This is the second episode in the 5 episode decluttering series this month. This episode is all about relationships. I will be dropping episodes each Wednesday as usual this month but also dropping 2 bonus episodes on random days. So hit that subscribe button if you don’t want to miss an episode.
Instead of new years resolution this year we are taking action to declutter, to rid ourselves of the layers in our lives that are not working, weighing us down and keeping us from our potential.
Grab the BONUS worksheet I have for you here. It is your ultimate self-value worksheet and it is free! We will use this worksheet along with the podcast episode to let go of relationships that are not helping us get closer to the lives we want.
Reach out and DM me on instagram @imperfectthriving and let me know your thoughts about the series so far. I would love to hear from your and I will respond
In This Podcast
- Toxic vs. negative relationships
- Take stock
- First step to declutter
- Questions to ask yourself
Toxic vs. negative relationships
Dr. Lillian Glass defines toxic relationships as “any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there’s conflict, and one seeks to undermine the other. Where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
They tend to be unsupportive, disrespectful, demeaning, and dishonest just to name a few. What’s worse, even though most people know it in their gut that they’re in a toxic relationship, they get caught up in an endless cycle and find it challenging to leave.
Negative relationships might not reach the level of toxic, but they are simply unhelpful or bring us down. And that’s enough to consider letting it go. If they have negative effects on mental or physical wellbeing, it’s time to reassess. Studies have shown negative relationships can increase risk of developing heart problems, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
Constant tension in a relationship can keep your body in flight or fight mode at all times. This can eventually lead to fatigue, a weakened immune system, and even organ damage.
A study done on humans’ influence on each other showed if a friend of yours becomes obese, you are 45% more likely to gain weight over the next two to four years. If a friend of a friend becomes obese, you are 20% more likely to gain weight.
The adage “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” is only partially true. Those closest can have positive or negative influences, but this study showed it goes beyond our most inner circle. Consider your entire network.
First step to take
Start from a place of self value. As we continue to declutter in this series , we need to start from a place of self value. Not only knowing, but believing your own value and worthiness of the life that you want is crucial. The higher your self value, the choosier you will be about who you spend your time with.
Grab your ultimate self value worksheet and fill it out. Social media can amplify the negative self talk when all you see when you scroll is the highlight reel. Maybe take a social media break. Decide daily to focus on what is right about you until your self-esteem is at a place in which you know you deserve the life that you want.
Questions to ask yourself
- Do I look forward to spending time with this person or dread it on some level? Hmm.
- How do I feel after I have spent time with this person? Do I feel better about myself or do I fall down that rabbit hole of self-criticism and pick myself apart?
- Does this person compliment me and lift me up or is he or she passive/aggressive, insulting? Even if it’s in jest.
- Does this person have the type of habits I want to have?
- Does this person share your level of motivation to grow and learn?
How you answered them these questions will point you toward keeping someone in your life or letting them go. Now think about the life that you have and the life that you want. Is the life you want a little different or a lot different from what you have right now? What type of person could help you achieve this life?
Get Your Free Ultimate Self-Value Worksheet here!
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Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
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We’ve all heard the term toxic relationships, right? Dr. Lillian Glass, a California based communication and psychology expert coined the term back in 1995 in her book “Toxic People.” And she defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there’s conflict, and one seeks to undermine the other. Where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
Here are some words that describe what toxic relationships look like: unsupportive, undermining, competitive. Disrespectful, power, control. Demandingness, self-centeredness, criticism. Negativity, dishonesty, demeaning, jealous. Arguably the most devastating thing about toxic relationships is that they trap the victim and the perpetrator in a cycle of stress and negativity that feels impossible to escape and over time conditions the players to accept the situation and not even try to get out.
The result of toxic relationships: feelings of self-worth helplessness fear, anxiety depression, insecurity, paranoia, drained, unhappy, physically, and emotionally ill. You probably know it in your gut if you’re in a toxic relationship. But what about the relationships that are simply unhelpful or bring us down. Just because of relationship might not be considered toxic that does not mean it is helpful to us or that we should foster it or hang on to it.
These relationships that do not rise to the level of toxic still have negative effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. One study found that being in a negative relationship puts us at a higher risk of developing heart problems, such as a fatal heart attack. Another study found that women with high levels of conflict in their relationships tend also to have high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and high rates of obesity. Research has even found that hostile relationships can slow the healing of wounds.
Constant tension and serious conflicts in a relationship can keep your body in flight or fight mode at all times, spurring your body to produce adrenaline and quickly discard the excess. This can eventually lead to fatigue, a weakened immune system, and even organ damage. And we are social beings by nature.
We crave connectedness with others more so than our own personal achievement. That is how much the love and acceptance of others means to us as human beings. That is why we are so influenced by those we spend our time with. We begin to conform to their ways to become more accepted. I recently read a fascinating article by David Berkus entitled,” You are NOT the Average of the Five People you Surround Yourself With.”
David, after researching the science of social networks, found that we are definitely influenced by the people around us, but that influence doesn’t stop anywhere near the five people you spend the most time with. It is far more dispersed and research suggests it includes people you haven’t even met yet.
Now I know that I tend to geek out over studies. So I’m going to try to just hit the high points for y’all. The first major study on the breadth of social influence was conducted by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. And in this study, they examined data from one of the largest and longest health studies ever.
They realized that it covered more than just the heart health of the participants in the study. Those who participated in the study were asked all about their medical conditions and they were probed with all sorts of demographic questions, including questions about family members and friends. They analyze the data to determine the effects of family and friends on obesity.
