to Recognize and Shed Toxic Friends
feel happy and healthy we need to seek out what specifically brings us joy. High
on the list is friendship. Instinctually, we gravitate to positive people to trigger
positivism within ourselves. We look to our friends to interpret the big picture
for us, to help us find a solution to dramatic problems that overwhelm us. We
trust them with our secrets and often take their advice. However, over the years
friends change and we change as well. Each decade reveals buried treasures of
personality and personal growth. Careers, finances, status and intimate relationships
undergo transformations. Our friends remember us way back when
if we should succeed? Jealousy, the green-eyed monster, slings its barbs, chipping
away at our ability to trust. Et tu, Brutus? Here is how to recognize a toxic
relationship and how not to fall apart.
your friend speaks to you sarcastically, and most of the remarks though they are
housed in humor are basically insulting, eroding your self-esteem or your goals
to move forward, this is the first sign of toxicity. Be alert and dont ignore
it. Put up your invisible shield of light to protect your heart.
you are sick with a chronic and serious illness, have lost your job, or are getting
a divorce and your friend keeps asking you for the smallest, most intimate details
about your condition, this is a sign of well-meaning toxicity. While you need
to separate your identity from that of your plight, get back into life, your friend
sees you only as the problem and is fascinated by it as though watching a house
on fire, yet doing nothing to put it out. This is a clear signal to alert your
friend that you would rather not talk about it. Your friend sees you as an object
of pity while you need empowerment to heal. Eventually, you will need to free
yourself from this friendship.
your friend tries to monopolize your time, possess you and limit your contact
with others, by making you feel guilty of abandonment, then that friendship has
become parasitic. Do not become enmeshed. Declare your independence.
your friend is narcissistic, rarely complimenting you, tugging at your heart strings
as to what you can do for her, calls you when it is convenient for her- even late
at night, never remembering what is going on in your life, then be aware that
you are being used and drained. Establish your boundaries, so that her soap opera
does not become your soap opera. After awhile the same old story becomes redundant
and boring. Friendship needs reciprocity.
close the door on a friendship, gradually wean the two of you off one another.
Speak less frequently on the phone. Meet for lunch or dinner with others, not
alone, so that you can position yourself next to someone else in the group. Express
your feelings honestly and try not to vent. Explain what is wrong. Listen to the
answer- what is said as well as what is not said. See if you can salvage the relationship
by clearing the air. Adopt a wait and see attitude. If the transgressions continue,
let your friend know that it is not working for you.
we get older, we have fewer friends and more acquaintances. We see with experienced
eyes. We tend to expect more from our friends; perhaps we expect too much. Nevertheless,
reserve judgment and forgive, but move on. Tap into your gut feelings. Just because
you have a history with someone, doesnt mean you need to keep on repeating
it. We outgrow many things during the course of a lifetime and take many detours.
During the course of our journey we make new friends and exchange our gifts with
Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind
and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal
trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the host of the
weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WHLI 1100AM in New York City ,
produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and
print media. To learn more visit
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