How To Identify Toxic Relationships and Build a Healthy Support Network

So as I was doing my morning reading on Facebook, I came across this post from Mamamia entitled Dear Girls in the Cafe, That’s Not What Men Are Like, in my timeline. The letter contained the advice that the author would have shared with two young college girls she observed in a cafe, talking rather cavalierly about the abusive behavior of their boyfriends, had she not been in such a rush to get to her next appointment.

As you know, I’m all about doing whatever is necessary  to move forward with your personal and professional goals. And I think that there is something to be said about the company we keep and how that affects our growth. I’ve had my fair share of relationships/friendships, both good and bad. So below I’ve put together a few signs to help you recognize when a relationship needs to get the ax.

1. They no longer, or never did, add any value to your life.

Time is money. In this day and age where we have so many demands being placed on our time, we’ve got to learn to be more selective in who we share it with. Unlike money or any other material good, it’s the one thing in life that once given away, you can never get back. So choose wisely. If they’re not offering support or advice to help you continue growing personally and/or professionally, what’s the point?

2. They’re chronic naysayers.

If all they can do is offer reasons why you shouldn’t take a risk or why something won’t work, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. Now it’s not that you want to surround yourself with “yes men”. A healthy round of “devil’s advocate” is always necessary before we make major decisions in our lives, but there’s a big difference between prudence and kill joys.

3. They have no sense of direction for their lives and appear to be okay with that.

If you’re someone who is focused and driven, you’ll find yourself becoming increasingly drained hanging around individuals who seem to be the complete opposite. Driven people thrive off of other driven people. I don’t know about you, but when I feel drained, I want to be around positive energy. Nothing motivates me more than being around those who are at the top of their game. It makes me want to work even harder.

If you’re someone who is focused and driven, you’ll find yourself becoming increasingly drained hanging around individuals who seem to be the complete opposite.

4. They make you feel uncomfortable about being yourself.

I’m a firm believer that the people in your life should always challenge you to be better. But they shouldn’t try to change you beyond recognition. You are unique and the world would be a lot less interesting if we all were cookie cutter. While there are things about ourselves that we can and should strive to improve upon, if you have individuals in your life who want to give you a complete makeover, be careful. You don’t want to lose your identity. Losing your identity is the first step to losing your sense of direction and purpose.

Lastly, I think it goes without saying, but any relationship in which you don’t feel safe or you are being emotionally, mentally, or physically abused, you should get out immediately and seek help. No one should ever put up with that kind of relationship.

Now, before you start feeling like you have to become a hermit, once you do a little social pruning, start making room for new friendships and relationships to evolve with people who share your goals and are on similar paths. Join a local young professionals group or an alumni chapter of your college or fraternity or sorority. Attend networking events and seminars that will expose you to other ambitious individuals that you can add to your network.

Remember that becoming great doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The kind of network you need to positively impact your success is one that nurtures, supports and challenges you to be the best you. While letting go of relationships can be difficult, it’s necessary if you want to continue making progress toward reaching your goals.

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