“Friendship isn’t about who you have known the longest, it’s about who walked into your life, said, ‘I’m here for you’ and proved it.”
Amazing friendships are magical. According to Mayo Clinic, having a strong social support system is linked with a reduced risk of depression and high blood pressure. Makes sense, right? Friends should make you feel stress-free and relaxed. Not to mention, we feel supported and comforted when we surround ourselves with those we love.
But what if your friends make you feel tense, frustrated or depleted?
Trust me—you’re not alone. Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize when friendships feel toxic in the moment. Conversely, it’s easy to take a lot of great friendships for granted! Maybe, when you really think about it, you’ve been giving your toxic relationships more time and energy than they deserve. Maybe it’s time to start making room for people who actually care.
That’s why I’ve compiled five essential ideas to consider when evaluating your friendships. Take a look…
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Turns out, who you surround yourself with has a major effect on how you perceive and feel about your goals. Often times, we accept our current environment to be reality (“but I’ve known them for years! I could never let them go, even if they make me feel horrible about myself on a regular basis…”). But it’s important we put ourselves in the environment we WANT to create for ourselves, which means surrounding ourselves with people who “get it” too. This creates a new normal to live by—a life filled with less limiting beliefs and more abundance.
Ask yourself: Who are the five people I spend the most time with? How do these people make me feel?
You should never try to fit in, you should belong.
A few years ago, I was lonely and isolated, but now I’m in a place where I’m choosing solitude and am no longer lonely. Before, I didn’t know myself, and I didn’t know that I was an introvert. I thought that meant something negative. I was really busy trying to fit in and to be extroverted. You should never try to fit in. You should belong. Fitting is trying to change who you are to conform to your surroundings and expectations. But belonging is saying, ‘I am who I am, and that’s the only person I can be.’ Regardless of what shape you are, you belong.
Ask yourself: When I look at my friendships, do I feel these people accept me for who I am? Or am I constantly trying to fit in or fit their mold?
You should always check in on your friends, no matter what.
E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E wants someone in their life who cares. If you and your crew haven’t hung out in awhile, it’s time to schedule a date.
Try this: make a list of all the people you hold close (friends, family, neighbors). Now, ask yourself: do these people make me feel supported or unworthy? If the latter, you may need to have a serious conversation. If the former, be sure to create recurring reminders on your phone to alert you when it’s time to check up on them. Maybe it’s every other week. Maybe it’s once a month. Remember: friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you” and proved it.
No matter how often it is, check in on your people—no matter their personality type.
Ask yourself: Am I checking in on my true friends often enough? Are they making an effort to check in on me?
You’re allowed to set boundaries (even if they feel harsh).
“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.” – Prentis Hemphill
Boundaries are not selfish. In fact, boundaries are a way to enhance your relationships. Oh, also? It’s okay for boundaries to look different for each person in your life. In other words, the way you show love for one person may look completely different from how you show love for another. Maybe you have a friend who constantly calls you with their problems, and never asks you how you’re doing. Maybe you know someone who puts you in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes, friendships don’t need to end completely—sometimes, all it takes is setting clear boundaries.
Ask yourself: Is there someone in my life who’s taking advantage of me? Do I have a friend who I enjoy more at a distance?
You’re not a bad person for letting go.
Sadly, after doing some deep reflection, you may realize it’s time to break up with a friendship.
It’s okay to remember the good times you had with a toxic person from your past. There’s no shame or guilt in that! However, you CANNOT allow it to overshadow the reason why you shed them from your life in the first place. Acknowledge the memory (laugh, smile or cry if you have to), then remind yourself that new and amazing experiences are coming your way (with the people who actually love and care about you).
Here’s the point: I have risked it all—family relationships and friendships included. Why? Because I wanted to live a life that was free from holding in feelings that were literally destroying me. I wanted to love and be loved. I chose life. I knew I deserved better than what some were capable of giving me. Accepting someone doesn’t always mean having them be apart of your life, regardless of how mean, destructive or dangerous they are. Clutch your pearls, gals—even as painful as the death of a loved one is. To grieve the loss of the living is tough. While we hope we can all have that meaningful reconciliation, it may not be possible. We’re all going to die one day, which drives the point home even further that we need to live intentionally, every day. Living intentionally doesn’t include toxic people. Nor does it include communicating with those who make us feel bad about ourselves.
Acceptance means “I accept that you are who you are.” It means “I accept I have no power to change you.” It means “I accept that we are not each other’s people, and if we weren’t related, we would never be friends.” Remember, acceptance doesn’t depend on the length of time you’ve known someone.
Ask yourself: Have I done everything I can do with a toxic person in my life? Is it time for me to finally let go?
Did I miss anything? Have any questions or feedback? Maybe you just need to vent about a friendship (or celebrate one you cherish!). Leave a comment below!