Category: stress management

RELIEVING LONELINESS THROUGH CONNECTION

 

Feeling lonely & being alone are polar opposites. Spending time alone affords you enormous benefits like the opportunity to contemplate, sort through thoughts, & calm your mind from the daily barrage of stimuli, which in turn settles the nervous system. Loneliness involves a sense of isolation regardless if there are hundreds of people around you. Think the tips below can be helpful to someone else? Pass it along!

Try out these six techniques & discover how to feel less alone

  • LOG OFF & TUNE OUT – Get out of the house & see people face to face rather than on Facebook or Instagram. Studies show that too many hours on our computers & phones are detrimental to our mental & physical health, if not tempered with real-time contact with others. So next time you go for a walk, turn your phone off & notice all that is swirling around you. Get out of your head & dive in with your five senses. Refresh your ability to feel alive & notice the people around you.

 

  • TALK TO PEOPLE – Yes, that means strangers as well. You’d surprised how many other people feel as much as you do. Take a risk & say hello to the woman at the park who is also alone with her kids in the morning. When taking public transit, strike up a conversation. I’ve met incredible people with inspiring stories while riding the subway. Had I been on my phone, I would have never made the connection. When you’re standing in a line at the store, chat with the person behind you, say hello to the cashier. All of these interactions build your sense of community & allows you to feel a part of something. Get to know the names of the people who work at the places you frequent. If the thought of talking to strangers is terrifying, a simple hello with a smile will erode awkwardness over time & leave you feeling less bashful.

 

  • GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS – This may be a real tough one for many, but studies have suggested, getting to know people in your immediate community provides a feeling of safety * can bring new friendships as well. Rather than running in the house double-locking the door and shutting the blinds, take time to say hi to the guy next door or the woman across the street. Before long, you will be enjoying a newfound sense of community. Getting to know even the annoying neighbors, may pave the way for negotiations.

 

  • CALL PEOPLE & MAKE PLANS – Be an instigator for getting together even if it’s simply for coffee or a glass of wine. Rather than feeling lonely, reach out to people & perhaps invite them over or suggest doing something together. Go on a hike or walk or anything that builds a connection with the other person. Adopt more of a dolce vita attitude, in other words, live as if you’re in Italy where there are no to-go cups. Take time to indulge your relationships, they’re as important to living a healthy life as breathing clean air. It’s not a waste of time to sit with a friend & simply catch up or indulge in conversation. Just like a job, you want to invest time into relationships to make them fulfilling.

 

  • BE HONEST WITH OTHERS – Let people know when you’re feeling lonely. You’d be shocked at how many are right there with you!  Drag your loneliness into the light of day & talk about it openly. Many of us feel lonely at different stages of life. Perhaps you’re a new mother & on maternity leave. Your partner & friends are at work all day so you begin to feel isolated. Be honest with yourself & seek other women in the same boat. If you just moved to a different country or state or switched jobs, take the time to introduce yourself & explain that you’re new. Begin to see where you can fit in, chat with co-workers ask about local spots that deserve checking out. Over time, you’ll build mutual camaraderie. Whenever we’re honest about our emotions, we sow the seeds of sincere relationships that leave you with a true confidant as well as a friend.

 

  • GET INVOLVED – Join a group of moms & kids at the park for playdates or even a political cause or enroll in an Improv class. Look to your interests as a source for finding meaningful relationships. Maybe you’re seeking spiritual insight, search for a church, synagogue or temple that speaks your spiritual language. Investigate how you can become involved. Volunteering is another excellent way to make lasting connections by surrounding yourself with others who are also passionate about the same issue.

 

Implement a few of these suggestions to reduce feelings of loneliness & begin to give yourself the gift of connecting with others—you deserve it!

 


ACTIVE LISTENING

Listening is somewhat an art form, and as in music or dance, you only become proficient with practice. There are countless meanings assigned to the act of listening. You can listen with your heart, you can listen to your intuition, you can listen to mantras of religion or stories you’ve been told since childhood. What I am referring to is how we listen to ourselves and others, which all of the above influence. Without sincere listening, communication breaks down, misunderstandings flare, and a sense of dread and loneliness can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious.

To lessen the problems non-listening creates, here a few ways to develop and enhance your ability to listen. When genuinely listening to another person, find the takeaway. In other words, look to understand what that person is trying to say. Avoid reading into or interpreting, tease away your own biases. If what they’re saying is ambiguous, murky, or makes no sense to you, ask for clarification, or mirror to them what you feel their message is. 

