I hate to admit it, but I used to be a toxic friend.
The woe is me, glass is always half empty, feigned happiness friend. The chronic complainer that never seemed to have anything positive to say but you tolerated her anyway friend.
That was me.
At the time, I was going through a quarter life crisis that seemed to last five years too long. There, I made some of the worst decisions in my life that costed me friendships, jobs, and ultimately, it cost me myself.
Imagine looking in the mirror one day and not recognizing the reflection staring back at you.
In our lives, we may reach a point where we are our own archenemy. Be it a failed relationship, trauma, losing a job, falling out with family or friends – anything can happen to change our behaviors drastically. The deep rooted negative vibes, the black energy, clogged chakra thing eclipsing your positive energy is your accountability radar going unchecked.
When you stop to listen, it's telling you that you are ruining your life, and consequently, sucking the life out of those around you. Beloved, you have become toxic.
My come to Jesus moment came in the form a friend whose trust I betrayed. He made me face the music and held me accountable for my actions and their consequences. I was forced to be better.
It's tough to hear and you probably didn't notice just how bad it was, but the people around you do, and if you don't check it – and soon – this behavior will create more havoc in your life than the Mayhem man from the Allstate commercial. Toxic lifestyles work for no one. Ever.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And in order to admit you have a problem, you have to recognize what the signs are. Some are subtle, others not so much. Get ready to check yourself, boo.
1. You've Become the Negative Nancy in Conversations
Casual conversations about the weather, sports, or some viral video about cute kittens all trigger the same response from you. A tangent of negative criticism that, more or less, has nothing to do with the conversation at hand. You want to be a part of the conversation, but you cannot help but to have a fierce case of the negatives that spew with the intensity of a fire-breathing dragon.
2. You're the Epitome of a Short Fuse
Everything irritates you. EVERY. THING. The sound of cotton drying. The way people chew – well, that can be annoying, but for you it's 100x worse. People walking too fast or too slow, getting a medium fry when you ordered a small. Even the very sound of your voice can cause you to blow a fuse.
3. You've Become Petty Petisha and the Queen of Mess
You are not satisfied unless someone is swallowing a bitter pill, especially one that you have to give them. No shade left un-thrown, no curve left ungiven, and no means to an end of the drama that you bring with you. Some people find you entertaining, but others rue the moment you entered the room.
4. It Takes Battle Royale to Admit You're Wrong
It's a tough spot for many but you take the whole "never having to admit you're wrong" bit to a whole other level. You step on a crack and blame your shadow for blocking the light. You add salt to your tea instead of sugar and you blame the seasoning for looking similar. You break trusts and ruin friendships, and everyone is to blame but yourself. There's no end to the sword slinging deflection you'll use to avoid saying you're wrong.
5. You've Got More Rain Checks Than Lauryn Hill Ticket Holders
Dinner with the girlfriends at your favorite spot, rain check. Brunch with your cousins from out of town, rain check. Movies with your best friend to see the new Marvel flick, rain check. Friends and family curve you, but have never given thoughtful and logical reasoning for not wanting your company. Your invites to hang out and fellowship with friends quickly become rain checks or no invite at all.
6. You've Gone From Popular to Blocked
Your status updates are brooding, melodramatic, and all have the makes of a Shakespearean tragedy and your followers are just about fed up. You're a virtual vibe killer, with your life-loathing statuses taunting and harassing those that just want to see cute kittens and hilarious puppies on their timeline. You're a full-on buzz kill.
7. You Have An Involuntary Abundance of "Me" Time
Before you would have to set aside a set amount of time per month or per week to have your "me" time. Now you have more time than you know what to do with. Your social calendar is not popping. Your recent call list is abnormally dry. And you retreat to your hallowed halls like Bruce Wayne to the Batcave when he wants to obsess over his latest arch nemesis. Wednesday Addams is the poster child of extroverts compared to you.
8. You're A Grudge Holding Curmudgeon
Along with your short fuse, you have the memory of an elephant and the stubbornness of a mule. Anyone that allegedly does anything against you feels your wrath. Someone accidentally steps on your pumps, they're on the list. Someone gives you blue cheese instead of ranch dressing – on the list. Someone gets stuck in traffic and is late to dinner, on the list. Mole hills become mountains and you become the hermit that dwells there.
When it comes to curbing toxic behavior, the thing that matters even more than examining your own behaviors is getting to the root of your issues. Discovering your "why" alongside the "how". Why are you dwelling in and acting out negative energy? What happened that put a full stop on the way you show up in the world? What or whom has made you so unhappy?
Visit those feelings and discover what they mean by understanding the hurt you feel at its root.
Be cognizant of triggers and how you react to them and those around you. How you show up to people determines how they will react. Is there a shift in the atmosphere when you are present? Does the mood change? You have to be conscious of the energy, or rather the message that you send, when you share the same space with others.
Check your pride and ego at the door.
Featured image by Giphy
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- 23 Warning Signs of a Toxic Friend | HuffPost ›
- 8 Signs of a Toxic Friendship | Psychology Today ›
- 7 Signs You're In A Toxic Friendship | Real Simple ›
- Toxic Friends: When to Break Up With Friends | Reader's Digest ›
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- How to spot a toxic friendship - BBC Three ›
- 8 Signs You're in a Toxic Friendship | The Everygirl ›
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports