Devinder's blog: The Evil Eye of Toxicity
We all have that person in our lives. The person who we speak to regularly, maybe daily, maybe even two or three times a day. The person listens, offers solutions, helps us form an opinion or make a decision. We feel better and we get on with our day. It is great to have a support system in place, somewhere safe where we can download our problems and we feel much better for it.
I used to have this person in my life. But I have begun to question the basis of this friendship. In the past, I have put it down to overthinking and overreacting about what my “friend” has said or not said. It feels like the friendship is based more on jealousy and control rather than genuine care and respect. The friendship is beginning to feel harmful and unpleasant in a pervasive way…. maybe even toxic.
I was told by my friend that I should dress better. So I did. When I did, I was made to feel uncomfortable and got an evil eye instead of a friendly acknowledgment.
I considered dating again after years of being on my own. I was told “You’re too old for that now, you are fine on your own”.
I booked myself a holiday. I received comments such as “Thanks for telling me” or “Come on then, how much was it?”.
And what’s becoming even more evident is that my friend does not allow me to have a conversation with any male member of her family. She somehow appears out of nowhere and questions what we have been talking about. I get the feeling that she feels somewhat threatened by me. Maybe she feels as though I am going to take something or somebody away from her. This is so far from the truth. The list continues and there are subtle tones of jealousy in what she says and in the way she speaks to me. It is hurtful.
Identifying toxic people in our lives can be tricky. Removing them from our lives can be soul destroying. We do not want to lose a friend and we do not want to overreact, so we deny and convince ourselves there is no issue. This is particularly difficult when it is a family member which can make it even harder to sever the tie. We sometimes have higher tolerance levels with family members because of the close relationship.
They say that people want us to be successful but they don’t want us to be as successful as they are. This hits true to me.
In my culture, there is something called “Nazar”. Nazar refers to the evil eye which is a supernatural belief in a curse brought about by a malevolent glare. It is prevalent in many other cultures. If I tell certain people I am about to do something positive, almost all of the time, something goes wrong or it gets delayed, cancelled or broken. There have been times when I have told my friend of some impending good news and something always goes wrong. They say “Nazar lag gayi” which means to have received the evil eye. As I read this back, it sounds ludicrous and almost as if I am blaming an external force for my failures but I believe there is an element of truth in this. Now I talk less and either keep the small wins to myself or I tell my “friend” after the event or not at all. It seems to be working out so much better for me.
Question your friendships and family members and ask does this individual have my best interests at heart? Or do they have their own interests at heart? It may not be easy to admit and it may not be possible to reduce contact with that person but recognising the scale of richness and quality of our relationships is a huge game changer. Carry out a quick “person audit” of the individuals you speak to regularly and consider where they fit into the scale of toxicity. Are they highly toxic and severely irritating? Or are they non-toxic and not an irritant?
Devinder works in the financial services sector, is mum to a beautiful boy and is on a constant quest to understand the world and everything in it.