Your Friends: Empowering Or Toxic?

It’s important to choose friends wisely because your friends say a lot about you as a person and some of them say a lot about you behind your back.

As women, we have all attracted less than empowering “friends” at one time or another. And it’s important to know how to tell the difference so you can make good choices when it comes to friend selection. Yes, I said, friend selection because you don’t want to take just anyone who comes along. You want to make sure you’re a good fit and have your healthy boundaries in place and trust your intuition to say, “No, thank you,” if necessary.

Friends: empowering vs. toxic

A positive woman friend is empowering and supportive and keeps you accountable to your dreams. She cheers you on, shares in your happiness when you succeed and treasures you’re friendship. When you’re with her, you feel good about yourself and confident that someone has your back because she does. You look forward to your chats and get-togethers because you laugh and have powerful, quality conversations. She makes a positive difference in your life and you make a positive difference in hers. You both take responsibility for improving your lives and relationships and love setting a good example for others. You share a positive perspective and when you get down from time to time, you know your friend is there to listen and help you come up with solutions to feel better and you’re there for her down times as well.

Toxic “friends” who aren’t actually friends at all (frenemies) secretly sabotage your dreams and success by causing you to doubt. They are jealous of your relationship and want you all to themselves so they can manipulate you. When you’re with them, you feel a discomfort you may not be able to put your finger on, thinking it must be you. After all, why would a “friend” do something that hurts you or causes you to doubt yourself? Short answer, a friend wouldn’t. You may feel uncomfortable when the conversation keeps turning to her dramas and talking negatively about other people. You feel confused and possibly angry and weak after your chats and get-togethers. She says things that cause you to feel obligated to join her in things you really don’t want to do and guilty or like a bad friend if you don’t.

Certain personality styles won’t like this approach because they are more interested in pleasing everyone. Recovering people-pleasers know that trying (try implies failure) to please everyone means pleasing no one. Usually the people-pleaser is the first one who isn’t pleased but feels bad to admit it because, “That’s what we are supposed to do, make everyone happy.” Nice theory but it never has worked and never will because it’s flawed. Too many different perspectives on what makes us happy creates the impossibility of pleasing everyone.

Friendship is a two-way street. It has never been a one-size-fits-all proposition.

The emotions you hold inside are creating ease or dis-ease in your body 24/7 and there are many wonderful people-pleasers who have died too young of a terrible disease or had a tragic accident because of the stress and pain harbored silently so they didn’t upset anyone. This is your life. Everyone has their own journey and lessons to learn.

My Real-Life Story:

Before I raised my self-esteem, I accepted any friend prospect who came along. There were many toxic ones and I didn’t know any better. I always thought I must be doing something wrong or that there was something wrong with me when I felt hurt or used or manipulated. Once I learned to be my own best friend and focus on my personal development, I learned to establish and enforce healthy boundaries and attract positive women friends. There’s a learning curve and we are all at a different place. There are a LOT of awesome positive women friends out their who deserve your friendship. I had to learn how to wait for the right ones and that put me on my own for a while. It was totally worth it!

You have to choose wisely the people you invest your time and energy and emotions with. You can’t do any good for anyone if you are emotionally drained and insecure from a toxic friendship. Choose friends who inspire you to be a better version of yourself. This way, you can inspire others and feel fulfilled and happy that you are making a positive difference in the world as a whole.

Leave a comment and tell me what quality is most important to you in a friend.

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6 Responses to Your Friends: Empowering Or Toxic?

  1. Jody July 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    I’ve learned that the hard way, several times in my life. Right up to the latest relationship I’m in. Had I LISTENED to my instincts…. I wouldn’t be in it now.

    • Kelly Rudolph July 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      Thank you for your comment, Jody. You learned and will trust your intuition with other things now most likely. You’ll be able to choose what is truly best for you now. I know it can be very painful to learn lessons “the hard way.” Think about how your like can be better and happier since learning. A fresh perspective is always helpful!

  2. Jody July 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    Thanks, Jody. Since I’m thinking on this subject… this also puts me in mind of my own parents… unfortunately. Their thing is “pushing” their religios beliefs onto others. My mother is worse at it than my father. I got so that I dreaded even so much as talking to them because it always ended up that same way. I would feel drained, emotionally and physically after spending time w/ them. I ALWAYS KNEW what was coming at SOME POINT in the conversation. There was no talking with them and having a GENERAL conversation about ANYTHING. Since moving down here, I’ve broken contact with them because I REFUSE to live that way.

    • Kelly Rudolph July 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Most people feel obligated to stay in contact (sometimes close contact) with family members who are toxic. We come through our families to learn and just like many friendships that don’t last forever, sometimes family members can be very detrimental to our lives, unfortunately. Healthy boundaries allow you to know it’s okay to limit time with family for your own health and sanity and emotionally protect yourself before you speak with or spend time with them. 🙂

  3. Conley Ann Sakas July 21, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Hi Kelly
    My life long friend,from 2 years old to 54 years old. We lost her from colon cancer 2 years ago. I miss her so much, I still can not get over losing her. After she passed away I realized that her love and years of friendship,was healthy and safe. Betty lived in the mountains of Santa Cruse in her dream home! I would always look forward to our time together. When we were young she lived next door from my Dad and Grandmother. My Grandmother would check with her mom to make sure Betty would be around so I had a play mate, so I would not drive her crazy. My mom and dad got a divorced when I was 4 years old, my dad moved in with grandma,we moved to San Diego from Oakland. I would fly by my self at the age of 6 to visit them, summer, Easter, and Christmas.So my friend Betty and I had a life time of fun. Betty knew all my hurts to my happiness as I knew hers. I was so lost with out her. I really have made some bad choices with friendships after her passing . I was a people pleasers because I was so lost with out my Betty. All the friends that were really not my friends at all. They used my kindness and talked behind my back. Every full moon I sit outside and tell her everything and I know she is still there for me, she passed on a full moon. My husband well say Betty is here.He knows how hard it has been for me.I know what a real friend is to me and I thank God every day for having her in my life. She left me with so much love that it will be with me until I see her again. I lost my mom, sister.uncle Ned my cousin Scarlet and her son and my sweet Betty all in 3 years. I believe that I am doing well and I can not make people understand my loss or the emotions some times I feel so alone, the next time someone says just get over it I will get over them! Thank you Kelly
    Love Conley Ann

    • Kelly Rudolph July 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

      Hi Conley Ann. Thank you for sharing your extraordinary friendship with us. My suggestion is to talk with Betty every day rather than just on full moons. We change shape but our spirit is always there for loved ones.

      I haven’t seen that there’s ever a way to make people understand pain without them going through it and if care about them, we don’t want them to hurt. So rather than expecting or wanting people to understand, I suggest writing down your feelings whenever you feel them. Talk to those who have moved on before you. That connection (two spirits) is a strong one. Practice it because society doesn’t necessarily promote these things I find comfort in and my clients find comfort in so other people may not need to hear about it. If it works for you, do it.

      When someone says to get over it, that just means they don’t know how to help you and hate to see you in pain. Remember, people do things but they are not doing them TO YOU unless you decide they are. You can take any perspective you wish. The ones that cause you pain are the ones that make you a victim. The ones that allow you to stand strong are the ones you want to choose. The choice is YOURS.
      Kelly

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