9 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner. (It took me almost a decade to do 7 & 8.)

Today I welcome Philip Swindall, another “regular guy” working hard to become a better and better husband. He’s also the guy who writes the show notes for the Confessions of a Terrible Podcast. Today, though, he offers us 9 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner. How many of these do you practice regularly? I know there are a few that I still need quite a lot of work on! It took me nearly a decade to do Numbers 7 & 8!

9 Steps to Becoming a  Supportive Partner.  (It took me almost a decade to do 7 & 8.)One of the most common questions asked of relationship experts is:

“What can I do to keep the relationship vital and strong?”

An important part of the solution is providing the emotional support they crave.

Through reading books, listening to experts present their information, and just paying attention, I’ve discovered nine different ways I can improve my ability to support my wife.

These nine ways can form a solid foundation upon which you can build a world-class relationship.

Start applying these nine strategies in your relationship today and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a truly supportive partner:

1. Listen with intensity.

When you listen, it shows you’re interested in what’s on your partner’s mind. What do they yearn for? What do they love to do? If you listen, you’ll know.

My wife’s sister is profoundly deaf. Because of that, I’ve learned some tips for paying attention. Look them in the face when they speak to you. That’s rule number one.

2. Think of your partner first as much as possible.

What restaurant might they like to go to this evening? Is there an activity they’ve recently said they wished they could do? When you consider your partner’s wants and needs, your partner will feel the love.

You’ll never go wrong putting the needs and wants of someone you love before your own needs. After all, that’s the very definition of love. A wise teacher once said, “greater love has no man than he who lays down his own life for another.” I truly believe he wasn’t just talking about the end of someone’s life, but also, the end of someone’s selfishness for another.

3. Laugh together each day.

There’s something comforting and fun about laughing easily and often. Read them a joke you saw on Facebook. Tell them about something funny you read in the newspaper. Use a bit of self-deprecating humor. Find the humor in seemingly non-humorous happenings.

When my wife and I were dating, she complimented my sense of humor and ability to make her laugh. But, she was even more impressed when I told her that I thrive on the sound of laughter, “it’s the most beautiful music anyone can create.”

Additionally, laughing with others provides a deep emotional connection with them that breaks down barriers. It’s quite difficult to laugh with someone and still be angry at them.

4. Pay attention.

After living with someone for several years, it’s easy to fall into patterns of doing your own thing and being more focused on your own desires.

Observing your partner enhances your awareness of where they are both physically and emotionally.

To avoid the “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome, make it a point to learn something new about your partner every week. Turn it into a game. Saturday or Sunday morning, when you’re laying in bed, discuss what it is that you’ve learned about the other. You’ll be amazed what you’ll find out about your partner, and about yourself.

5. Offer help frequently.

If your wife seems frazzled about preparing for overnight visitors arriving next week, offer to help her prepare. Inquire about what she wants to have done and do some of the tasks for her.

If your husband wants to take his buddy to lunch next week and show off the new car but doesn’t have the time to take it to the car wash, get it washed for him. Loving partners assist each other frequently. Be on the lookout for things you can do to help them.

6. Declare that you’re a team.

There will be opportunities for you to tell your spouse that you’re there for them. You can say something like, “We’re a team. You can count on me.”

Statements like these demonstrate your ongoing support.

Statements like these in front of other people plants your stake in the ground. You’ve declared your borders and boundaries, and pretty much threatened anyone to invade at their own risk.

7. If you’ve been less than supportive recently, bring it up.

Although this may be difficult, admitting that you failed to step in and be there for your partner shows them you’re able to recognize your missteps. Plus, you can reassure them that it won’t happen again.

Failure is not permanent. However, failing to learn from that moment of failure is.

8. Apologize.

Apologizing says that you see your error and realize that you hurt your partner.

The day I got married, my younger brother, who had been married for almost 20 years already (I was a late bloomer, I guess) gave me some important words to remember. And, while I know he was joking (a little), the advice hits home. Those words were, “yes dear, you’re right, I’m wrong, I’m sorry.”

Those eight simple words, spoken honestly, can be a humbling, yet cleansing, experience. Afterwards, you can continue the relationship with a clean slate.

