Have you ever noticed how certain friends never seem happy for you when you accomplish something? Do you find that it ruins your day when a friend gets something that you were striving for?
If there is someone in your life who you to tend to compete with in certain areas, chances are, you have a “frenemy” not a friend!
A frenemy is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. They are people who you feel are more foe than friend!
How can you recognize or identify a frenemy? First step is to recognize how they make you feel when you’re around them or interact with them. How do you respond when things are going well for someone you don’t really like? Think of how a person responds to you when things are going well for you, and you’ll be able to tell if that person thinks of you as a frenemy, too.
If you are highly competitive and always strive to out-do someone and be bigger, brighter, or bolder, then this person is probably not a true friend, and to be honest, you’re not a true friend, either!
Observe whether your competitive nature drives you to work harder and achieve success, or if you are driven out of feelings of jealousy. Jealousy usually morphs into anger and resentment, and most of the time it surfaces when your frenemy is recognized or celebrating a success.
These roots of jealousy can destroy friendships, because they create barriers and inhibit closeness. The first step to combating negative emotions and toxic friendships, is to recognize the signs and symptoms. Be mindful of your thoughts and words when you are feeling a stab of jealousy. Oftentimes,negative feelings such as anger can arise after contact with someone you regard more as a frenemy.
If we are honest, we can usually recognize this behavior in ourselves. The next step is to try to be happy when someone else accomplishes something. You can only do this if you take yourself out of the imagined race or competition that you have set yourself up against with this person.
Others will fail and succeed in life, and your job is to be there as a friend, and to help celebrate them or support them in times of need. If you can’t do that, it’s time to end the frenemyship.
It be wonderful if we could celebrate each other’s successes, rather than express anger and contempt for one another. I was always moved by the benediction that I heard at my Lutheran Church, and I believe that this guiding principal should be one that we all strive to follow: “Seek to bear one another’s burdens and share one another’s joys.”
If we can do that, we can go back to being a friend, instead of being a…
Thanks for reading!
Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)
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