When you are actively listening, you will more than likely have questions, hold them until the person is finished. Often many of us are too eager to spew out our response, or wisdom, or opinion that we forget to hear what the other person is saying entirely. If you find yourself preoccupied with focusing and crafting what you think, you are not listening. If you realize your reply has nothing to do with what the other person is said, you were not paying attention. 

Naturally, it’s easier to listen to people you share common ground with, and it’s difficult and challenging to listen to those you don’t. Let’s put this in the realm of relationships. Your partner may have been raised with strict rules, and there was little wiggle room for self-exploration. You, on the other hand, had a family that encouraged independent thinking. You fall in love, but after the honeymoon phase, you find you are arguing over just about everything. More than likely, it’s a lack of listening to each other – listening without hearing. Whew, that is a tough one. 

However, when you begin to practice real listening, you cannot only muddle through tough conversations, you may actually start to see resolutions. When you let down the defenses and realize it isn’t about you, but about the other, you’ll learn to listen with love, empathy, and a deeper understanding that leads to connection.

Spiritual leader Ram Dass has a plethora of quotes that remind us that listening requires going beyond our ego. “We are fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” It is in the quiet recess of your consciousness that the truth or impact of words reverberates. Words themselves are simply nouns, verbs, adverbs, tools with which to communicate. Yet somehow, they can cut us deeply or be profoundly motivating. When you think about how people without hearing communicate, it’s interesting because they still use language, just not necessarily words. 

A huge part of learning to listen to others is listening to yourself. If you fill your mind and energy with some diversion 24/7, you cannot hear your inner thoughts or desires or spiritual guidance. Think about a time that a teacher, a friend, a mentor said something that resonated with you so profoundly it changed your life forever. It was that time you spent meditating or pondering the words or intentions of the person that convinced you there were truth and significance to them. 

Learning active listening will change the way you communicate forever, and it will enhance your relationships and confidence. In my next newsletter, I will expound on different listening techniques and how to listen and trust yourself. Stay tuned!


FINDING GRATITUDE UNDER EVERY NOOK & CRANNY

 

 

With Thanksgiving nipping at our heels, it’s a natural time of year to take stock of all we can be thankful for. When you appreciate the little things in life, a profound transformation occurs that can lift you out of the doldrums & help you to find more profound pleasure & meaning in your life.

In modern society, we’re bombarded with ads insisting we need the newest version of a gadget or device, the latest styles, & that more is better. We’ve become a throwaway society, but the good news is, we don’t have to subscribe to that persuasion.  In this newsletter, I highlight a few ways to find gratitude under every nook and cranny of your life.

Set a Positive Tone. Rather than reaching for your phone or computer first thing in the morning, take a few moments to say thank you for the morning itself. Sit up in bed, close your eyes, and breathe. Take a moment to notice the light of dawn or the pitter-patter of rain on the roof.  Perhaps when you get up, you enjoy making a delicious cup of coffee or tea, then sit in a comfy chair & inhale the aroma brewing. If you prefer yoga, do a few sun salutes honoring the gift of a new day. In other words, create a five-minute ritual that kicks your day off with the mantra, “Today, I will be grateful for my life.” After a few days of doing this, you’ll notice a difference, as it begins to set the tone for the rest of your day in a positive light.

Adopt A Less is More Attitude. Replacing the redundant “hole in the bucket,” “nothing is enough” syndrome with the idea that you have all you need is liberating. It affords you more time to take a walk, read a book, or indulge in an activity that costs nothing. Nature is such a giver, & it asks little from us. It provides us with glorious sunsets, the drama of cloud formations, the changing of seasons, & the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. If you begin to re-direct your focus on what you already have, you can let go of the constant need for more. Perhaps de-clutter & give away things you don’t use or need. When we open up the space we live in, we open our minds to clarity & widen our perspectives. If you struggle with clinging to stuff, try packing it away out of sight, knowing it’s not gone forever. With the holiday season on the horizon, practicing less is more can help curb overindulging in fatty foods. It can also help with perspective to gift-giving, maybe try homemade presents or gather without gifts.

