Carole Bennett M.A.

From Heartache to Hope

Getting ready for 2012 - Doing an emotional housecleaning

Sweep your life clean of toxic people

Posted Dec 15, 2011

Well, one holiday down and two to go.

When I returned from my Thanksgiving holiday I received an interesting e-mail from a woman (Nancy) who was expressing her confusion and possibly despair with some of the family members/friends that were participating in the Thanksgiving dinner.

Though no one was intoxicated or high, she realized that she left with an unsettling, almost empty feeling about the evening. It took her a few days to sift through her emotional discomfort and put some kind of description or label on what she had experienced and how it was affecting her.

Nancy's communication to me was cloaked with a sense of embarrassment as she sadly realized that she didn't like some of her family members and purported friends. They were loud, obnoxious, opinionated, dictatorial and downright rude. Even when things seem to settle down or unwind from the hectic preparation and conclusion of the evening, no one asked her how she was doing and what was new in her life.

Nancy was recently divorced from an alcoholic and venturing on a new career and she hadn't seen some of her family members for quite some time, so she was hopeful that the reunion and subsequent conversations would be warm, genuine and gentle and not one of manic, herky, jerky discussions and actions.

As she sat back and pretended that she was invisible, scoping out the room and its inhabitants from a corner, she saw that her family acted like wind -up toys on helium. Nancy felt badly that she was judging them, but maybe with all the work she was doing to rid her of the toxic man in her life, it was inadvertently spilling over to other members of her family.

So, with 2012 right around the corner, can one do an emotional housekeeping as an honest way to take care of a healthier you? If one wishes to do this inventory, what does some of the guidelines or prerequisites look like in order for that person to stay a complimentary part of your life?

Maybe you want to take a second look at some of these concepts and realize that you might not want to have these people in your life:

1) Giving off bad vibes or energy.
2) Leave you emotional drained
3) Leave you questioning yourself
4) Make you feel less than
5) Bully you
6) Aren't encouraging
7) Placate you
8) Don't really like you, but pretend to because you are family
9) Are two-faced
10) Don't keep their word
11) Seem to always find fault or challenge the decisions you make in your life
12) Talk about you behind your back, but start out saying...."I really love this person, but can't understand why she /he are doing this or that. What's gotten into them"?
13) Feign concern about you and offer their "expertise" to help you, but are annoyed if you rebuff the invitation or advice.
14) Shout at you or speak disrespectfully
15) Never ask you how you are doing and only talk about themselves

It is sad, scary, disappointing and unnerving to come to the realization that you just don't like some people that you have been told all your life to love. However, you can love them and accept them, but realize their limitations and don't set yourself up for anything to change. Realize that just because you have brought a special gift or played with their children, cleaned up the kitchen after serving 30 guests that their relationship with you and how they treat you may not and for whatever reason can't change.

If you aren't dependent upon these people for anything, then taking a deep breath and being honest with yourself about how you consider them will really be very freeing. You don't need to share this new emotional freedom with anyone as "loose lips can sink ships" and there is no need to get anyone in your corner to agree with you or make you feel like you have to defend and justify your position.

Just consider it a bit of emotional housekeeping for the New Year and pat yourself on the back that though as painful as it might be, there is no room in your life for toxic people.

If can be of service, please explore my website
In addition my new book Reclaim Your Life - You and the Alcoholic/Addict can be viewed at or Amazon.

About the Author

Carole Bennett, M.A., is a family substance abuse counselor, lecturer, columnist and author based at her Family Recovery Solutions Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, CA.

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