One very key component to mental health is surrounding yourself with healthy relationships. I am not just talking about romantic relationships but any relationship. Yes, having a toxic romantic relationship will definitely take its toll on you. Those kinds of relationships are definitely a part of the discussion. However, our friendships, family members, and coworkers or anyone else that we have some type of relationship with. It’s important to recognize those toxic relationships and not allow those to empty our emotional cup. Find the good relationships and make those people important in your life. What exactly makes a relationship toxic? How do we recognize the relationships that we should give time to?
Interest only in self
Have you ever been around someone who never stops talking about themselves? The kind of person that skips right over anything you say and moves on to something about themselves. If you are trying to vent about a situation or struggle you are having and they only can talk about when they have had it worse, this is toxic. It’s a way of invalidating your struggles and feelings. There are times when someone can share a story to help validate your feelings, or to help figure out a solution. This is different. Someone who cares about you will listen to you. They will let you say what you need to and comfort you. If you are feeling that everything you struggle with is too menial, chances are that person makes you feel that way.
They only take
Relationships are supposed to be a give and take. We give to those we love and care about. We give them love and attention and help when they need it. Thing is, in a healthy relationship we also need to be able to receive those same things in return. There are some people that no matter how much you give and give, they never give back. If you are around someone who only wants to take and take, this is toxic behavior.
Ability to have fun
One of the hardest things to admit to myself at one point was how a friend wasn’t good for me. This person had never done anything rude or anything. This person just couldn’t be positive. Everything that was said was about all the worst parts of life and how everything was wrong. I found myself depressed and tired after spending time with this person. It’s important to be able to have fun and happy moments with the people you are close to. These people will encourage you to be yourself, meet your goals, and continue to improve. I did not cut this person out of my life. However, I did have to make sure that when I was with this person that I was in a mentally healthy place at the time.
Ability to be serious
On the other side of the coin, if you have someone who doesn’t ever know how to be there for you emotionally that isn’t healthy either. We need people who can understand and be there for you when you are struggling the most. In the last point I talked about being able to be happy and have fun. The point between these two is having people that can have a balance. They can have fun with you, and they can also be emotional and serious when needed.
Someone who loses their temper
There are people that seem to fly of the handle every time something goes wrong. The emotional response that it causes within someone when they get yelled at is horrible. Sometimes you can visibly see someone shrink. Do not surround yourself with people who will belittle you or make you feel like you do everything wrong. This is one of the more obvious and toxic behaviors. Don’t let someone mentally or physically abuse you. People that have a huge temper, can be an indicator they may have those tendencies.
Have you ever heard the phrase that you can’t really love other until you love yourself? There is some definite truth to that. People that hate themselves, really aren’t happy people. You can keep trying to give to them and help them, but they may not have anything to give. If someone is going to make you emotionally exhausted, it’s not someone you want to be around all the time.
For a relationship to really be good, there needs to be some semblance of understanding for each other. If your around someone who can never share your feelings because they don’t understand you at all, they are going to invalidate them. My husband and I are complete opposites. Yet we have been happily married for a dozen years. A huge part of that is even though we are so different, we really take the time to show some understanding and empathy for each other.
This last point is more about us than others. Are we following the healthy behaviors listed above? If we are participating in toxic behaviors, then we are robbing ourselves of the healthy relationships that we aren’t fully a part of. We can be the friend that is uplifting for others, or we can be the one that brings them down. Take the time to really self-reflect and figure out what you need to work on in yourself to be a better friend to others. For me, one of the things I sometimes struggle with is showing full interest. I honestly get a little uncomfortable sometimes when people ask what’s going on with me. So, sometimes when people ask me about myself, I answer and leave it at that. I’ve worked really hard at relaxing and showing my own interest in their well-being. It’s not that I’m not interested, just that I kind of freeze under my own preconceived pressure. We all have our things and I just work every day on continuing to improve myself.