Category: Dealing With People

Do You Have a Toxic Person in Your Life? That Could Be Affecting Your Mental Wellness

A lot of people talk about mental illness as if it spontaneously occurs one day. Maybe they assume that the person was born with the issue, or it is simply a chemical imbalance. That there is something inherently or biologically wrong with the person who has depression, anxiety or similar issues. And that may be true for certain advanced disorders.

Yet as someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety in the past, I don’t believe that it is all about biology. I believe many mental issues are deeply rooted in circumstance.

I don’t really like calling them “illnesses.” I think that many mental health issues are symptoms of things that are going on in that person’s life.

From my experience, a lot of people who struggle with their mental health have those issues due to the toxic people in their lives. Toxic people are those who may or may not be aware of their negativity and choose to spread it around any chance they get. They feed off of making other people feel sad, angry, frustrated, or defeated.

It could be that “friend” who makes you feel less than, as if you are lucky to be in their presence. Constantly launching veiled insults. Insecurity and depression.

The parent who either ignores you, mistreats you, or treats you like you don’t really matter. And when you say something in your defense, they tell you to stop being a crybaby because that’s how they were raised (who knows why someone would want to raise another generation that way when they’re miserable!). I think this begins to breed low self-esteem and depression in very young people.

That one sibling who constantly puts you down instead of bringing you up as they should. Depression, low self-esteem, and imposter syndrome.

That bully who bothered you every day you went to school, because he or she was miserable and probably being bullied at home. Anxiety and depression.

Watching a loved one be abused or treated badly for a long period of time. Anxiety.

Many people who struggle with substance abuse problems are affected by the toxic people in their lives who don’t understand them or don’t even care to understand.

Many people who struggle with depression feel abandoned and judged by the people who they would expect to support them.

Guilt and Shame

I have said before in my books and blog posts that guilt and shame are two of the most useless emotions. If you are feeling guilt and shame around your mental wellness, you shouldn’t. These two emotions are used to make people feel low and like they cannot rebound from whatever challenges they are experiencing.

Push the guilt and shame aside, and look forward to the future. What’s in the past is in the past—leave it there. Believe that there are better things on the horizon. Many people give up on life because they fall victim to guilt and shame and do not recover.

Limit Your Contact with Toxic People

It isn’t always possible to completely remove yourself from the presence of toxic people, whether they are friends or family members. But if you can, at the very least limit your contact with them. And when they start to affect you in a negative way, whether with actions or words, leave the situation as soon as possible. 

Do not allow yourself to mix in with their misery soup.

Understand that if you are dealing with mental health issues, it is not necessarily you or your biology that is the main problem. It could be overexposure to toxic people who you are forced to be around whether due to familial ties, work, or people who want you to believe they are friends. See how things go if you stay away from toxic folks for two weeks or more and spend more time with yourself, in peace.

Speaking from experience,

Love Lynn

Overcoming Loneliness: Ways to Stay Balanced and Optimistic About the Future

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been numerous studies and conversations surrounding the epidemic of loneliness. Even before covid, people were becoming increasingly isolated due to social media, technology, cellphones (texting instead of talking), depression, grief, and other reasons.

Post-pandemic, a lot of people are really feeling the struggle when it comes to being alone almost all the time, including those who have found no other choice than to quarantine and avoid meeting up with others. Experts have revealed that loneliness could have numerous effects on people, including physical and mental health issues, if this lifestyle isn’t managed properly.

We can forge better relationships with friends and family so that we increase the possibilities of having meaningful social interactions now and in the future. At the same time, unfortunately, we can’t force people to spend more time with us to “cure” our loneliness. But we can learn how to get more comfortable with being alone and enjoying our own company over time. Here are a few tips for how we can overcome feelings of loneliness and sadness, and think more optimistically for the future.

Maintain High Standards for Yourself

I talk about this in my book Sing While You’re Single. No matter how low, alone, or sad you may feel, strive to maintain a certain standard for yourself (personal hygiene and looks) and the place where you live (keeping it tidy, organized, and smelling good). Even if it’s just brushing and flossing your teeth meticulously each day or wiping down your kitchen counter so that it gleams. Just do it, it’s for you. You might feel lonely every now and again, but at least you can look good and feel good in your home—make it your Oasis.

