How To Identify and End A Toxic Relationship and Be Free

…… It’s sometimes hard to see you are in a toxic relationship when you are in it.

We get so invested and often can’t see clearly as we are clouded by our conditioning.

Some signs of a toxic relationship are more obvious, like mental, emotional, verbal or financial abuse, but some are much more subtle.

So here are a few signs of a toxic relationship:

  • You are constantly bringing out the worst parts of each other.
  • There is a lot of passive aggressive behavior rather than real communication.
  • Excessive jealousy, control and possessiveness.
  • Constantly criticizing the other.
  • You don’t feel you can be your real self out of fear of the other’s reactions.
  • Disrespecting your partner, their opinions, requests, worth.
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Woodstock and Its Legacy

“By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song
and celebration”
—Joni Mitchell

Fifty years ago, in August 1969, nearly a half million young people gathered on a farm in rural New York for “three days of peace and music.” Contrary to warnings about how it would all go wrong, peace and music are exactly what occurred. In spite of the huge crowds, rain, mud, and countless challenges, love and community prevailed. The impact of that peaceful spirit was felt across the country and around the world. Woodstock Nation, whether you were there in person or not, defined a generation. Its legacy continues today.

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Cutting The Cords Of Family Dysfunction

Day after day, I have people who come to me because they feel stuck in their relationships. Although their circumstances may be unique, their themes are common. They:

  • Become masters at avoiding or denying what’s really going on in their relationships or household,
  • Numb out with food, alcohol, or work so they don’t have to feel their pain or resignation,
  • Pacify their partners because they don’t want to upset them and deal with their wrath,
  • Tolerate situations that are intolerable, unhealthy, or just soul-crushing,
  • Stay in the relationship because they have fear of leaving and the unknown.

 

They desperately want support in breaking free from their non-serving patterns and behaviors and are ready to do the work necessary to create a shift.

Although initially most think they are doing the work for themselves, which they are, they soon realize that their commitment to change is much bigger than they are. They realize that the dysfunctional patterns which they are exhibiting, experiencing, and enduring in their relationships and household have been in their family for generations and will more than likely remain in their family for generations to come unless someone has the courage and desire to cut the cords of dysfunction that are woven into the fabric of the family.

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Relationships: Avoiding the Line of Fire

Do you try to talk with someone when you already know he or she is closed? Consider NOT putting your inner child in the line of fire.

How often do you ask a question of or make a statement to a partner, co-worker, friend, or relative at a time when you already know they are closed or angry? Then, when they are predictably angry or defensive, you feel upset by their response. Why do you put your inner child in the line of fire? What are you hoping to gain by asking a question or making a statement when you already know they are closed?

Go inside for a moment and ask yourself this question: “Why do I try to communicate with someone whom I already know is angry, defensive, or withdrawn? What do I hope will happen?”

If you are honest with yourself, you will see that your hope is that by asking the question or making the statement, the other person will respond with openness. Now, again be honest with yourself – how often has this happened? What usually happens instead?

Very often, they continue to be angry or defensive and then you feel really badly because your covert manipulation hasn’t worked.

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Mark Nepos' Weekly Reflection: I Affirm (for Joel Elkes)

Already someone is asking

who you were. And I well up.

I reach for your long life and all

you did. But it’s all you touched

that can’t be put into words. Twenty

years ago, when I was troubled and

confused, you took my hand firmly

and said, “You steward a force of

nature within you. Honor it and

trust it.” Later, you led me to the

plateau between all that is good

in us and all the harm we do. You

stood there between the eternal light

and the eternal dark and said, “Come,

look with me into the heart of things.”

But you always returned to walk the

earth, lending your strong hands to

all who came your way. I want so

much to speak about the force of

nature you were. The kind stranger

is waiting. And I can only point to

who you were, like a child pointing

to the moon. I stutter and simply

say, “He was such a good man.”



A Question to Walk With: Describe someone who can look into the heart of things with. What qualities does this friend inhabit that makes such depth between you possible?

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Where Do You Belong?

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Saint Teresa of Calcutta

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the phrase “go back to where you came from.”

Those were the words our president uttered last week, and after he said them, I found myself feeling the rejection, the pain and the hurt behind them. While his words were aimed at four female elected officials, I know that many of us have also heard words like that in our personal lives.

“Get out! Go away! You are not welcome here anymore. You don’t deserve to be here. Leave!”

Sit with those words. How do they make you feel in your body, your heart and your mind? I know they make me feel pain. Why? Well, underneath those words is the implication that one doesn’t belong, and not belonging cuts to the core of what we desire and need to survive as human beings.

Belonging. I remember a quote from Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) where she said the biggest threat to us and our world was that people don’t feel as though they belong. “If we have no peace,” she said, “it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

When someone senses that they don’t belong, they don’t feel the ground underneath their feet. They don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. They don’t trust that they belong.

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Choosing the Company You Keep

Those with whom we assemble, we soon resemble!

This simple old saying hides a deep Truth that can enlighten and empower every aspect of our lives.

Who we are — our very essence — is continually being transformed by the company we keep.