Cultivate Simplicity. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the art of sophistication.” We don’t have to rely on riches to be wealthy. Finding joy in spending time with friends or being content to be alone are both ways to practice gratitude for the small things in life. Breaking bread together or cooking a meal can be a simple task that renders quality, not quantity. By simplifying your day to day routine, you allow yourself more time to let go of stress. Rather than packing each day with more things on the “to do” list, see if you can allow yourself time to just be. Try sitting in silence for a few moments in the middle of the day to tune out demands, real or imagined. We don’t always have to make a profit in order to profit.  Giving value to the small incidentals in our life helps create a sense of contentedness. Rather than filling every moment with work or the need for a result, try carving out time to daydream, to remember fond memories, to call a person you love and say hi or let them know you appreciate them.

Embrace the Difficult Things. Being grateful for the difficult times is probably the biggest challenge we all face. Much like the terrains of the world, life has its peaks & valleys, its ebbs & flows. There are those moments in life that we’re in emotional or pain, & being thankful is as easy as walking across the Sahara without water. Think back to the times in your life that you did pull through & came out stronger. Realizing situations are temporary & there are people to help you through can be a powerful acknowledgment. It’s a commonality we share with others, a bond that lets us know we’re not alone – & for that, let’s be grateful.

As you make choices & plans for these next few months, perhaps keep these thoughts in mind, & you may find yourself having a less stressful, more enjoyable holiday season. Remember to thank yourself as well for the gifts & talents you bring to the world; smile in the discovery of all the positive energy you donate.


Thoughts of Giving & Receiving

The act of giving is a challenge for many people, & often around the holidays, it seems to be on the minds of everyone I speak with. 

“Am I giving enough?” 

“Am I giving the right thing?” 

“Who do I want to give to?”

“Who do I have to give to?”

“Can I afford to give enough?”

At the heart of these questions is usually fear & what each person is afraid of may be different. It’s as if by giving, in some way, we believe that we may be disappointing others or letting them down. 

One thought I have about this is there are many ways we give of ourselves to others & you can find a way that makes you feel good in your heart so that you can feel safe, loving, & positive about who you are & the choices that you make.

Receiving from others is also on people’s minds during the holiday season more than any other time of year. You may be looking forward to receiving gifts, yet the act of accepting the presents in your heart can be a bit difficult for you.

Feelings of vulnerability are often present when we receive. We may feel that our friends/family are not sensitive to our taste or that they did not take the time to plan for our gifts, which can create feelings of hurt, resentment, being unimportant. 

Many of us are uncomfortable with receiving, much more so than with giving because receiving taps into our own feelings of being loved. For some people, it can be much more challenging to allow love in & receiving does just that.

A lovely ritual you can do to assist yourself in allowing to both give & receive with ease is the following:

  1. Light a white candle.
  2. Sit in front of it for 5 minutes, watching it, letting your mind float.
  3. Wonder about the first three times you received something. Notice how you felt, what you saw/heard?
  4.  Now notice what you feel/think about those three times now.
  5. What are your challenges with giving & receiving?

 

 


Harmonizing Your Emotions & Intentions

As February ends and March begins, you may be considering commitments to positive changes in your life; get more exercise, eat less sugar, have less screen time. With all of these healthy resolutions, another you may consider; reprogramming knee jerk reactions or emotions that set up a negative domino effect on your life. Do you tend to get upset about reoccurring issues? Are there triggers that put a bee in your bonnet, or perhaps family members that seem to have an emotional power over you? If you struggle to keep calm and clear during particular stressors, resetting your emotional reactions can be a way to move your life in a different direction.

Let’s face it, you can have the best intentions to carry through with changing your behavior, but if your emotions are on autopilot (which for many of us they are), it can be a constant battle of wills. What you know to be true may differ greatly from the scenario your emotions are trying to convince you of. For example, your mother or long distant boyfriend calls and you hear irritation in their voice about your upcoming visit. Immediately you assume the person is irritated with you and become defensive. Communication breaks down, feelings are hurt, and you end up feeling terrible about the mix up.

Sound familiar? An effective way to reprogram those automatic emotional reactions is to immediately, think differently about it. Don’t mull it over or stew, begin to implement going within and breathing, relaxing, rather than jumping to conclusions. This takes a lot of practice because the trick is to do this right away while in the midst of the emotional crisis or challenge.

Start with small efforts to change your emotional patterns rather than tackling the deeply embedded ones that typically are related to your childhood. For example, reassure yourself of your abilities to change. Read affirmations on a regular basis. Without making a big announcement, begin to react differently when challenge presents itself, which it will, that is life. Begin to choose to not get hysterical or upset when someone is rude, or cuts you off in line. Remember, you are in control; you don’t have to imitate bad behavior. Rather than gravitating towards the negative behavior, do an about face. Collect yourself, breathe, and walk away.

