Often we don’t discuss the damage that toxic friends can do. We will meet so many different people in our lifetime: some become our family, but not everyone we meet is meant for us in the long run. Some will be there for part of the journey and help us grow as people. Others will be there to teach us important life lessons. And then we have to let them go because of their toxicity. I’ve certainly had my fair share of toxic friendships and I have advice to pass on. You can choose to follow some or all of my advice: these are just some of the things I’ve done to be at peace with myself and what happened with old friends.
1) Acknowledge that your friendship was toxic.
One of the hardest things to do is to accept and recognize the truth. If your friendship was toxic, then it was toxic. Don’t beat around the bush like I did – you end up making excuses for the person/persons, allowing them to regain access to you. As hard as it may seem, don’t be stupid and put yourself in the position of being hurt again by the same person. We all hurt each other in our friendships and relationships. It’s not toxic, it’s human. And we can have toxic behaviors. I, for example, will sometimes overreact to a situation that, while my reaction was valid, was not necessary to the situation and therefore, me and the person in conflict are not going anywhere. I think this is definitely a feature I shouldn’t do because there are better ways around the situation. But the important thing is that I have recognized my toxic ways and am determined to improve myself. It’s an important skill that everyone should have – knowing you’re not perfect, but being determined to be the best person you can be for yourself and the people around you no matter what. Outraged, perfection is overrated and unattainable anyway.
2) Talk to someone you trust.
My first points of call are always my mother and my sister. I get on well with my family and I tell them everything and they always know how to help me. I also find that balancing a more seasoned and mature outlook with a fresh, modern perspective allows me to achieve a real balance between different perspectives and to form my own idea of what I’m going to do.
3) If there were good times, be grateful.
No matter the circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for. People change. The people who became our toxic friends didn’t start out that way. They were once best friends, siblings, kindred spirits. We took care of them in the past. If you’re like me, you always do. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s okay to care for someone, to want nothing but the best for them, and to recognize that they aren’t right for you.
4) Remember lessons learned.
Toxic friendships teach us lessons, they teach us about the mistakes we’ve made in the past so we know what not to do in the future. Toxic friendships have taught me that I always come first. They taught me that the love we give is not always reciprocated. They taught me that it is important to set boundaries. Hold on to the lessons of the past.
5) Let go of bitterness / pettiness.
If there’s one thing I am, it’s stubborn. If necessary, I can hold a grudge effortlessly. But if there’s one thing my mom taught me, it’s that some battles aren’t worth fighting. They may have wronged you, of course, but repressing anger, frustration, rage: it’s not worth it. Because these emotions hurt you and you alone. Like it or not, they will go on living their lives, doing their thing happily. And, in time, you would become bitter. What you don’t deserve. I’ve been mean in the past and that don’t make you better than them. Let it go.
6) Heal within yourself.
No one deserves to be mistreated. No one deserves to be left out, to feel alone, to feel misunderstood. Feeling like it sucks – I would know. And from then until last Christmas, I shut down everyone and everything. I fired people. I had been rejected, isolated, alone in the past so I reversed the roles. I became the one who rejected, dismissed people. And not only was it against what my mother taught me (to be nice to everyone, no matter what), but it was also against what I believe in: treat others like you. wish to be treated. I was bitter. I was mean. And I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself in the end. When I had toxic people in my life, I resorted to excluding people. And if it wasn’t for my head of year in school, I would have continued to sink into an emotional abyss. Don’t be like me and exclude people. It’s unhealthy and exhausting. Just because some hurt you doesn’t mean everyone will.
7) Remember all the reasons why you are amazing.
When we are abused, we often fall into toxic behaviors and begin to believe that we are bad people. Then, unconsciously, we fall into a cycle of looking for people with the same characteristics. I know my toxic friends had the same characteristics and deep down I knew it. But I didn’t want to admit it. Because I honestly thought I deserved it. And the fact is, no one does. We all deserve respect and kindness, regardless of the circumstances. So when you leave a friendship, never forget why you are amazing. You are unique. You are beautiful. you are determined. So believe it and never let anyone question you.
8) Build healthy habits to be kind to others.
When you’re around a certain type of person long enough, you subconsciously become like them. The last thing you want is to become a toxic person to the people around you. So start communicating, be open and honest with people. And be nice. Everyone deserves a little kindness and magic in their life. Friendship, love, laughter and happiness – they are all magical when you share them with the right people.
9) Make new friends.
It’s hard to show off at first and that’s completely understandable if you want to take the time to feel like yourself again, but you can’t hide from people and shut them out forever“I learned that the hard way. You have to put yourself out there as hard as it may seem. Go slowly. Try to bond with new people and find common ground. And just see where it goes. If it works, great. If not, it’s not over. Try again.
10) Let them go.
I believe in forgiveness and letting go. On the one hand, I think everyone deserves forgiveness. And even if you don’t want to associate with them anymore, you deserve inner peace. Leave them in the past, wish them luck and let them go. And by doing this, you can start a new chapter in your life by welcoming positivity.
I hope you find truth in it, hold on to the people who make you better, and let the unhealthy people go. Life is about progressing, growing, learning lessons, taking risks and improving. If you don’t have the right people around you, you will become stagnant. So do what you must for inner peace. To progress. For happiness. Do what you must for yourself. Be brave and be kind. The best is yet to come. I wish you all peace and love.