9. Practice Honesty.

It’s very important to be honest with your partner. If you’re careful with your tone of voice and gently portray your honest thoughts and feelings, your relationship will thrive.

My wife will tell you that she is surprised that I’ve not made a reference to a pop song yet. So, here it goes. When Billy Joel was going through a troubling time in his first marriage, he wrote a very poignant song about the word “honesty”.

In it, he says, that “honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard, but mostly what I need from you.” We all need someone upon whom we can rely to tell us the truth, when it hurts and when it soothes. We need that.

At the same time, we need to learn to tell the truth in love. When you correct your child most effectively, it is with love in your heart, praying that they don’t make that same mistake again. The most ineffective correction, however, is when you’re trying to prove your point, or are angry because they didn’t listen to you the first time.

Honesty, yes. Angry, no.

Your decision to be involved in an intimate, loving relationship was probably one of the most wonderful decisions you’ve ever made. Be supportive of your partner by putting these ideas into action.

Your relationship will be enriched beyond belief!

Phillip Swindall is a 50-year-old newlywed, having married for his first time at the age of 46. He has coached several of his married friends through the years as a supportive encourager who is committed to the experience of life-long, committed marriage relationships. Professionally, Phillip runs his own business, Show Notes Guy, out of his home, so that he can be close to his wife more often.

003: Asking Better Questions Can Save Your Marriage

QBQ, the Question Behind the QuestionAsking Better Questions Can Save Your MarriageToday’s guest, John G. Miller is the founder of QBQ, Inc., and New York Times Best Selling author of several books, including QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ!, Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional!” He and his wife co-wrote  Parenting the QBQ Way, How to be an Outstanding Parent and Raise Great Kids Using the Power of Personal Accountability. as well.

In today’s episode, you’ll catch the fire and energy of John’s message. The value of asking the proper questions, and the motivation for developing true personal responsibility in your corporate, personal and family relationships. You’ll also find out how John handles those “black sheep” in his family, as well as a final, parting piece of advice that will powerfully change your life if you apply it.

32 Minutes

Note from Nick:

Don’t miss the Challenge at the end of this post.  I’m going to give away a copy of John’s book Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional to 5 listeners who can complete the challenge.  I’ll put everyone who participates in a random picker to select the 5 winners!

Ok, back to the show!

Early Life and Discovering the Question Behind the Question

John was born and raised in Ithaca, New York. His first corporate job was with Cargill as a grain trader, buying and selling corn, wheat and soybeans.

Married at the age of 22 in 1980, Cargill transferred the new family to Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, back to Minnesota in five years. John says he came to a conclusion in those five years, “about five years into that corporate experience, I realized something was missing.”

A friend recommended he go into sales. Resisting the suggestion, he says his friend “nailed it. I had found my calling, and a couple months later, I found a position selling leadership and management training, and sales training as well.”

John was loving his new sales job. Making cold calls by phone, meeting execs one-on-one, selling in a workshop setting, and in internal corporate training settings were all a part of John’s corporate sales position.

“I sat in about 10,000 hours of corporate meetings over the next 10 years facilitating training… I didn’t know it at the time, but I was soaking stuff up like a sponge.” By 1994, he realized he was “listening to people ask really bad questions. Like managers asking why can’t we find good people. And, one CEO actually stood in front of his 8 or 9 directors one day, and he was an imposing man… he scared his people. He said, ‘what do you mean you don’t know our mission statement, we’ve had it on the wall for a year.’”

John went on to translate that statement, “What’s wrong with you idiots?”
All the wrong questions.

One day, John realized that business leaders should probably be asking the question behind the question — presenting it first to St. Jude Medical. From there, at the age of 36, John went off on his on from his leadership sales mentor and started his own company, speaking on personal accountability and the QBQ (Question Behind the Question).

Flipping the Switch 

John says his book Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ!, is pretty much the follow-up and sequel to QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. A third book John recommends is his new Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional! which summarizes ideas and lessons he’s accumulated over almost three decades of training and serving companies across the world.