Begin to be present in your life; this will help with your resolve to reset your emotional responses. Spend time paying attention to the underlying issue you are reacting to. What are the big triggers for you? Feeling powerless, unlovable, frightened? Work on healing those deep-underlying emotions that keep you from reaching your fullest potential. Facing your fears with a counselor, through meditations, and/or spirituality will empower you to be less reactive. Developing emotional courage will reprogram your responses. Emotional courage, like all courage comes with practice and awareness. It doesn’t mean that you will never feel fear.

When you have learned new emotional behaviors, you are ready to tackle those long lasting emotional trigger people, mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, and friends. It will be a leap of faith, but trust your new self to pull through. Go back to the basics, retreat within, breathe, remember that you are not a slave to your emotions; you can choose a different path. Again, remember it is important to immediately turn to the new response, don’t dally, that will give your auto response a chance to kick in. Breathe, recite a positive mantra, refuse to let the old emotional baggage drag you down, let it go.

Living in negative emotions such as fear, jealousy, judgmental attitudes accomplishes nothing but depleting you of your light within. And living on high alert, will eventually lead to physical illness. The brain, the mind, and the heart are all interconnected, one impacts the other. It is possible to reprogram your emotional responses; just like it is possible to learn new things, to open your mind, or to lose weight, it is a choice. Life does not have to be a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. You can choose to liberate yourself through love, presence, and letting go.


Sound Heals

If you have ever been lulled by the rustling of wind through the trees or relaxed on the sand listening to waves lap the shore, you’ve experienced the healing aspect of sound.  Perhaps in the morning as you awake you hear the birds singing and it causes you to smile, to feel safe, to ponder the gifts of life.

Notice how particular songs, rhythms, or melodies have the power to lift and renew your spirits. Other sounds or vibrations can be irritating or cause you to lose focus, the unrelenting sound of a jackhammer for example.  Sound has the power to set an emotional mood, be it romantic, sultry, festive, or relaxing.

Sound has been utilized as a healing modality for thousands of years in a myriad of cultures.  Many indigenous people use drums, flutes, spiritual songs, chants, and rhythms to promote health and healing.

Simple physics tell us that everything has its own sound or vibration and resonance, that the frequency in which it moves varies.  Although we can’t hear the music of a wood table or a rock their molecules are moving, they have an energy that is creating vibrations, sounds.

Part of PTSD from being in battles is from the constant barrage of noise.  Even pets respond to bad vibrational sounds such as fireworks, gunshots or loud squealing of tires.  When a person is overexposed to abrasive sounds, this wreaks havoc on the nervous system, which in turn can cause dis-ease.

Good vibrations or soothing sounds, on the other hand, calms and comforts us. In an article The Healing Power of Sound, Karen Olson describes how sound therapy can heal everything from headaches to chronic pain. Diane Mandler, a certified sound healer in California, writes that her clients obtain: “relief from pain and discomfort, clearing of sinuses, shifting out of depression, [improved] ability to sleep . . revitalization and clarity, feeling of well-being, great connectedness, and deep personal transformation.”  Using Tibetan singing bowls; Mandler believes these healing sounds and vibrations bring the body back to balance. Sound medicine ascertains that realigning your vibrations will keep you physically and mentally healthy.

How exactly does sound heal?  The healing quality or vibration in particular sounds resets or synchronizes with our brainwaves, allowing us to quiet the mind.  Similar to meditation where the breath is the vehicle, healing sounds allow the fluctuating brainwaves to find a steady vibration that takes you into a relaxed state of being.  When your body is in harmony it is able to heal. Sound healing can allow stuck energy to flow again by penetrating blockages.

Children respond to soft, soothing sounds as well.  Take a crying baby outside (if it is peaceful of course) and watch as they stop and listen to the wind, the birds.  A roomful of rowdy toddlers can be tamed with a bit of relaxing music or singing.

Learn to be aware of sound in your life. If you live in an urban environment, you may be overly exposed to the squeal of subways, the constant roar of traffic, the buzz of never-ending conversations or people’s music, which may be abrasive. Just like being mindful of your diet or getting enough exercise, being aware of noise is essential to your well-being.  Carve out time to close your eyes and listen to healing music; Spotify and Pandora both have a plethora to choose from.

