*please note that the people in the featured image are NOT toxic friends. I just thought it was a good image. if you are featured in this image don’t worry I love you*
The whole concept of toxic friendships has been playing on my mind recently and I realised that a blog post about them would have been so helpful when I was in the midst of my toxic friendships. So this is a guide for all you who are like a sponge and take on the energy of others and emotionally invest in people so much that you end up draining yourself.
There is a difference between putting yourself first and being selfish
I wish someone had told me this when I was younger. No matter what I was going through, if a friend rang me I would push aside all of my stuff and listen to their problems and help them. Of course, being there for your friends is important, especially if they’re going through stuff BUT you also have to be there for yourself. If you are having an awful day and you know that you don’t have the capacity to help someone else at that moment…be honest. Check that the problem isn’t life-threatening and ask if you can call them back tomorrow / when you’re feeling a little better. SET BOUNDARIES. If the person is really your friend, they will understand. There were so many times as a kid when my mum had just died when I was in pieces but would sit and listen to everyone else’s problems that seemed so tiny in comparison and it used to upset me so much that no one stopped to consider me. It upsets me even more that I never stopped to consider me!
Surround yourself with positive people
I am an extremely empathetic person and I am highly susceptible to other people’s energy. If someone I am close to is stressed, I take on that stress. If they are sad, I am sad too. It has taken me a long time to realise this and learn that if you surround yourself with people who are always miserable, negative and angry it can be so damaging to your own mind. Obviously people cannot be positive all the time, it just isn’t possible but it is possible to not be negative ALL of the time. Question how you feel whenever you have hung out with them. Do you feel exhausted, drained or sad?
Assess your give and take ratio
Do you devote yourself fully to a friendship whilst the other person only really bothers when no one else is around to entertain them? Are you there for them but they don’t really reciprocate, even when you ask for help? My counsellor highlighted to me that most of the friendships I discussed with her had something in common – I put in all the leg work and didn’t really get any of the reward. This kind of ties in with the other points I’ve made but I thought it was important to say it in very black and white terms. Reevaluate friendships that you put a lot into and don’t get a lot out. It really shocked me how often I have done this with previous friendships that have ended and even a couple that I still have. You can’t expect someone to be there for you all of the time (see point 1) but you can expect them to be there for you as much as you are for them.
I hope this has helped you if you’ve needed it today
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