I once had a friend whom was very dear to me. I was at a low point in my life, and I truly believed God sent her to me. We were close, like sisters, and she supported me through my obstacles. She was always just a phone call away, always available by text message, always there with time to listen to my latest ups and downs. She was wonderful, so kind and attentive.
To be honest, I wasn’t at a time in my life where I was making the best objective judgments. I was craving love and attention, and she was there to provide it. That’s how she found her way into my life, into my heart. While I was endlessly grateful, I couldn’t help but notice something about her.
She was always talking negatively about our other friends. She was very involved in their lives, quick to offer her own opinion on anyone, opinions which were always negative. Her constant dissatisfaction with the world around her and overall negativity began poisoning my life. I was torn. I wanted to be as true of a friend to her as she was to me, so I tried opening her up to the positivity in the people around us. She wasn’t receptive, however, very set in her negative ways.
I couldn’t shake the feeling of discomfort when I was around her. I had trouble understanding how someone who could be such a wonderful friend to me could be such a foe to so many others. As time went by, I noticed her negativity was contagious. Her involvement in my life was bringing out more of the bad in me than the good. I noticed my own kindness dwindling, replaced with criticism and harshness. I was beginning to adopt her judgments.
It came to a point where I couldn’t ignore my initial instincts any longer. I learned to trust my intuitions, and eliminate the toxicity from my life.
The thing about toxic people is that you may not realize how harmful they are to your well-being. It may just seem like a friend who is too pushy, too invested in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. It could be a significant other who can’t stand to be wrong, and finds a way to twist scenarios until they seem to be the party that’s been victimized. We all know someone who tells stories that seem to be more fact than fiction, but what about people who seem to be caught in big lies frequently? These are all signs of toxic relationships, and the fact is, these are all things that drain energy and positivity from your life.
So how can you recognize and put an end to the toxic relationships in your life? It isn’t easy, but it is crucial to your well-being.
1. Put it into perspective. Ask yourself some tough questions. If it’s a friend you’re questioning, think about whether or not you’d put up with the same behavior if you were in a romantic relationship. Think about if you’d try to dissuade a friend from continuing on the path you’ve found yourself on.
2. Confront your fears. Could this cause awkwardness amongst friends? Quite possibly. Are there times where they may choose to hang out with the other person, leaving you left out? It could be. But are avoiding any of these temporary feelings of discomfort worth surrounding yourself with someone who has such a negative impact on your self-esteem and day-to-day life? Definitely not.
3. Keep any explanations succinct. You don’t have to give this person an itemized list of reasons why you can’t associate with them anymore. Just be straightforward. If you’re going to do this in person, public places are ideal, as they can keep the episode more contained than it may end up in a private area. If you’re afraid of this type of confrontation, phase yourself out in a more gradual way. Stop answering calls and texts, and then block their number. Remove them from all social media. They can’t argue your decision if you cut off their lines of communication with you.
4. Don’t let others talk you out of your decision. Chances are, the more people you and this person mutually know, the more people you’ll have trying to talk you out of your decision. Remember, you’re doing this for you, and not anyone else.
It’s hard to let go of toxic relationships. You want to believe that you’d know better than to be friends with someone who engages in abusive behavior. It’s a spin on the notion that bad things happen to other people, but not to ourselves. Aside from that, we may think circumstances won’t allow us to rid of this person; you’ve known them for too long, you’re too close, they know too much about you. It’s crucial to remember that our social circles are supposed to be a support system, there to champion your successes and support you through hard times. Relationships, be they friendships or romantic, are supposed to add to our lives, not take away from them. If you find yourself feeling drained as a result of the people you’re surrounded with, it’s time to reevaluate and focus more on what it means to be good to yourself rather than everyone else.