Dealing with Toxic Friends

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The importance of self-love

Even though it’s rare for toxic people to directly sabotage your life, do really want to keep negative people around you? Freeing yourself of their clutches may be the best thing you do to protect your mental and emotional wellbeing. “You’re only inviting unnecessary stress, fear, sadness, guilt, self-doubt, self-condemnation and self-destruction into your life if you allow yourself to be the victim,” Pei Li stresses.

Keeping them around could affect your physical health, too. The combination of stress, anxiety and fear affects sleep quality, weakens your immune system, and increases blood pressure in the long run. So instead of making you feel good, your friends can literally make you sick.

 Starting anew

Breaking up is never easy but it is something that you have to do, because you deserve to be surrounded by people who make you happy. But how do you cut off toxic people from your life and reclaim your freedom?

  1. Acknowledge your feelings

Stop making excuses for her. Do you look forward to spending time with this friend, or do you feel like you have to? Does it feel like you are contributing way more to the friendship than your friend? Are you energised or drained after spending time with her?

  1. Identify the pay-off

All relationships, even toxic ones, have hidden benefits. Be truthful to yourself as to what specifically are you gaining from this friendship. Does it make you feel attractive or smarter?

  1. Fill the void

Do things that make you feel good, and nourish yourself so you do not have to rely on others for validation. You can revisit hobbies that you have abandoned or start a new project.

  1. Hang out with friends who are positive

Be around people who know where to draw the line and who respect your views.

  1. Forgive yourself and let go of the past

Work towards healing the part of yourself that has been emotionally injured. Acknowledge and take responsibility for your part in enabling negativity to enter your life, but know that you deserve to have healthy relationships that will bring out the best in you.

Expert: Dr Yeo Pei Li, licensed professional counsellor at Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy, and dean of counselling studies at Alpha Omega International College


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