Everyone wants to be in a place where they are loved and wanted so, what is the point of a relationship if every word coming out of the person’s mouth is like a knife cutting deep? When they are full of negative criticisms and downgradings. Remember, even the serpent came like a concerned friend before deceiving Eve and turning the fate of all humanity.
This is not a post about self-sufficiency or the complete nullification of counsel and criticism, but it is a gentle reminder that anyone that pulls you down more than they help you grow is clearly not your friend.
You should thank anyone who points out your wrong – no matter how they say it, but the difference between friend and foe is your friend would do it with the hope that you can do better and be better. It’s not what you say, it is how you say it. The word for this is tact.
Toxicity in relationship comes in degrees because different people have different levels of tolerance. Instead of starting by writing a list of all the things that could indicate toxicity in one’s life, I would rather we start by checking ourselves because you may just be the toxic one. It is so easy pointing fingers when the problem may just be you. Search yourself. How do you speak to people? How do you behave around them?
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your lifeProverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Everybody is not supposed to be your friend. If you cannot treat them right why don’t you just let them be. If you do not have anything good to say, say nothing at all. If you are unable to search yourself ask a few people. Many are scared of the response they will get so they rather stay in their ignorance, but like the good book says; the truth will set you free. Seek out how you are perceived.
After ensuring we are not bringing drama and sadness into people’s lives, we have to identify toxic relationships before dealing with them. A toxic relationship as defined by Dr. Lilian Glass, is any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seek to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.
Competition can be healthy as stated in your win our win as it pushes you to grow, but when it is stemmed in jealousy there is a big problem. John Maxwell teaches you should share your growth and wins with people as a point of accountability, but when you realize they are not gunning for you, you stop and find someone else.
The journey is far. You would want to know that you’re going with people who truly care about you.
Please note, I am not talking about relationships with a superior (your boss or pastor) or a random person. I’m talking about your partner or peer. This is not just friendly jealousy or a competitive spirit.
When a person does nothing but pull you down, talk as if you are and mean nothing, when encouraging words are lacking in their mouths, please run. I am not limiting this to romantic relationships but if you are in a relationship with someone who abuses you emotionally, please what are you looking for in life?? Happiness looks good on you too. Run. Or rather gracefully walk away.
Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.Proverbs 18:24 (MSG)
There are the things they say but what about the things they do not say? King Saul was after David’s life out of jealousy. He pursued him relentlessly but whenever David had an opportunity to kill him, he chose not to touch the Lord’s anointed. In 1 Samuel 26:17, David had to ask why Saul was after his life, he cried out ‘Is that you, my son David’? Did the brother just say son??? The person you want to kill you address as son? One would think finally father Saul has made up his mind to leave David alone but just in the next chapter, David had to escape to Gath and when word reached Saul that he had escaped, the bible said he finally stopped hunting him (1 Samuel 27:7)
Calling David son did not stop him from hunting him. Above what they say watch their actions too. We have wolves in sheep’s clothing. They say all the right things and call you friend but their actions scream foe.
Unfortunately, you cannot cut off all the toxic people in your life. So, after defining the relationship as toxic, deal with them at arm length. You should clearly state the way you would want to be treated. I have heard people say carry yourself the way you want to be treated. True, but it needs to be revised to telling them how you rather be treated.
Your space is very important to your mental and emotional well being. You are not being proud or rude when you choose not to be friends with some people, you are only doing yourself the greater good. It is okay to be friendly with a person in order to work on them and help them to be better but know what you can take. Do not feel bad for choosing good, drama free friends.
A man who has friends must himself be friendlyProverbs 18:24a (NKJV)
Let us not forget that toxicity has to do with poison. I wonder, would you drink poison just to make others feel happy? I bet your answer is no. A toxic relationship is literally poisonous, it weighs you down and kills your moral. It destroys your self-esteem.
If you have tried detoxifying, you would notice that you may have a slight headache or feel uneasy. This shows that clearing your system of poison is not an easy process. The fact that those people are wrong for you does not mean cutting them off will be easy, but you have to make that decision for you. Being alone for a season is not a curse. You may miss their company but do what is best for you.
There is also grace for change as long as the change is proven in word and deed.
We are called to love everybody and some we have to love and pray for from a distance. Love as many as you can in your outer circle but if they are coming in, they need to know what value means to you and they need to respect that. Choose wisely.
I should have known this truth much younger because I have had my fair share of ‘poison’, anything or anyone that steals my peace of mind is worth a price too expensive for me to pay. Let’s do better shall we?
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