relationships, then take the necessary steps to rid your life of people that may be weighing you down instead of lifting you up.
1. Rid Yourself of Toxic Friends
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When you're super busy trying to stay fit, eat healthy, crush it at your job, and still have a social life, you can't waste time on people who aren't worth yours. Day one of this detox, it's all about unburdening yourself from toxic friendships.
Evaluate: "Is there a friend who you spend an inordinate amount of time feeling aggravated or angry or disappointed with? Is there someone who cancels on your all the time?" says Sussman. "That might be someone who you want to end a friendship with."
2. Take a Look at Your Romantic Relationship
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Your romantic partner might be making your life heaven on Earth, or might be doing the opposite. Admitting your romantic relationship is toxic isn't easy to do. You might be in a relationship that's causing you more pain than pleasure, yet you're afraid to break up, says Sussman. Maybe you're scared you won't meet someone again, or worried that you're getting older. (Not sure? Here are other signs your partner is toxic.)
The honest truth: If any of these statements are ringing true, "it's time to embrace your power and cleanse yourself of that person," says Sussman.
3. Face Your Family
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The thing about family is you can't swap them out for another one. While it's ideal to think you could detox away all your family issues, it's not that simple. But this is where establishing boundaries comes in, says Sussman.
Look at your family relationships: Are any of your relatives being generally unkind or causing an ample amount of stress? Start with a week away from the person and see how it feels. You're not going to cut them from your life, but if you take a week off, you might be able to better confront your feelings.
4. Re-evaluate Your Roommate
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We all have special love/hate relationships with our roommates, but day four is about deciding whether those down moments are significantly impacting your quality of life. "When it's not working out well, it can be super stressful and even impact your sleep," says Sussman.
"Obviously, it's hard to detox yourself of a roommate because you can't tell them to leave," says Sussman. She recommends going away for a few days or a week, and seeing how you feel not living with that person. "You might find appreciation for them, or you might find some strength and confidence to be more confrontational."
5. Check Out Your Workplace Dynamics
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Think about how much of your time you spend at work—do you really want to spend that much of your life miserable because you can't see eye-to-eye with a boss or colleague? (Here are some tips for dealing with general workplace anxiety.)
It can be difficult to decipher how to stand up for yourself without getting fired, says Sussman. But if a boss is a bully and yells frequently, sometimes the most helpful thing can be to set boundaries. This can extend to colleagues as well; they could be bullying or manipulating you. "Take a step back and try to understand they're probably an insecure person, and go sit down and have a talk with them and see how it goes," she says.
6. Understand the Value of Other Professionals
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Day six is for examining the relationships you don't really think about: those with your doctor, trainer, house cleaner, babysitter, hair stylist, etc. Is there someone you feel isn't being respectful of your time? Isn't treating you nicely? How do you feel after spending time with each of them? Getting your hair done or seeing a doctor about a health concern should never leave you with a bad feeling.
"Remember that you are in charge and that you are the consumer," says Sussman. You have the power to leave and go elsewhere, or take the time to talk to them. "It's OK to advocate for yourself. It's OK to say 'this is my dime, and this is what I need from you.'" Sussman, who is a practicing therapist, even says, "I really like it when a client comes to me and challenges something that I said."
7. Your Detox Action Plan
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Talk It Through: If you're going for the talk-it-through route, how you do so is important. Sussman gives tips on having a confrontational conversation that won't lead to an argument. First, give it 24 hours. Sleep on your thoughts before bringing them up in conversation. Second, practice. Sort out your thoughts beforehand so it's more curated and less "word vomit." Third, when having the conversation, use "I" statements ("I think" or "I feel") and never accuse ("You did"). (Check here for more tips on how to have productive conversations.)
Or Let It Go: If you've decided any of these relationships are just not worth it and are toxic for your health, you have to take action—but do you do the ~slow fade~ and let them slip out of your life, or tell them upfront why you're letting go?
"If you've tried to talk with them before and it's fallen on deaf ears, if you think it's more trouble than it's worth, or if you think, 'they don't care about me enough to have this conversation,' then it's best to just let it fade away," says Sussman.
But there is a case for having "the talk," even when you think it might be hopeless. "It's always a good experience to face our fears, and everyone is afraid of that kind of conversation," says Sussman. "Sometimes you could be ready to write someone off, but if you sit down to tell them why you're distancing yourself, something really profound could happen. It could be a very moving experience. If it doesn't go well, it's more evidence that it's best to detox them from your life."