He stresses the importance of translating knowledge into action. “That is the greatest challenge for all human beings,” John states, “and, it’s also the purpose of training.” John continues to explain that the problem most corporations face today is most companies no longer engage in training, but in education. “If we’re going to invest in training, we need to invest in the process and tools that change behavior.”

In his QBQ book, John provides the definition of learning. “Learning equals change,” he says, “if I have not changed, I have not learned.”

That, he says, is the problem, especially in marriages. “They’ll read a book on marriage and they’ll turn to their wife or husband and say, ‘honey, I’ve changed.’ Well, no, wait a minute. All you’ve done is read. You’ve absorbed some facts, some figures, some themes, some precepts, some tenets, some ideas, but change means I’m going to now change the way I think… I’m going to change the way I feel… and I’m going to change my behaviors.”
“That,” Miller says, “is what QBQ does.”

Building a Great Marriage

11 years into his marriage, John’s wife called him, saying, “Johnny, I’m going to marriage counseling you coming?”

He says he went. And, that he continues to meet with a counselor occasionally. “It is very difficult to keep a healthy marriage without neutral facilitation,” he explains. “If you’re having circular arguments where they spiral, when they start out about dinner and end up with us saying, ‘you always,’ ‘you never,’ and then we don’t’ speak to each other for two days? I would very much recommend, go find a marriage counselor and get that neutral facilitation going between you, because it really does make a difference.”

John reminds Confessions host, Nick Pavlidis that no one can really make their children, or their employees change. Even if he makes his son take out the garbage, “I haven’t changed his thinking, his emotions, or his will, his voluntary will, his decisions to take the better action. So, the truth is, I can only change me, but people fight hat all the time.”

John warns, “we start to destroy relationships when we try to control, and try to change others.”

Personal Accountability in Marriage

Confessions host, Nick Pavlidis, says his desire is to “get a group of one million individuals to sign up,lock arms and commit to taking personal accountability over improving their relationships.”

John says that part of the personal responsibility is loving what you’re doing. “If I don’t like where I’m working,” he explains, “if I don’t love what I’m doing… I’m going to ask a QBQ, [and that is] what dan I do to develop new skills? How can I move myself forward?”

John points out what he calls a truth in life, “winners fail forward. Victims lie in a quagmire, a slop called entitlement, and pity parties.”

He says the first thing one has to change is our thoughts. “Everything begins and just about ends with the way I think. Let’s take marriage. If I think cynically, meaning I’m doubting my wife intentions. I doubt her sincerity, it’s not skeptical. See, people confuse the term. Skepticism is not cynicism. Cynicism is when I doubt other people’s intentions. If I view my wife or my husband as selfish, then everything they do I will wonder what’s the real motive.”

But, he says, “until I change my view, my thinking of that other person, I’m not going to change my emotions that are engendered by their actions. So the first step to all change — remember, learning equals change — is changing my thinking.”

John then explains what QBQ does in the family dynamic. “Until the minute I stop saying, ‘why is this happening to me?’ and I start asking, ‘what can I do to move forward today?’ Instead of asking, ‘when will that department do its job right,’ and I start asking, ‘what can I do to help solve the problem?’… I haven’t changed my thinking.”

“Once the thinking is correct, and I’ve flipped the switch, then I can work on the action I need to take. But,” he says, “as long as I’m wallowing in victim thinking, procrastination and blame, I’m not going to even begin to take the right action… once I’ve changed my thoughts.”

What about Irreconcilable Differences?

John flips the switch and asks Nick a few questions about relationships with “irreconcilable differences.” “Why would that be?”

John then answers his question. “Let’s think about this. My wife is a feeler… I happen to be a thinker. I am highly logical. In fact, I am so logical that I scored a zero on this test we took for feelings, but I didn’t care.”

John told the counselor that he lacked the ability to care, but that his wife lacks his ability to process a situation logically. “I guarantee you that we could have put incompatible on a document long ago, and nobody would have hind-sighted us, because we are that different. So, the only way to make this marriage work, and it does work, and we are in love, and we have seven beautiful kids, three great-grandkids… we’ve made it work because we’ve brought QBQ into this marriage, and each party works on themselves.

