Happy Herbivore Blog

August 29, 2011

Minimalist Monday: Removing Toxic People, Unhealthy Relationships

I'm looking for less stress and more happiness. That's what led me down this minimalist past. I had this awakening--realization that I'm a happy person by nature. I start my day with a glass full of happiness and it's the outside world that drinks it up. I realized if I want to be happier, I must to protect my glass and it's contents. I have to avoid or remove the stress monsters that are drinking from my glass.

The first stressor I removed was environmental: I cleared away the clutter in my home---out of sight, out of mind. It's all been really great for me...

But what about emotional stress?

A quote I'm quite fond of is "complaining is not a conversation." I've tried to complain less. It's a work-in-progress, but I've noticed the positive changes it's had on me and the people around me.

Emotions are contagious. If you're negative---even a tiny bit so, it latches on to whomever you're talking to.

For example, one of my friends complained to me every-single-day about the same thing. I never thought much of it. I felt for my friend and her situation; I wanted to be there for her and give her that ear to vent to.. but then she went on vacation and we didn't talk. When she came back, and the complaining started up again, I could suddenly feel the pull our conversation was having on me.

This stopped me and made me start thinking of outside stressors in a new light. Stress can come from your environment (i.e. clutter), or your work situation, or your financial situation -- but it can also come from relationships.

We all experience negativity and one of the beautiful things about relationships is that we have someone to share the good and bad with -- but there also becomes a point where relationships -- romantic and platonic -- become toxic. They become a stressor and you need to remove or reduce them.

My friend--the one who was complaining, once I told her that I thought our constant dwelling and rehashing was doing us both a disservice, she agreed. It was a big "aha" moment for us both and we haven't talked about it since. If anything, I think by not talking about it, it's motivated her to make a change...

But this realization had much larger implications beyond this single instance with my friend. It made me realize that there are some people in my life who are toxic and weighing me down. It's not abusive per se, but they are not a good influence on me. My relationships and experience with them are--overall, not positive.

I thought about all the people in my life and I asked myself, "Is this person helping me get to where I want to go? Is this person filling my happiness glass or drinking from it?"

I realized to find a place of less stress and more happiness, I needed to end or take a break from relationships that are toxic for me...

This doesn't mean I'm only being friendly with people who are exploding rainbows---because someone can be happy or sad in their own life, while still being toxic for your life. By saying I'm removing toxic relationships, I mean that I'm choosing to surround myself with people that make me feel good about myself, that make me a better person, that are good influences on me and to remove relationships that are overall, not positive.

For example, this meant ending a 'friendship' with someone who always deflated my self-esteem and often made me feel bad about myself. We had a lot of good times, true, and she'd been there for me through some tough times also, but I needed to stop clinging to those few good instances. Overall, it wasn't a positive relationship for me.

Then, another step was taking a break from a friend who suffers from an addiction. Lord knows I've tried to get her help. She doesn't want it. She digs a deeper hole with every swig of the bottle. It's her life, not mine. and I'm not judging her, but I can't keep playing on the emotional teeter totter with her. Her life is chaotic, extreme and toxic and her cyclone winds are strong. I'm dizzy. I cried feeling like I abandoned her; I thought I was a bad person for walking away, but I have to hope that doing so was the best thing for us both.

Have you ever had to walk away from a toxic relationship?

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