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Poisonous Personalities: How to Spot Toxic Friends in Your Life

At times, identifying a friend who is negatively impacting your life can be straightforward in certain cases. Examples could include the friend who frequently borrows money from you or the friend who dominates conversations with their own interests.

But some negative friendships may not be as obvious as others, as they may be more subtle in nature. Examples of this type of negative behavior include making quiet put-downs at the end of a story, offering unsolicited fashion advice, making jokes about weight loss attempts, or making digs about a new dating profile.

Snail on stones while another climbs up the stones. Do your friends encourage you?

When you try to make positive changes in your life, you may encounter some discouragement from those around you. For example, you may be interested in applying for a new position at your dream company, but a friend may express doubt in your ability to succeed. Similarly, if you express a desire to return to school and earn a degree, someone may suggest that it's not feasible due to time or financial constraints. It's important to remember that while others may have their own opinions and concerns, ultimately it's up to you to make decisions that are best for your personal growth and development.

The Two Types of Negative Friends

Negative friends can often be categorized into two types. The first type is known as the "Debbie Downer" or “Negative Nancy” friend. This person tends to have a negative outlook on everything and is quick to point out any flaws or downsides, even when things are going well in your life. They may seem to focus on the negatives and have a tendency to nitpick.

It is important to understand that when your friend tends to bring a negative perspective to situations, it is not necessarily a reflection of their feelings towards you personally. Rather, their negative worldview influences the way they approach and communicate about things. While they may describe themselves as being realistic, it is possible that they are more of a cynic than they realize.

The second type of friend is commonly known as the "Safe Sally" friend. This friend has a deep understanding of who you are and what you're capable of, which can sometimes lead to her discouraging you from branching out of your comfort zone. She may discourage you from stepping out of your comfort zone by highlighting potential risks or pitfalls. She prefers when you play it safe and may point out potential pitfalls if you express interest in something new or different. Their preference is for you to remain in your current position and not strive for novel experiences. However, it's important to understand that her intentions are rooted in concern for your well-being. Despite her cautious nature, the "Safe Sally" friend still cares about you and wants what's best for you.

According to Bruce Wilkinson, who wrote the book The Dream Giver, some individuals are commonly referred to as our "dream police". Although they have good intentions, their desire to keep us safe can hinder our personal growth. This is because our true potential is not realized in a comfortable and secure environment.

Instead, our best selves emerge when we are pushed to be brave and take risks.

Two Options for Dealing with Negative Friends

If you have noticed a friend who consistently brings negative vibes or plays it safe all the time, it's important to know how to handle the situation. In the case of a "Debbie Downer," it's advisable to avoid getting drawn into their negative mindset. One way to do this is by limiting the amount of time you spend with them. This doesn't necessarily mean ending the friendship altogether, but rather reducing their influence on your mood and outlook. By taking steps to protect your own well-being, you can continue to support your friend while also taking care of yourself.

Two women making a heart with their hands. Be intentional with your friendships,

As for "Safe Sally", she might simply need some reassurance that her opinion is valued and a reminder that you're committed to pursuing your dreams. With time, she may become more supportive and demonstrate her encouragement in unexpected ways.

Mindful friendships are ones that are carefully chosen and maintained with intentionality. It's important to surround yourself with friends who offer support and encouragement, and who share in your aspirations and goals.

Spot and avoid toxic friends and discover the benefits of intentional friendships by downloading my free Mindful Connections Interactive workbook journal! Gain insights and practical tips on how to cultivate meaningful relationships that enrich your life.



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