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5 warning signs of a toxic friendship & 5 steps to ending one

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Most people have identified one or two people or friends in their life who weren’t or aren’t good for them; friends who lack interest or empathy in your life and drag you down when you are with them. These friends have little hope or interest in your dreams and will most likely be the ones telling you why it is unlikely you will never achieve your goals. They carry their weight around them like a badge of honor, and although they solicit advice they never take it or they make an excuse for why it will not work for them. They are a victim of everyone, but they suffer mostly with their own choices. You will have the most success at identifying their toxicity when they are gone. You feel freer, better about yourself, in a better mood, and wonder why you let this person take advantage of you and criticize you for so long. Your non-toxic friends will notice the change in you overnight when you quit allowing toxic friends to be a part of your life. The top five identifiers of toxic friends share these behaviors.

1.       They are critical of you.

2.       They are critical or talk badly of other people you care about.

3.       They are manipulative with you and your feelings and take advantage of you emotionally, financially and/or with relationships.

4.       They tell you why you shouldn’t feel the way you do.

5.       They make you feel as though you are the only person or one of the few people they trust.

Research on toxic friendships at the Psychological Stress Research Program at Florida State University found that when you have a toxic friend one of the reasons you continue the friendship is due to feelings of entrapment. Whether you have known the person a long time and share a history or just met them, they make you feel as though they have no one else to turn to. In actuality, the only way to help them is to get out of the friendship and distance yourself from them.

In order to end a toxic friendship you have to begin with identifying it as one. After you have done that, these 5 steps can help.

1.       Accept reality and quit making excuses for your toxic friend. You can change yourself, but you cannot change another. Friendship is an equal partnership, and when your friend makes you feel bad about being you or treats you with disrespect, it’s time to break it up. 

2.       Set boundaries. Quit giving second chances and tell your toxic friend your intentions. Your life doesn’t revolve around them. If you shut your phone off at 8p.m., don’t take any calls; even theirs.

3.       Make your life about achieving your goals, not theirs. A toxic friend is like a leech in their ability to suck your energy, and leave you feeling unmotivated to accomplish your dreams.

4.       Talk to your non-toxic friends about your feelings regarding your toxic friend. Real friends are a great source of comfort and they are going to act in your best interest. They will be supportive of you separating yourself from this toxic person.

5.       Let your toxic friend know about your intentions. This is an important step because it will help you feel more confident and show your toxic friend that you are stronger than they may have thought. It is important when you tell them that you focus on what you feel. I statements, describing how the friendship affects you is more important than what they are feeling. In most cases, the toxic friend uses guilt or shame to control. Owning these feelings before you break up with your toxic friend will help you not get drawn in again.

Toxic friends or people can exist in all areas of your life. There are toxic husbands, wives, and colleagues. Therefore, discontinuing the relationship may require professional help as well as you being firm with boundaries and your own intentions. Clearing toxic friends from your life re-energizes your life, leaving you feeling better about yourself and more hopeful in the future. – Mary Jo Rapini

 

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