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The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

Recovery Plan for Healing from Toxic Relationships

Breaking free from toxic relationships can be challenging. Once the veil is removed from your eyes and you are no longer in denial, you need to figure out how to heal. It helps to have a recovery plan.  This plan offers practical steps for breaking free from the entanglement of an unhealthy relationship and moving forward with your life.

Following is a common recovery plan for people recovering from abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationships. Use this one, or modify it to meet your own personal needs.

  1. Remain committed to reality. Stop believing the lies others tell you and the lies you tell yourself. Don’t idealize the other person or the relationship.
  2. Remind yourself, “It’s not my fault.” Make this your daily mantra.
  3. Stop trying to get the toxic person to “see.” Tell yourself this mantra:  “She is not going to see.”
  4. Stop trying to get other people to “see.” You are only doing this because of needing desperately to be validated because of repeated gas-lighting, blame shifting, and manipulation. Tell yourself this mantra:  “They aren’t going to see.”
  5. The best approach to handling others not validating you is to tell yourself:  “It is enough that I see.”  In other words, validate yourself.
  6. “Observe don’t absorb.” This means, just watch the person as they do things or say toxic things to you, without letting yourself absorb the effects. Let whatever they do or say bounce right off  you. Remind yourself to “be like a duck,” and let the words fall like water right off your back.
  7. Grieve your losses.  Grieve your fantasies and the dreams that aren’t going to be realized. When you live in reality you have to let go of the lies you’ve been telling yourself.
  8. Get out of the FOG.  FOG stands for Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. Do not make any decisions out of fear, obligation, or guilt. Only make decisions that you want to make out of your own free will without coercion.
  9. Don’t personalize.  This means, don’t take what the other person says or does personally. Whatever the other person says or does is on them. It says more about them than it does about you. Remind yourself to, “Stop personalizing.”
  10. Set boundaries. Learn where you end and the other person begins. Drive in your lane, not the other persons.
  11. Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself. Exercise. Eat right. Set personal goals. Develop your life.
  12. Surrender the other person. If you believe in God, give him to God. Open your hands and let go. This means, the other person is not your responsibility, nor are you responsible for solving his problems.

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Recovery Plan for Healing from Toxic Relationships

Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Southern California ( Lifeline Counseling is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) corporation. Sharie is also an abusive relationship recovery coach -


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APA Reference
Stines, S. (2020). Recovery Plan for Healing from Toxic Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from