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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience:  PsyD, LPC, CHt
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I need to understand how to emotionally detach from toxic

Resolved Question:

I need to understand how to emotionally detach from toxic people.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 5 years ago.
Dr. Rossi :


Are thes individuals friends, family, co-workers? Is the nature of the toxic relationship of platonic or romantic nature? Do you have an example of such person's behaviors towards you?

Dr. Rossi :

Not sure if you're still online. Feel free to elaborate and reply when back on.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The situation is this:
I have 2 friends, 1 ex in my life (literally, that's all). They all treat me in ways I don't like. One friend is constantly treating me like I'm below her, telling me what to do, minimizing my feelings, etc. Another friend won't even accept that I have feelings, only telling me why I'm wrong to act the way I do. And the HUGE problem is my ex. She is constantly controlling me. She does this by showing me no consideration or emotion, being emotionally dead to me. I was out of town in the hospital with heart problems and she decided I couldn't talk to my son because she had taken away his phone (for I don't know why) and wanted to "keep her promise to him to discipline him", she never even asked if I was okay. Most recently, she has not allowed me to see my son on my designated weekend and refuses to tell me when I can see him again. She says she's going to "send me an email", but it's been over a week and she still refuses to talk to me or send me the email stating that "she wants time to reflect", but does not make it a priority. I do understand that I have allowed these people to treat me this way and that only by changing myself I will be happy. But I don't understand how to emotionally detach from people I have been emotionally entangled with for so long (my ex and I were together 8 1/2 years and she knows ALL my buttons). She has the control in the relationship and I know I need to change.
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for clarifying Jackie.You're correct, you'd be the one changing in order to feel better and in more control of your life.

From what you've shared, it seems that you've attracted individuals w/ narcissistic traits to yourself.

Current relationships can reflect past relationships. For a moment, think back about a time when you were seeking the affection and approval of a person that had been unavailable and cold to you. Think back into your childhood.

If you happen to know of such a person, the lack of closeness you had most likely desired then, is being unconsciously re-enacted in your life at the present. It is through this that your mind is trying to compensate for something that had been missed.

Another possible reason for you having tolerated these so called friends may be your lack of assertiveness. You may be a people's pleaser. As a result, you are taken advantage of those who sense your qualities of a helper.

A good relationship would offer mutual ground for both parties to express themselves equally. In these relationships, you seem to be the underdog. Ask yourself- why do I let this happen to me? What's in for me?

There would not be one specific technique that would correct this. It may be most helpful to approach this issue from different angles. One would be through self introspection and facing past hurts and consciously deciding not to re-enact these now. Another would be the ability to say No!

Emotional detachment follows mental detachment. Your perception of these individuals would need to change in ways where you're not yielding into their manipulations and suffering along the way. Being accommodating to them won't necessarily let them change their treatment of you.

Try to see if you match any of the traits for a dependent personality. Dependent Personality Disorder - Psych Central

Journaling and bibliotherapy are some additional tools to look into.

Toxic Relationships and How to Change Them: Health and Holiness in Everyday Life

What Your Childhood Memories Say about You . . . and What You Can Do about It

Feel free to reply as this is not an issue that can be resolved online. Hope these suggestions at least get you on the right track. Mainly, think about which individual or parent you were trying to please and be loved by in your past/childhood.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I do understand that I need to resolve my past 37 years of abuse, trauma, and hurt. I do realize that I have unconsciously chosen these people into my life and I understand why. And yes, I am passive. I'm in the beginning stages of working on that in therapy. However, it would help me to have some specific pointers that can help me immediately. I'm going to a lawyer today to talk about dissolving our civil union and gaining visitation rights / conservatorship to our son. My ex's behavior will undoubtedly escalate and my friends are less-than-supportive.
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 5 years ago.

Changing behaviors that had been typical in the past is one way to change oneself. Instead of reacting to a person/situation, take a moment to reflect and change your typical response. If in the past you've allowed others to make decisions for you, find ways to make these and carry them out. You've mentioned being passive. Since you've got this insight, use it to your advantage. Habits can be broken but your approach would have to change as well as your expectations and internal dialog.

This would happen with practice. If you catch yourself undermining yourself, then you'd want to correct that thought and act the opposite of what you would have done in a similar situation in the past.

There may be some fear/hesitation on your part to assert yourself because once again even subconsciously you mean fear disapproval or rejection. As a result, you self sabotage yourself and the other person "wins" again.

These individuals being close to you would know your vulnerability. Because of that, you would have to think of a reaction that would surprise them.

Different tools can be used to change behavior depending on what you feel comfortable with. None of these would be instantly effective. Autosuggestion is one tool that allows for the shift of inner dialog to your advantage. CBT is another.

The tools are out there. which one you chose and apply is up to you as long as you allow yourself to explore what works for you and not give up. Some take longer than others to bring in the desired results.

How to Manual:AUTOGENIC TRAINING - Karl Hans Welz

The Art of Saying NO! (Setting Boundaries)

Self hypnosisYour Power Within! Self Confidence through Hypnosis

Not sure if you're asking about what to do when you meet w/ the attorney or if your question was of a more existential nature (how to avoid toxic relationships)

1) You know which people are toxic to you

2) you know how they do it

3) you know you're passive and accommodating

as a result

A) practice changing your expectations of these individuals (they won't change for you) A tool would be- write down what they've done in the past, how you reacted to it, and then make a new list next to it of how you want things to be and how you'd act differently this time.

B) When you feel cornered, remember that saying "No" can be a complete sentence!

C) decide which therapeutic tools work best for you- hypnosis, autosuggestion, one on one therapy, bibliotherapy, etc.

D) Focus on what you feel, think, say and do and NOT so much what the other person is doing or saying. Mainly, think of what outcome you desire to achieve.

Some of these suggestions can be used right away ex: autosuggestion (manual included), self hypnosis through Mp3 downloads, making a list/journaling, monitoring your thoughts-inner dialog and reframing negative thoughts/ to positive ones when it concerns your behavior. Asking yourself what's in for me and writing a list to allow yourself to see self defeating patterns is another.

To face the passivity, a task could be to chose at least one of these and try to apply it to your advantage today.

"Friends" who are "less than supportive" are not friends. Perhaps the way you see them needs to change too. It may be disappointing to face the fact that they're using and abusing you and you'd have to severe the relationship as much as you can.

Dr. Rossi and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you