A recent Elite Daily article – “Life is Too Short to Keep People Who Bring You Down Around,” reminded me that sometimes creating boundaries with others who no longer serve your well-being is insufficient. Sometimes you need to eliminate them from your life.
As I get older, my tolerance level for frenemies and “speaking the truth” about others (aka sh*t-talking) is near nil. The drama was fun in high school (and maybe an all-nighter or two in college), but in my late(r) twenties, not so much. I understand that at our core we’ve all got a lurking 14-year-old that never outgrew self-doubt, but bringing others down – whether behind their backs or gifted as backhanded compliments, does nothing productive for anyone. It hurts the person the talk is directed at and fuels their insecurities, as well as your own.
I recently found myself privy to conversations with friends where judging people was the main concern. I mean literally sitting there, going through Facebook friends lists, and weighing in on whether people were successful or not. I listened, and sometimes chimed in with gossip, but after each session, I couldn’t help but feel grimy and exhausted.
So I asked (and answered) myself:
What was the point of judging others? Nothing but inflating our unstable egos.
Were these verdicts of success making us better as individuals? No.
Why was I even spending time with people bent on tearing others down? If they could belittle others, how do I know I’m not next, or that I haven’t already been roasted before I arrived?
Those conversations convinced me that I should let the threads of those friendships fray. I thought about establishing boundaries and hanging out with them in tiny doses, but I realized that the benefits (i.e. not having to make new friends) did not warrant the effort. They no longer served the important purpose in my life as they once did, and there was nothing left to gain. Although it wasn’t easy, once I stopped hanging out with them, I felt a weight lifted.
I no longer had to worry about rehashing said conversations with my best friend of 10-plus years to uncover potential personal jabs. Nor did I have to worry about giving up a piece of my dignity each time I said yes to a “hangout sesh,” because I did not want to reduce the number of friends I had.
Conversing with individuals who focus on personal growth and the growth of others is what rejuvenates me. I love engaging in talks about personal revelations and opportunities, and listening to different perspectives on life. The more I spend time with friends who discuss ideas rather than the faults of others, the happier and more emotionally fulfilled I become. In fact, studies have shown that having a perceived positive social network is beneficial for your health – friends can increase your life expectancy, and decrease cardiovascular and immune problems. And interacting with people who maintain a positive attitude can also, whether consciously or subconsciously, increase your penchant for positivity.
If you are unsure whether a friendship is worth maintaining, it probably isn’t. However, if you desire concrete examples of unacceptable friend behavior, reading this Thought Catalogue article might provide some perspective. FYI, my former friends exhibited each listed red flag.
In the words of Jay-Z, on to the next.