Hello there….Being Mary Jane Season 3/Episode 3 has me sitting here in my feelings…even days later. So with that in mind, let’s talk about Toxic Friendships.
There’s an unlimited amount of articles, posts, etc. about how to spot a toxic friend and how to get rid of them, etc.…and don’t get me wrong, I feel that those perspectives are great, but it just makes me wonder-what happens to the toxic people once they are expelled from their various circles? If you think about it, the cycle continues.
In my experiences, most toxic people lack self-awareness. They have no idea how ridiculous their behavior is and can easily convince themselves that something is wrong with the other people involved in the conflict that severs the relationship. The Toxic friend finds a new circle and eventually performs the same or a similar behavior more often than not.
If you listened to the Wine o’clock podcast, you may have heard my position on Mary Jane’s role in the demise of she and Lisa’s relationship and I am certain that my position is unpopular. But, it comes from an honest and experienced place. Basically, Lisa was the toxic friend, riddled with issues and Mary Jane loved her, but her go-to response to the behavior was the silent treatment. In the end, Lisa reaches out and is, of course, “iced” by Mary Jane and SPOILER ALERT: Lisa commits suicide. Mary Jane is then haunted by the fact that she ignored her call-the call that could have altered Lisa’s day…her decision.
It’s easy to say “I am so done with her!” Hell, I used to do it all the time. But it takes a special type of person to say, “There is good in all of us and I want to help you find the good in yourself.” I believe in the power of energy and being responsible for the energy we bring. In the spirit of Finding Your Zen, I wanted to offer some alternatives to simply cutting a person off and send them on their way to wreak havoc in someone else’s life.
Based on my own experiences and observations, here are some steps to rehabbing the toxic friend in your life:
Determine if this relationship is truly worth the investment. Think about the reasons that you bonded in the first place and weigh them against the toxic behavior. Truly take some time and think about it. Unlike Mary Jane’s character, we still have the luxury of having our friends here. How would you feel if your girl who is “always lying” was actually truly tormented by her reality and killed herself? Would that matter so much-or would the fact that she left her job to care for you when you were beaten senseless by a terrible ex-boyfriend? Or when you lost a loved one? Suffered a miscarriage? Needed $1,000 to pay your rent? Would you be proud of the nasty threads you participated in about this friend once they are gone? There is no right or wrong answer here, but this is the starting point before proceeding down this list.
Find the root cause of the toxic behavior. I find it hard to believe that a friend would just wake up and say “Hmmm, how can I hurt the people I love today?” More often than not, our upbringing (especially the foundational years) is what forms who we are. For example, let’s say you have a friend who is a “hater.” She never has anything positive to say but will readily say something critical or passive aggressive. On one hand, it’s easy to say “oh she’s just jealous of me” but what if her reality is that she never had anyone to tell her that she’s beautiful or that she is good at anything? Find the root cause, unpack it and help her. We will explore what “unpacking” entails and different approaches in a future issue.
Hold this friend accountable. When the toxic behavior presents itself, don’t hold it in to protect their feelings or due to your own fear of confrontation. Your feelings matter. Call the behavior out and let them know you’re aware of it and how it comes across. I recommend considering this as opposed to telling other friends while leaving the offender in the dark. It’s certainly okay to vent to other friends, but with the understanding that you’ve done your part by calling it out between the two of you.
Place them in a box. Yes, you have decided that you’re going to love them through it, but take your time and manage expectations. For example, you can help heal your promiscuous friend, but you may not necessarily have her around your new boyfriend or guy you’re just starting to date. Keep limits in mind.
Be the solution. It is tempting to gossip and start a group thread without this person and perpetuate the drama-going on and on about how this toxic behavior is affecting you, but consider being bigger than that. Introduce them to the concept of self-awareness and considering mental health treatment be it a therapist, psychiatrist, etc. Be sure to come from a judgement-free position and be clear that your intentions are rooted in LOVE.
What do you think about these? Did I miss anything? Did any of this resonate with you? Have you tried this before? Let me know!
Thank you for your energy,