Time for a Friendship Detox?
Success Coach Fiona Wainrit, of Finetuned Coaching provides some insight into how to become more successful by removing those who are holding us back.
We all know about toxins in our foods and toxins in our external environment, but what about toxic people? We’ve all encountered them: they are individuals who: Drain us of energy instead of enriching us, pull us down instead of pushing us up, are negative, wining, needy, manipulative, self-involved people who can rapidly turn our good mood into a terrible mood. I call them toxic people.
So why do we keep these people in our lives? We tend to hold onto what’s familiar and it’s not often we stop to reflect on our friendships and relationships and decide whether they are ‘useful’ or destructive. Based on my coaching experience, one theory is what I have labelled the “Mother Theresa Syndrome”. This describes individuals who tend to attract troubled people into their lives. These people have a burning desire to “save” others. It is often a subconscious process, or a learnt pattern of behaviour, whereby these people tend to seek out similar scenarios with different people.
What we don’t realise, is rather then helping, we are enmeshing ourselves in the problem even more! People need to have their own desire to change. If they keep repeating the same mistakes, with no intention to move forward, then the best we could do is point them in the right direction to seek professional help, but at the same time take a step back, so we don’t allow their troubles to consume us.
By consciously letting go and walking away from self-destructive individuals, we are allowing them to find their own path, even if they opt for the hard road. If we are destined to be friends, they may decide to re-connect someday. Otherwise, perhaps they are no longer meant to be in our lives.
As you would throw out an old kettle that no longer works, sometimes we need to ‘spring clean’ our so-called ‘friends’ who provide more negatives than positives to our lives. Time is precious. Why not spend more of it with those who give us the emotional support, positivity and encouragement we truly deserve?
No matter how good our people skills are, most of us struggle to effectively deal with toxic individuals. The good news is that there are valuable strategies we can use to best deal with them.
Top five tips to a successful friend cleanse:
- Make a list of friends who are nurturing, supportive and giving.
- Now make a list of friends who seem to consistently leave us feeling drained, and/ or down.
- Make a conscious effort not to make contact with these individuals.
- Be upfront- If they continue contacting you, be honest & explain that you need a break from them to pursue personal matters.
- If it helps, delete them from your contacts on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Out of sight, out of mind?
What if there’s a toxic person you can’t avoid?
If the toxic person is a colleague or family member, it may not be possible to completely avoid them. However, there are certain coping strategies you can implement to lessen their impact.
Rather then wasting energy trying to change them, we can take control of the situation by changing the way we respond to them. One great way of achieving this is through creative visualization. Neuropsychology studies suggest we associate the key person or issue causing us stress with something completely silly, funny and unrelated.
Think of something that makes you laugh like a playful puppy dog, or a cartoon character. Then, every time you need to engage this toxic person, visualise this image. After a while, you will notice their impact will start to diminish.
If you overcome dealing with a toxic person, and you look at it pragmatically, there are many lessons you’ve learned. You will have developed coping strategies and tools to use if you ever encounter a similar situation, or you have increased your resilience and have become that little bit stronger. Either way, well done on taking control of a tough situation!