Removing Negative Influences

John talks about the effect of his mom dying at the age of 51, when John was almost 17. “A week later, my dad did something that really was all about service.” A year later, he re-married.  15 years later, John’s stepmom “was the picture of controlling. And my father had his own problems.” It was during that time, around 1991, John decided he didn’t want to take Christmas gifts to his dad’s home.

“One day, the marriage counselor stepped in, not that she was siding with me, I don’t even think I was in the meeting that day. But, she said, ‘Karen, let it go. It’s a negative input to your life. You do not need to send gifts to the family a thousand miles away back in New York… when the counselor said ‘let it go…’ it really kind of took a negative out of our life.”

John gives another example. “I’ve got a family member who’s an alcoholic. I used to let him call me at one in the morning and keep me on the phone for an hour… 25 years ago, I just woke up one day and I said, ‘I’m done.’ And I stopped taking calls from him. You have got to draw you own boundaries, or else you will go crazy,” John states.

Overcoming Obstacles to Improving

When asked about obstacles to implementing the QBQ method, John relates a story of an event in which his group taped Audio CDs to chairs in the conference room. “So, I talk, and the session was over. And a guy walks up to the guy who hired me, and me, and said, ‘hey, I got two audio CD’s. I won two of them.’”

John explains that the man was given one CD by a certain women sitting nearby. “So, then the boss says to one of his people, ‘where were you sitting?’ So, then he figured it out. “ The woman had just gone through her second divorce.
“She’s angry at the world,” the boss said. John says, “I’ll never forget that. It’s not about being a woman. This person was angry, so hurt. Remember,” he states, “anger’s a secondary emotion. So hurt, that as I was teaching QBQ professional, she was rejecting the message… she just gave it away.”

“If you’re feeling anger out there,” he continues, “you better get to a counselor and get that processed, because until that anger is released, you’re going to pop. And, it’s going to be awfully tough to learn new skills, new ideas, new ways of doing things. Anger blocks learning.”

Final Takeaway

When John is asked his final question by Confessions of a Terrible Husband host, Nick Pavlidis, John recalls how he closes every interview with radio financial guru, Dave Ramsey. “I always say this,” John quips, “no matter what you thought coming into this interview, frustrated with a spouse, angry at a child, that happens. It’s real life. Hurt at work, disillusioned at work, just keep his in mind. I can only hang me. So, stop trying to change your boss. Stop trying to change your people. Stop trying to change your spouse, and your 15-year-old. Get that QBQ thing going. You know the greatest self-improvement tool ever made by man is a mirror. And when we look in the mirror, that’s what QBA’s all about.”

Here’s the Challenge from Nick

It’s no secret that John’s book Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional is about things you can do at work to make your business great. Much of this interview talked about leadership and personal accountability principles that apply equally at home as they do at work.

That’s where you come in.

Share this post on social media and include one thing you do at work that you can do at home to make your marriage stronger.

Then comment below with your principle and let us know where you shared it so we can interact with you there. You’ll be on the honor system on social media because, well, we’re all about honor here!  But if I can find the post on social media I’ll share it too, so feel free to include the link to your post in the comment!

And if you choose twitter, be sure to copy John (@QBQguy) and me (@abadhusband) so we can interact with you!

The contest will end in a week or when we get at least 5 comments (whichever is later)!

002: Creating a Peaceful Family

LENGTH 26 Minutes

In today’s episode you’ll learn about overcoming smoking, combining a sense of purpose, and adopting a theme for your marriage, and how all of those things can help develop a healthy, happy and peaceful marriage and family.

Marcus and Ashley Kusi coach couples in their first year of marriage, manage the website OurPeacefulFamily.com where they maintain a blog and podcast focused on building happy, healthy, and peaceful families from the first year forward. The two are parents of a one and a half year old, Ellison, and will soon give birth to a second child. Marcus describes his daughter, “We have a one-and-a-half year old daughter, called, Ellison, and we love her to death. That’s who we are.”

Be sure to connect with them at their blog and social media (linked at the end) and let them know how you’ve been inspired by their story!

Outward Peace, Inward Peace

Ashley and Marcus Kusi were parents before starting moving their focus toward helping couples through the difficult first year of marriage. Their daughter, Ellison was born prior to their outreach to other couples.