Be Good to the Good People You Still Have in Your Life

Nearly a decade ago I was angry and resentful of pretty much everyone in my life because I felt that they abandoned me in my time of need.

Well, you know what? I had to get over that because it was making me increasingly isolated and even more angry at life and people. That approach wasn’t working. So, I began to study Universal principles and listen to motivational speakers and authors. It calmed me and gave me some sense of hope. I worked on myself and forgave whoever I thought wronged me. Truth be told, most people do not care if you are mad at them. Some don’t even know. There is no point hanging onto negative feelings about others—instead, focus on the decent people you know or encounter and build better relationships with them.

Be About Your Business

It is difficult to feel lonely, unhappy, and caught up in negative thoughts when you are busy with something that you are passionate about. Get busy doing something that you love, whether it is working on a plan to generate extra income, studying your craft to become a high-end expert, or working on your artwork.

Remember though: everything in moderation. Avoid becoming a workaholic to the point where you lose yourself or get distracted from other aspects of living well, such as preparing healthy meals, getting exercise, and staying in touch with loved ones.

Continue to Actively Participate in the World

Feelings of loneliness are exacerbated when you start to isolate yourself in your home and not actively participate in the world. Make efforts to go outside as much as possible and stay active. You can take a walk in a park with an ice-cold Snapple or smoothie, go to a shopping center even just to window shop, or just go outside your house and have a short conversation with a neighbor.

Just make every effort to go outside and interact with the world in some way. Breathe in the fresh air. Regular exercise outdoors is renewing and invigorating. See if there may be an outdoor fitness class you can join that allows for proper social distancing or find a quiet, safe place where you can practice yoga stretches.

Recognize When You’re Talking to Your Higher Power

When you feel like you may be talking to yourself, it might really be that you’re talking to your Higher Power, a guardian angel, or maybe a loved one who passed. I don’t think you are really alone if you believe that. Deep down you know that someone who cares about you is listening. Be comforted by that when you are feeling lonely.

It Takes Time to Get Used to Being with Yourself

It can take months or years before you finally become comfortable with just being alone with yourself, whether it’s at home cooking, going to an outdoor restaurant by yourself for a special meal, or just going for a walk on the beach. But there’s a good chance that you might learn to like it: the peace of not having to entertain other people’s personalities or proclivities and just do whatever YOU want.

Sometimes when I am with others, I look forward to getting back to my solitude, peace, and calm. I love myself, I like myself, and I enjoy spending time alone. But that took time.

Despite a number of personal tragedies that were out of my control, I am still optimistic that things can get better. You may be able to relate. This “epidemic of loneliness” does not have to become our new normal. I believe that we can return to having stronger connections with others while also being safe and responsible. We take things day by day, step by step, show genuine care for ourselves and our loved ones, and focus on positive thoughts for the future.

Love Lynn

Excuses People Make to Get Off of the Phone

Excuses people make instead of just saying you aren’t important enough for them to talk to.

I have to scrub my feet and toes.

I am about to watch this show on Netflix, so…

I’m about to heat up this Lean Cuisine meal.

Oh someone is on the other line I’ll call you back later (but they don’t).

I’m at work, got to get back. (Then they go and drink watered down office coffee and do nothing.)

Something hurts. Neck back ankle etc. Gotta go!

XYZ is happening right now and I have to go. So.

When people make up these types of excuses to get off the phone with you, it’s because they truly just do not want to talk to or help you. Know this and adjust your expectations.

One day, bet, they will probably come looking for you for help because right now they think they won’t ever need it.

Maya Angelou said when people show you who they are you have to believe them the first time. Do your best now to find other friends and people who you can really rely on.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU. Her latest book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth.

Follow Lynn on Twitter: @LoveLynnGee

Who Are Your Real Friends?