Stated differently, when we keep the company of what is light and bright, our lives get lighter and brighter. And when we keep the company of what is dark and discouraging, our lives can’t help but be dragged downward.

This idea might sound a little simplistic at first, but its power soon becomes evident when we put it to use in the quest to realize our highest aspirations. The key lies in understanding that this principle is active on multiple levels at once. For instance, when referring to "the company we keep," we of course mean the people we spend time with every day — family, friends, co-workers, etc. However, on a deeper and more important level, “company” can also refer to the thoughts and feelings moving within us in any given moment.

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Trust In Love

Do you believe in love?

The Practice:
Trust in love.

Why?

Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can’t see air, but it’s always available for you.

Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see – but it’s in you and all around you.

In the press of life – dealing with hassles in personal relationships and bombarded with news of war and other conflicts – it’s easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can’t place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity – between complete strangers! Let alone with one’s friends and family.

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A Swan Song of Love

When I was first starting out, I participated in an event with well-known psychic medium John Edward. I was excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time. I knew this was my test to see if I could take my mediumship to the next level.

I sat in the green room for a while, thinking how much I wanted to be the very best I could, and I hoped that my guides would be there to assist me. Before long, I started to receive information in a series of images. In my mind’s eye, I saw what seemed to be a piece of paper being furiously folded. Were they trying to show me a paper plane, a paper toy, or was it just a cut-out doll? I tried to interpret what I was receiving as quickly as I could. It finally turned into a beautiful origami swan. I knew immediately that this was the link.

Suddenly I heard John Edward announce my name and I was on. Putting any fears behind me, I strode confidently on stage. The atmosphere was electric as I gave a short talk about myself, how I work, and what people could expect, as well as what not to expect.

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7 Ways To Overcome Feeling Insecure In A Relationship and Be Free

“Your relationship with yourself is the real foundation for your relationship with others.”

The partner you attract in a relationship is a mirror manifestation of yourself. When you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, you look to your partner to give you a sense of validation. This leads to feelings of insecurity and suffering. Listen to this episode to learn 7 simple, yet powerful keys to improve your relationship with yourself and overcome feelings of insecurity.

Some Questions I Ask:

  • How often do you really connect with who you are?
  • Have you ever felt insecure in your relationship?
  • Do you like the partners you are attracting into your sphere?
  • How do you deal with the fear of losing your identity in your relationship?
  • How often do you look in the mirror? Do you like what you see?
  • Have you noticed the voice in your head that criticizes you?
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Making Yourself Happy (or happier!)

Want the insider tips on what the happiest people in the world do to live long, healthy, and HAPPY lives?

Dan Buettner, an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author has written The Blue Zones of Happiness

His book is based on happiness you can actually measure. The first kind of happiness is determined by asking people to rate their life satisfaction level on a scale of 1 to 10. The second kind of happiness is purpose, and it’s measured by people rating how engaged they are with their lives, and if they’re doing meaningful things every day. The third measurement is how much people enjoy their lives on a day -to-day or moment-to-moment basis. That’s determined by asking people to remember their last 24 hours and report how many times they felt joy, laughed, or smiled.
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We Can’t Control Others, But Here’s How To Influence Them

Rather than trying to control others, which never works in the long run, learn how you can influence others.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Inner Bonding teaches that we have no control over others’ intent, choices, and how they feel about us. However, while we have no control, we can influence others. Our own loving or unloving behavior can have a huge influence on others.

Think back in your life to the people who most influenced you.

  • Who influenced you regarding your controlling and addictive behavior?
  • Who influenced you regarding your loving, personally powerful behavior?

The problem for many of us is that we have far too many role models of unloving behavior toward ourselves and others, and far too few role models of loving behavior. This is why it is so important to be able to turn to your guidance for what’s loving to you and to others.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Majestic Turn

One of the great masters of the long walk through time is the Earth itself, as it turns ever so slowly on its axis, turning in place forever. This unconscious devotion to being sustains all life and keeps the mountains and oceans from spinning into space. This great and silent teacher holds the secret of being. For we are each born with an unconscious devotion to turn in place around the unseeable center. And in doing so, we sustain all life. When the Earth devotes itself to this majestic turn, ever inward, it creates and renews a force we call gravity. When we devote ourselves to this majestic turn around the unseeable center, we create and sustain a force we call love. And it is love like gravity that keeps the continents from breaking apart and spinning into space.

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The One and Only Dependable Source of Love

Do you make others your dependable source of love – your Higher Power?


Seth and Lisa consulted with me because they had been married only a year and were having problems. Seth was often angry at Lisa, and Lisa felt shut down to Seth.

“Seth,” I asked him, “What are you wanting from Lisa that you are not getting?”

“I want her to be my dependable source of love. She is my wife and she should be my dependable source of love.”

Seth was doing what many people do in relationships – he was making Lisa his Higher Power. Having no spiritual connection of his own, he kept trying to access love through Lisa. Lisa, feeling pulled on by Seth to fill the emptiness caused by his self-abandonment, had withdrawn.

We all need a dependable source of love, but to expect another to be that dependable source creates the codependency that leads to the relationship difficulties that Seth and Lisa were experiencing.