Try a sound therapist if you have insomnia, migraines, or chronic pain as a way to heal. Seek out natural sounds as often as you can, and let the healing vibrations bring you back to balance.


How to Deal With Losing a Pet

If you have ever had a pet that has passed on or had to make the difficult decision to euthanize, you know how challenging the grief can be.  Our pets are part of us, they are an extension of our families and when they are gone, there is a big hole in our hearts that often triggers feelings of guilt, sorrow, despair, and depression. The following offers a few suggestions to help you cope with your loss.

Allow yourself to feel, to cry, to experience the death of your pet rather than stuffing your emotions, allow them to happen and be present with them.  Deal with your feelings and grief as they arise, this will help you in your ability to process the loss. Talk about it with loved ones, friends, share that you are feeling sad. If you have children, talk to them about their feelings, give them permission through your example to express their grief openly.  Give them and yourself the opportunity to talk about your beloved pet.

Prepare a ceremony, either before euthanizing or after your pet has died plan a celebration of life.  Gather at your pet’s favorite spot, or in your home. Invite people who knew your beloved companion, light candles or burn incense.  Ceremonies help give us closure and a chance to commemorate our pets.  They help us deal with our grief and our losses as well as allowing others the opportunity to say good-bye.  Maybe have the children sit in a circle and light a candle.

Create a memorial, a place where you can show homage to your pet.  If you have their favorite toy or a memento, (such as a tuft of hair or a paw print) choose a sacred spot in the backyard or under a favorite tree where you can make a small shrine.  Memorials help you remember, they also help you process loss.  Place pictures or anything sentimental on the memorial.  Maybe your pet had a favored stuff animal or quirk that you want to remember. Again, if you have children, this is a wonderful way for them to actively work through their grief.  They can color pictures, make sacred symbols such as a cross, Star of David, or a rainbow.  

Deal with your guilt, if you have any, and most everyone that has had to euthanize a pet, has questioned their decision, even when they know it was the right and humane choice.  You may be mulling over memories, imagining that the pet was not that bad off.  The truth is, when we are in pain, feeling sad over a loss, we forget details, we tend to gloss over the grim realities and fantasy like ideas that maybe it wasn’t that bad.  Going back over what could have been done differently does nothing but perpetuate guilt. Know that you and your vet made a kind and loving decision and that your pet is no longer suffering.   

Give yourself time, rather than rushing out and replacing the loss with a new pet, allow yourself ample room for grief.  The new pet will never have the exact same temperament and unique nuances that the old one had.  Be kind to yourself, create space for grief and sadness and time to truly be ready to move on.  Grief is an unfolding process, simply willing it away or avoiding it stunts that process.  You may experience all five of the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) or perhaps just a few.  Over time, the pain fades but not the memory of your pet.  You will get to a place where you can once again laugh at silly stories of your pet’s personality while remembering those tender loving moments you shared.


Living on Your Own

More and more lately I see and hear about people who are choosing to live on their own. Some of these people have never been in a long-term
relationship (or married). They have elected to live on their own – and not engage in a romantic relationship, or even the kind of friendship that could evolve into a living situation. They often have a significant person in their life and choose not to live together. While others have ‘friends with benefits’ to satisfy their sexual desires. There are many options.

Living on your own can be a time of immense self-discovery, self-love, and positive independence. Conversely, living with a significant other can be a time of deep connection, learning, and growing while becoming closer to someone you care about. Imago relationship theory is based on the premise that we grow best by being in a relationship. That only in a relationship with a significant other can we heal any childhood wounds that we may have and grow fully.

There are positives in both situations, and only you can determine what living situation is healthiest for you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Exploring the positive and negative elements of living alone will help you decide what is best for you.

Living alone has some significantly positive psychological benefits.

  • It encourages independence and self-sufficiency.
  • It promotes interior solitude.
  • It helps to reduce your feelings of loneliness by building up your capacity to be alone.
  • Solitude can help to restore and reenergize you.
  • There is less chance for uncomfortable conflict when you can keep your home anyway you like.

While living alone can be peaceful (and you’ll never argue over what you’re having for dinner, or what music you listen to), it has a few negative aspects to consider.

