Reaching Your Potential by Letting Go of Your Past

Reaching Your Potential by Letting Go of Your Past

There’s nothing that will keep you from stepping into your greatness, reaching your potential and pursuing your passions without feeling guilty than taking on other people’s negative stuff.

When you’re falling short from going for what you want and getting it – it’s often because your self image was distorted growing up around self absorbed narcissistic or addictive personality types who projected their emotional baggage onto you. Making it difficult if not impossible to get a clear sense of who YOU really are and what you really want.

And until you understand the origins of what shaped your blurry and distorted self image and how it’s continuing to impact you in the present, you won’t be able to shift this faulty self-image and start getting what you really want in life. It won’t matter how many positive affirmations you say each day or how many coaching and success courses you undertake, you still won’t have a clear sense of who you are because you’ll still be subconsciously seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes.

So let’s take a look at some of the most common ways that growing up around narcissistic or addictive personality types negatively impacts your self image and undermines your self confidence and self belief so that you can get the insights you need to release your past and step into your future self:


5 Toxic Behaviours That Damage Your Self Image And Self Worth Growing Up 

  • You’re forced into a prescribed role as the confidante / good listener / problem solver for the narcissistic / addictive personality parent. You’re basically a parentified child. You learn to dutifully and stoically listen to all of their problems, hurts, perceived slights and frustrations. You’re basically a garbage dump for all of their emotional baggage and they feel so much better after energetically dumping all over you. But you’re then left with a frazzled nervous system and all of their angst still inside of you which takes you up to 48 hours or more to detox from your system and psyche so that you can recalibrate and get your own equilibrium back.


  • You’re scapegoated, ridiculed and talked about behind your back when you don’t comply with their view of the world and how they expect you to behave. When they don’t want to hear what you have to say because they’re not needing to siphon off you emotionally, they dismiss and rubbish your opinions or advice. Putting you back where you belong in their version of the family hierarchy. Because you’re never allowed to step out of your prescribed role.


  • If you’re not making them feel special and making a fuss when they expect it, you cop it. They tantrum, they cry and they tell ANYONE who’ll listen. And – you’ll keep hearing about this major disappointment for months, sometimes years after the event.


  • When you’re sick or needing a bit of empathy yourself it’s nowhere to be seen because they’re not capable of tuning into anyone else’s world and needs.


  • Your accomplishments are never acknowledged or celebrated unless they benefit them in some way. Your achievements are basically ignored or minimized. Because the focus always needs to be on them. Ultimately your achievements and personal evolution are seen as perceived threats to the family hierarchy that they’ve spent years shaping to suit their needs. And if the rest of the family is dysfunctional and in sync with them, they’ll see you through a similar lens. Meaning they won’t give you recognition for who you really are and will show little to no interest in your dreams, your ambitions and anything that you achieve. Particularly if you’ve chosen a path that’s different to them.


So if you’re serious about reaching your fullest potential and being the architect and builder of your own life, it’s time to release what no longer serves you {without loads of judgement and blame which lowers your vibration and keeps you stuck in a victim, done-to mode}.

You’re no longer under their spell. Right.

And if you’ve already made the life-and-destiny-changing decision to invest in your own personal growth so that your past is not determining your future life, you already know that it’s not a smooth seamless linear 6 step or 6 session process. Because that’s not how real change works. Some days you forge ahead and are impervious to any attempts to drag you back into old relational dynamics from your past, and other days you’re caught off guard and momentarily relapse. But each time you catch yourself doing this it makes you more self-aware, so it starts to happen less and less.

Lasting change is about believing in yourself and consistently backing yourself and your dreams. And not everyone’s going to like this. At times you will get a stroppy backlash because the people who are invested in you NOT changing just won’t like it. But that’s just part of the change terrain, particularly when it involves rigid unconscious family dynamics. Give other’s permission to be where they’re at, knowing that you’re looking after yourself and surrounding yourself with people that ‘get’ who you are, want you to succeed, and have the expertise and tools to help you become the person you’re meant to be.

