When Toxic Friends are in your Circle

If you are like every other teen I know, you know that not all friends are created equal. Toxic friends are hidden in every social grouping and are very frustrating, hurtful and confusing. There is an incredibly important thing you can do to change how you feel and how they make you feel: Rearrange your circle of friends.

Think of all of the people you currently call friends, the people you hang out with. We often say they are your ‘circle of friends’. Most people think of a circle of friends like this: you in the middle and one circle around you containing all the people you hang out with. In this design, everyone in the circle is holding relatively equal weight and having equal access to your heart and mind. This kind of circle leaves you really vulnerable.

Too often people have deep emotional wounds caused by their social circle and when they ask for help to make it stop they really hoping that someone is going to change the other person, the toxic friend(s), the one(s) who is/are causing you the pain.

Changing the other person’s behaviour can be a long and painful process if that is the only thing you are wanting to change. I want to show you a trick to preventing the pain those toxic friends try to dish to you.

Here’s the trick, In your mind, rearrange this circle into 3 distinct groups. They are all still your friends but they will now have a different place in the circle

You are in still in the middle, but now your friends surround you in 3 groupings. Now, I want you to mentally rank your friends on J-F scale (Joy-Frustration Scale).

  • The closest circle to you contains the friends that bring you more joy than frustration. We’ll call this circle A.

  • The outer circle will contain the friends that bring you more frustration than joy. We’ll call this circle C.

  • The B’s are in between or neutral friends, not super-close, but not causing you many frustrations either.

Please note these three points: 1. It’s OK if there are only 1 or 2 friends in Circle A. 2. Cousins and siblings can count in these circles and, 3. You may find that your friends will shift circles occasionally.

Form these circles in your mind and carry the mental image of it wherever you go with friends. (I say carry it mentally because you wouldn’t want others to know which circle you’ve placed them in). It is important that you do not let the C friends dictate how you feel about yourself. C level friends are sometimes living with their own pain and may externalize their pain onto you. Try your best to stop caring what C level friends say about you. How they make you feel on the inside is completely up to you.

If you can visualize these circles of A, B, and C level friends, you can mentally protect yourself from their negative words and actions. Think of yourself being protected by the friendship of Level A and B friends.

Important: Do not share private information with C level friends. I’m talking about information that you wouldn’t want used against you. Because C level friends might do just that. That includes digital information on social media.

Why call C level people ‘friends’ at all? Your job is to be kind to everyone as often as you can. That is your main role in any social circle. Be kind and bring more joy than frustration to other’s lives. Be an A and B level friend for others. As long as you remain kind, you will be showing the toxic friends how people really should treat others. Lead by example and show kindness. That is, in the long run, the best way to change a toxic friend.

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