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Love Your Neighbor

In the neighborhood?

The Practice:
Love your neighbor.

Why?

This practice might sound extreme or pushy, and I want to tell you what I mean by it.

Everyone has lots of neighbors, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Obviously the people living across the street are neighbors, but in some sense so are the people you live with. Friends, relatives, co-workers, all the people you know are neighbors. So are the people at the market or walking past on the street. Other living things are neighbors as well, such as cats and dogs, birds and bees, ants on the kitchen counter, and plants and trees.

There’s also a neighborhood inside each of us. The human body contains about 100 trillion cells – and at least as many microorganisms that are neighbors, too. Plus consider your mind. My own mind is like a village with many characters at different stages of biological and psychological evolution, chatting or arguing with each other. All the parts of your mind – the pushy internal critic, the playful child, the longing for lasting happiness, the calm voice that talks you off the ledge – are neighbors of a sort.

In the largest sense, the neighbors of your neighbors are your neighbors, which means that every living thing is your neighbor – and mine. Wow. Walt Whitman got it right when he wrote: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

What should we do with our neighbors? Ignore or hate them? Or recognize and love them?

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The Husband Super Store

I once heard a story called Shopping for the Perfect Husband. The tale is set in the “Perfect Husband” super store, a five-story building where women go to find their perfect match.

On each of the five floors there are men with various qualities. The main rule was that once you reached any given floor, you had to select a man from that floor. If you didn’t, you could go to the next floor, not knowing for sure what you would find. The trick was that you couldn’t return to a lower floor unless you planned to leave the store husband-less.

Marianne and Joan, lifelong best friends, set off to find Mr. Soulmate. On the first floor there was a small sign that read:

“These guys love children and have good jobs.”

Joan thought that was great, but she was also curious to see what was on the second floor.
Marianne followed her up the escalator where they found a somewhat larger sign that said:

“These guys are super handsome, love children and have great jobs.”

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5 Ways To Heal Your Heart

The relationships we have with others – romantic or platonic – are one of the most sacred aspects of our being. In these close, intimate spaces, we are allowed to become a part of someone else’s life, offering them love and affection, advice and caring, nurturing and a listening ear.

But there are times when these relationships dissolve – for myriad reasons – and the heartache that results can be one of the most painful things to endure. Heartache can turn us into people we’d rather not be. To avoid this, I offer you these 5 ways to heal your heart, and return to love.

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Proactively Choosing To Love

What does it REALLY mean to make choices from healthy parts of your personality? It’s not only when you observe that a fearful part of your personality is active (for example, one that is impatient), and you decide to act from a loving part of your personality instead (for example, one that is patient). This is the core dynamic of creating authentic power.

It also means proactively and consciously choosing to act from a loving part of your personality moment by moment – for example, a part that is grateful, or appreciative, or caring, or content, or in awe of the Universe as well as patient. When you do this, you will notice that you are naturally more giving, creative, and curious. You will feel your heart opening, and the joy of opening to others will fill your awareness.

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Over Many Months

After ten years of swimming, I stopped when Eleanor died. She was one of several dear ones who had left the Earth. There was too much to tend, and part of my heart had stopped, unsure how to continue. Everyone called it grief, but below the name, I felt that the fire in my center was beginning to smoke. I kept my appointments and did the endless tasks, but some part of me felt hollow.

Slowly, over many months, I began to feel the presence of those I lost in simple things: in the sudden sweep of tall grasses, as if Eleanor were whispering something I couldn’t quite hear; in the light on a pigeon in Washington Square Park while someone played a saxophone, as if my father were smiling on a bench just out of view; and in the closed eyes of our new dog Zuzu while asleep, as if our dead, beloved dog Mira were slipping inside her to tell us she was near.

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A Father's Love

It’s Father’s Day on June 16th – a time to cherish your Dads and your Granddads or Father figure, whether they are with you or on the Other Side. The next time you find yourself missing your loved ones, try not to think they’re in some faraway place. In reality, they’re with you. They’re not here in a physical body, but they’re with you spiritually. Just remember that in the spiritual consciousness, there’s absolutely no separation at all. To illustrate this point, I’d like to share the following story from a family that I am very close to. It shows that your loved ones are with you through all the bad times, as well as the good times.

Chris and his wife, Claire, stood on the balcony in the Great Hall Meeting Room of Faneuil Hall in Boston. As beautiful as the historic building is, they weren’t there to sightsee but to proudly watch their son Charlie be sworn in as an attorney.

The students’ names were called one by one, and it was soon time for Charlie to stand up and accept his law degree. Just as Charlie’s name was read, Chris began to feel a presence at his side. It felt as if his own mom, who’d passed away years earlier, was standing right beside him. Chris shivered as it dawned on him what was happening. It hadn’t been something he’d wished for or expected to happen, but he felt in his heart that she was there in spirit to support him and her grandson with her love. Never wanting to miss out on anything when she was alive, she clearly wanted to be part of her grandson’s graduation!

As Chris’s eyes welled up with tears, he felt another presence draw close and felt a hand on his shoulder. In his mind, he heard the voice of his dad, who’d passed years earlier,“Son, I’m so proud.”

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