Someone once told me, when I felt down and depressed, to check my surroundings. That I might not be depressed because of me or my circumstances, at all. I might just surrounded by toxic people. That was a harsh yet strange concept to wrap my head around. Essentially, they were challenging me to see my friends and family, the people I’m most familiar with – the people I have the most consistent relationships with – as enemies. All of them. Parents, siblings, best friends, associates, work friends, classmates; everyone is an enemy. Or at least, they all have the potential to be. It’s not easy, but what this little exercise forces you to do is to see the behaviors of others minus the benefit of the doubt. We give our friends and family the benefit of being wholly good hearted, well intended, and good for us. That’s not always true, unfortunately, and the impact of people less-than-happy to see us happy can be devastating.
#CareTip2 – Trim Your Social Contacts
There is nothing wrong with taking a step back from friends and family to get yourself together. There’s also nothing wrong with cutting people off, altogether, who don’t seem to offer anything to your life or wellbeing. It’s more than just social housekeeping. People who bring toxic energy into your life can breed a world of self-doubt, esteem issues, anxiety, diminished self-worth, and depression. Keeping them around is like getting a regular dose of toxicity and it will absolutely eat away at you.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that because someone isn’t good for you in an instance, that they are toxic. Sometimes all we need is to remove ourselves from social situations and people to recharge. In those instances, it’s not about others, it’s about us. Finding that distinction between personal space and cutting out toxicity can be tricky, but it is vital to your self care. Here’s a few tips to figuring out if a person is bad for you:
1. Do they clap for you when you win?
I know you’ve heard this before, “Watch who doesn’t clap when you win.” Sometimes, those Facebook memes are spot on. Being aware of who is happy to see you happy and successful can be a clear indication of what their intentions are for you. If you are celebrating moderate to large victories, take note of who is within their capacity to share in that triumph with you, but chooses not to.
2. Are they condescending or negative when they talk to you?
Have you ever had a friend or associate who’s every word to you seems like it’s meant to make you feel dumb? I admit, I’m fluent in sarcasm, so let me be clear on this. Has anyone ever made you feel like you do not belong? Most, if not all conversations with them has a subtle undertone of “why are you here?” and so you begin to question yourself of why you are there? You begin to feel inadequate and out of place. That’s an indication that this person does not have your best interest at heart. People who make you feel like this, you have to question why they want you around.
3. Are they concerned about how you’re doing?
People who spend time with you typically can tell when something is off about you. Are they asking how you’re doing? If you let them know how you are doing or express that you’re experiencing a hard time, do they seem or show [genuine] concern? Do they glaze over in the conversation until it’s time to talk about them? Pay attention to how conversations tend to go with them. Do you feel guilty for talking about yourself with them? Do you worry that they won’t want to be your friends if you seem down all the time? If you find yourself biting your tongue because you don’t want to be bothersome to them, that might be a sign that they aren’t concerned for you and are rejecting to connect with you.
4. Do they take with both hands?
Healthy relationships are always give and take. Some people you will come across will have no interest in giving nothing to their relationship with you and only want to take what you bring to the table. They’ll demand your time, even you don’t have it to spare. Your resources, even when you don’t have them to spare. Your attention, even when you have other things and people who deserve it. They will have no concern of how their constant taking affects you. The biggest thing is, when you need their time, resource, or attention, they will have none to spare for you. They might even get offended that you would ask or suggest their support. These people are perfectly capable of bleeding you dry. Beware of people who are exhausting to be around. If you give them everything, what will you have left for you?
5. Gaslighting is Violence.
Expressing your feelings, especially when they are negative, is never easy. What makes this process 100x worse is to be denied validation. If you address a concern with a person in your life and their response is “you’re crazy,” “that didn’t happen,” or anything to deny that what you’re experiencing is real, that is an active form of violence. People who would convince you that what you feel, saw, or experienced are dangerous. This is called “gaslighting.” Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and can have long-lasting effects on our lives and the way we interact with others and ourselves. Be extremely cautious of anyone who tries to invalidate your feelings or experiences.
These are just a few tips to protecting yourself from toxic people. Most of all, it’s important to be aware – self aware and aware of your surroundings. Don’t be afraid to put you first, even if that means old friends become past friends. Your mental health depends on your ability to keep good energy flowing in and out of you.
If you do find yourself in the thick of depression and it’s becoming too much of a burden to tend to household chores, contact us. We’ve got you covered, while you recover.