How Personal Growth Can Uncover a Toxic Relationship

Note: This is a guest post by JoLynn Braley of The Fit Shack

The human potential is limitless and when you consciously choose to work on your personal growth you will not only improve your life but also benefit the entire world. Every bit you do to raise your own consciousness contributes to the level of global consciousness.

Personal Growth Can Uncover Toxic RelationshipWhen you look at your personal growth path like this you might not think that your self-improvement could result in uncovering some unwelcome issues in your life, however this can and does occur for many people.

One result of improving yourself is that you will begin to see your relationships with new eyes. Either you will come to appreciate the people in your life even more than you used to because you will see how truly loving and supportive they are, or you will wake up and see that you have some people in your life who do not have your highest good in mind.

Uncovering a Toxic Relationship

Let’s take a common area of personal growth, a place where many begin their path to improvement: the physical self. I’m a strong believer that if you truly desire to ascend the scale of consciousness that the overall health of your physical being plays a large role in this, so the physical is a great place to start your personal growth process.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at things!), beginning a weight loss and fitness regime can quickly uncover a toxic relationship if you weren’t already aware that you were in one. And even though we’re talking about building a healthy lifestyle in order to gain fitness in body, mind, and spirit, even people who are solely focused on weight loss to improve their looks can uncover toxic relationships.

A Good Example

If you were previously stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle rut of junk food and inactivity and you begin to eat whole foods, getting outside for a 30-minute walk each day while your partner (spouse, lover, friend, the term doesn’t matter) is not on the same path as you are, you’ll probably begin to notice some “feedback”. Maybe they were your eating partner, your partner in an inactive and non-nurturing lifestyle and if so, there are a couple of things that can occur:

  1. They will become inspired by your healthy changes and begin to make changes to their own lifestyle. They will express their love and support for you and take actions to support your healthy changes while you also support theirs.
  2. They will become threatened by your changes and criticize your improvements. They will heap negative statements on you discouraging your steps, telling you that it won’t last and that your changes will never last. They will continue to bring home all of your favorite junk foods even after you ask them not to.

Number 2 is an example of toxic relationship. A toxic relationship does not support your highest good in life and is controlling, manipulative, and critical. A toxic relationship is jealous, threatened, insecure, and abusive.

Toxic = Major Negativity

Toxic relationships are negative, draining, and abusive, and abusive not necessarily in a physical manner but in a mental, emotional, and spiritual manner. I believe that verbal and emotional abuse can often be even more damaging than physical abuse because if you internalize that negativity and believe it you may continue to “beat yourself up” with those same negative words and thoughts long after the toxic relationship is out of your life.

Usually it’s very easy to realize that you’re involved in a toxic relationship however if you have been in the relationship long term you may have become used to the negativity. If you are noticing that your partner is not supportive of your positive changes and wondering if you might be involved in an unhealthy, toxic relationship, here’s an easy quiz you can take to find out.

Don’t Make This Mistake

Sure, miracles can happen and people do change but only if they want to change for their own reasons. The only person you can change is yourself and if you are not getting the positive support that you need in your relationship you can ask for it and communicate how you’re feeling but in the end you cannot expect your partner to change.

Since it’s true that often people do not change (at least not per your timetable), the mistake that some make is that they stop their own personal growth out of fear of losing the toxic relationship even though they intellectually know that it is not healthy for them. They may fear being alone or believe that they are too old and cannot change their relationship status. They think that they may as well resign themselves to “their lot in life” and hang in there, even though they will never receive positive support from the toxic relationship.

A Toxic Relationship Will Bring You Down

The problem is that if you stay in the toxic relationship it will more than likely drag you down. If you think that you can “bring it up” to a higher level, there is still the simple fact that you cannot change anyone except yourself and if your partner does not want to change (which is their right), you cannot expect them to.

I don’t think that a negative, unhealthy, toxic relationship is worth hanging on to for either party. At the same time though, I cannot say that it’s always an easy thing to choose your own health (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) above a relationship and it does take a strong person to do so, but it can certainly be done.

It is also very possible to leave the toxic relationship with love and while your partner may not be happy with this, above all you must love and respect yourself. If staying in the relationship takes you out of integrity with yourself you are not treating yourself with respect, which will create and attract more negativity in your life.

There Are No Victims – Another Possible Outcome

Something else that can stop you from pursuing your positive path is the fear of looking at your own contribution to the toxic relationship. We cannot blame everything on the other person since it does take two to be in a toxic relationship. If you’ve woken up and can see that you’re in one it can be challenging to take responsibility for your part in creating the relationship.

Something else to consider is that you just might find that you are the main source of the toxic relationship! Perhaps you got together with a great person and they have stayed with you even though they have been brought down by the negativity in the relationship.

While it still takes two if your partner forgives you and by working on your physical self (which will effect your mental, emotional, and spiritual self) you detoxify the relationship, you may be able to restore it to it’s original state of health and even eclipse it with your partner’s help.

