Society puts so much emphasis on friendships, on social connectedness and bonds. It’s meant to be wonderful for our mental and physical health. So what does one do when there are friends in your life who are perplexing, toxic, who bring you down and point out the most minor points of distraction from an otherwise outstanding piece of work of which you are proud?
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Some friendships can be ‘challenging’ especially if they see the world from entirely different lenses, and it would be extremely easy to cut them out of your life. Before you do this, are there other areas where you learn and grow from your differences?
I encourage you to dig deep and ask people questions such as:
“I’m curious as to your motivation in telling me about what you didn’t like? Why do you think it’s appropriate to say what you did in a public forum? What made you decide to tell me your views with an audience? What did you want from telling everyone? What is the outcome you desired?”
The answers may surprise you and may shed light on a situation you view as negative or toxic. Perhaps there are some very valid reasons for the actions of your friends and unless you openly ask and discuss their behavior, you will always be guessing at their true motivations.
Individuals use their own life experiences and perceptions to form a judgement on what is occurring – regardless of the other party’s intent. For example, someone who grew up in a very open and communicative family, where they talk about everything and anything with family and friends alike, will not be intentionally embarrassing you, by telling the whole world at a barbecue about your recent relationship break up. If you however, come from a family where nothing personal is spoken about in public, especially heartbreaking events – then it’s likely you will see this action as being less than friendly.
Perhaps you’d view your friend as a gossip and someone who can’t keep your confidence. It would certainly put a strain on your relationship UNLESS you talk and ask the pertinent questions, and explain your side of the situation. Communication is very much key here and knowing this will help all be less affected, upset and disappointed when they feel a friend is toxic, embarrassing, or intentionally hurtful.
“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life” – Brian Tracy
Again, I encourage you – if you have that one ‘friend’ who embarrasses you, criticizes you or upsets you in any way – look deeper within yourself and them. Are they coming from their own experiences and therefore not taking your words or actions as you’ve intended? And vice-versa – are you not taking their actions as they’ve intend. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
If someone cannot answer those pertinent questions mentioned earlier, with a reasonable explanation then this is a completely different scenario and I would encourage the cutting of ties. If on the other hand, there are really awesome leanings and great times with each other as well as challenging times, then I would inspire you to work through the difference and agreeing to disagree, where necessary.
In short, how people perceive your intentions, daily communication, writing, art, or singing, please remain true to yourself and remember some people will understand you completely and others will take things right out of context. It does not reflect you.
Everyone has a different lens through which they view the world, and this more often than not is what causes people to have massive misunderstandings and fall outs. Ask the important questions as it might just save your friendships.
The next time you have an uncomfortable feeling about a friend’s behavior or intent, what are you going to do? Say nothing and lose a relationship, or ask pertinent questions?