  • You may miss the companionship of sharing a space with another
    individual.
  • When you are in a relationship, you can either be in the relationship
    or you can be right – you cannot be both. Living alone allows you to
    be – and always stay – “right.” There is nobody in your space to
    challenge your beliefs.
  • The kind of sharing, that comes from living with and building
    relationships with people we care about is something that comes with
    practice. Living with a significant other can help us build these
    internal connections.

There comes a time in all our lives when living on our own is appealing, usually when we graduate high school. It may even be necessary for a time while we grow to be comfortable on our own, and in our own skin. It can be helpful in developing a sense of independence, or it can help us find joy in simply being.

On the other hand: conflict and compromise often are what help us stretch and grow into the very best version of ourselves. The truth is, there is no right answer as to whether you want to live with a roommate or partner, or on your own. Both situations come with drawbacks, but both present you with opportunities to grow and learn more about who you are as an individual.

So, what do you do? My suggestion: embrace where you are in life. Listen to your own heart, and confidently go in the direction that will provide you with what you need right now. You deserve to be joyful and to find a deeper, truer version of you – find a living situation that allows you space to do just that.


Find Your Inner Artist

We all have an inner artist just waiting to emerge and be appreciated. Even if you don’t feel that you’re innately creative, there is something inside all of us yearning to build and create. Many hobbies can be considered “creative” – even if they’re not typically sorted into an artistic category or subject matter.

You may be an engineer, sales person, or developer. In these cases, you may develop code for software programs, build relationships with clients, or create pieces of technology that many of us could never even fathom. You may be a parent, a friend, or a romantic partner. In these cases, you’re creating habits with your growing children, nurturing a strong and supportive network, and building a line of communication between yourself and your partner. Expressing your creativity manifests in all areas of your life. You are always growing and creating, no matter who you are, whether you realize it or not.

It’s important that we tap into this inner creative personality of ours – we all deserve to find our inner artist and nurture them. Luckily, there are countless activities we can engage in that help us on the path of artistry
and creation.

A few ideas might be:

  • Break out the paints or colored pencils and create something beautiful. Whether it’s abstract art, or you paint something realistic – you’re working the creative side of your brain. It doesn’t matter whether your final product is perfect. Perfection is not the goal –
    allowing your creativity to flow is.
  • Dance like nobody’s watching to your favorite song. Allow your body to move freely around the room, and imagine any tension you’re feeling being released from your body.
  • Build something with your hands. Whether you enjoy woodwork, pottery or you want to put together the dresser you ordered last week – it’ll feel good to pour your energy into something physical and to see a standing, finished product when you’re done.
  • Write something. Anything. Whether you’re journaling or jotting down a poem, writing something will jog your creative juices and keep them flowing.

Finding creativity is a beautiful thing – what are your favorite ways of being creative?


Shedding Toxic Friends in the New Year

Life happens in seasons. The New Year tends to be a time when we evaluate our lives and make big decisions or changes. While this is a positive thing, it can also be confusing when the things we decide need changing are our friends.

Sometimes the people who have stayed in our life as friends become toxic over time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they themselves are toxic individuals – just that they no longer serve a positive purpose in our life. Just as life happens in seasons, friendships happen in seasons, too.

A friend who may have been very close to you in a season when you needed them and they needed you is someone to cherish. But that relationship can sour for any number of reasons. Maybe you two just aren’t in the same place anymore. Maybe they aren’t being supportive as you try to make positive changes in your life or to break bad habits. Maybe they feel intimidated by you as you move forward with other positive, supportive friendships and romantic relationships.

Whatever your reason for feeling that a person may not be the friend they once were, “breaking up” with them is never going to be easy. Still, it’s important to remember there is only one you, and YOU, are the only one in charge of taking care of yourself. It may seem as though these friends need you, or you may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for distancing yourself from the relationship. If you’ve carefully evaluated the relationship and deemed it hurtful or unhealthy, there is no reason to continue feel guilty.

A few symptoms of a toxic friend are:

  • They regularly and repeatedly tear you down with actions or words.
  • They don’t support the positive changes you’re making.
  • They encourage negative or destructive behavior.
  • They lack empathy.
  • They take advantage of your kindness.
  • They lie or act in an untrustworthy manner.

If you feel your friend fits these characteristics, or if the relationship is consistently one-sided, it’s okay to act in your best interest and shed the relationship. By doing this you give yourself permission to start fresh this year. You give yourself time to grow valuable relationships that positively contribute to your life. You never know when you’re going to find a wonderful new friendship in someone who is kind, encouraging, and supportive.