In Case You Feel You’re The “Toxic” One

We have the best readers here. So thankful for the great comments that come in. Many have asked, what do you do if YOU are the toxic one in a relationship? Your questions have led to this post. 

To any soul who feels they have messed things up-

or maybe you cheated physically or emotionally outside of your relationship;
or brought desperation or insecurity or unhappiness to a relationship;
or made decisions that led to a divorce or pushed someone away;
or just plain made stupid decisions;
or came from a family where dysfunction was rampant and you’re now carrying it forward;
or had health or hormone or fatigue or mental problems that led to you not being your best;
or hurt someone very deeply, perhaps out of your own pain;
or can’t love and be vulnerable in the way that you want;
or made a big mistake;
or had/have regrets about marrying your spouse and haven’t handled it well.

I say to all of you – with great love and understanding – that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

In fact, we are ALL toxic. Ha. Every single one of us. That is the human experience. We are all learning. We are all screwing up (big time) along the way. I, for one, have lots of screw ups.

So what do we do?

The answer is simple, powerful, and effective.

It happens to be the same answer I’d give to someone who feels they are the one getting hurt by someone toxic.

I say: This does not have to define you. 

This behavior or this mistake is not who you are at the core.

One or even one hundred screw-ups doesn’t have the power to permanently destroy your life or permanently define who you are. Yes, it may destroy or harm a relationship. But you are always evolving. And you always, always get to choose what you do next, regardless of what your past behavior was. And the truth is, you can absolutely make a shift at ANY TIME. That is up to you. (Though, I’ll admit, while change is possible, it can be difficult. Uprooting old patterns, conditioning, and past beliefs is no joke and it takes some work. If you want to change, though, it’s possible.)

And what kind of change would be the most helpful or effective? There are many, many things you can do. But I happen to love this one…

I say start pursuing a virtue.  ðŸ™‚

And in this case, pursue a virtue towards YOURSELF.

What does that look like?


Forgive yourself. We’re all human.

Give yourself a break for crying out loud.

I actually don’t think mistakes or weaknesses are as big of deal as we think they are. Really. It all gives us an opportunity to learn and progress as a human being.


See yourself through the lens that you would hope to see others through. Yes, try it.

Have compassion for yourself as someone who is just trying to do the best that they know how in a moment or in a chapter of life.

Honestly, we’re all like toddlers, just trying to figure things out. Sometimes it’s with cheerios and toilet paper. Sometimes it’s with defaulted mortgages, love affairs, and abuse.

It’s all ok. It really is.

And by that, I mean that no matter what we do, it is never so bad that we can’t make a change and get back to living with peace and harmony.

Watch Les Miserables, the greatest redemption story on earth, for a reminder that redemption is within all of our capabilities.


Have gratitude that you even have this opportunity at all – to become something greater; to reconnect with your highest self, opposed to just blindly living an unconscious life.

It is our deepest pain and suffering that inspires us to move forward; to change; to learn how to heal; to be more conscious.

Pain and failures are sacred for that reason.


If you believe in humanity; believe in yourself, too. You are part of humanity. You don’t have to play by stricter standards than anybody else.

If someone out there – someone that you know of – has overcome anything at all…know that it is within your own compass also.

Know that screw-ups don’t have to lead to more screw-ups. Tell yourself that you made these mistakes. But don’t believe that you made the screw-ups because you are inherently, permanently an idiot. That’s not who you are at the core. Believe that at that time in your life, in those circumstances, under that pressure, or in that pain, or with that knowledge, you made mistakes (or are making them currently). But nothing has to be permanent. Believe that you have it in you to do something different in the future.


“Go love yourself.” A woman who does body work in Cuenca uses this line, and I love it.

Start on a path to healing. Get some self care. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Please! Physically and mentally! Get a team of people surrounding you as you try to make some changes. Reach out to people who want to help you (friends, family, coaches, therapists, mentors, AA, support groups, etc.). You are worth it. You are worth the time. You are worth their time.


Having said all that, it’s true that sometimes our behavior can be so bad that it leads to the breakdown of a marriage or relationships or other things that seemingly cannot be reversed. If we’re lucky, we have extremely understanding people around us who know how to not take things personally and will accept us for as long as it takes. Though sometimes we push their limits too much. Maybe they don’t know how to react lovingly. They’re human, too. They’re battling their toxicity and unconsciousness, too. 

If disconnection happens, it’s truly not the end of the world. Yes, it may lead to an even greater need to forgive yourself and others. It may lead to an even greater need for love and kindness towards yourself as you heal.

But so much beauty can still be experienced.

This is the human experience.

It is worth having.

And luckily we’re ALL in this together.

With Love,


Photos by one of my favorite NYC instagrammers, Russ Moorehead, who seems to just capture the soul of New York. Yes, his photos make me very excited to return to NYC later this year!!!

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  1. Heidi January 15, 2016 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    This is really beautiful. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Loraine January 15, 2016 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Wonderful post Mara! Thank you for helping so many people.

  3. Baugh January 15, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    This was very helpful on so many levels..thank you Mara.

  4. Anonymous January 16, 2016 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Wow, just wow.

    And thank you.

    This was so beautiful and true and motivating. Thank you for reminding me of this, I will come back to it again and again.

    As a person with "toxic" behavior, I loved what you said about not letting my behavior define who I am. It's true that at my core I'm not toxic, but rather a human who's learning. Thank you for the reminder that I still have choices and that I can change. Thank you for the reminder that pain and suffering motivate one to be more conscious–that has been true for me. Lastly, thank you for the reminder to love myself. Only by loving myself, having compassion for myself, forgiving myself can I do the same for others. Jesus Christ said "love thy neighbor as thyself." To me, that's a big insight into what it takes to love one's neighbor.

    Thank you again, this came at a perfect time for me as I felt like I had just regressed (and messed up) big time in my healing. This reminds me that my recent mistakes can be learned from and that I can become better from the increased consciousness they have given me.

  5. Miggy January 18, 2016 at 1:22 am - Reply


    • mara January 18, 2016 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      I need a heart button. 🙂

  6. Sultan Ali January 20, 2016 at 11:31 am - Reply

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  7. Anna Livingston January 22, 2016 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Amazing post! And really actual problem! If you are not sure about your relationship you can read . If you have all these signs or more of them you may be sure that you have successful relationship! Good luck!)

  8. Liz January 30, 2016 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    I keep coming back to read this one over again. It's just so powerful and applies to everything. Everything. Thank you for writing and sharing it!!

  9. Metisse February 6, 2016 at 5:36 am - Reply

    Definitely tweeted this as one of my fave blog posts 🙂

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