Apr 20, 2008

Toxic or Not?

This is totally not my normal blog entry, but I have been thinking lately about friendship, grief and the number of different ways that people deal with it. Some people act as though nothing has happened and move on. Others fall to pieces and cannot function. Some try to drag every other person down with them into their misery. Most lie on a spectrum somewhere in between. It is hard to know whom will fall in one area, while another far from it. I firmly believe that people who have been through a situation should stand and help those who are encountering a similar situation, but to what degree? When is enough, enough? How do you decide whether one more try should be given on a friendship or it is time to end it? How many mistakes is one allowed?

Some of you may be thinking ~ "What in the world made her think of this?" ~while some of you know exactly what led me here.

I came across an article the other day that got me thinking and related it to my life. Here are some excerpts:

“A friendship is between two peers,” says Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends. “There has to be balance in a friendship for it to be healthy -- not one person whose needs get met and another whose needs are overlooked.”

This makes sense - I think it a good definition that really hits the mark on the head.

“Toxic friends stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are overly demanding, and don’t give anything back,” Isaacs tells WebMD.
While a toxic friend doesn’t have to lay claim to all of these charming characteristics, they do seem to bring on their nasty behavior on a consistent basis, as opposed to those of us who just have a bad day once in a while and take it out on some of the people we care about the most -- our friends.
“The phrase ‘toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you -- sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.”

By continuing a toxic friendship, you’re allowing your friend to hurt you, but you’re also hurting yourself. “You have to take some degree of responsibility for the situation,” says Figley, a spokesman for the American Psychological Association. “It’s a pleaser personality -- you want people to like you, you want to get along, and it’s hard to say no. But you can pay the price in one way by having toxic friends.” So even though we want to help our friends and have them rely on us in troubling times, take responsibility for toxic friendships and how they make you feel.

I would only add that negativity draws negativity - positive things happen to positive people.

This is the case that defies scientific explanation of opposites attract. When you jinx yourself by saying "Hey, I made an extra $200!" - you will get a flat tire that costs $225 to repair. You can get crazy mad and depressed or you could look at it as if you hadn't made that $200 you would have to choose between fixing the tire or groceries for the week.

Do all that you can to surround yourself in positive light and love. You will see a difference in yourself and your environment!

Just some things to think about - if you are interested in reading the full article click on the title of this blog and it will take you there.
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