What If You Didn’t Realize You’re The Toxic Friend? How To Know And Solve The Problem
by Stefanie Tan. |
All of us can remember stories of people who’ve done us wrong. In life we like to paint ourselves as the hero in the story, the protagonist. Meanwhile, as we share with people about our experiences, anyone who has had a conflict with us is automatically labelled the antagonist.
Although we like to see ourselves as the person who is always right, you may face an encounter in life where people start to treat you differently. If the feedback from your peers are similar, maybe it’s time to step back and ask yourself, “Am I the toxic friend?”.
Before you answer that question though, there’s another one you need to address first, and that is, “How would I know?”. Here are some signs to help you with that:
Your friends start acting differently around you
Everyone deals with conflict differently and a majority would like to avoid confrontation as it leads to disagreements; and the worst case scenario? It could end up in an unnecessary drama. However, a sign that you could be a toxic friend is that your friends around you start acting differently than before. This usually happens overtime, but common excuses will be used from your friends. They will start being distant and taking rain-checks on your catch-up sessions. You could think that they are busy, but if this constantly happens, it’s time to find out what’s wrong with the friendship.
You’re the victim in every story
It’s understandable. We all want to be heard and understood, and the best way to do that is to portray yourself from previous experiences that we’ve been rejected and hurt to get people to empathize with us. With all these stories that you’ve been telling, notice how you portray yourself: Are you always the one being ‘wronged’? Are you always the one being ‘taken for granted’? Are you always the one being ‘misunderstood’? If you are, double check if these stories are true, or if they’ve been twisted to sound as if you’re always the victim, because chances are you could be the toxic friend that thinks bad things only happen to you.
There’s always drama everywhere you go.
Each of us do get into mindless arguments here and there, and conflicts are bound to happen because we’re human! But when you start realizing that there’s constantly a person you’re not on the right page with, or a number of conflicts that’s following you around all the time, or someone that is unhappy with you, then it’s an obvious sign that you’re the over dramatic, toxic friend that exhaust the people around you.
If you do find yourself relating to these points, just stop and think before getting defensive. Instead of thinking, “Why are people out to get me?” start to wonder, “Why do I keep losing the people I care about?” and before you start getting into a deep-hole of self-pity, start reflecting positively on how you can make a change for a better self.
Here are my tips of letting go of your toxic behaviours and salvaging your friendships:
Always ask for feedback
This is a great way to find out if you’re a toxic friend: by asking your own friends what did you do wrong, and how can you improve from here on out. Keep in mind that this feedback would help you realize your errors, but it may also lead to fights. Do not jump straight into your defending mode, hear your friends out and see how this friendship can be fixed. If there’s no saving grace, then take it as a lesson learnt, and remember what they said so you don’t repeat the same mistakes in your future friendships.
Stop the victimizing yourself and admit to your faults
We all know that our brain is our own worst enemy. Most days, we would constantly find our faults when it comes to how our body looks, our own work, and more. When we get into a conflict, we love to stand up and say that we’re the right person all along to get our peers to side with us. Before you start doing that, ask yourself, “Is there a reason I like to share my experiences painting myself as the one being bullied? Once you figured it out, think of the ways you can change that; and the next time you want to share about your unfortunate experiences, ask yourself if it does more than gaining pity for yourself.
Realize that sometimes, it’s okay to leave a conflict as it is
There are bound to be people you just can’t get along with no matter how hard you try - and that’s fine! We’re all humans, and we all have different personalities, so it’s normal to have people that will rough your feathers the wrong way. However, one thing to note is that if you’re the kind to trigger them out of spite – it’s time to stop. There are plenty of ways to entertain ourselves, and bringing drama into your life (no matter how entertaining) is a terrible habit to keep. Instead of investing yourself in negative thoughts and getting yourself into ugly scenarios, leave the conflict as it is and start being the bigger person by standing down. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you lost, it just means you value your time enough not to deal with unimportant conflict.
Based on my fair share of friendship fallouts and bitter moments, I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two about difficult friendships. It may be a hard pill to swallow if you’re just realizing that you’re the problem; but when you start to change and be better, you will encounter more meaningful and beautiful friendships!
You may find out more about Stefanie on her Instagram.