While having a tight support system of friends and family is so important for our mental and physical health and wellbeing, the quality of the relationship is the key factor in determining its impact and purpose. While many are beneficial and encouraging, there are some ways that friends can be hurting our mood and health, and so it's important to take control of these relationships and re-evaluate its worth in order to better our wellbeing long-term.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling confident and happy in their relationships and to encourage positivity when around others in order to keep the energy and mood high all around. However, sometimes our friends can be in a bad state or feel sad or angry, and such emotions can be contagious, leading to affect our moods and bringing us down. Plus, many friends often ruminate with one another, which can sometimes make a bad mood linger and worsen, rather than seeking a quick solution to recover and heal in order to start feeling happier. If you feel that your friend might be suffering from depression, it's best to suggest that he or she seeks professional help or finds a support group to talk openly. If there is no serious condition at hand, look for these eleven ways that friends can harm our mood and be mindful of them in order to fight the effect and not let it affect our personal states.
1. Consider Similar Values
"You can determine if a friendship is toxic by identifying your values (i.e., what is important to you, not what is important to your friends, family, or society)," says Rosie Guagliardo, Life Designer + CPCC + ACC of InnerBrilliance Coaching over email with Bustle. "Gauge if your friend has similar values or if this friend disregards and challenges those values. If so, the friendship will feel toxic and not in alignment with your best self," she says. "You can share your values with your friend and explain how you want to continue honoring what is important to you. This approach helps you be true to yourself and not attack your friend...it just points out you are different," she suggests.
2. Gauge Your Energy Levels When Together
"You also can determine if a friendship is toxic by checking in with your energy level during and after spending time with your friend. Ask yourself if you typically feel light and happy or heavy and emotionally depleted. If it's the latter, this friendship is most likely toxic and could be colored by obligation or guilt," says Guagliardo. "Identify which emotion is coming up most and how you might be giving your power away in the relationship. See if you could show up differently, dissipating the energy around that emotion. If you're still struggling, then it's time to tell your friend how you feel," she says.
3. Compare To An Ideal Friendship
"To determine where you stand in your relationships, paint a picture of what an ideal friendship would look and feel like. If a current friendship doesn't match this image and feeling, consider redesigning or moving on from the friendship," says Guagliardo. "You can even guide your friend towards this image you desire. If you feel resistance, you can explain your ideals and how it doesn't seem like you two fit together," she says. Yet, be mindful of your expectations and make sure they are reasonable. People aren't perfect, but if an ideal can interfere with your mood and mindset, it might be worth re-evaluation.
4. Consider How You Behave Towards Them
Friends' behaviors can make ours be a certain way when we are around them, for better or worse. "You might want to take a look at how you're showing up in a friendship and take responsibility for at least part of the dynamic. But no need to beat yourself up about how the friendship is playing out or shaming yourself if the relationship isn't working. You could even explain your role in the relationship and its demise. This might help you feel complete with the relationship and end on a good note with no one person to blame," says Guagliardo. "Finally, apologize and recognize or acknowledge it might be best to go your separate ways," she says.
5. Take Note Of Toxicity In The Relationship
"If you feel like you have a toxic relationship and it's one that you don't want to lose because of history or other personal connections, try to evolve the dynamic to help you keep the friendship," says Guagliardo. "Understand how you're showing up in the relationship in such a way that doesn't make it feel good. Ask yourself how you can be different (e.g., ask for what you want more often) and evolve beyond the person you're being now. Also, be direct with your friend about what you need and set boundaries to honor your needs," she advises.
6. You Feel Guilty For "Breaking Up"
Ending a friendship on a sour note or having unresolved conflict can make us feel guilty, and such guilt can extend for years and bring damage to our wellbeing and our ability to move on and focus on other positive relationships. "This release of tension will also decrease the negative feelings you've been experiencing within yourself. After you've forgiven your friend and even yourself for the relationship not lasting, focus on the types of relationships you want," says Guagliardo.
7. The Contagion Effect
Our happiness can change based on the friends we hang with. If we surround ourselves with a group of high-energy, supportive friendships, we will be happier, as that happiness from them can in turn boost our moods. However, if our friends are feeling negative, then that negativity can easily spread to us. Avoid being around friends when they are negative, or try and shift their moods and promote happiness all around.
8. They Can Make Us Feel Insecure
While friends are often loyal, supportive and loving, there might still be an innate tendency to compare to one another and have jealousy when other friends are finding success or are involved in a happy, caring relationship. Thus, be mindful of such jealousy and negative self-talk that can be an attempt to hinder our progress and make us feel less confident.
9. They Can Be Petty & Immature When Hurt
You know when a friend dis-invites you to a party or takes away a friendship bracelet in a dramatic statement? These little petty and immature acts come from a place of hurt during conflict, but they in turn can exacerbate the issue and create even greater hurt on both sides. When we are involved in these little spats, it can seriously hurt our health over time and lead to greater, more stable level of cortisol, the "stress hormone."
10. There's Room For "Ganging Up"
The idea of a group mentality among larger friend groups can cause people to take sides during arguments and have parties and get-togethers that can leave you out if you happen to be the friend on the chopping block at that given time. This "ganging up" aspect can make us feel uneasy or unaccepted within the group and can hinder our ability to trust, grow and feel safe around those whom we care about.
11. They Can Hold Us Back From Reaching Potential
While loyal friends are hard to come back and should be valued, even if ambition and other values are not perfectly aligned, it's important to not let friends hold us back from reaching our full potential and going after our goals with ambitious, committed energy and drive. Sometimes friends might not have the same motivation or interests, and this can hinder us for pursuing them due to insecurities or lack of opportunities. Express it's importance to you and stick with your actions.
While many friendships can be great for our health, there are some that are filled toxic and harmful elements that can limit us from reaching our goals, make us feel insecure or weak, and leave room for bullying or gang mentality that can crush our feelings and lead to isolation and chronic stress. If you notice such factors, it's time to break free from the relationship.
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