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6 Steps to Protect Yourself From Toxic Friendships

Friendships should strengthen our peace of mind and contribute to our inner harmony. Consider taking these six steps the next time you sense toxicity brewing within a relationship and rediscover the joys of truly positive energy.
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Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people.[1] Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles. A World Happiness Database study found that people with close friendships are happier.[2]

Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one's feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.

While there is no practical limit on what types of people can form a friendship, friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests, and have similar demographics.
Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people.[1] Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles. A World Happiness Database study found that people with close friendships are happier.[2] Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one's feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend. While there is no practical limit on what types of people can form a friendship, friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests, and have similar demographics.

Your phone rings at midnight. It's your friend, who's made the same mistake again, has broken up with their partner for the fifteenth time this month or is struck with some sudden problem. Like the dutiful pal that you are, you listen quietly and advise soundly. But when you hang up, you realize your own mood has downshifted. You were fine before the phone call but now you feel saddened, worried, tired.

The problem isn't that your friend has disrupted your energy once or twice, because we're supposed to extend compassion to others. The problem is that this happens often.

You see, every encounter with another person leaves an impression on your field of energy. Those who are rich with good energy make you feel happy, uplifted and reassured. But those who suffer from a dark disposition leave you stressed, fatigued, and down after being around them. And the people who are often harbingers of negativity are -- believe it or not -- friends. So what happens when you go against your better judgment and continue to spend time with friends who have become depressive, angry, or pessimistic? Their energies stain yours.

In time, you may find ourselves mimicking the same, heavy mood, though subconsciously. It becomes easier to be a good, loyal friend and not end a friendship prematurely when you've learned how to block out harmful frequencies and nurture healthy energy instead.

The following steps to protect yourself from toxic friendships are excerpted from my new book, The Karma Queens' Guide to Relationships:

Step one: Identify friends who are chronically anxious, irritable, sarcastic, pessimistic or depressive. These friends might be under a lot of pressure, going through a difficult time, or just have personalities that harbor darker emotions and lower vibrational frequencies. Some people simply see the glass as half empty rather than half full. That's fine for them, but their energy should not spill over onto you. Recognize friends who are "toxic" in nature and tread cautiously.

Step two: Understand how your friends' moods affect you. Analyze how their negative energy is depriving your own state of being, your emotions your ability to function. Once you acknowledge the impact, you'll understand that their moods might be affecting you more than you think, leaving you physically and mentally depleted. You may not realize it, but you absorb energies around you just as much as you absorb oxygen from the air.

Step three: Avoid maintaining relationships with people who give off bad energy. You should not have to "put up with" anyone's bad mood on a daily basis, whether the person is your boss, family member, or spouse. If you know someone who is constantly low-spirited due to life circumstances or otherwise, it might be time for you to (politely) create a bit of space between you. Shy away from people who emit chronic negativity and gravitate closer to those who praise a positive mindset. Perhaps you're meant to guide them gently into getting help for depression and pessimism, but don't take on their woes. Tend to your own energetic stability instead.

Step four: Retreat to a peaceful place when someone's energy is becoming toxic. In every friendship, there will be times when you'll need to find a place of solitude and spend some time there raising your energy before returning to interact with your friend. This space for retreat might be your private office, your bedroom, a bathroom, even your car. Retreat by not answering calls, texts, and instant messages if you need some space between you and a person whose attitude is too sour for you right now. The important thing is that you withdraw yourself from the unhealthy atmosphere and take a minute to recharge your own energy. When someone else's temperament is making you feel uncomfortable, try affirmations. You can say things like, "I love myself therefore I protect my energy from the harmful vibes of others."

Step five: Create an energy shield of protection. Your energetic territory is your very own personal space of being, and very few people should have access to this private part of your self. If you're an open person who invites others into your "energy bubble," you grant them the opportunity to modify your mood and mold your wellbeing to their liking. Remember that when someone enters your energy field, their own state of being doesn't trail far behind. If you feel this happens to you often, keep your energetic doors closed to invaders. Visualize a bubble of protection enclosing you safely when you feel your emotional space being invaded. If a friend intrudes your space regularly, you need to confront that person and set a clear boundary.

Step six: Keep your own emotions in check.
We often believe we don't have the power to control our emotions, but we do! We can maintain healthy friendships if we manage our feelings of anger, jealousy, sadness, and so on. Otherwise, we will overburden our friends, lower our own energy, and begin to attract people who display similarly dim emotions. Take control of your negative tendencies before they take control of you. The worst mistakes are made in moments of anger, which raises adrenaline levels and causes people not to think straight. The more you enable anger, the more the nerve cells of your brain evoke this emotion. Likewise, the more you practice tranquility, unconditional love, and patience, the more frequently and naturally you will slip into these moods, raising your vibrational frequency and attracting others on the same level of awareness.

Friendships should strengthen our peace of mind and contribute to our inner harmony. Consider taking these six steps the next time you sense toxicity brewing within a relationship and rediscover the joys of truly positive energy.

To healthy relationships,
Alexandra Harra

To learn more about The Karma Queens' Guide to Relationships, click here.

For more by Alexandra Harra, click here.

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