If you don’t break these patterns they’ll get replicated in your business, your career, your relationships and other areas of your life where you’ll find yourself experiencing the same patterns again and again. You won’t make the money you deserve. You’ll keep self-sabotaging opportunities to step fully into your zone of genius and you’ll keep defaulting to people pleasing and putting everyone else’s wants and self-serving needs before your own, often without even knowing that you’re doing it. You’ll be trying to succeed based on a faulty, negative self-image that will vibe to others ‘low self-confidence and low self-regard’ no matter how polished and perfect you look on the outside.

Success is always first and foremost an inside job. Your self image is constantly shaping and determining the results that you get, whether you like it or not. High self-worth, healthy positive self-regard and self-belief are essential for reaching YOUR GREATEST POTENTIAL and fully stepping into what you’re been sent here to do.


3 Ways To Deal With A Toxic Friend And Thrive

3 Ways To Deal With A Toxic Friend And Thrive

Are you struggling to make sense of a toxic friend? Most of us have been through the toxic friendship dance at some stage in our lives.

It’s amazing how long we can tolerate a toxic friend when it’s someone that we’ve spent a lot of time with during our most formative years. But eventually toxic friendships approach an expiration date, usually when the other person finally pushes you over the edge in terms of what you’re prepared to tolerate. Forcing you to finally take a more objective look at what’s really going on.

This was the case for Kate* (not her real name) who recently came to see me to get some clarity on a long-term friendship that had totally soured.



Kate had known Lisa* (not her real name) for 25 years. They had met in high school and been friends ever since. As teenagers, Lisa had always been more outgoing and talkative than Kate. Having been through lots of experiences together growing up, in Kate’s eyes they would be friends for life.

But once Kate hit her 30s and became more successful and self-confident in her own right, she started to tire of the one-sided nature of their friendship. Lisa only called her when she needed to talk about some type of drama, or needed a favour.

Lisa would turn up and dump her emotional baggage all over Kate, leaving Kate feeling annoyed and exhausted for the next 24-48 hours. It felt as if all of Lisa’s anxiety and negativity had been shoved into her. Lisa said she felt better after their chats, but was oblivious to how this impacted Kate and no doubt other people in her life.

Whenever Kate tried to talk about her own issues, Lisa would immediately switch the focus back onto her and talk about when she had the exact same problem. Leaving Kate feeling ignored and invisible. Lisa would often minimize Kate’s feelings, yet expected Kate to listen patiently and empathically to her.

Kate’s husband had long been pointing out to her how drained and irritated she was whenever she spent time with Lisa. But Kate would just get defensive. Lisa finally pushed their friendship over the edge when she showed no interest in Kate’s recent win at work which had meant a lot to her. Instead of celebrating Kate’s big win, Kate felt on the receiving end of a jealous, negative vibe and just didn’t understand why. Kate finally decided to step back from the relationship.


When you’re attracted to someone who turns out to be toxic for you, it’s usually because you’re used to that treatment. The relationship dynamics resemble a familiar relationship from your past. Usually with one of your parents or a sibling.

It’s these types of people that initially are very magnetic and attractive to you. There’s a match in your unconscious to how you’re used to being treated by someone significant in your past. It’s like putting on an old pair of slippers, without realizing they are actually not a good fit for you.

With toxic friends there’s always an agenda on their part which often you just can’t see. Particularly when you’re younger. After years of tolerating their behaviours you slowly gain awareness, being drained, irritated and diminished after every encounter with them. The friendship becomes complex and messy when it shouldn’t be.

Kate had been avoiding having an honest conversation with Lisa about how she felt, because of the nostalgia of their teen years. It was as if she’d been under a spell, which in a way she had. What was Kate’s attraction to Lisa all those years ago? It turned out that Kate’s mother had always taken up most of the space at home. Her father worked long hours and was often away on business trips; increasingly her mother started dumping her emotional baggage onto Kate instead of seeking another adult to confide in. So Kate had become very adept at sitting patiently and listening to her mother go on about her issues and then offering her mother advice. Kate’s prescribed family role growing up was to be the good listener, care taker and problem solver. Yet she hadn’t seen the similarities in how she’d tolerated Lisa.

Kate was hoping that Lisa would eventually see her for who she really was and show genuine interest in her. This was never going to happen if they continued along the same path.

