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The Fallout of Not Facing the Toxic Behaviors of a Selfish Friend

The Fallout of Not Facing the Toxic Behaviors of a Selfish Friend

Back in high school, my best friend and I would hang out all the time. We were in the same grade, we lived pretty close to each other, and we shared a lot of interests – tennis, the piano, and reading. We spent hours and hours talking about everything. She was smart and easy to talk to. But the problem was, she only seemed to care about herself. So when I wanted to share problems or successes in my own life, she was totally uninterested. Hanging out with her only left me feeling sad and lonely.

It can be hard to identify toxic aspects of any relationship. But just because you see your friends often doesn’t mean you’re not lonely. Toxic behaviors turn your good intentions into vain acts. Selfish friends will focus far more on their own needs, neglecting yours. While hanging out will be fun for a while, they will consistently drain your energy and leave you feeling abandoned.

The Flawed Ways to Handle a Selfish Friend

Imagine a friend who is constantly minimizing your own life stresses and always talking about troubles in his own love life. You have a deadline coming up when he calls you one evening. You explain the situation to him and ask if you can talk another time. Outraged, he yells and gives you an ultimatum. He doesn’t want to hear from you again.

You have a lot of ways you might respond to him. These are some common ways people use to deal with such relationship.

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1. Take In Everything

Many people simply accept the toxic behaviors by staying silent and sometimes even enabling them. You might call your friend back, apologize, and give him some time to talk about his latest disastrous date.

This is the path of least resistance, so it’s easy to fall into this kind of pattern.

But this isn’t a real solution. By accepting your friend’s toxic behaviors, you hurt your own ego, feel sad and more stressed in your personal life, and overall feel like your friendship is extremely turbulent. Sacrificing your own needs won’t fix anything. Gradually it will start to take a toll on your mental health and make you feel depressed.

2. Cast Shadow Upon Others

Another option is to steer into the skid: mimicking the friend’s selfish behavior when you hang out. It feels better to do this than to be victimized. But by doing this, even unconsciously, you become the toxic friend in other relationships. It’s harmful to you as well as the friendship.

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Imagine that, in response to your friend’s selfish behaviors, you also start behaving this way to everyone in your life. Instead of giving your friends space when they need it, you demand all of their time for your problems. You feel like you’re always forced to take your friend’s bad behaviors, so you take it out on your friends, family, and your significant other. This vicious circle will harm everyone in your life and only spread the selfishness onward like a communicable virus.

3. Cut Ties Sharply

Finally, some people sharply cut ties with their toxic friends. While this will get rid of your problems, it doesn’t really fix them. What’s more, your selfish (ex-)friend may not understand your motivations or actions and return with passive-aggressive behaviors.

If your selfish friend suddenly can’t get in touch with you for weeks upon weeks, they will feel totally confused and abandoned. Think about how they might react — not just with confusion, but anger. They may lash out at you in other ways, perhaps talking to mutual friends about how selfish you are, or trying to get in touch with you even more aggressively. This too can take a mental and emotional toll on you. Avoidance isn’t the answer.

Real Solutions to Save the Friendship

Lots of people want to fix toxic relationships with band-aid fixes, but band-aids don’t fix relationships. To deal with feelings and relationships, it takes time and effort. These are the real solutions to deal with a selfish friend and genuinely fix your friendship.

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Openly talk about your feelings with your friend.

Let them know how their actions have been harming you personally. Be specific but kind here. It’s important to communicate that you want honesty and that you’re committed to sustaining and improving the friendship.

Share your personal boundaries.

Explain what exactly it is that you need from your friend in order to make the relationship feel equal. For example, you might tell your friend that you can’t always talk on the phone late at night when you have deadlines. Don’t tell them that you can’t ever talk on the phone late at night, but explain that you need them to give you space when you are stressed or busy.

Listen openly and be willing to compromise.

Be open to hearing their honest feelings and reactions to what you are saying. It’s possible that their actions might be related to your behaviors too. Be honest with yourself and with your friend, and you are likeliest to have the best results.

Finally, if your friend simply refuses to listen to your feelings and clearly has no interest in engaging in an honest conversation, admit defeat. If you can’t fix the relationship, then that’s that. Leave it be, move on, and focus on building and maintaining your healthy friendships.

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But oftentimes, a friendship is worth salvaging and you never know how wonderful a friendship can be if you never try. Many friends don’t realize that they are behaving selfishly, and talking with them honestly can really turn things around.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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