Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Remove Toxic People From Your Circle

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In a recent article I wrote listing 25 tips for entrepreneurs, one stood out that I thought was worth rewriting for parents who read my column. It has to do with cleaning out for the holidays and I don’t mean cleaning out the house. It’s more along the lines of cleaning out your closest circle of people for your own emotional health. Here’s how it came about.

One night my wife and I were leaving a business social event. We couldn’t help but share with each other on the drive home, the lingering feelings we had after listening to a few other couples, bicker with each other and complaining to the rest of us. None of them had anything encouraging to say and the experience made us want to leave. That’s the night several years ago that we decided together on two very important things going forward.

Our first important decision, as parents and entrepreneurs, was to surround ourselves only with encouraging and supportive people. Over the next few days we began ‘cleaning house’ by listing all the adults in our lives who we felt were toxic. These are the people who complained and berated others, bickered with each other in front of others, and the ‘doubting Thomas’ who usually tell you every reason why your new idea won’t work.

The second thing we did was to promise each other to always speak respectfully and kind to each other, not only in front of the kids, but out in public as well. This was especially important if the other was absent. We promised never to air any issues we have with each other in public and to address them in private. This included not making each other the butt of a joke or busting on each other in humiliating or embarrassing ways.

To cultivate a relationship and life as good parents and as entrepreneurs, it’s critical to remain positive, encouraging and to always focus on gratitude for all of the gifts that appear in our lives each day. Steer clear of the ‘crabs’ that will always try and pull you down to join them in their misery or misfortune, and to pass this all on to our kids. So here are some additional guidelines we came up with for ourselves.

Surround ourselves with positive and encouraging people. This was a difficult task to perform, limiting who we would invite to socidal events. Unfortunately, it meant eliminating some family members.

Add statements of gratitude to our blessings before family meals. Take notice of all the little things that others did for us and recognize the gifts that appeared in our day that helped us in some way.

Send out hand-written thank you notes (not emails) each week to anyone who helped us solve a challenge or provided service to us in some capacity.

As parents, we owe it to our children to understand the difference between encouragement and discouragement and how to manifest what they need to develop their own resiliency.

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