When I lost my best friend, my “person,” who had also been my fiancé at one point, my life went into a tailspin. I expected my friends, who extended across numerous backgrounds and experiences, to come to my aid at that difficult time. In tears, I texted about seven of them to tell them the news right after I heard. I got a few “sorry for your loss” messages back.

Then nothing. For months. From anyone. Not even my close family members.

I was in a state of shock, and I changed a lot in those months, which extended to years. I lost my lightness, my humor, and my confidence in people. I finally came to the realization that I no longer had any true friends after my best friend’s passing—I just had a lot of acquaintances. I just had people I know who knew me at one point.

As time went on, I started to get the impression that many of my former “friends” were quietly happy to learn that I was in distress. I was just a topic of gossip. In school and social settings, I had always been the life of the party, the one who always got the guy, and the one who took the lead. Now I was the depressed, grieving woman who was gaining weight, detaching from humanity, and losing her personality.

I wrote about this in several of my books. And I came to realize recently, all these years later, that this experience continues to have a very real effect on me, and how I navigate my relationships. I have a really hard time trusting people.

What Is a Friend?

A friend is someone who comes through for you when times are the toughest. Like a hero, she doesn’t run away from the problem, she charges forward to your rescue because she loves you and cares about your well-being. A friend tells you the truth. She isn’t secretly jealous of you. She invites you out because she genuinely wants to see you. She also makes time to come see you when she knows you need some company. She texts or contacts you at least a few times a week to see how you’re doing. To make sure you’re OK.

If you are blessed to have someone like this in your life, a real friend, cherish them and treat them the same way. It’s so important.

Love Lynn

You *Should* Care What *Someone* Thinks About You

Countless self-help books, quotes and gurus tell us that we shouldn’t care what other people think. That you should just do you. I believe I’ve even provided this advice to some degree in my books and blogs.

But after some thought I have come to realize that this isn’t entirely the best advice. I believe that you shouldn’t care about what everyone else thinks about you but you should care about what someone thinks about you.

Without boundaries, which are often set and established by the people we love and trust, our lives can quickly devolve into a chaotic mess. If you don’t have anyone in this world whose opinion you care about, there are no checks and balances. Sometimes we need the opinion of another person to stay grounded and headed in the right direction.

Take the case of young girls who fall victim to drug abuse, violent relationships and/or sex work. They often grow up without boundaries and pretty much put up a middle finger to everyone in the world. They don’t respect or care about the opinions of their parents, their friends, mentors, teachers or anyone else who might help them live a better life. Not caring about anyone’s opinion often leads them down the path of destruction.

Another thought. Currently in the US, we have a few leaders who think that they can do whatever they want, no matter who it hurts or affects. As much as they might not care about what anyone thinks about their deeds, that mentality will backfire. The opinions of their fellow citizens do matter.

Here’s one more example. I recently watched the Amazon series Z. It’s the story of Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. They fell in love at first sight and had a whirlwind romance that quickly lead to marriage. But Zelda was unaware of her husband’s wild and lascivious lifestyle. He had no boundaries and neither did his friends. They lived life on their own terms, not caring what anyone thought of them (or so they said). Before she knew it, Zelda was swept up by it all and living that life as well. She died fairly young in a mental hospital.

To reiterate, I don’t think that you should go through life caring about what everyone around you thinks. It’s oppressive to be constantly self-conscious and insecure. But I do think that there is value in having someone in this world whose opinion matters to you, whether it’s a parent, a friend, a mentor or God.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is an author and blogger. Her new book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth. She is also the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

Boxing Yourself In (Fortress Building) Is Not Empowering #LoveLynn

There’s a chapter in Robert Greene’s famous book The 48 Laws of Power that says the following:

“Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous.” (Law #18)

His main point was that putting a fortress around yourself limits your access to information, knowledge and new experiences. We’ve been taught from a young age that information is power. Experience is the best teacher.

Yet in this day in age (2015 is the year I’m writing this post) many of us choose to box ourselves in and separate ourselves from the rest of the world.

