Our Lady of Weight Loss, the patron saint of permanent fat removal, received an email from one of her "devotees," Mary Beth from KC, Mo., who wanted to know how to deal with the people in her life who were sabotaging her weight-loss efforts.
OLofWL asked me to share both the email from Mary Beth as well as OLofWL's thoughts on toxic friendships with you, so I am.
A few weeks ago, based on something I read in one of your books or in one of your blog posts (forgive me, I'm not sure where), I started to notice which people in my life have a negative effect on my weight-loss efforts.
One friend in particular has repeatedly told me that I'm never going to reach my goals (weight loss or otherwise). I've asked her to stop, but whenever I point out that she's undermining my attempts to move forward in life, she makes light of the situation and basically tells me that I'm too sensitive.
We've been friends for a long time. On the one hand, I am tempted to cut her out of my life completely, but on the other hand that feels a bit harsh. Want to do? Any thoughts on toxic friends?
-- Mary Beth C., KC, Mo.
Dear Mary Beth C., KC, Mo.,
Based on your friend's inability to hear you and "own" her unsupportive comments, I am going to venture a guess and suggest that she is stuck in her own restrictive point of view, unable to see beyond her own struggles and challenges.
Negative people often do slow us down and drain our energy, as well as create stress and anxiety, none of which is useful or helpful. What to do? Here are a few thoughts on:
Seven Tips: The Dos and Don'ts of Toxic Friendships
1. Do Not Give Them a Piece of Your Mind. When people -- particularly friends and/or family members -- are unsupportive, it really ticks us off because we understandably have expectations as to how they are going to show up in our lives.
Telling someone off, giving them a piece of your mind is a very bad idea because it is negative in its own right. I rarely use absolutes like "never" and/or "always," but in this case it is appropriate. The recipient of your negativity will never see it your way. They will defend their position. You will defend your position.
2. Do Feel Your Upset. To be clear, I am not suggesting that you do not feel your upset, your anger, and/or your frustration and disappointment. Breathe into it, feel it, and release it. This will allow you to come from a place of clarity.
3. Do Create Boundaries. You can either with love in your heart slowly but surely let the person go, or you can limit the time you spend together.
In these modern times, we are blessed with caller ID, which means that you do not have to pick up every phone call. Nor do you have to accept every invitation. If you do choose to get together with this person, tell them that you can meet from, say, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for tea at a certain café that serves fruit. You decide where -- a place that supports your healthy living goals; you decide the amount of time that feels okay for you.
4. Do Not Apologize or Justify Your Actions. You simply do not have to explain yourself. Please take that in on a cellular level and henceforth, when you find yourself launching into your "reasons" why you can "only" spend one hour together, or why you are choosing a fruity location... Stop midstream. Again, there is no need to, you don't have to justify or explain yourself away.
5. Do Be Open to Healing. Each and every one of us is traveling on our unique paths, which are circuitous in nature. You just never know when your friend (or relative) is going to have an "aha," mind-changing moment. To be clear, that does not mean that you have to keep them in your life as you once did, but you can "hold a space for healing."
6. Do Not Feel Guilty. You are a good person, a kind person, and you need to be your own best friend; in fact, you need to be your own good mother. You are not dumping your friend, you are not abandoning your friend; you are simply letting go of the current state of friendship, as you hold a space for change. Guilty is heavy; let it go.
7. Do Seek Positarians. Positarians are people who may not have much in common with the exception of their positive mindset about life. But, hey, that's enough, isn't it?
The best way to find the positarians is to keep an eye and ear open, and when you hear someone saying things like "good morning" with great enthusiasm, or when you see someone finding the most positive way of negotiating life in the face of obstacles, know that you have stumbled upon a positiarian.
Positiarians are lovers of life, and their goal is to spread the happy word. (NOT the icing! Sound familiar?) They look at the bright side, and they are gifted at finding silver linings.
I hope that provides enough to chew on, Mary Beth (and any and all who are reading this) to give yourself permission to let go of the toxic people in your life -- either by letting them go entirely or greatly limiting your interaction with them.
Spread the word... NOT the Icing,
Our Lady of Weight Loss
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