Inevitably, as with Kate and Lisa, cracks start to appear over time when you’re forced to become more self-aware because another person is emotionally draining and hurting you. But because you’re trying to sort things out in a closed thinking loop inside your head, it usually takes someone else to step in and point out the dysfunction to you. Until this occurs, you can remain blind-sided to the dismissive and disrespectful way they are treating you.

If you’ve grown up in an environment where there was no model of healthy respectful relationships, then it’s something you need to learn in your adult life. Otherwise, it can set you up for low self esteem, poor boundaries, and the inevitable confusion about how other people should be treating you. The sooner you can identify this, you will save years of giving your precious time, focus and energy to people who just don’t deserve it.

When Kate saw the similarities between how her own mother related to her and how she was being treated by Lisa, it broke a life-long hypnotic spell. She was free to step back and reassess how she was prepared to be treated by other people.


If you’re in a toxic friendship the first thing you need to do is step back and stop engaging with them. Stop everything and give yourself some space. Whether that be physical space, taking a break from phone calls and / or unfriending them on social media.

#1  Set new boundaries.

If you’re unclear about what good personal boundaries even look like and how to go about change find someone who’s qualified to help you do this. Psychotherapy provides a safe space to build confidence and self-awareness and learn new relationship skills that quickly translate in the outside world.

#2  Know when to stay or when to move on.

This is not about being perfect or expecting your friends to be. We’ve all stuffed up in friendships at some stage in our lives. It’s part of being human. What we’re talking about here is being able to assess whether a friendship that’s gone toxic is redeemable or not. Do both of you have the capacity and self-awareness to handle the disruptions and necessary repairs that are part and parcel of human relationships? It’s knowing when to stay the distance, or when to cut the ties and move on.

#3  Let go of your need to be liked.

Whenever you decide to change and become more self-aware, the people closest to you often don’t like it at first. Because you’re no longer playing the role they have prescribed for you. Initially, they may get angry with you and try to pull you back into how they want you to be. That’s when you need to be consistent with setting new boundaries and let go of the old people pleasing version of you. Eventually they’ll get the message that they also need to re-adjust if they want a relationship with you.


The Outcome: Rebuilding The Friendship On New Terms

Building friendships on new terms by janelle legge

Photo by Lacie Slezak

When Kate finally stepped back and took a break from their friendship it really got Lisa’s attention. Kate finally told Lisa she just didn’t feel respected in the friendship… that it was always about her. Lisa’s initial reaction was anger and denial and then silence. She’d finally got the message loud and clear that she needed to change if she wanted to keep long-term friends in her life. Lisa also sought counselling and they are both slowly rebuilding their friendship on a more equal basis. Only time will tell whether their friendship can be repaired, but they are both willing to give it a go.

Most self-aware people know when they have stepped over the boundary in friendships. The problem lies with people who aren’t self-aware and don’t want to invest in their own personal growth.

Maybe you’re telling yourself you can’t make new friends after a certain age, so it’s best to keep the ones you already have. Even if they are hurting and draining you. This just isn’t true. Friendships can be made at any age. This faulty belief is stopping you from meeting new, healthier friends. As long as you’re invested in toxic, dissatisfying friendships, nothing new can come in. Because they are just so draining, distracting and time consuming.


Take Aways :

  1. When you decide you deserve better and get help in making the changes you most need it has a powerful ripple effect. The quality of all of your relationships, personally and professionally start to improve, changing all aspects of your life in positive ways.
  2. What we most remember about other people is how they make us feel. So pay attention to how those people make you feel. Do they make you feel good about yourself, valued, seen and heard? Or do you feel used? Test if you’re in a healthy or toxic relationship. If you’re finding this too hard to do, find someone who’s qualified to help. Because how you do one thing in life is how you do everything.


It’s always worth the effort sorting out what’s holding you back from having the life and relationships you want. The biggest turning point for anyone on the path to a bigger life and more success is asking for help and not trying to do everything on your own.

If you’re feeling drained and resentful because you’re in a toxic relationship and are ready to set some new ground rules, email me at to book an appointment and we can start making the changes you most need.

*All identifying features, including names, have been changed in this case study to protect the privacy of my client. 

A version of this article was featured in The Sydney Standard February edition.

Blog title image by Tamara Bellis


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