I believe that our wide access to the internet, social media and countless ways to watch tv (Netflix, cable, Hulu, Youtube) has made it much easier to build these personal “fortresses” and refuse to let others in. All you have to do is get under the covers, turn on a movie and get lost in someone else’s world until you fall asleep. The urge to get out and have contact with others diminishes more and more over time.

Shielding Yourself from Being Hurt Again
I know all about how easy it is to start boxing yourself in. It often comes from a deep seeded need to shield yourself from being hurt after being hurt SO many times in your life. So many people have offended, disappointed and betrayed you that you begin to believe the whole world is out to get you.

And that’s not a healthy place to be if you want to thrive in life. You can’t be empowered when you’re in complete isolation.

Human beings have an innate desire for purpose. Deep down we all want to be useful, necessary and important in this world. And it’s hard to do that when you choose to separate yourself from others.

You need contact with other souls in order to be healthy, wealthy and wise. How can you learn and grow if your only contact with other people is the fake, manufactured personas that you see on television or the internet? How will you ever have a chance to come in contact with a soul mate if you cut the world off and box yourself in forever?

Offenses Will Come
Like someone wise once said, there will always be offenses to contend with in life. There will always be that someone who gets on your nerves. There will be that girl at the department store who tosses you an attitude, or a family member who brings up something hurtful to try to bring you down.

But that’s a part of life, and more importantly it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you choose to react to it. That’s what makes all the difference when dealing with others.

When you get back out there into the world and someone offends you, you have to think about the proper reaction in order to stay empowered.

When the girl at the department store gives you an attitude, just smile or laugh and tell her to have a good day anyway. When your family member comes to you with that same old story, this time laugh and make light of it. They only bring it up because they know it irks you, and they crave that negative reaction from you.

When others offend you, don’t join them in their misery.

Getting Back Out There
Here are some ideas to help you start coming down from your ivory tower:

– Go to Meetup.com, choose a group and randomly go to an event near you. You can go alone (make sure it’s a safe, public location). Go with a positive attitude and smile a lot.

– Join a cooking or painting class. Look for an “intimate” class of about 10 people where you’re almost guaranteed to have to speak to someone.

– Go to an adult learning class that will pique your interest, such as starting a business or managing your money. Ask plenty of questions and become the teacher’s “pet.”

– Wave hello to a friendly neighbor once in a while and smile at people you see when in town. 8 times out of 10 they will smile back. There’s a powerful energy exchange going on there–soak it in as much as possible.

Start with these ideas and use them to fuel more inspirations for how to rejoin the world. In exploring your interests (known and new) you will start to feel yourself coming out of that box and back into a place of power.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a book of life and love advice for women entitled Why Doesn’t He Love Me? and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

Guidance vs Pushing Opinions on Others

I recently watched the Lifetime biopic Whitney, about the life of one of my favorite entertainers of all time — Whitney Houston. It centered around the romantic relationship she had with her ex-husband Bobby Brown.

In one scene, Whitney announces to her family that she is getting married to Bobby and her family flips their collective lids! In the movie, her mother warns her that he will bring her down, but she defiantly stayed by his side. In the end, her mother was right and they eventually divorced. He seemed to love her, but the energy that he shared with Whitney did ultimately contribute to her fall from "grace" in the public eye, as her mother advised.

What is the difference between giving someone guidance and forcing your will on them? I think there can be a fine line.

On one hand, you can’t tell someone how to live her life. She is ultimately the person who will decide the direction it will take.

On the other hand, if you know something that another person doesn’t know, isn’t it irresponsible not to try to warn them?

Sometimes I feel that some segments of our culture have been on the decline because so many people are insistent on living a totally "free" life where they just go where the wind blows. They don’t want to hear the opinions of others because they find it too "oppressive." But how can you learn and grow in a productive way if you refuse to accept well-intentioned guidance from others? Values, mores and standards help keep us all level-headed.

I think that the difference between guidance and forcing your will on others is the source. If people trust you and value your opinion, your advice is more likely to be considered valuable guidance. If you are considered a "messy" and judgmental person who doesn’t practice what you preach, your opinion is more likely to be considered an oppression or intrusion — even if it does hold some value.

