7 Steps for a Toxic Turnaround

I'm super excited to introduce my good friend and Toxicity Education Advocate, Jen Moff, to follow up on my post listing 9 Signs You're a Toxic Person. This first post was written for toxic folks who need to change. Jen will join us again to speak with people who are in a relationship with a toxic person about how to get help. 🙂

Seven Steps for a Toxic Turnaround1. Feel the burn

Nothing changes except what has to change. And change will not come unless the pain of our current circumstance becomes unbearable.

*Toxic individuals are emotionally immature and it is easier for them to run away and avoid the mess they make. For those around them, this is a lesson in setting healthy boundaries and ceasing co-dependency. If we enable those who are toxic, they will never feel the pain they need in order to change.

You must feel the pain of your choices and behavior.

2. Be honest with yourself

Recognize you have a problem.

You must realize that you are the common denominator in all of your relationship issues. This requires humility. The ego will do whatever it can to protect itself. Once you recognize that, you can take a step forward.

3. Don’t fall into magical thinking

Playing the victim and thinking this is the hand you’ve been dealt is a defense mechanism. Poor you. The pity party is sooooo attractive. It allows you to justify why your way is right and everyone else is wrong. Excuse me while I go vomit.

Seeing life as black and white doesn’t help anyone, unless you are a photographer.

Somebody that I used to know viewed himself as a mythological character. The trickster archetype. He wholeheartedly believed he was the way he was, in order to shake everything up, to change everyone else, to hurt them because in the long run they would learn from interacting with him. Meanwhile he couldn’t change unless it happened organically. He managed to come up with this fantasy so that he could find meaning in his brokenness and cope without having to put forth the effort to do the work.

Friends, I say this with love…that is delusional.

4. Get humble and Ask for help

We can’t do it alone. We just can’t. We were made to live in community, to give and accept help. Each person has strengths, challenges, gifts, and talents.

Help comes in many forms.

In this case I am telling you to seek professional counseling or therapy. Find an individual who specializes in toxic thinking and behaviors, such as Narcissism, as well as holistic health and Mindfulness.

5. Own your sh*t

Admit the truth to those you’ve hurt. Let them know you are working on it with a professional.

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness are powerful, however, many individuals see a true apology as something more. They need to see a behavior change. Let them know you are working on that.

The key here is to be genuine in what you are saying. If you say the words just to say them, but have no intention of acting on them, all you are doing is perpetuating the problem and alienating those who are rooting for you to get the help you need and deserve.

And in the end, they will have learned not to trust the words that come out of your mouth.

6. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.

When we stay in the present moment, we empower ourselves to respond instead of react. For someone who may be toxic, they typically react out of learned behavior patterns that blame or shame everyone around them. “Those people are the problem, not me.”

It’s as if you’ve given your power away.

Being mindful allows you to sit in that space between a stimuli and habitual reaction. In that space, you get to choose something different, it allows you to practice a healthier way to respond and act. Practiced enough, a habit forms. This new habit replaces the old dysfunction. Working with your counselor will help you learn healthier responses.

7. Fight yourself

In any kind of growth or change, sometimes we screw up. Maybe its the “two steps forward, one step back” dance. Lasting change rarely happens with the “cold turkey” concept. Give yourself grace. This will take time. If I’m being honest and realistic, it will probably take longer than you want it to.

Picture yourself in a boxing ring, new you in the left, old you in the right. This competition has a winner. You get to decide which one stands at the end.

There may be times when “new you” gets knocks out and you fall down, barely breathing. That’s OK. Take a moment. Put forth the effort to get back up. Old you is stronger at first. But new you has the heart of a warrior.

You must put forth effort in every moment. It may be uncomfortable, it may be painful, challenging, hard, or disheartening. But it will absolutely be possible.

You are worth it.

Jen Moff is the founder of the #BeMindFULL Movement, a safe and like-minded community that inspires others to live mindfully and find healing and fulfillment. Jen teaches women to identify toxic relationships and to blossom into the best possible version of themselves. Jen’s favorite pastimes consist of visiting Disney World, making lip-sync videos, and photo-bombing. Connect with Jen on her site, via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Follow the BeMindFULL Movement here.

How to speak the same language when you don’t speak the same language

Photo © Depositphotos.com/JanMika

Today's post is from my friend Isabel Hundt.  Isabel is a coach, speaker and author.  And she has a really unique perspective on communication in marriage that I thought fit in well with this week's other communication posts, as she and her husband don't speak the same first language! How do they communicate effectively then?  I'll let her tell the story.

(P.s. That's not a picture of Isabel and her husband! It's just one that looked like it fit well with this topic as they're clearly from two different countries!)

It is not a secret that my husband and I don’t speak the same first language. If it was, well, we came out of the closet now. When we first met I already spoke English very well. Not many could tell that I am originally from Germany. But that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t know every phrase nor word – and I probably still don’t.

Excuse me?!