They found if a friend of yours becomes obese, you are 45% more likely to gain weight over the next two to four years. If a friend of a friend becomes obese, you are 20% more likely to gain weight. Friend of a friend of a friend, 10%. Now follow up studies found similar results with smoking. If your friend smokes, you’re 69% more likely to be a smoker.
The same researchers found the same results with happiness. Happy friends make you happier. The people you surround yourself with really are your future. We not only need to be more deliberate about who we are spending our most time with, but we could also stand to examine our entire network and how it influences our lives.
Think back to when you were a child, whatever was going on around you, you accepted as normal. Whatever traditions and eccentricities your family might have had, you thought that is what everyone else did too. Right? Who we spend time with, their behaviors and ideas become our norm. If everyone in the group takes time to exercise or time for their own self care, then you begin to think more about exercising and your own self-care.
Now, knowing what we know, it is time to really take stock in who we spend our time with because they are definitely influencing us in one way or another. It is time to declutter our lives of the relationships that aren’t serving us. I usually do not like to speak or think in extremes and all or nothing terms. But really when it comes to relationships, rarely does one have a neutral effect on us.
I challenge you to find one relationship in your life that is neutral. They’re either positive or they’re negative. In different degrees, maybe, but definitely not neutral. They help us achieve what we want to achieve, or they pull us in the other direction. They lift us up. Or they push us down. So let’s assess our relationships and let go of what is negative and hang on to what’s positive.
Don’t hang onto the negative just because you don’t have any positive relationships. Letting go of the negative will give you the clean slate and the space necessary for you to determine exactly what type of people you want in your life.
Step one, start from a place of self value. Just as with everything else , we need to start from a place of self value. You have to know your own value and that you are worthy of the life that you want. You deserve it and you get to choose what that is. Period. End of sentence. If you are not in that place of self value, you are probably in a toxic relationship or relationships and definitely in relationships that are not helping you get where you want to go.
So the secret to decluttering and letting go of relationships that are not working for you, not helpful and bringing you closer to the life that you want is to increase your self value. The higher your self value the choosier you will be about how you spend your time and who you spend it with.
Now I’ve created your ultimate self value worksheet and included it right in the show notes of today’s episode. It is free. So put this on pause, go grab yours, and print it out if you have not done so already. In a world of social media, it is so easy to think that we don’t have as much to offer as the next person. Because of course we are only seeing the best parts of others. As we focus on the best parts of others, we seem to only focus on the worst parts ourselves, right?
Spend some time focusing on what is right and wonderful about you. If that means you need to take a step back from social, do what you need to do, but definitely pause this, print out yourself value worksheet that’s in the show notes. I use a whiteboard with many of my clients and counseling and coaching, because actually seeing what is in your head out there on the board, or in this case down on paper helps it hit home even more and spur you into action and into change.
So after you complete your ultimate self value worksheet, decide each day to focus on what is right about you until your self value and self-esteem is at a place in which you know you deserve the life that you want. So now that you know increasing yourself value is the most important first step, what is it that we should ask to make the determination of who to keep in our lives and who we let go?
Now I know how smart you are. So I imagine you already know in your gut, who you have in your life, that is not helpful to you. But here’s some questions to ask yourself about each person that you spend time with, who has the potential to influence you. Friends, family, coworkers, significant other, anyone who has influence over you.
Question number one: do I look forward to spending time with this person or dread it on some level? Hmm.
Question number two: How do I feel after I have spent time with this person? Do I feel better about myself or do I fall down that rabbit hole of self-criticism and pick myself apart?
Question number three: does this person compliment me and lift me up or is he, or she passive, aggressive, insulting? Even if it’s always in jest.
The fourth question to ask yourself, does this person have the type of habits I want to have? Now, if you’re trying to eat clean and exercise and your bestie likes to sit on the sofa, eat her feelings while she watches movies, how much harder will it be for you to establish the habit habits that you want to have?
According to science, it’s going to be pretty tough.
Question number five: does this person share your level of motivation to grow and learn. If your friend is content exactly where she is and aspires for nothing more, she could definitely hold you back from achieving what you want to achieve in life.
How you answered them these questions will point you toward keeping someone in your life or letting him or her go. Now think about the life that you have and the life that you want. Is the life you want a little different from what you have or a lot different from what you have right now? What do you need to change in your own life habits, level of self-confidence, clarity of your own values to have the life you want? What type of person could help you achieve this life?
Go out and surround yourself with these types of people. Go where these people go and meet them. If you want to exercise more or be a runner, join a group run and meet people who are also running. Instead of sitting on the sofa. If you want to be around friends who are motivated to learn and grow, find a university or community college, an art studio nearby and take a class with those who share your common interest.
Whoever you have in your life that is not lifting you up and cheering you on toward the life that you want is pulling you back or holding you down, keeping you from that life. You get to decide. If you want 2021 to be the year you move toward the life you want let go of whatever and whoever is keeping you down.
And I want you to DM me on Instagram and share your opinion about this episode. I would love to hear from you and I will respond back. Now that we have decluttered your closet..if you missed out, go back and listen to the episode about decluttering your closet so you can catch up with the rest of us. I hope you’re feeling lighter and more motivated to go after what you want in your life. And today, the one imperfect action I encourage you to take is to download and fill out your ultimate self value worksheet.
It will not take more than a few minutes and it could make a huge impact. Until next time, go out and take daily imperfect action toward the life you want.