It Doesn’t Have to be All Bad

No matter what stage of personal growth you are in be aware of whether your relationships are supportive or toxic and don’t let fear of loss of a relationship hold you back from going forward in your journey of self-growth. If it’s truly meant to be your partner will choose to come along with you but if not and they do not support your positive improvements then they are not interested in your highest good here on Earth.

In the end though, just because your personal growth uncovers a toxic relationship in your life it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. Whether you stay together and “clean it up” or you part because that is what you need to do for your highest good, as long as where you end up is the most supportive place for you then life is bringing you the good stuff – the good stuff that is always waiting for you to allow it into your life.

JoLynn Braley blogs at The Fit Shack about creating a healthy lifestyle to lose weight and get fit. She takes a holistic approach to weight loss and fitness, the end goal being fitness for body, mind, and spirit, not just weight loss.

This article is part of August 2008 theme: Relationships

Photo by DerrickT


  1. It can uncover a ‘toxic’ relationship, but it certainly doesn’t have to mean the end of it. You loved or cared for the person in the first place so just because you grow and mature, it doens’t mean your feelings will change.

    I like how you covered other viewpoints, and submitted to stumbleupon πŸ™‚


  2. “Every bit you do to raise your own consciousness contributes to the level of global consciousness.”

    –This is so true. Imagine what the world would be like if every person just tried to better themselves! Great post πŸ™‚

  3. I enjoyed this post tremendously. It was well-written, logically laid-out and thorough.

    Relationships come and go in everyone’s path of growth. Relationships are built on common grounds, but when that common ground changes, so does the relationships. When one sheds an old and bad habit, that habit can’t serve as the glue.

    It’s lack of awareness that can keep people in relationship when the common ground has diminished and the relationship should adapt to one with a greater distance between them or need to be dissolved. That said, there are some relationships that you just can’t get rid of, like one with family members. Like you said, it takes two to create a toxic relationship. If the distance you’re keeping can’t serve you but can’t be changed, the best one can do is to just ensure that his/her contribution to the relationship changes to reflect the new growth. When you do so consistently, sooner or later the other party realizes that you are in a different place, and that they can’t pester you with the old common ground.


  4. Hi Donald, I’m so honored to be a guest poster on your site, thank you so much for having me here! πŸ™‚

    @Ari, thank you! And you said it right there – if a bad habit is the glue in a relationship (some people have addictions in common, for example) and that habit is dissolved by one party, then the relationship is no longer the same.

    @Janelle, Have you heard of the 100th monkey theory? You could be the 100th monkey, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily take every single person on Earth to raise the global consciousness, although that would be great if everyone were improving themselves. πŸ˜‰

    Instead, just one person (the 100th monkey) can shift the whole consciousness by raising their own awareness. It really puts the responsibility on each of us to “do our part” doesn’t it? You don’t know if you could be the one to cause a global shift! πŸ™‚

    @Glen, you’re exactly right – the relationship can survive if each party is ready and willing to support each other in a positive manner and support each other’s personal growth instead of being threatened by it and attempting to put down the person who is growing. πŸ˜‰

  5. Excellent article, JoLynn. Nice to see you again. I personally have experienced not the end to a “toxic” relationship, but a relationship that involved two people clearly heading in different directions. My ex and I were simply being moved to grow in opposite ways. So, we split up. And now we are both happier than ever. And our growth accelerated tremendously.

    Great article…… Tom

  6. JoLynn,

    I remember well my surprise at discovering in my early 30’s that some people, even relatives, didn’t have my higher good in mind. The hardest part of distancing myself from toxic people was changing the belief that a dysfunctional family and personal relationships was normal.

    The great thing about growing in consciousness is not only do I see people and things more clearly, but I’m able to steer clear of unhealthy relationships. It’s not easy when some of these toxic people are close relations, but it’s absolutely essential to avoid them for my own well-being.

    As for being part of the problem, we all are receiving some benefit–even though it’s wrapped in pain-when we stay in a toxic relationship. Once we can face our part in the dysfunction, we have opened the door to becoming healthier, even if that means ending the relationship.

  7. […] How Personal Growth Can Uncover a Toxic Relationship @ Life Optimizer […]

  8. Thanks for this inspiring post. One thing I’ve found on my own journey is how accurately the other people in the relationships I’m in seem to reflect my view of myself. When I first left my law firm to start my own business, for example, I had several friends who seemed to say discouraging things regularly about my prospects for succeeding on my own.

    As I began to feel more solid in doing my various non-law activities, my friends seemed to feel more solid about what I was doing as well and stopped carping about it. It really hit home for me with this experience how strongly my reality reflects my own emotional state.

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  14. Have a quick read on your website, very nice post, thanks! Like to share this inspirational quote – “It is not only necessary to love, it is necessary to say so.” Wishing you a successful life with contentment and peace! You’re invited to drop by my favorite Abusive Relationships website as well.

  15. being open and honest with the person being toxic can help a lot. Most the time they don’t even realize they are doing it. If you bring it to there attention, they can take steps to stop and may even become more supportive once they realize how important it is to you. I know it worked for me.

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