Ashley says one of the reasons they knew they could work on their marriage while helping others in theirs was because they entered their marriage with a clear concept of what they wanted out of the relationship before the entered into it. “We saw what we didn’t want, and we knew what we wanted. So, that really played a huge factor in us actually getting married,” she explains.

No Peaceful, Easy Feeling at First

Saying their relationship wasn’t the typical “boy meets girl” type of situation, Ashley says the two of them were serious and upfront. They told each other, “this is what I wan, and this is what I don’t want.”

One of the things Marcus didn’t want was a wife who smoked or drank. Ashley says that, at the time, she did both.

She stopped smoking, saying it was just her being stupid. “But,” she says, “I am not going to get drunk… I will have a glass of wine every now and then. So, I didn’t just totally give up all of myself, but we compromised and we found that middle ground.”


Developing a Peaceful First Year

Marcus and Ashley say they focus their efforts on strengthening couples in their first year of marriage. “That’s our target,” Ashley explains, “but, we’ve found that actually, a lot of older couples who’ve been married for more than even 10 years, have been giving us the most feedback.”
Marcus says posts like the Appreciating Your Spouse article helps couples “solidify their marriage. And that is something that we – when we get such a feedback, it really helps us keep going. It means that we are doing something and we are impacting marriages.”

A Peaceful Family Theme for Marriage

In the conversation, Confessions of a Terrible Husband host Nick Pavlidis asks Marcus about the concept of a “theme” for a marriage. He replies, “it’s not just a theme for marriage, it’s a theme for your family and your marriage.”

Marcus explains that he and Ashley have chosen for their theme, A Peaceful Family. “So,” Marcus says, “ let’s say 20 years down the road if you want to look at our marriage to see if we’ve been successful or whether we’ve been able to achieve our goals, that’s one goal that we look at.”

Explaining that the theme is a form of accountability for the marriage, he continues, “So, 10, 20, 40, 50 years down the road, that will be the yardstick that we’ll be able to measure the success rate of our marriage.”

Ashley explains further, “You don’t start to build a house without a plan. And I think a lot of people go into marriage, and their just like, ‘well, let’s give this a shot, it’s 50/50 right?’ But, having a goal and a vision for your family and your marriage… really helps set the tone in your relationship. It sets your goals, your personal goals, your goals as a couple, and it helps you to grow together because you’re both working towards a common goal.”

A Plan for Peace

The couple explains how they came up with their theme, A Peaceful Family, even before they were married. “We knew this was the goal we wanted to achieve. We wanted to have a peaceful home that we can raise our kids in, wanted to have a peaceful marriage,” says Marcus.

He says the two then set the plans in place, and began to implement them, even before getting married “we implemented certain things through our daily activities to be able to create a peaceful environment for our home, and everywhere that we go in.”

Marcus says the efforts brought noticeable results as early as a year or two into their marriage. “We went into a grocery store one day to buy ice cream. A guy in his 40’s approached us and told us ‘you guys give off a peaceful vibe.’ Like, he just told us that he really liked the vibe that we give around, wow, if someone that we don’t know has been able to approach us and give us that feedback, then it means we are doing something right,” Marcus exclaims.

An Instrument of Peace

As marriage coaches, Ashley and Marcus don’t teach peace, but teach the process that couples need to take in order to reach their relationship goals and develop a responsible, healthy marriage.

“We want to help them achieve whatever it is [they want to achieve],” says Ashley. “But, then, the basics of any family theme should be to have a happy, obviously, marriage, and a healthy relationship.”

Nick comments that the theme for his podcast and blog, Confessions of a Terrible Husband is personal responsibility in marriage. “I talk about the little things. So, for example, you can do all of the big things right. You can be faithful, you can be gentle, you can work hard and everything like that. But, if you do enough of the little things wrong, that makes you really just bad at being a spouse, in my words.”

Marcus continues, saying that when he gets home from school and his daily errands, “I could see my wife is tired, she’s been with our daughter all day long. So, what I usually do is put everything aside and sometimes I’ll give her a hub and a kiss. And, I’ll give my daughter a hug and try to spend some time with her along, so that Ashley can have her own time and just relax.”

