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Alert: 7 Signs You Have A Toxic Friend

Alert: 7 Signs You Have A Toxic Friend

Have you ever been in a toxic friendship? I have and it just about destroyed me. It took time before I finally ended the relationship and restored my health. I also learned some things in the process so I won’t make the same mistake.

Toxic friendships are bad for your health. By the time you enter your adult years you will have encountered one or more. Maybe you are the type who attracts toxic friendships. Some people are like that. They have an active rescuing chip in the brain and they cannot seem to help themselves. Is that you?

Toxic is synonymous with poisonous, deadly, unhealthy. Your system is not made to exist with anything toxic. If you listen to your inner self it will alert you that the friend you chose is bad for your mental health. Here are 7 signs you have a toxic friend.

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Your friend needs to be the center of attention

Toxic people crave attention and they will get it in any form. They can be nice to be noticed. Or they create drama to draw attention toward themselves. Even negative attention accomplishes their goal.

A toxic friend can hijack your special event, like a birthday party or celebrating your recent promotion. When the focus of the moment should be on you, it somehow shifts to her. Why? Because toxic people struggle with insecurity and the way they cope is to keep the attention on them.

Your friend always takes and rarely gives

Toxic friends are always on the take. You are the “lending tree” and they are the “picker”. They want to borrow your car, clothes, money, and your precious time. When they call or text, the expectation is that you will respond immediately. If not, expect a flood of 911 messages to follow.

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When it is your turn to need support, don’t count on a toxic friend to respond. Your needs are not as important as what they are doing at the moment. A litany of excuses (many untrue) are given and you’re supposed to understand. After all, their problems are more important than yours. In reality, toxic people lack empathy, an important friendship trait.

Your friend uses guilt to control your friendship

Toxic friends are experts in making you feel sorry for them. They play the victim role at an Oscar award winning level. Because they create a lot of drama, you are at their beck and call. Guilt is an underlying current that dictates the relationship. You never know what might happen if you don’t respond when they call.

Individuals with a tendency to “rescue” or “fix” others are susceptible to toxic friendships. You think you can turn this person around, yet in the end, you are the one being controlled. Guilt keeps you responding.

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Your friend is impulsive and repeats bad behavior

Toxic people tend to be impulsive. They do not think about the outcome of their decisions. Instead, they just act in the moment. The problem is that often their impulsive behavior gets them in trouble.

Impulse control is a function in the brain that regulates behavior. It involves frustration tolerance, the ability restrain impulses and live within limits. People with poor and impulse control and lower frustration tolerance make decisions quickly and don’t factor in potential risks or consequences. At times you may feel like your banging your head against a wall trying to get a toxic friend to look at her behavior. It won’t work if she is ruled by her impulses. Which brings up the next toxic sign.

Your friend blames others for her faults

Have you noticed that your toxic friend creates a lot of problems? But does she accept responsibility for them? Toxic people usually blame others and rarely take ownership for their actions. It’s always someone else’s fault. If you have a toxic friend then you’ve likely been blamed too!

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It is difficult to feel safe in a relationship with a friend who blames others for her problems. It can be like walking on eggshells around her. You know they are the problem but somehow they make you feel like you are. So here’s another sign.

Your friend makes you doubt yourself

A toxic friend can get into your head and make you doubt yourself. Suddenly, you’re questioning yourself and wondering what you’re doing wrong in the relationship. You may feel responsible for her problems. Some toxic people are so convinced in their minds about things and state their case with such conviction, it can mess with your head.

You want to end the friendship but feel trapped

As I mentioned earlier, guilt is one of the toxins that controls the relationship. Toxic people are very manipulative in friendships. It feels a little like Hotel California, “you can check out anytime you want but you can never leave.”

Good friendships don’t come with traps. You should have the freedom to be yourself and not be overburdened by drama. If this is not how it feels with your friend, it is likely because she is toxic. You may feel trapped but it doesn’t mean you are. Do not allow guilt or fear control you. You are free to walk away.

Featured photo credit: Dollar Photo Club via dollarphotoclub.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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