How To Identify Toxic Relationships & Healthy Relationships

If you want to be successful, hang around with like-minded, successful people. I can’t stress that more. I talk about this often. Here’s a short exercise for you to identify toxic relationships and identify the healthy ones.


The big question to ask is:

"After spending time with this person, how do you feel about yourself?"


Do you feel energized, inspired, uplifted, supported or encouraged OR do you feel drained, let down, discouraged or somehow worth less? Once you have an awareness of how someone leaves you feeling, you can decide whether to spend MORE or LESS time with that person.


Here are 5 steps to help you identify toxic relationships and spot the healthy ones:


1. Make a list of the friends, colleagues, family and other people you spend most of your time with. [This list should be as close to 20 people as you can.] For each person on your list, pause and ask yourself: "How do I feel after spending time with this person?"


2. Add a score against each name from +5 to -5 to represent how you generally feel after spending time with them. [A negative (-) score means you feel somehow less or negative about yourself and your life, and the positive (+) scores represent feeling better about yourself and your life.]


Consider how much time you spend with each person on your list. Some things to consider include:

  • What are the scores for the people you spend most of your time with?

  • Are you generally spending more time with the 'pluses' or the 'minuses'?

  • How much time are you spending with your "boosters", the +4s and +5s on your list?

  • What about the "drainers" (toxic relationships), the -4s or -5s?


3. Make a commitment to YOU.


4. Look at your plus or "booster" relationships: If you're not already, find ways to spend more time with them.

IMPORTANT: If you don't have any +4s and +5s on your list, how could you develop some relationships that will be that support and boost in your life?


5. Looking at your minus or toxic relationships: In theory, these are people you should be finding ways to spend less time with, and setting firm boundaries.

IMPORTANT: Any healthy relationship will have rough patches and we shouldn't discard someone simply because times get tough. Consider the following:


What is your gut telling you? If your gut is telling you to move on, that this person isn't right for you, it may be time to pay attention and let go. Or perhaps you gut is nagging you to take some action to mend things?


Is there a wound or grievance that needs to be brought into the open and discussed?

Do YOU have some 'processing' to do because it's YOU doing the judging, not them?



What about Toxic Relationships That No Longer Serve us?


You have some thinking to do. If you can't bear to let a friend go, or you HAVE to spend time with a family member, find ways to be with them where there will be less opportunity for the negativity to come out. For example you could go to the movies with them where you’ll interact less. Or you could decide not to discuss areas of your or their life that draw criticism and judgement.


But if it IS necessary to see them, set your boundaries and find ways to make the relationship work on your terms.



How to Enjoy Those Relationships that are Great!


For people who are there for you, who support, encourage and inspire you - as well as finding ways to spend more time with them - see if you can find an opportunity to recognize them! What is it about them that you love? And then whether it's a heartfelt thank-you with a hug, words of appreciation and meaningful eye contact over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, a card, letter, email or a spontaneous gift – make sure THEY know how much YOU love and appreciate them!




If you like my Insights of Success blog post, could you please share it? Post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or simply share the article with a fellow colleague who needs some help. I’m on a mission to help more women be successful, and it starts with exactly this kind of knowledge. -Jackie

Jackie Mitchell Career Consulting | Career Coaching and Life Coaching
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