Ashley says that’s a big thing.  But, “it’s all the little things. Because if he did just the big things it wouldn’t work for me… the little things he does with me like playing with our daughter, and I get to just watch them play, and it just makes me fall in love with him over and over again.”

Peace Over Struggles

Marcus admits that he struggles with time management. “I have lots of things going on and it makes it like it’s — they’re all important stuff that I need to take care of.” But, he says, he’s been trying to c”consciously make the effort to spend time with his wife and daughter. “That is the most important thing for me. And, I will say that is something that I used to struggle with, because, initially, it was just me and Ashley. Now, it’s me, Ashley, and Ellison. So, I have to make that conscious effort to spend time with them.”

The book "Love and Respect" comes recommended by Ashley and Marcus Kusi in episode 2 of the "Confessions of a Terrible Husband" podcast.
Ashley says her daily struggle continues, but has gotten better. “I think it all stems back from just selfishness as a person. Sometimes, I let my emotions get the best of me, and I have to remember to really ask him or think the best… especially when it comes to quality time because that’s my love language.”

She says one of the books she and Marcus read during their first year of marriage that helped in the process of understanding each other is Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect. “It really just talked about thinking the best of your spouse, they’re not purposely trying to hurt you, which was important because in the beginning of our marriage, a ton of my insecurities came out that I didn’t even know were there.”

She says the book helped her understand that Marcus wasn’t trying to make her feel rejected when he was too busy to so spend time, or show appreciation for her. “It really just kind of checked me and made me look at myself and be like, ‘ok, wait a minute here, this is just your emotions and you need to take responsibility for them.

How Husbands Can Improve Their Marriages

Nick Pavlidis asks Ashley to tell husbands listening the one thing they can do to make their relationship better.

“I would say that you need to make time to connect with her, and to learn how she feels connected. Because not everybody feels connected in the same way, and it could change. It could be one way today, it could be another way tomorrow or next week…. so just keep pursuing her, and let her feel connected to you.”

Recommended Marriage Resources

Marcus Kusi says this book helped strengthen his marriage in episode 2 of the "Confessions of a Terrible Husband" podcast.Marcus offers a book for families that had an impact on their marriage. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, “that really impacted our marriage,” Marcus continues, “it gives us a whole different perspective on money. I had a totally different perspective on money and Ashley had another perspective…. so I just recommended this book and she read it and it got her thinking about it.”

Ashley says the book “opened up lines of communication we wouldn’t otherwise have known about, or topics to talk about.”

Marcus says he and his wife listen to the One Extraordinary Marriage show by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo every week, usually in the car when they’re going somewhere. “That is something we do every weekend. That has also helped us improve our marriage in different ways,” he says.

How to Connect with Marcus and Ashley

photo22The two can be found on Facebook at Our Peaceful Family. Or you can visit their website at ourpeacefulfamily.com. Marcus suggests that you start with their getting started page first, so you can get a feel of the website, and then look at the about page to learn a little bit more about them as a couple and as marriage coaches.

While you’re on their page, check out their new podcast, as well.

Staying Safe and Healthy When in Love with Someone Toxic

I’m super excited to welcome my good friend and Toxicity Education Advocate, Jen Moff, back to talk about how to stay safe and healthy when in love with someone toxic. This is a follow-up on my post listing 9 Signs You’re a Toxic Person and Jen’s first post, Seven Steps to a Toxic Turnaround, which was written for toxic folks who need to change.

Staying Safe and Healthy When in Love with Someone Toxic.Whether this person is selfish, angry, greedy, attention seeking, sees themselves a victim, or living in a state of anxiety and fear, they can be seen as toxic. The tricky part is the relationship you have with this person. They could be a blood relative, coworker, boss, employee, best friend, acquaintance, or even a spouse or lover. Depending on the interaction, there are some differences in how I’d suggest handling the relationship.

Here are some general best practices for how to stay safe when you suspect there is toxic behavior from your spouse or lover.