In the beginning it was a challenge for the both of us. How often did I hear things like “You don’t say that here in the US.” Really? But I only translated what I know I would have said in German?! What is wrong with that? Not to mention that my husband thought (actually still thinks) that some of my mis-pronunciations were cute and never told me. I, on the other hand, felt like he was making fun of me.

“Oh, that is so American!” was usually the phrase you could hear me say (You can hear the judgment behind that statement.). As you can imagine misunderstandings were part of our daily life. Reason being is that it wasn’t just the language we spoke. Besides the simple fact of having the difference in being a man and a woman (duuhh), there were also the different ways of how we were brought up, different traditions and different cultures. Language is so much more than just words.

When the spoken language gets in the way of communicating appropriately you have to learn to communicate on different levels. It was a big learning curve. There were many situations that ended in frustration and tears.

Through my background in psychology, sociology and coaching, we had the advantage of awareness. This is truly what it takes: Awareness about your personal stories and judgments as well as trust and faith. We learned that we spoke one same language: love. (We actually really do have the same love languages.). My husband and I started to understand that if we wanted to make this marriage work, we had to work on ourselves first no matter what language we spoke.

What is your personal language?

Our “inner language” is what creates the foundation of a successful marriage. The more we understand and honor ourselves the less we are looking for approval or confirmation from our spouse which usually leads to disappointments anyways. Don’t misunderstand approval with showing affection and your love for each other. If we can love ourselves for who we are, we can show even more love to the person we will spend the rest of our lives with. Whatever we focus on within ourselves, we focus on within others. Therefore, knowing myself, my essence, helps me to come from a place I know will create connection instead of disconnection with my husband. The secret to an inter-cultural, inter-gender challenge of speaking different languages of all kinds is to start with your own discovery about yourself. When you know who you are in your greatness and you understand your needs, triggers and personal stories that can either be empowering or self-limiting, you are able to communicate more clearly.

For example, I know about myself that I tend to withdraw if I don’t feel that my needs are met. I let frustration pile up until eventually a huge explosion takes place. I call it the German stubbornness in me. However I have this awareness and do realize that this creates disconnection between me and my husband (or people in general) which does not serve anyone, the least myself. I have the power of choice. I can give into being victim or I can choose from a place that creates connection. Your background or your spoken language is secondary. Your understanding of who you truly are and being open in communication comes first to be able to create powerful and successful relationships. I admit, every single day is a day to practice. We are getting better at it but we can always improve. It is a journey

What judgments and thoughts do you have against your wife/husband (women/men in general) that get in the way of creating strong relationships? (Be honest with yourself).

isabel11Isabel Hundt is a Professional Coach, Speaker & Author. She is known for her revolutionary online coaching program The Dare to Stand Out through which Isabel supports conscious entrepreneurs to find their true identity, their message and mission. To learn more about Isabel you can visit www.thedaretostandout.com or www.isabelhundt.com  where you can also download her free eBook “Identity Crisis in the World of Entrepreneurs.”

Guest Confession: 3 Reasons to Forgive (Even When You Don’t Want To)

ForgiveToday I host another Guest Confession.  This post is from a friend of mine, Jana, who gives you three reasons to forgive, even when you don't want to. I love having guest confessions on the blog, as it gives you and me another voice on such an important topic. Look for a bit more of that in the next few weeks. I'll still be posting regularly (usually on Mondays).  But I'll be adding posts more frequently and introducing some other great marriage voices.

Now to turn the blog over to Jana.  Be sure to give her a warm welcome and support in the comments.

Think back to your wedding day.

I’ll give you a minute.

It was probably one of the loveliest, most optimistic days of your life, with you and your new spouse filled with love and promise of your fairy tale happily ever after. You two are now a team, joined together, knowing you’ll stick to those vows you made in front of your friends, family, and God (unless you had a non-religious ceremony, in which case, just ignore that part). Nothing could ever come between you.

Until it does.

It comes out of nowhere and blindsides you. And it changes everything you knew, thought and felt towards your spouse and your marriage. Your happily ever after is now a big fat nightmare.

And you’re angry. And you feel betrayed and frustrated and hurt and sad and all the emotions. You don’t know what to do. You start asking questions that seem impossible to answer. First the questions turn inward–was it your fault? Did you fail as a spouse? Could you have prevented it? Then they get more global–do you stick it out? Do you get divorced? What about the kids, the house, the dog? Can you even afford a divorce?

It’s an endless stream of seemingly unanswerable questions because how do you answer them when everything you know and believed is gone? You never thought that you’d be in this position and now you are and you have to make a decision about how to proceed in a marriage you never thought would have to endure something like this.

It’s not an enviable position. And I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But there’s two things I can tell you for sure. One, it does get better. Two, it gets better as long as you do one thing.

It’s not a simple thing or even something that seems possible. But it is.

What’s the thing?

