Making positive changes in our lives is crucial to sustaining happiness – whether it’s cutting back on unhealthy habits or knowing when to resist the temptation to buy that expensive sweater the next time you’re at the mall. But one very important change is to take a closer look at the people in your life.
The our entire life span, we meet and interact with various types of people – whether it’s schoolmates, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, or strangers – each encounter plays a pivotal role, to varying degrees, in shaping who we are today.
But with all of these interactions, it’s almost inevitable that a few bad apples will fall into the mix.
Unfortunately, there are people in the world who will take genuine kindness for granted. People will ill-intentions will prey on that vulnerability and create a web of manipulation and deceit that is often masked as true friendship. They will do this by playing head games, through passive aggression, and will generally convince you to make their needs a top priority when the feeling isn’t mutual.
These people are usually referred to as toxic.
Some just give off of that ‘bad vibe’ from the start, while others show their true colours over time. And unfortunately, sometimes we see that side of them the hard way, only after something has occurred.
Is anyone coming to mind as you’re reading this? If so, it might be time to start re-evaluating your network of ‘friends’.
How do you tell if a person is toxic?
Toxic people can come in various forms in our personal and professional lives: whether it’s a manipulative boss or a ‘friend’ who’s only around when they need something.
Are you consistently bothered by a so-called friend’s actions? Do you keep wondering whether they actually like being around you for you and not because of what you can do for them? If you’re pondering that thought at all, that’s good enough reason to believe they are behaving in a way to make you question the entire friendship in the first place. Now is the time to put things in perspective and think about removing all the negative energy from your life.
Here are three things to consider when trying make a decision about cutting ties with someone:
1) Test the waters subtly
If you have doubts about a friend’s sincerity, perhaps hold back the next time they ask for a favour and see what happens. Be polite and tell them you’re busy. Are they genuinely understanding? Are they still making an effort to talk to you? Depending on how deep the friendship is, this tactic could help you gauge their sincerity without outwardly confronting them.
2) Get it off your chest
If that strategy doesn’t give you clarity, then, by all means, talk to them. Don’t ever assume anything. After all, we are all human and at some point, we have probably come across the wrong way to people we care about. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of our fault in order to correct it. I’ve been in a situation myself where a good friend got the wrong idea about my actions and started assuming things that weren’t true. Luckily, she brought up her concerns with me and we were able to resolve everything and move on, but had she not, our friendship could have eroded without me ever realizing what went wrong.
Of course, communication will only work if it’s two-way. A person’s reaction (or lack of) will help you determine a lot. Are they ignoring you? Are they getting hostile and defensive instead of holding themselves accountable? Has it become downright exhausting to try and maintain the connection? All of these things will come into play to help you decide whether or not you want to continue having them in your life. It’s most certainly not a black and white situation – each situation is very different and you are the best judge of how to handle it.
3) Time to move on
If you’ve given the benefit of the doubt too many times to no avail, then it’s probably time to distance yourself from this person. Remember, you are looking out for yourself and your own happiness, so make every attempt to make a clean break and don’t look back. If you are truly meant to have this person in your life, they will come back in a much more genuine and sincere way, having finally realized their mistake.
Fight the urge to pick up the phone if they call, or answer a text. Keep reminding yourself of their track record and put yourself first. If you play the silent game long enough, they will eventually get the hint that you’ve essentially ‘caught on’.
Rethink your connection with them on social media – do you really want them to be privy to your personal life through pictures if you are making a decision to distance yourself? Probably not. I won’t advocate disconnecting with anyone on social media because that’s really dependant on your level of usage and how much of yourself you choose to put out there.
Personally, I’m not a fan of outright blocking people – unless the situation warrants it, of course (ie: you’re being harassed). If you’re trying to subtly distance yourself from someone, then proactively cutting them off isn’t always the answer. In my humble opinion, you’re true strength and self-respect will be demonstrated more in deflecting and resisting the negativity instead of just blocking it out. If they are so used to you being at their beck and call and suddenly you’ve become unresponsive (by simply ignoring and not blocking), it should certainly evoke a reaction one way or another, and one that will give you that final clarity on their true nature. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to get this clarity if you proactively blocked them. Some food for thought.
I also want to believe that there is goodwill in everyone and there is always an underlying reason for certain behaviour. Who knows – not having you in their life anymore might actually make them realize the mistakes they made, get them to self-reflect, and enlighten them to become better a person.
Regardless, everyone has their own way of “detoxing”, so ultimately, do what works for you to get that sense of inner peace sooner than later.
The Power of Good People
There are tons of genuinely good people in the world and probably many already in your life. You just need to shift your focus on them. Take a moment to reflect on the people who have taken the time to give you a call just to see how you were doing, the ones where, when you meet after a long time, it feels like no time has passed.
Genuine people have a positive energy about themselves that rubs off on you. You can tell by how they make eye contact with you, how they smile at you, how they interact with you – it’s all about making a healthy connection. When you’re in their presence, you feel normal, complete, and right.
From my own experience, I have met some great people by regularly attending an exercise class at my local gym. We just clicked. That’s how you know the connection is good – because you feel it. And what has strengthened the bond between us has been the class itself. Our camaraderie has become a source of motivation to come together each week and unleash our positive energy into an environment where everyone else has the same goal: self-improvement and empowerment.
Here’s a recent photo of us:
So if you’re at a point in your life where you could use a good dose of positive people, consider what has worked for me: start going to the gym (if you aren’t already) and enroll in a group class, as a starting point. Or get involved in a charitable cause, like a marathon run to raise funds for medical research. What better way to begin developing healthy connections than in an environment where everyone around you is happily working towards their own goals for self-improvement? Not only will it motivate you to fulfill your own health and fitness goals, but you will begin attracting the right people before you know it.
Here’s a profound piece of advice to take away:
“Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing and work hard. The right people – the ones who really belong in your life – will come to you. And stay.”
Happiness is contagious and when you are happy with yourself, the right people will gravitate towards you and stick around.