8 Signs of a Toxic Friendship: Sharon Livingston (Full Transcript)

And my self-worth would be high when she was in a good mood, and then it would drop down when she was in a bad mood. I was beginning to, like, get really OCD. Like, “Oh my God, should I call her, or she’s going to call me?” And when you get that involved and that addicted, there’s something wrong, that’s a sign there’s something wrong.

But did I intervene with myself? No. No.

And so my whole self-worth was vacillating. And I was feeling sick: headaches, I was stressed out. And I mean, here I am working 16 hours a day, but for half of them, I was thinking about what’s going on in this relationship — until, finally, the last blow.

She calls me one day, I’m 10 minutes in front of giving a webinar to coaches that I supervise. And she says, “You know what? You haven’t changed. We’re done.”

Click. She hangs up.

What? And I start texting her. I have to go into supervision. Texting her. No answer. And I realized it’s done. I told you how important friendship is — for our longevity, for our happiness, for our quality of life.

Do you realize there are no programs that teach you how to be a friend counselor or friend therapist? There’s marriage therapy, there’s family therapy, there’s individual therapy, there’s executive-leadership coaching.

But friendship, which is so important, there’s no program for that. Like how crazy is that?

So I ran that webinar kind of like robotically, and I said, “What am I going to do?”

If you say, “Oh, my friend just dumped me,” you know what people will say to you? “It’s just a friend, get over it.”

Get over it? My heart was broken! Okay, what would I do for someone coming to me?

First thing I would do is I’d say let yourself feel what you feel. You don’t want to take it in and hold on to it so it becomes a boil that’s going to burst on you.

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And you know, we make ourselves sick with sadness — right? — and anger.

So I was going up and down the stairs, going up and down the stairs. And I was screaming, I was so angry and outraged. And then I was crying like, “How did this happen? She was my best friend.”

And at one point, I was so upset I just sat down, I collapsed onto the stair and I sobbed. And then, I said to myself, “You know, she’s a poopy head.”

Well yeah, I was a poopy head too. “You’ve got to figure this out so this doesn’t happen again.”

And I did the one thing I do well; I started writing. I started writing. I figured if I put my feelings down and my thoughts down about it, I’d begin to figure it out.

And as I did that, things became clearer and clearer, and I started seeing how I contributed. And then one day, one morning I got up, I’m getting ready to go out, and I looked into the mirror, and I said, “You know what? I’m going to be your best friend.”

And the other me, looking back at me, went, “Really?”

And I said, “Yeah, what do you want to do today?”

And I started doing things with myself that I wanted to do with a friend — with my best friend. So me and me would do things: we were painting, we went for a walk, went out to dinner, we went to the movies, we were having fun — me and me.

And as I was giving to myself in this way, I felt better and better about myself, loved myself more, and the weirdest thing happens — as I was loving myself more, other people were coming to me.

I was my own best friend, and therefore I had plenty of other love for other people. It wasn’t desperate with one person. It was the most amazing thing, and now I have tons of friends. And they were wonderful, and there’s no desperation.

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And so one of the things that I want you to know is that when I talk about this, people come lining up and say, “You know, that happened to me.”

“You know, that happened to me.”

“Really?” And I started asking them, “When did that happen?”

“10 years ago.”

“20 years ago.”

“30 years ago.”

They still have the bullet in their head that they haven’t extracted.

And so, I’m sure people listening to this — because I’ve heard it from so many people — either have a toxic friendship or they’ve lived one in the past, and they still have some pain about it.

And so, I’d invite you to let that out. You know, they say when you’re looking for a friend, the best friends are two equals, whole people. There’s no such thing.

In fact, what I invite you to do is to find somebody that you really, really like and love who’s flawed. Two flawed people who can appreciate each other and even appreciate the flaw make great friends.

So, a really good friend is a good egg that is lightly cracked.

Thank you.

 

Resources for Further Reading:

Full Transcript: Esther Perel on Modern Love and Relationships at SXSW 2018

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