I know. It sounds insane because how can you possibly forgive someone who’s hurt you so badly? Who’s destroyed the very fiber of your marriage and basically spit on your vows? Who has shaken everything you know to the core? Who’s compromised your self-esteem, your self-worth?

I’m not going to lie. It’s tough. The good news is that you don’t have to do it right away. Let yourself be as angry as you want. Eventually the anger will subside and give way to the rest of the 5 stages of grief, and as that happens, you’ll come to realize that yes, it is possible to start working on forgiving them for how they’ve hurt you.

It’s possible because when you forgive, you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for you.

That was the hardest, yet most important, lesson I learned. I was resistant to it at first. I didn’t want to forgive my husband. He didn’t deserve it. How can I forgive someone who hurt me that much? However, the more I thought, and the more I listened to the points my therapist made, the more it made sense to ignore all my instincts and forgive him.

So, with great reluctance, I forgave him. And when I did, the following happened:

  1. Clarity. The heavens didn’t open up and angels didn’t sing but once I allowed myself to forgive him, I could think more clearly about how I wanted to proceed in our marriage. It let me see the progress he was making in his own therapy and the hard work he was doing to be a better husband. It stopped clouding my judgment. I started making rational decisions. And that brought about…
  2. Calmness. It is exhausting to be angry all the time. All your senses are heightened, you eat (or don’t eat) all the time, you can’t focus, and it hurts–physically, emotionally, psychologically. Your guard is up. All. The. Time. You can’t relax. But opening yourself up to forgiveness quiets your mind. All that energy devoted to being angry moves to other parts of your life. Which leads to…
  3. Healing. Hanging on to that kind of hurt and anger keeps the wound open and fresh. It can’t scab over and you certainly can’t move on. You stay stuck. But when you said “I forgive you”, the wound starts to close. It stops hurting so much. You started to feel better. You started to function like a normal person. You start moving on from what happened and think about the future.

Let’s be clear. Forgiveness is not the same as condoning the action. Forgiveness does not mean you have to forget. Forgiveness is simply a gateway to peace and healing.

You deserve that.

Jana Lynch is a blogger at Jana Says, where she talks about everything from parenting to pop culture to mental health issues, and runs the blogger mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. You can stop by and say hi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Have you ever forgiven someone even when you didn't want to?  Share how that forgiveness changed you in the comments….

Guest Confession: I forgot Valentine’s Day

mysza831 / Foter / CC BY

Today I'm psyched to host my second guest confession.  The timing is perfect, since the last few posts have been about me sleeping through my wife's sister's wedding… If you want to submit a guest confession contact me here for guidelines.  And if you're an author, blogger or business owner and want to promote something, you can even custom design your own bio at the end!

Oh, and you're on your own with your spouse if you submit a guest post!  

So make sure you don't get yourself in more trouble….

Onto the guest confession by David Mike:

During the time that my wife and I were dating, I decided to impress her on Valentine's Day with a piece of jewelry.  We had only been dating a little less than a year and so I thought that this would be a pretty big deal to her. I was very proactive and purchased for her, a diamond pendant necklace. I needed to hold on to it for a little while because I bought it so early. She was going to be so excited about it. I was very proud of myself for being so prepared.

Problem was that, I am a pretty impatient guy and the suspense was killing me. There was no way I was going to be able to wait that long! She was going to be so happy and I was going to be so awesome! So, I gave it to her, before Valentine's Day. She loved it and still wears it to this day.

Because I gave it to her before the actual holiday, I figured I was “good to go”.

So on February 14th, I had nothing to give her.

I did not have flowers, you know, they die anyways (man talk). I did not have a card, purchased or hand made.

I had NOTHING, nada, zilch, nichts, zero.

She waited, and waited, and waited. She thought that throughout the entire day that I was holding out on her for a big reveal. I had no idea that she was expecting something other than the gift I had already given her. It was a diamond, what more could she want?

Little did I know a storm was brewing! She finally realized at the end of the day, her anticipation for all the special attention was really just prolonged disappointment.

She let me have it. I do not blame her. After all the books I have read on marriage, men and woman since then, I've realized how important this type of stuff is to her and what an idiot (or terrible husband to be) I had been.

It doesn't even matter what I do for her or get her, it's the fact that I cared enough to remember and reaffirm my love for her.

I have never missed a holiday since the “incident.”

I also buy cards or small gifts for my three daughters every Valentine's Day so they know that I love them and to set an example of what to expect from a guy. (Future husband training)

By the way almost everything a guy thinks is silly, strange or no big deal is going to be huge to your wife or future wife.

It does not have to be a diamond, the smallest most insignificant thing to you or that makes you the most uncomfortable will be the thing she remembers the most. If you remember to remember…

David Mike is a Christ follower, husband, father and Cosmetology Instructor in Omaha, NE.  David started a blog to share humorous life events and also tell the story of the 3 years spent in the U.S. Army's Prison, Ft. Leavenworth, sharing the message that we do not have to be defined by our past and that God can use our kind of mess for good.