As 2017 comes to a close, I am looking back on some major lessons that I have learned this year about relationships. There have been many blogs popping up these days about getting rid of "toxic" people in your life, and what defines a "toxic" person. These blogs tend to then offer support and guidance for how to shun such people and how to cut them out of your life. As someone who grew up in an environment where I wasn't really taught much, if anything, about healthy boundaries, I have found many of these articles triggering. I think it's because I was have always blamed myself in these relationships, and reading these articles brings me down a path of blaming myself even more. Also, as an empath, I am forever worried about hurting someone else's feelings. However, I think there has been a really valuable growth point that has come up for me through reading them, which is that I NEED to set boundaries, and it's not just a nice thing, but a necessary thing for a healthy, happy life. Last week, right around the night of the full moon, I had a very vivid dream which highlighted a certain type of person who I have often had in my life and how it has not been a successful pattern for me. I realized that the decisions that I have made this year around relationships, for the first time in my life, have been really solid ones. And they've actually not been the most popular ones either. They've been hard. But they are proving to be so healing for me, and so I am sharing this new found awareness with you as the year closes.
When we end one year and begin the next we often think about what we want to get rid of and what we want to replace it with. I have come up with this list of the three friendships that are better off ended sooner rather than later. However, when you clear something out of your life, you really need to have a solid vision of what you want to replace it with. Otherwise, you will just wind up with something else that you don't want in its place. Therefore, I came up with a list of the three people you want to add to your circle. Lastly, I have added a "wild card." This person can wobble between both categories, and I will go deeper into why later on. For now, we start with the ones who need a "Bye Felicia."
The Three "Friends" Who Are Not Your Friends
1. The Perpetual Victim
Ok so this person actually wants to be your friend, until they need to maintain their victim status more than your friendship. You can spot these people in your life easily because they are the people who have always been wronged. By everyone. Literally, there is always a story of how this person, that person and the other person are out to make their lives misery. And their lives are always misery which they are happy to share with you the minute that you see them. And sooner or later, you will become the person who has wronged them, so buyer beware. Honestly, I don't blame them, this is really the only way they know to be. This mentality has found them so much success in life. Think about it -- if we are looking for victim-hood, it's easy to find. Anyone can choose to be a success at loosing. The truth is, they will suck. you. dry. And then turn on you. It's best to keep as much distance as you can from them. The bigger the wall, the better. 'Nuff said.
2. Mr. or Mrs. Superior
This charmer is always quite popular, so the allure to be their friend is deep. In a way, having their friendship might initially feel like you are special in some way. In fact, they like to play it off that way. They will actually make it seem like they are doing some type of charity act by being your friend. Unfriend and block. Move on. These people have one thing on their mind - their own image. They have some twisted mental health issues that likely stem from parents with really high standards and/or feeling ostracized as a child. They justify all of their choices and behaviors by putting others down, and they most likely do that to you behind your back. Let 'em go. You will not miss them for one second.
3. The Shark
These guys and gals can be hard to spot at first. In fact, they come off as sweeter than candy. They seem so kind, humble, giving, helpful.... and they will stab you in the back to get ahead in the blink of an eye. I have learned this the hard way too many times, but thankfully, my not-so-wise choices have made me much wiser. In fact, I recently met someone who falls into this category and it took me 10 minutes to see it right away. In the past, I would have been totally blindsided, but thanks to the school of hard knocks, I am now an expert in shark spotting. The thing is, they are ready to sell you their shit. Because truly it's the best shit out there. And they are also ready to collaborate with you - aka take any ideas, customers and extra income you might be able to pass their way. The best way to see who these people are, is to look back. Hindsight is 20/20. Often, after they have moved on with the benefits that you have bestowed upon them, you will feel a little unsure of what you did wrong. The answer is nothing. Well, nothing but trust them in the first place. Remember what they were like in the beginning, and then learn to see those same characteristics early on before you ever get close. They will eat you up and leave you out to dry and not just that, it will take you a long time to rebuild.
So here's the thing, no one is perfect. We all have our flaws, All of us, at one time or another, have noticed ourselves exhibiting characteristics of one or all of these personas. So the key here is to not disown these tendencies, but to shed a little light and love on them. Notice them where we are prone to them and forgive ourselves in the process. Equally as important, forgive these folks and send them love and gratitude for the lessons they have taught you. Even better, say a prayer for them. Here is a prayer you can say, "Dear Lord, may _______ be happy, healthy, and living the highest version of their life possible. May they feel loved and understood." When you happen to bump into them, be kind, but with a very good boundary. Say hello with a smile and then mind your own business. Once you have cut yourself free from these powerful chords, you will find that you have more room in your life for the type of people who lift you up.
The Three Friends You Want to Keep or Add More of
1. The Cheerleader
This person is not actually on the cheer-leading squad, although I suppose they could be. They are, however, the person who will cheer on everyone they know to do their best. They will always remind you that you are supported by a force much greater than yourself, and that you are capable of much more than you let yourself believe. They will point out your strengths and share them with others. They truly are happy for you when you succeed. They are filled with joy and they want to share it with everyone around them. Sure they have struggles, and down moments, and haters, but they will always play those down and focus on the silver linings. Cherish these people in your life. Thank them for being there. Learn to spot them and better yet, learn how to be like them.
2. The Truth Teller
The truth doesn't actually hurt as much as living a lie, and that is why you want these people in your life. If you are needing advice on anything at all, do you want to ask the friend who will always say what you want to hear, or do you want to ask the friend who will say the hard thing to you that you need to hear? The latter. These folks are harder to come by because of this funny thing called, "group mentality." So often, most folks get swept up in the ideas and opinions of the group of people who they most identify with. Not as many people value the truth and one true friend as they do the popular opinion of a whole group. They will deny this until they are blue in the face, but if you are a truth teller, you know what's up and you know what I'm sayin'. Truth tellers are where its at.
3. The Go-getter
This is the person who actually does what they say they are going to do. They show up. They are making things happen in their life. Awesome things. They help things happen for other people, too. These people are just flat-out inspiring to be around. Be around them. They actually say that we are the sum total of the 5 people who we spend the most time with. If one or two of your inner circle are go-getters, you are golden. And truthfully, we attract what we are, so the more we aspire to be these three things, the more we will attract them in our lives.
Let's not forget the seventh type of person who you might want in or out of your circle. It will depend. I call these folks, the "Wild Card." They are a wild card because it could go either way with them. You can spot them because they are the people who trigger you. There is something very personal about everything they do that really, really irks you deep down. This basically means, its about you and not about them at all. So the goal here for you is to do some inner work. You gotta figure out the stories that you are telling yourself that you have been telling yourself for way too long about this type of person. Where did these stories come from? Are they true? Are the helpful? Are they serving you? Can you choose to offer this person love and forgiveness? Can you choose to see how your trigger is playing into the situation? Basically, long story short, you might not need to cut this person our of your life and shun them forever just because they voted for the wrong person. Maybe, they are actually the person who you need most in your life right now to teach you a big lesson on love and humility. Or maybe, when push comes to shove, they are really someone who is "toxic" and who you do need to set loving boundaries with. Only you will know this as it's probably not a simple answer.
At the end of the day, you get to choose the people you surround yourself with, whether you allow yourself to believe this or not, it's true. There is a saying that goes, "If you can't change the people, change the people." Good advice as we wind down this 2017 in the midst of a mercury retrograde. May your 2018 be filled with awesome people, just like you. More importantly, when you notice that its not, may you have the inner strength to change the people.