1. Set firm boundaries

A boundary is an imaginary line that separates one person from another. Each person decides what their boundaries are in terms of their body, heart, mind, attitudes, values, beliefs, emotions, time, and energy. When you say yes and when you say no you are stating your personal boundaries. Boundaries aren’t usually something that is actively taught, but they are directly correlated to self-respect.

Implementing boundaries where they may have lacked will feel challenging and maybe even scary, almost as if this person wont like or love you if you say no. I promise, each time you practice saying and meaning your yes’s and your no’s the easier it gets. And besides, do you really want to spend the majority of your time with someone who doesn’t respect you?

2. Practice self-care

Self-care is not selfish. Let me make that perfectly clear.

Make sure to take the time to invest in yourself. A full pitcher can pour out glass after glass. However, an empty cup doesn’t have anything to give to others let, alone have anything for sustainable for itself.

Make sure to get roughly 8 hours of sleep per night. Our bodies need that time to recharge and prepare for the next day. Stay hydrated. Eating a balanced diet is another area that is key. No one is perfect. I love a big mug filled to the brim with rich hot chocolate and marshmallows, and on occasion I allow myself to have it. But I also know I need to take care of the body I have. Give it the proper fuel so it can do its best. What do you enjoy that helps you relax? A massage? Pedicure? Reading a book? Meditation? Going for a run?

Think of our bodies like a car. You have to keep it maintained with fuel, oil changes, washing, and so on, so it does what it is designed to. We are no different. Our body, mind, and soul need taken care of.

3. Do not enable

Enabling is different from helping. We can help someone when we do something for them out of love that they can not do for themselves. Enabling is believing we are doing the above for those reasons, however the person can very well do it for themselves. They maybe play the victim or be passive aggressive in order to have you assume the role of caretaker. This is a sign of immaturity. People are more than capable to do many things. In fact, I believe we can do anything we put our minds to, all it takes is effort. Sometimes it may feel as though we are being unkind or cruel by withdrawing “help”. But I assure you giving people the opportunity to grow is a great gift.

Be aware of what help they actually need and when they are exploiting or manipulating.

4. Think, don’t feel

Toxic individuals generally are emotionally immature. They don’t know how to process their emotions in healthy and proactive ways. The ways they do behave come across as hurtful, cold, and downright mean.

It’s tricky to communicate to them after their words and actions just hurt you. Maybe in the past you’ve tried to share how you were feeling and instead of it helping, it just made them madder or worse, they turned the tables and made you feel bad for bringing it up. Now you are the bad guy.

The trick when communicating with them goes against regular communication rules. These individuals aren’t comfortable with feelings, they are thinkers. So speak to them in their language. Be logical, give as little as you can to any conversation. This may take some work as it may not be your normal way of operating. I guarantee, if you keep yourself from engaging with them in the ways that trigger their toxic behavior, you will keep yourself strong and safe.

5. Surround yourself with safe community

The power of safe and empowering community is truly an amazing thing. I can say from experience how important this aspect is to your overall wellness. Many leadership gurus and personal development experts agree that we become a combination of the 5 people we are closest to. There is plenty of truth to that. Human beings are meant to live in community. Toxic individuals tend to alienate their victims so that they do not have a support system.

Find a way to connect with people. They could be at your work, a church or spiritual organization, even meetup.com has great resources for like-minded people to connect. Spending time with healthy people will empower you and help provide the strength to continue with your boundaries and self-care.

6. Limit exposure

If your partner makes you feel unsafe, has threatened you, assaulted you, or generally makes you feel nervous or uncomfortable, do your best to limit your one on one time with them. Meet in public places if need be. Let a family member or friend know when you are planning on being around.

BONUS: Let go

As hard as this is to hear, leaving may be the best thing you can do for yourself. Leaving is empowering. It’s standing up and saying “No, I won’t allow this to continue. I deserve better.” The term “No Contact” is used to describe an approach where the abused cuts all ties with the abuser. They do not see them or speak to them. They put measures in place to ensure contact cannot be made electronically, such as blocking phone numbers or text messages, email, and blocking profiles from social media. It may also meaning moving, changing phone numbers, and so on.

Some toxic people are not ready for growth and change. Why? It isn’t your job to figure that out. It’s your job to take care of you.