Advice from Claire: How to Let Go of Toxic Relationships

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Are you looking to get out of a toxic relationship? Claire gives you some tips on removing yourself from unhealthy relationships of all kinds. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who wants his sons to smoke weed less often.

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Claire Bidwell-Smith

Claire Bidwell-Smith  00:00

Toxic relationships. We’ve all had some version of them, but how the fuck do we get out of them?

Claire Bidwell-Smith  00:05

I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today on NEW DAY. ending a relationship with someone you once cared about is never easy. But when it comes to extracting yourself from an unhealthy relationship, that’s a whole other ballgame. In addition to the usual sadness and grief, that ending a relationship brings up, there may be a lot of other stuff going on, abuse, self-esteem issues, financial manipulation, work obligations. Because the thing is, toxic relationships don’t just happen with romantic partners, we can fall into these kinds of relationships with family members, coworkers and bosses, friends, neighbors, business partners, students at school, and getting out and away from them is sometimes trickier than we’d like it to be. To truly remove yourself from a toxic relationship, I think a little planning is an order. The first step is recognizing and admitting that we’re in a bad relationship to begin with. Sometimes this takes a while, we can live in denial as a means of survival. Maybe we rely on a job that comes with an abusive boss, or we’re tangled up with someone who suffers mental illness or addiction, and we stick around longer than we should because we want to help them. Maybe we’ve just been holding out hope that things would get better. So first things first, let yourself fully recognize and admit that this relationship is toxic, and it’s time for you to leave, it might be helpful to talk about it with a trusted friend or therapist. Sometimes really saying it out loud helps it sink in. It might also help to write down a log of all the ways this relationship has been damaging, and all the hurt that’s come from it. Taking a good hard look at that list to help you recognize that it’s time to move on. Next, make a list of all the ways your life will improve once you leave the relationship. This will help bolster your decision to leave and serve as something to remind you of why you’re doing this during times when you might wave her. Next, come up with a plan for how to take care of yourself once you leave. This may require support on multiple levels, maybe you have to leave a toxic work environment. And that means finding a new job. Maybe you’re leaving a manipulative partner, and you literally need to find a new place to live or maybe have to kick someone out of your own house and they’re not going to go easily. Whatever the case, think get through thoroughly before taking any action. Consult friends, call an attorney if you have to reach out to a domestic abuse hotline. Now it’s not lost on me that I’m just sitting here rattling off a bunch of action items and that in your world, you’re probably feeling terrified and paralyzed, I get that this is a big deal. And that’s why you take your time, you make a plan, you look for support. You don’t have to do this alone. toxic relationships can do a number on our self-esteem. Often the person we’re in this relationship with is very manipulative, and has made you doubt your self-worth and told you that you won’t be able to make it without them. So do your best to surround yourself with positive relationships and people who can support you as you move through this transition. You also might be afraid of facing who you’ve become in this relationship. And you know that leaving is going to cause you to reckon with feelings of guilt for having gotten into it in the first place and for having let it take over your life and damage your world. So self-compassion and forgiveness are key here. Use a mantra if you have to write down a few phrases you can repeat every time you get scared and start backpedaling. Remind yourself that you’re worthy of being happy that you’re stronger than you think that there are people in your life who love and support you. Do as much as you can to focus on the positive and up yourself care as much as possible. I also think it’s okay to get a little woowoo with this stuff. I’ll never forget that passage and Eat, Pray, Love and Liz Gilbert was freaking out because her husband was making the divorce difficult. She had a friend got really woowoo and did some crazy meditation to appeal to his compassionate side and send him love. And bam, she got the divorce papers. Even if that sounds a little nuts, I do think there’s a lot going on energetically that we don’t even know about. Personally, and whenever I’m in a thing with someone, I like to close my eyes at night and imagine disconnecting the energetic cords between us. Even if this is just soothing to my brain, so be it. But I usually see an actual shift in the relationship as a result. I also love the book energetic boundaries for more cool stuff in that realm. Either way you lean woowoo or practical. Be diligent about removing yourself from this relationship. Ask for support from others and be fucking kind to yourself. You didn’t ask for this. You certainly don’t deserve it. And you’re definitely deserving of a happy and fulfilling life.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  04:41

Today’s listener question comes from a concerned dad. Do you have a question about your kids you’d like to ask me? Email me at or fill out my online form at You can find the link in the show notes. Mark emailed me to say I have two young sons 26 and 23, they smoke a lot of pot and are using it to mellow out prior to going to bed. How can I help them stop using it so much? Hi, Mark, thanks for writing. You’re definitely not alone in struggling with this issue. Even before pot was legal. It’s been widely used by people for relaxation forever. I have a lot of thoughts here. But I want to respond to your immediate question. First, you want your sons to stop using pot so much. I think the first step is an honest conversation with them. Tell them your concerns, offer some help and ideas probe into how they’re feeling about this habit? Are they concerned as well, if not trying to help them stop using it so frequently is going to be a little challenging if they’re not as concerned about it as you are. But I think you could state your case to them pretty clearly and in a loving way about why you think this isn’t a healthy habit. If they disagree and aren’t motivated to make changes, I try incentivizing them to try cutting down, make a deal of giving or doing something in return taking them on a cool trip or helping them buy an E-bike or something. If those are things you can afford, or the reverse. If you’re helping them already with finances or housing, then tell them you’re only going to continue if they agree to work on this. I think you need to do this in a really loving way though, helping them understand that you’d like to at least see them try to make some changes. Now pot certainly isn’t as addictive as other substances in that your body doesn’t crave it in the same way someone can crave other drugs. But pot is definitely habit forming. It’s a crutch, then we can get into a routine with it that just isn’t great. Helping your sons find new ways to relax at night will be a really important part of this. You could commit to exercising with them more so they’re tired at night. Or you could all take a meditation class together. Also asking them to track how much they’re using. It might be really helpful. Have them keep a journal and that way they can really see how much they’re using it. And it’s probably more than they realize. You know, I would also check in with them about their anxiety levels. A lot of people who are anxious use pot as a way to calm their worries. So maybe check in with them to see how they’re doing these days. Is there stuff they’re stressed out about that needs to be addressed? Maybe if they’re confronting these stressors they won’t need to turn to pot so much. Lastly, you could also check out marijuana anonymous, it’s like AAA but for pot and there are online meetings available all the time. You sound like a great dad Mark. I’m glad you’re concerned and I hope some of this helps.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  07:30

That’s it for today. Make sure you come back on Wednesday when I help you figure out how to know when it’s time to forgive. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to new day so you never miss an episode.

CREDITS  07:45

NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.


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