Besides cleansing the closet, body, and pantry of past poisons and fashions, emotional toxicity lurks within relationships. Chosen friends strengthen or deplete, support or oppose, compliment or criticize. When you succeed or fail, do they empathize or sympathize, encourage or discourage, share or monopolize? Toxic individuals embody a variety of characters, yet how you feel when with them and long after reveal the amount of connection, sincerity, and support within a friendship. During the weight loss journey, a path of improvement strengthening physically and emotionally, intention, connection, and camaraderie among friends requires evaluation. Identifying ally or enemy is vital for success.

Friendships experience transitions, sometimes necessitating change and departure. A former “you” no longer fuels the same fire and needs to change environments to accommodate successful results. Reaching goals through actions requires setting and aligning parameters. Environments we choose, including our social interactions, must correlate with changes to our lifestyle. Like alcoholics no longer visiting bars, healthy lifestyles constitute gym gatherings rather than junk food outings. Like dates with Ben and Jerry traded in for Sal and Ed, the old connections no longer serve you, as drinking, all-you-can-eat buffets, or commiserating about the hardness of life, pivot to healthy options with like-minded souls.

When change bestows novel experiences, revelation, and positive body and mind transformation, finding and utilizing social support is beneficial. Like energy vampires, those that suck life force from a path that highlights healing, strength, and personal growth, toxic relationships test stamina and determination. Low self-esteem perhaps enables a friend to feel needed, helpful, and supportive. When independence and self-reliance appear, their importance diminishes, and the friendship’s foundation depletes. Authentic, balanced relationships remain fertile even during change and struggle. Genuine friends support unconditionally, surviving, shifting, and thriving, while relationship limitations illuminate weakness when emotional bonds disband as each individual grows.

Connection requires vulnerability, allowing emotional exposure. Laying our hearts open in the presence of others is required. If you feel threatened, violated, insulted when you reveal yourself with words and emotions, then disconnection exists. Toxicity of that nature is the poison that burns our insides as we hang up the phone and think, “That felt awful. Did she insult me while complimenting me? Was she cheering for me while criticizing simultaneously? Was she jealous rather than envious?” Friendship is safe, feels good, and requires reciprocation. Sharing that vulnerable emotional space builds a foundation of connection. Empathy, the “me, too” attitude is required, while sympathy, “well, at least you …,” disengages the closeness. Although situational moments exist, connection strengthens a relationship.

Friendship has equal opportunity for trust, support, and affection. Anything less is unworthy of your time, energy, and commitment. Experiencing worthiness is pinnacle in healing and lifestyle change. Those that respect your choices will always be there to share, cheer, and support your endeavors. Saboteurs, naysayers, and negative Nellies, weaken our resolve when we allow it. Accessing independence from others’ thoughts equates to “what others think of me is none of my business.” Removing toxic people from our lives is another step in the journey to self-care, self-reliance, and self-respect. Our renewal depends on setting those people free and releasing their lassos. Building a network that correlates with who you are becoming is a prerequisite to long-term healing, healthy weight loss, and well-being.