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Find The Courage (You Already Have) to Leave

It’s difficult to rescue yourself from a bad relationship when you sort of feel like you belong there. It would seem that leaving an unhealthy relationship would be super easy, but it’s not that simple. Like any relationship, leaving is often more of a process than an event. Because of the impact unhealthy relationships can have on your self-worth, leaving can take extra time, mental energy, pep talks with friends, and an extra large dose of self-love before you are ready.

You may find that you’re in a place where the narrative in your head sounds like: Who am I to want more; I’m not perfect either? Who am I to be happy? Who will even want me, if I leave? The very important thing to remember is you are worthy, you will be happy, you do deserve more, and you will very much be wanted.

Know that successfully leaving an unhealthy relationship is complicated, but not impossible. The best antidote to combat these thoughts and help you through the process is to add in some extra self-love. To give yourself love and compassion, consider the following seven tactics.

1. Keep a journal

Writing in a journal can be a great way to air out your thoughts and feelings. Engaging in a free writing exercise where you write without censor will often reveal more about who you truly are and what you want/deserve. Journal writing will give you a way to document any incidents of unhealthy behaviors and mistreatment. Also, having a space to document this unhealthy relationship behavior will help you not discount your experience. The act of writing out what you have kept hidden is a great way for you to find your voice.

2. Find Some Joy

It doesn’t take much to shift into a place of empowerment. Sometimes the smallest things can give you enough light to find your way through. Reconnect with an old hobby. If painting, writing, singing, decorating etc. was your thing before the relationship, dip back into that. Enjoy the sunrise or sunset, or listen to uplifting music. Engage in activities that make you smile. Doing things that remind you that you are special and worthy can help you move toward letting go of your partner and stepping away from the relationship.

3. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Go easy on yourself. This road has been hard, but it will get better. One of the biggest things to defeat is negative thoughts you may have towards yourself and the relationship. Replacing old thoughts with new affirmations is a good way to get rid of thoughts that don’t serve you well. Anytime you have a thought that doesn’t make you feel good, switch to a thought that leaves you feeling more empowered. If you struggle in this area, here are a few examples:

Negative Thought: “I’m so stupid to have been with this person.”

Affirmation: “This was a learning experience, I am learning how to love myself better and prepare for a more healthy relationship.”

Negative Thought: “Maybe I’m not supposed to be happy.”

Affirmation: “I am a good and worthy person who deserves to be happy.”

Always remember you are not alone. Many have been in your shoes and have made it out just fine. The fact that you are seeking better is a good indication that you are on your way.

4. Don’t Rationalize Bad Behavior

When a person is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, it’s very common for them to make excuses for their partner’s actions: They are only mean sometimes; s/he’s really a good person, s/he doesn’t hit me (but s/he emotionally abuses me). We don’t argue (but s/he can be passive aggressive). I am to blame because I agitate him/her, I don’t do enough to help him/her, or I don’t do anything right.

If a person is making excuses for their partner, they are usually also taking the blame for their bad behavior. A classic case of gaslighting is when you feel responsible for your partner’s bad behavior. Any given situation can be twisted around and the abused person will mistakenly see themselves as the cause of their own misfortune.

Regardless of whether or not the abuser will ever admit when they’re wrong, it’s not up to you take the blame.

5. Find Support

Being in an abusive relationship can feel very isolating. The shame, guilt, social pressures, and expectations can keep you from wanting to open up to others. When you keep it bottled up inside, it’s easy to straddle the fence and convince yourself that nothing is really wrong. Talking to a professional counselor or Life coach who specializes in relationship or domestic abuse can be instrumental to getting you the assistance you need. They will most likely have access to resources that you may find helpful.

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