Vail New Perspective column: Learn to say no to toxic relationships |

Vail New Perspective column: Learn to say no to toxic relationships

Catherine Zeeb
VAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyCatherine Zeeb

Alone is a state of being. Lonely is a state of mind.

Why do we choose to continue relationships that do not serve us or are toxic? What is a toxic relationship and how would we know if we are in one? Why is moving people out of our lives or not being so involved with them so difficult?

I think we all have or have had at least one toxic relationship; whether friend, intimate, work, or even a family member. Toxic relationships are, for example, ones that thrive on drama, are critical or judgmental, talk only about themselves, do drugs or alcohol, are needy, have you feeling bad/sad/judged by the end of the time with them, cheat on their spouses and ask you to not tell or cover for them, and so much more. They are relationships that manipulate and drag you down; even if not all the time.

If you’ve read my columns over the years, I wrote one titled “Discernment versus judgment,” which is one of the columns in my book, “Begendings,” as well. Our decision to remove people from our lives or minimize our time with them can come from a place of discernment rather than judging who they are or what they do. We need not care about what they do (unless they’re hurting themselves or others) but we can care about putting ourselves in a situation or experience that does not serve us.

Relationships are mirrors for us to take a look at who we are. They should build us up and make us feel good (maybe not 100 percent of the time) about who we are. Some relationships are challenging and this can help us grow. Just moving them out of our lives may not benefit us and learning the lessons the relationship is providing can only make us stronger/better.

Taking a look at why the relationship has shown up or what they do that disturbs us is a wonderful way to learn more about who we are. There is a reason they are, or have been, in your life and they have shown up to help you grow. Learning to say no to this toxic relationship could be your lesson, for example.

Compassion, love, caring and kindness can be in our moment-to-moment lives. Just because we have compassion or love for someone does not mean we need to allow them to disrupt our life. We get to choose who is in our life and who we invite over for coffee. Learning to say “no” is a great way to take good care of you.

If you give your time to relationships that you are not comfortable in or do not serve your soul or your purpose,; that disrupts you or makes you feel bad; puts you in situations that compromise your integrity, then learning to be alone (a state of being) is a good lesson to learn. If your relationships are not serving you, then change them.

Be what you want your relationships to be. Be kind to those you are around and you’ll see a reflection of kindness back from them (if they’re capable of kindness). If you don’t have the kindness reflected, keep showing it to others, you will find those who will demonstrate back to you what you reflect into the world. Know your limits (boundaries) and learn where to spend your time and with whom – you deserve it.

Catherine Zeeb, PhD, a certified addictions psychotherapist, is a local counselor and author. She manages a nine-week “Intensive Life Changing Program,” working with those who want changes in their lives. You can contact her at 970-376-6660 or visit her websites at or

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