Building and maintaining meaningful friendships is an essential part of a fulfilling life. However, sometimes, without even realizing it, we can exhibit toxic behavior that jeopardizes our relationships and mental well-being. Being told that you're the toxic friend can be a wake-up call, prompting the need for self-improvement and mending relationships.
In this article, we'll delve into several behaviors that contribute to toxic friendships, offering guidance on how to avoid them and become a better friend.
Don't Be Overly Critical
Constructive criticism can be valuable when it's offered genuinely and sparingly. Yet constant criticism can strain friendships. As Maya Angelou wisely said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." To avoid being a toxic friend, strive to accept your friends as they are, flaws and all. Remember, being overly critical can damage self-esteem and make your friends feel unworthy.
Be a Good Listener
Listening is the cornerstone of any healthy friendship. Instead of turning conversations toward yourself, actively engage in what your friends have to say. As Eleanor Roosevelt aptly put it, "To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." Demonstrating genuine interest in your friends' lives fosters a deeper connection. Be there for them during their highs and lows, just as you'd want them to be there for you.
Constantly dwelling on negativity can be a friendship killer. Instead of searching for red flags in your friends' choices and actions, focus on finding the silver linings. As Albert Einstein wisely noted, "In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." Cultivating a positive outlook not only makes you a better friend but also enriches your own life. Nobody enjoys being around a perpetually negative person.
Empathy is the foundation of strong friendships. It involves understanding and sharing the feelings of others. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, "Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives." When your friends are going through challenges, be there to lend a compassionate ear and offer support. Show that you genuinely care about their well-being.
Apologize and Make Amends
Mistakes happen, and sometimes you may inadvertently exhibit toxic behavior. It's crucial to recognize when you've hurt a friend and take responsibility for your actions. As Maya Angelou wisely said, "It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself—to forgive. Forgive everybody." Please apologize sincerely and take steps to rectify the situation. Healthy friendships thrive on forgiveness and growth.
Becoming a better friend involves self-awareness and continuous effort. Toxic behaviors can creep into even the closest relationships, but by avoiding criticism, listening attentively, maintaining a positive outlook, embracing empathy, and making amends when needed, you can nurture healthy, lasting friendships. Remember, being a good friend is not only beneficial to your friends but also to your own happiness and well-being. Strive to be the friend you'd want to have in your life.
Written by: Deepti Dogra
Edited by: Aniket Joshi