Besides cleansing the closet, body, and pantry of past poisons and fashions, toxicity lurks within relationships. Question whether the friends you choose to gather with 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 mirage a host of descriptions and visuals, but how you feel when with them and long after reveals the connection, sincerity and support, a friendship’s foundation. Along the weight loss avenue, a path of improvement, strengthening physically and emotionally, intention, connection, and camaraderie among friends needs evaluation. Identifying ally versus enemy is vital for success.

Note that friendships experience transitions, sometimes necessitating change and departure. A former “you” no longer fuels the same fire; needs will alter. Like alcoholics no longer visiting bars and hanging with drinking buddies, 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 doing activities that no longer serve you, as drinking, all-you-can-eat buffets, or commiserating about the hardness of life, pivot to healthy options and optimism.

When change bestows newness, revelation, and positive energy of body and mind, it is necessary to find and utilize social support. Like energy vampires, those that suck life force from a path that highlights healing, strength, and personal growth, toxic relationships test stamina and determination to stay the course. Low self-esteem perhaps enabled 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 can stand the test of time. Those that continue with genuine support love unconditionally; others, limitations illuminate or that which bound the two together disbands.

Connection requires authentic vulnerability, allowing ourselves to be seen. 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 she was complimenting me? Was she cheering for me while criticizing simultaneously? Was she jealous rather than envious?” Friendship is safe, feels good, and requires reciprocation of support. Sharing that space builds a foundation of connection. Empathy, the “me, too” attitude is required, while sympathy, “well, at least you ….” disconnects us. We discover as we internally strengthen our requirement for authentic friendships changes our choices.

Friendship is an equal opportunity for trust, support, and affection. Anything less is unworthy of your time, energy, and commitment. Knowing you deserve the best in life is a pinnacle in healing and lifestyle changes. 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, can be summarized as “what others think of me is none of my business.” Removing toxic people from our lives is another step in the journey of self-care, self-reliance, and self-respect. Our renewal depends on setting those people free and releasing their lassos. Building a new network that correlates with your healthy journey is a prerequisite to long term healing and health.