“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
– Jim Rohn
Most of us have at least one friend we consider toxic: the loser friend who disrupts our entire world the second they step into it. We know things would be so much easier if we cut them loose, yet we spend more time figuring out why we stay than it would take to actually leave.
Why You Have Loser Friends
The truth is, it happens for a multitude of reasons:Advertising
- You’ve been friends with them since you were kids.
- You know them so well you’re constantly justifying their behavior.
- You feel guilty because they don’t have anyone else to turn to.
- You feel obligated to spend time with them because they’re a mutual friend of your BFF/spouse/family member.
- You’re afraid of how they’ll react if you confront them (a.k.a. more drama).
- You feel it’s easier to deal with them than disrupt your hectic lifestyle any further.
Usually though, it’s a simple case of outgrowing each other. What caused you to “click” initially as friends no longer applies, or your lives are going in completely different directions.
I felt this way about several people I used to spend time with: they were going nowhere fast, had no goals, no ambition, and their only focus was their next self-destructive adventure. I’ve always had huge goals for myself, and these were being diminished by the company I kept for the variety of reasons above.
What Constitutes a Loser Friend?
When I use the term “loser friend,” I don’t mean they themselves are losers—everyone is entitled to live their life exactly how they want to—but what they’re doing to your life is causing you to lose what you want… and you’re letting it happen.Advertising
If you have friends who do any of the following, you need to seriously consider their place in your life:
- They’re not supportive.
- They’re not there when you need them.
- They’re only there when they need you.
- They make you feel drained.
- They have no ambition.
- They constantly infuriate you.
- They expect you to drop everything when they want to do something.
- They think everything is an urgent crisis.
Take it from someone who watched her own life implode: if you want to be amazing, you have to spend your time with amazing people. In order to make room for these people, you have to leave your loser friends behind.
Why You Should Leave Your Loser Friends Behind
It’s not going to be easy, but letting them go is a necessary part of creating the life you’ve always wanted for yourself. Otherwise:Advertising
1. They’ll hold you back from your full potential.
The biggest thing I learned from my experience with friends like these is that you’ll never live up to your full potential if you’re constantly weighed down by unnecessary drama and complication. In order to succeed, you need a solid routine and a strong support system. Consider your loser friends the loose floorboard in that support system, constantly distracting you from your goals.
2. They’ll make you feel like crap about yourself.
When they want you to do something you don’t want to do, they’ll constantly nag you and make you feel guilty about being who you are until you cave to their demands. It’s an incessant, vicious cycle that won’t end until you put a stop to it. If you don’t, get ready for a wide array of self-esteem issues.
3. They’ll negatively impact your reputation.
Even though you were guilted into going to that party and became your sloppy friend’s crutch, the dream employer you’ve wanted to work with since you were in public school isn’t going to know that when they’re checking out the horrific pictures you’re tagged in on Facebook.Advertising
More than that, if you’re this easily influenced in your personal life, they’re going to assume you won’t be able to hack it in a professional setting.
4. They’ll bring out the worst in you.
You know all of those bad habits you’re trying to break? Your loser friends will make it so difficult for you to build good habits you’ll constantly crack under the pressure and eventually give up on the concept entirely. After all, if you change for the better, your relationship with them will change for the worse, and will work against what they need from you.
5. They’ll dim the good things in your life.
You’ll be so focused on their drama, needs, and wants, the stress of your friendship will cause you to lose focus on the aspects of your life that are going well. Simply put, negativity breeds negativity—is this really how you want your life to be?
So what are you waiting for? Leave drama to the circus and live your life exactly how you want to, with who you want to. If you don’t decide to do so now, your loser friends will decide for you.
How have loser friends impacted your life? How did you handle it?
The Gentle Art of Saying No
It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.
But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.
What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:
- Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
- Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
- Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
- Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
- Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
- Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
- Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
- Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
- Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
- It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.
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