You love your friends. They have been with you through thick and thin. They are always there when you need them. You trust them with all of your secrets and you can't imagine a life without them. But is it actually possible that they are a trigger for your anxiety? As the old saying goes- "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are."
No matter how much you love your friends, it's important to pay good attention to their words and actions. Sometimes your friends are toxic, other times, they're just Debbie downers. But you would never actually notice their effect on you until you pay attention.
Here are some steps to determine if your friends are triggering your anxiety:
1) Are they negative? When you have a typical conversation with your friends, are their words more negative than positive? Let's say you talk about the news or the weather, are your comments met with optimism or is there an underlying negativity in their words? Pay attention to see if your friends spend more time talking about others and putting you down than actually discussing ideas that will build you and them up. If they are not spending more time asking you how you're doing, encouraging you and making sure they are helping you get to a better place in your life, then you're in big trouble. The more time you spend around Debbie downers, the higher your chances of feeling bad about yourself and the world around you.
If you'd like to take it a step further, just casually go through your closest friends' social media posts. Are they spending most of their time complaining about the world around them or are they posting about finding solutions to problems around them? There's a clear difference between the two. If you're always reading and listening to complainers, pretty soon, you'll become one yourself.
2) Are they a source of encouragement to you? Are you able to talk to your friends candidly about your hopes and dreams? A good friend should be able to provide empathy and support even when she does not quite understand your process or situation. So for example, if you say to your friend that you're going to follow your dreams and start a real estate business, will she help you feel more confident or will she actually make you feel like you will fail? If your friends are not on the encouragement train, maybe you should get off on the next stop.
3) How do you feel when you're with them? Sometimes you intuitively know that certain friends have too much drama or are no good for you, but you feel a sense of obligation towards them and you keep them around because you think you have to. Do your friends fill you with joy and confidence or are you left feeling jealous, small and inconsequential when you are with them? When you are hanging out, ask yourself if you feel truly comfortable or if you have to put up a show or a front around them. After the interaction is over, is your self esteem increased or do you feel less than? That's a tell tale sign that those friends are not your people. And trust me, everyone is NOT your person.
4) Can you truly be yourself when you are with them? Like I said previously, sometimes you have to put up a front when you are with certain friends. Maybe you're actually an intellectual nerdy type, but many of your friends prefer superficial conversations. Do they give you the space to express yourself or are you forced to conform to their values? Do you find that you dress, speak and act differently around certain friends? Are you concerned about being judged? A true friend accepts you for who your truly are and doesn't make you become a clone of herself.
And if you find that your friends are a trigger for your anxiety and insecurity, all you have to do is accept this as the truth, then try to talk to them about it. Watch your tone. Don't be mean or shouty. Take responsibility for going along with this type of friendship. Then also tell them what you need emotionally from them. If you don't know what you need, take a moment to reflect and write it out. People really will treat you how you allow them to treat you. So if you are not letting them know your boundaries, they will walk all over you.
What happens if a certain friend isn't willing to change the friendship dynamic? Well then it's time to reevaluate your friendship.
Are you ready to start setting clear boundaries with the people in your life so that you can build your self esteem back up and stop feeling so anxious and worthless? Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation so we can talk about how to get you from hiding in the shadows to standing boldly in who you really are. You deserve great quality friends that build you up.