Toxic Friendships And What To Do
We all have that one person who becomes our B.F.F during finals week because they want to ‘borrow’ our notes. We also have that one ‘friend’ who often criticizes you for no apparent reason and makes you feel like the scum of the earth. Even worse, we have those people in our lives that make us feel so.freaking.small. Why are you still friends with them?
Dear, those are not your friends. Those are toxic people who are just using you to achieve some material goal. Otherwise, they are just manipulative bullies who attack your self-esteem to make them feel better about themselves.
Sadly, there is no way to really spot a toxic person. Don’t bother with fruitless attempts at identifying who is toxic or genuine. Instead, dealing with a toxic person starts from internal development of your character and personality.
Firstly, you have to attain a sense of identity. That is, who you are as an individual. That is something no toxic person can ever take away from you. It is essential to address big life questions especially if you are at the beginning of a new chapter of your life (eg. Beginning of a new semester or even your career). That way, you stand rooted in what you believe in and toxic people will find it hard to manipulate you. Deciding the kind of person you want to be may be a tiring process, but ultimately, it dictates and streamlines your choices and beliefs according to what you want for yourself. Evidently, this life is yours to live. To take preventive action against master manipulators, ask yourself - Who are you? And what do you want?
Secondly, recognize that it is okay to encounter toxic people. It is okay to fail. The key is to learn from your mistakes and prevent repetition. Everything happens for a reason. Don’t beat yourself up over something that has already happened. Like they said, the past is in the past. Focus on the present at hand. You have to power to dictate how you want your future to be.
When you do eventually encounter a toxic person, here are some tips to avoid sinking your feet too deep into a toxic friendship.
First, know how to walk away. Realize that it is only rational that you put your own well-being, values and principles first. You deserve to be happy and walking away does not make you a ‘bad’ friend. In fact, it makes you wise and strong to choose not to succumb to peer pressure.
Second, forgive yourself … and them. Whether you are in a toxic friendship or relationship that ended on unpleasant terms, understand that life goes on. Forgive them because they are unhappy people and hope that one day they will realize their own self-worth and be more content with themselves. Forgiveness is, after all, the first step to achieving inner peace and moving on with life.
Third, show appreciation to other people who have made a positive impact in your life. No doubt toxic people are unavoidable, but there are genuine and sincere individuals too. Show compassion, empathy and kindness to the aunty who always serves you at the coffee shop or even to your friend who gave you a lift to school today. Instead of focusing on the toxic person, shift your focus on people who have done good in your life. Thank them for little gestures that make your day easier.
Fourth, please also know that you are not alone. Never stop believing that you are meant to do wonderful things. You are beautiful. Don’t let a bully or abuser take that away from you.