For most of us, ending a toxic relationship isn’t the real problem. It’s removing the guilt associated with it that is.

The good news is that choosing not being around toxic people can be life changing. Suddenly, you’re free! You can breathe again. What a relief it is to not be dreading the next phone call, visit, invitation, conversation, or uncomfortable gathering.

No matter who you are, you have a right to live without fear of: disappointing, irritating, or being judged, criticized, dismissed, or taken advantage of. You are not a bad person for wanting this. Who doesn’t?

The hardest part of this process is dealing with the fallout from family, friends, or coworkers. Everyone will have an opinion, and some will tell you you’re making a bad decicision. And maybe you are.

But the thing to remember is that it’s your “bad decision,” not theirs. Only you know what being around that person feels like to you.

Your life may change for the better without this person in it, but your choice may not feel better to other people. This is especially true if the person you’re trying to get rid of is a relative who is still close with other members of your family.

So you’ll have more decisions to make. But go easy on yourself. You don’t need to make a scene or proclamation. And you don’t have to decide everything at once. Take whatever step you’re ready to take, and congratulate yourself for making progress. Freedom isn’t a light switch. It’s a lifelong process.

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