“Do unto others as you would have them do onto you.”
Toxic friends. It’s just a part of being in Junior High (or Middle School as it is now known) there’s going to be someone who is mean to you. Unfortunately…the toxic friendships don’t always end after graduation. Girls of that age can be so mean! For me, my toxic friend in Junior High, was someone who ended up becoming one of my best friends!! How did that happen you ask? Well, let me tell you…
It was in Eighth grade and I had tried out for the cheer-leading squad and had made alternate. I was very excited about getting alternate because I never thought I would actually make it at all! So, I was expected to go to practices and learn the cheers and be ready to replace anybody on the squad if the need arose. Now, I know that is not done anymore but that was what was done way back then! What was supposed to be a great experience ended up being the worst season of my young life.
Every six weeks, when our report cards were about to come out, I would end up in a lot of trouble that I didn’t start. One of the cheerleaders had trouble maintaining good grades. Every six weeks I experienced being snubbed, having mean things said about me, and being excluded from my group of friends. Why? Because is cheerleader was told that I was hoping she would flunk out so I could become the new cheerleader! Once the report cards came out and she had passed all her classes, life would go back to normal.
Well, I made it through that year and the very next year that cheerleader and I became the best of friends when we discovered all that drama was caused by a third girl posing as both our friends. This girl would tell the cheerleader that I wanted her to flunk out and she’d tell me that the cheerleader’s grades were so bad that she was going to flunk out and wouldn’t it be great to be the replacement??? This girl hadn’t made the cheering squad and she was just jealous so she turned us against each other. What she didn’t know was that when the cheerleader and I discovered what had happened, we became best friends who are still BFF’s 40+ years later!
That was a miserable time in my life and I experienced first-hand how a toxic person can cause so much chaos. But guess what. Toxic friends are not left behind in Junior High. You can experience toxic friendships at any time in your life. You might even be a toxic friend and not even know it!
Do you have trouble maintaining friendships? There are a lot of people out there who may be able to answer that question right away, but what if you’re just not sure? Things seem a little off with your friendships but you’re not sure what the problem is. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- When you are with friends, is your favorite pastime bashing others?
- Do you enjoy someone else’s misfortune or embarrassment?
- Are you out to make yourself look good by always making someone else look bad?
- Are you driven to always get your way?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions you may very well be a toxic person!
There are many reasons that people become toxic friends. They may be scared that if others really knew who they were, they wouldn’t like them. They may have home lives that are abusive or neglectful, so in order to control something, they stir up trouble by saying mean things and picking on people who are weaker. Most people who are toxic often just believe they are better than others and think they can treat people however they want to. They believe their way is the only right way. They manipulate and coerce people into doing what they want – often in the sweetest package possible.
Toxic people are often very visible, “getting things done”, but in actuality they are maneuvering themselves into positions of power. Toxic people appear to have the best interest of the group but they are only looking out for themselves and their own agenda. They don’t like team building because they want to dictate who does what – they want control.
They always appear to be the best team player but they are good at getting rid of people who would be a threat to them and replacing them with people they can control. If there is discourse in your place of work or among your family or friends, take a look at who the trouble generally leads back to. There for all intents and purposes is your toxic friend.
But…what happens if that person is you ? What if you’ve discovered that you are involved in all the upheaval all the time – you are the toxic person! Now what? How do you get out of this pattern of dysfunction and move into a life where you are a nicer person?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you like your life?
- Are you tired of keeping all the “balls” in the air as you juggle everything and everyone all the time?
It must be exhausting! But you can stop being a toxic friend if you are willing to take a hard look at your life. This may involve private life coaching to learn new ways to communicate or handle conflict, or sometimes counseling with a professional, to keep you headed in the right direction.
Here’s some TRUTH from the Bible for anyone who just discovered they often behave like a toxic friend. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world (that includes you!) that He gave His only Son. That whoever (that’s you too!) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
You are loved, you are important, and you are worthy of praise. Most toxic people are good inside and have just allowed circumstances in their life control how they treat others. It doesn’t have to be that way! Let the love of God pour into your heart. Let Him transform you from the inside out!
You can stop the behavior that labels you as toxic; but, only if you are honest with yourself and are willing to make some changes in your life. Luke 6:31 says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (aka, The Golden Rule) If you want to be treated with respect – respect others. If you want to experience love, love on others. It may not be easy to start with, but small steps will earn great rewards and before you know it – you are no longer toxic. When you are happy inside – it shows outside, every time.
Joette Knapp is a Professional Life Coach, Speaker, and part of the coaching team at Big Blue Couch™ Coaching. After surviving losing her first baby, and two devastating divorces, Joette turned to her faith and discovered that God can take the ashes of her shattered life and turn them into something new and beautiful. She is passionate about helping other women walk through life-changing experiences and discover that there can be a great life on the other side. Learn more about the Life Coaching options Joette offers here!