Surrounding yourself with people who make you happy, support you and love you is a paramount ingredient to a healthy life. It is important to remember that what you put out is exactly what you get back from the world and if you are in a perpetual cycle of negativity you will struggle to find happiness.
Think about the relationships you have, be it your family, your significant other, your friends or your colleagues. These are people you interact with every day, they are the people who shape who you are and how your day turns out. Are these healthy relationships or have you found yourself in some form of a toxic affair? A healthy relationship is one where:
- Both parties take responsibility for their mistakes and can admit when they are wrong.
- They own their attitude, behaviours and values and are accountable for these.
- No one belittles, intimidates or manipulates to the other.
- They respect the others physical space and do not express themselves violently.
- There is open and honest communication.
- Both parties support each others choices and are understanding of their views, decisions and offer encouragement rather than judgement. Everyones needs are balanced both for the relationship and self-care – because remember, no matter the relationship you still have to look after yourself.
- They ask rather than expect, be it for advice or help.
- They make decisions together and are willing to compromise to resolve conflict or disagreements.
- There is a mutual level of trust and reasonable benefit of the doubt is given.
These things apply to any relationship, it does not matter if it is romantic, familial or professional, the same rules stand.
There are so many people who come in and out of your life every day, some stick around for a few minutes, others a few years and some will always be there, but always remember that if the connection does not serve you it may be time to move on. People who drag you down, disrespect you, your values or your loved ones are not people you need in your life and you are free to make that decision.
A relationship should not be all consuming – always maintain your independence no matter what because at the end of the day you are the only person who is always going to be there for yourself. Take time to do things away from people, be it a night out with friends away from your partner, going for dinner with friends you don’t see often instead of your regular crowd or asking a co-worker for an outside opinion on something you’re working on. Everyone has something to offer. But keep in mind, you can always say no, you are allowed to take time for yourself. If you don’t want to go out, that’s your choice and people should respect that.
When it comes to making new friends, meeting new people or starting a new job it can be daunting no matter how much of a people person you might be. Keep in mind that you wont be everyones cup of tea, there will be people who just don’t like you – just like you won’t like everyone you meet – and it can be a hard pill to swallow if you’re a people pleaser. Do not waste your time and energy with these people, you only have a finite amount to give, find the people who truly love you and invest in them instead.
We have all had relationships that have gone sour, we’ve all been hurt by someone in our past. These are the things that have a profound effect on moving forward, they colour the way we interact with new people we meet and the way our relationships develop.
It can be hard to allow yourself to trust again once you’ve been hurt, you start to project your past experiences onto others, finding those same flaws in people even when they aren’t necessarily there. Remind yourself that not everyone is the same, not everyone is out to hurt you and just because one person has does not mean that everyone you come into contact with deserves to be painted with the same brush, and while it may be easier said than done, you have to be open to accepting another person in your life.
What if you are in a toxic relationship? How do you know?
- They are rigid in their decisions, everything must be done their way and you find yourself complying to what they want despite what it means for you.
- Any time you express a different opinion, view or idea you are met with anger or sarcasm and manipulation.
- You constantly feel on edge, like anything you do could trigger them to become angry or disappointed which leads you to feel stressed, nervous or confused; you cannot be yourself for fear of upsetting them.
- They do not trust you, they constantly question your actions or whereabouts for no reason.
- You are always made to feel like you are the problem and never them.
Once you get out of these kinds of relationships it can leave you with some pretty hefty scars and getting back to a place where you can trust people again can be a long and difficult process because you are left questioning yourself, doubting your decisions, wondering if you’re worth it – you find yourself asking if you’re worth it, if it really was all your fault…stop it.
Remind yourself every day that you are worth it, people do love you and you are amazing in your own way.
There is no shame in self love and when you love and appreciate yourself for all the amazing things that you do every day others around you will start doing the same, you will attract those that deserve your attention and love just like you deserve theirs. Relationships are a two way street that require support and input from both sides.
When I was about 14 I was bullied by people who I considered my closest friends, it started one day out of the blue with me being ignored, I was slowly pushed out of the group and then it escalated quickly into name calling and rumours. These people ruined my life for many years, their words stuck in my mind for a long time, well into my adult life – and I still have days where I struggle with some of it and it was 12 years ago.
I was isolated for months, and the venom spread through the school until walking through the corridor was terrifying. It ruined me, I went from being a confident, happy child into a shell of the person I once was.
A few years later I was able to start forgiving people for what they had done to me, I held onto the hurt and the anger for a long time and it ate me up inside, I allowed myself to get to relationships with boys who didn’t deserve me, who didn’t respect me, who would hurt me with snarky comments, jealous words and I was broken more and more but I felt like that was the best I could get; I made excuses for their behaviour because I didn’t have the strength in myself to fight back or stand up for what I deserved.
It wasn’t until I was about 20 that I finally turned around and said enough. I let go of my anger and pain and decided that I was more than what those people had said about me and yes, I still have days where I struggle and I am still trying to build myself back up to the person I should have become. I have made the choice to surround myself with people I love and who love me back, who make my life better every day and I will never allow myself to be treated that way again, by anyone.
You cannot fix everyone, sometimes walking away from people is the best thing you can do for them, if their presence in your life does nothing for you then it is up to you to decide that you deserve better. Life is about priorities, it’s about putting yourself – your health and happiness – first, allowing yourself to be loved and cared for and allowing yourself to love and care for others. For every action there should be an equal reaction and above all there should be respect.
Our lives are built on relationships; every single day we have to interact with people, from the cashier in the shop to our parents and siblings there is no escaping the fact that, no matter how much of an introvert you may be, you will have to interact with another human at one point or another – that’s how we survive. So why not make it a pleasant experience, be kind to people, smile at a stranger, get off your phone and open yourself up to meeting new people, don’t hide behind a screen, a book or an angry face.