Not sure what the Spirit (John 4:24) is up to in the sense of why this is on me so strong today, but...two words that he wants me to expound on are "TOXIC" and "CHAMELEON". I will try and pen the latter later tonight. We'll go with toxic for now.
According to Dictionary.com, when you're in something toxic it's defined as being "poisonous", "harmful", "deadly" or (and I love this right here!) "pertaining to or noting debt that will probably not be repaid". I know, right? Investing in things where you will not get a return? That is considered *toxic*.
So, let's start with a good read that I checked out earlier today, "How To Avoid Being A Toxic Person: 13 Simple Tips". It's a really good list. The only thing that I would add is *pay attention to the people around you who don't follow the things on this list*. You don't hang around individuals with the flu when you don't want to catch it, right? *Exactly*. Anyway, the quickie version is below. You can go to the link, though, for the explanations that the author provides for each one. *Definitely* something to think about. A few times.
1) Say Thank You
2) Say Only What You Mean
2) Say Only What You Mean
3) Clearly State What You Want
4) Say Something Nice To An Unknown Person
5) Don’t Gossip
6) No Regrets (in the context he's speaking of, I'll cosign it)
7) Pay Attention To People Around You
8) Help Somebody Around
9) Give Your Time To What’s Important
10) Let Go Of The Unneeded
11) Avoid Procrastination
12) Don’t Talk Bad About Yourself
13) Don’t Enter A Fight
Next up: "6 Types of Toxic Friends and How You Can Deal with Them". I'll tell you what: SET THE CAPTIVES FREE (LOL)! Real talk? A lot of times if you have these kinds of people in your personal life, it's because you share their characteristics. You'd be amazed how much my social circle changed when I stopped, for instance, being overly-critical. I mean, he who has friends must first show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24), right? He who has *healthy friends* must strive to become (and remain) healthy too. On this one, I'll provide the "type" along with the first paragraph. Go to the link if you want to learn/read more:
1. The Promise Breaker
This friend constantly disappoints you or breaks promises, most likely because she herself was constantly disappointed during her formative years. Your friend is unable to stop herself from repeating that pattern. It is an annoying but comfortable pattern for your friend, and without psychological help, it may be hard for her or him to alter this pattern. You could abandon the friend and the friendship, or you could find a way to detach yourself by lowering your expectations for this friendship. If she promises to do something for you, even to meet you for a cup of coffee, you can say, "Sure," but protect yourself by knowing, in the back of your mind, that this friend "nine times out of 10" is going to cancel on you.
2. The Double-crosser
This negative friend betrays you big-time. It could happen when someone does something to hurt you, such as spreading a malicious rumor about you. Or it could be an emotional double-cross; for example, when a close or best friend stops speaking to you and you never find out why...
3. The Self-absorbed
Certainly the Self-absorbed is a tamer type of negative friend than the Risk-taker. Still, especially over the long haul, a friend who does not make the time to listen to you will eat away at your self-esteem. For you to feel good about yourself, and for your friendship to thrive, you have to be more than a sounding board. The Self-absorbed does not care; she listens to you only because she is waiting to speak.
4. The Discloser
When you say to this friend, "This is just between us," she nods her head but unfortunately that promise will last only as long as it takes her to get to her phone or e-mail. Although there should be an assumption of confidentiality and trust between friends, this friend can't help herself. Telling this person a secret makes her feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Like the game "hot potato," she has to pass the hot secret along to someone else in order to relieve the anxiety knowing the secret made her feel. There are also some Disclosers who simply have a big mouth. If someone you know has this personality trait, avoid telling her your innermost secret -- unless you don't mind if it's shared with the world.
5. The Competitor
A little bit of competition is healthy and to be expected. An appropriate amount of competition will motivate and stimulate. But too much competition between friends starts to destroy the friendship. One of the primary ingredients in a positive friendship is that one or both friends feel that they can be "themselves" and that they don't have to put on airs or impress one another. Competition implies a race in which one wins and the other loses; those conditions are quite the opposite of what someone typically expects in a positive friendship, especially a close or best one.
6. The Fault-finder
Nothing you do, say, or wear is good enough for this overly critical friend. The Fault-finder was probably raised by extremely judgmental parents who were also rearing equally hypercritical siblings. Being criticized during her formative years laid the groundwork for an overly critical adult. It's a hard trait to reverse, and your friend may even be unaware that she is so critical or that it annoys and upsets you so much. Before labeling this type of friendship as hopelessly destructive, you might want to see if your friend could recognize this excessively derogatory behavior and, with time and help, change that orientation. Otherwise, you may decide that you just have to accept this trait in your friend and realize that it reflects on her, not on you or your friendship.
And I'm sure you know what's next on deck: "Signs That Your Relationship Is Toxic". That article has 36 of 'em. These three really stood out to me: "Your thoughts, opinions, accomplishments, wants and needs are devalued", "You have changed things about your-Self to suit your partner, even when it's not your taste" and "You think it's up to you to make the relationship work". Oh, and an honorable mention: "You keep secrets about your relationship from others who love you because they wouldn't understand". Uh-huh. *Shady things* are kept in the dark. However, it is this article below that I *really dig* because it was written by a man for women when it comes to knowing if their relationship is poisonous and harmful:
1) Every conversation turns into an argument.
2) One or both of you have serious trust issues.
3) The relationship feels like a routine.
4) The relationship brings you more stress than joy.
5) You frequently contemplate walking away.
And do you know what? So often people remain toxic, in harmful friendships or in poorly-invested relationships while saying that they are waiting to hear from the Lord on if they should make some changes. Yeah. Well. Here's the thing about that: if you research signs of how God communicates with us, one that *many* will list (such as this one) is the fact that he will use other people. And you know tickles me about *that very fact*? While typing this, in my inbox, I get the an article entitled, "The Right Decision Doesn’t Always Feel Good". In Twitter world, that's what: #CONFIRMATION.
The thing about poison is that based on the potency and the dosage, sometimes you can immediately spot it and sometimes...it just wears on you. Choose wisely. Toxic, internally or externally, is never a part of God's plan for you and your life. *Not ever*.