A Little Guidance on Accepting Guidance 🙂
Live your life the way that you want to live it AND also be open to positive guidance from others from time to time. An opinion from another person is not always meant to be judgment or oppression — sometimes it is a blessing. You never know if one small piece of advice from someone can save you from unnecessary, long-term stress and strife.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOUand an upcoming book of life advice for women entitled Why Doesn’t He Love Me?

How Can I Be a Mentor if I Don’t Even Have My OWN Life Together Yet?

In my early twenties I signed up for Big Brothers Big Sisters and quickly became a mentor of a young shy 11 year old girl.

As time went on in the mentoring process, I started to second guess myself.

What could I possibly teach this girl? What do I have to offer her?

At the time I was starting off in my career as a freelance writer and designer so money came here and there. It was a struggle to pay my bills. I was still driving the same car that I bought in college–it shook and quivered with age and I felt embarrassed picking her up in it. I could barely afford to buy my young mentee a slice of pizza when we hung out together. I was struggling. I felt like such a failure.

Every time I thought to call my mentee for a visit this question nagged at me: why would she want to grow up and be anything like me?

So eventually my visits with my mentee lessened. When she reached the age of 14 her family decided to move away, so the BBBS relationship expired. I have to admit that while I was sad that I’d probably never see her again I was a little relieved that I no longer had to fight with myself over my significance and impact on her young life.

Years later, I look back and feel a little foolish for allowing those self-defeating thoughts to affect my mentoring relationship. I did have a chance to see her again recently and found that she turned out to be a beautiful, confident and ambitious teenager. She is on her way to great things, and I like to think I played a small role in that.

I am speaking to anyone who is thinking about becoming a mentor or is currently a mentor who doubts your ability to positively influence your mentee. It’s not so much about getting her to admire you or to be just like you. It’s about the attention and love you’re giving the child which she may not be getting enough of at home.

Much like adults, kids just want to feel special, listened to, attended to and understood. If you can give them that, you have done your job as a mentor.

So just because you don’t quite have life figured out yet doesn’t mean that you arent a good candidate for mentorship. Some young person out there needs exactly what you have to offer. Just give her the attention, love and positive guidance that YOU wish you had received more of as a child.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a self-help guide entitled Survive, Live or Thrive?and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

Women, If You Could Have 2 Questions Answered About Life…

I am in the process of writing a new book on the questions that we women torture ourselves with throughout our lives.

My question to you: if you could have 2 questions answered about your life (as a woman) what would those 2 questions be?

Submit your response below — your question may be featured in the book!

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful response.
Love Lynn

The Power of Touch

I watched a few episodes of the show My Cat From Hell a couple of weeks ago. I was amazed (and a bit amused) by the behavior of the cats on the show. They hissed and scratched at every human that dared come near them. I couldn’t believe that the owners managed to coexist in the same household with these angry and aggressive cats for so long!

But while the knee jerk reaction was to blame the cat for being “evil” the real problem was the owners. They were cold and lacked understanding of what the cats needed. The suggested solution in many of these cases was to simply touch the cat and show him love. It worked 100% of the time. My own cats are very mild-mannered and loving toward me and guests because I pay them a lot of attention with touch and affirmation.

Love Energy
A simple touch from someone can be so powerful. It can be even more powerful than words, which sometimes don’t come out quite right at crucial moments.

When a person is grieving, a mere grip of the shoulder can mean so much. It gives them the release they need.

If someone you love is going through a trial or difficult situation, sometimes simply touching or holding his or her hand is the perfect reaction. It’s soothing and meaningful.

When a child is frustrated or confused, a hug can make all of her cares go away, if only for the moment. It’s a bonding moment. It’s like an exchange of love energy.

Sometimes all you need is to be present and near another person to be effective. For instance, if someone you love is laying in their bed depressed, just sit near them or with them for a while. No need to tell them anything, no need to judge them for how they feel or advise them on what they should do.

So if you’re having a strained relationship with someone or you don’t know how to help someone you know who is in need, try a loving touch instead of words from time to time. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a self-help guide entitled Survive, Live or Thrive? and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.