“Take the power to control your own life. Take the power to make your life happy.” ~Susan Polis Schutz
The end of a toxic relationship can feel like the end of the world. While we all understand logically that maybe it’s for the best, the pain and fear that come with this kind of change can feel unbearable – our emotional side takes a while to catch up, to say the very least.
So, you have a couple of choices here. Once you have taken the time to recognize and release your emotions (which you’ll need to do if you’re going to heal, especially since most toxic partners cause us to keep our emotions buried during the relationship due to ridicule, invalidation and intolerance), what’s next? How do you get a fresh start and truly begin to create the life you want?
The trick is to take the lessons you can, and to leave the rest behind – and then springboard into a new life.
You can reinvent yourself. Now that you’re free, you have the opportunity to write a new chapter in your life. To become whomever and whatever you want. To design your life with full intention. Imagine the possibilities!
What will you decide to do with this opportunity?
Take your life to a new level after the end of your toxic relationship with these tips.
- Clean house. Take all of those photographs, love letters, mementos, gifts, and so on and pitch them in the trash. If you’re tempted to keep them for sentimental reasons, consider your ex-partner from three relationships ago. Do you still have anything remaining from that relationship?
If you just can’t let go of those items yet, put them all in a box and put the box in the basement or garage. You can throw them away another day. Someday, you’ll be surprised that you ever wanted to keep any of it.
- Check your health. Now is a good time to start that workout program you have been considering to make some positive changes to your body. Exercise will uplift your mood too. Lift weights, go running, join a yoga studio, or play tennis. The activity doesn’t matter as long as you get some exercise and move onward and upward. Personally, I’m all about just walking with my music in my ears or dancing around the house like no one is watching (usually when no one IS actually watching, if I’m being honest – I’m a terrible dancer!)
- Start at least one new activity. There are plenty of things you’d like to do but haven’t yet. It’s time to start doing one of them. Join a softball team or a dance studio. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as you like it. Hopefully, it will be an activity that includes other people.
- Evaluate yourself and your toxic relationship. Take a short period of time and examine your toxic relationship. There’s no point in repeating mistakes in the future. Figure out what went wrong and how you can avoid a similar fate. Understand how you can overcome this in the future and work on your self-confidence so you can set better boundaries. Give yourself permission to unconditionally accept yourself and to set boundaries that feel right to you – not boundaries that someone else sets for you.
- Give yourself a total makeover! A lot of toxic partners control our behavior and our appearance – we aren’t allowed to wear makeup or cut our hair, or maybe we’re made to wear a certain type of style. Either way, freshening up your look can help! Change things up a little bit. Get a fresh start by updating your wardrobe, coloring your hair or even getting a fresh new cut. You’ll feel better. It’s like a new beginning that all the world can see.
- Reconnect with old friends. When you’re in any romantic relationship, other relationships can suffer. And narcissists tend to isolate us from the people we’re close to anyway – it allows them to control us better. Now that you’re free, it’s time to reconnect with old friends and create some new memories. Make it a point to contact everyone you’ve lost touch with. Maybe a group dinner is in order.
- Learn something new. It’s fulfilling to grow in a meaningful way. You’ve been living for someone else for too long – and chances are that the narcissist controlled both your time and your choices. You may have even been ridiculed for the interests and hobbies you wanted to indulge in. So now that no one is judging and controlling you, why not pick something that interests you and develop yourself? You might want to learn how to play the piano, paint, or skydive. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to dance. Make it happen.
- Take a trip. Get away by yourself or with a friend and explore someplace new. It can be a great start to a new life, and it can be very freeing for someone who has been living under pressure with a narcissist for so long. Where would you like to go? Think outside the box and be daring. Go get your passport if you don’t already have one. The world is your oyster.
- Spend casual time with a variety of people, instead of focusing all of your energy on one person. Try dating people you normally wouldn’t. Maybe you’ve just been dating the wrong people in the past. Keep it fun and simple. Tip: Wait until you’re feeling strong and healed before jumping into a new relationship. Personally, I chose to wait a year after my divorce to ensure that I was really healed and ready to open my heart to someone new. You can wait longer or for less time, but it helps to sort of give yourself a pre-determined time-limit so you can avoid jumping into something you’re not ready for without thinking.
Make the most of your newfound freedom and take some time to make a few modifications to yourself and your life. Try some new activities and reach out to your old friends.
Your life might just become the best it’s ever been.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.