Pop­corn and friends

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS -

I was sucked into an on­line story about a per­sonal trainer who’d lost weight by “break­ing all her own rules”. I was hop­ing to read that she’d taken up noo­dles and Net­flix. But the truth was less ex­cit­ing.

“I dis­cov­ered that I was in­tol­er­ant to my beloved air­popped pop­corn, which I had been eat­ing reg­u­larly for two years...” she ex­plained. “I elim­i­nated neg­a­tive peo­ple from my life, and I also in­cor­po­rated some Ayurvedic tech­niques to help ease my stress... I lost 11cm off my butt and 12cm off my waist.”

Back up the truck. Neg­a­tive peo­ple? Dif­fi­cult friends are now be­ing classed as a thing to avoid in the quest for a small butt, along­side mi­crowaved pop­corn?

So­cial me­dia is full of pop psy­chol­ogy like this. About the peo­ple you need to cut, chop, turn your back on, edit, avoid. In­stead, you want to sur­round your­self with great­ness which, by sheer os­mo­sis, will raise your own net worth as a hu­man.

The toxic ones are often classed as “nar­cis­sists” or “en­ergy vam­pires” and in­for­ma­tion abounds on how to di­ag­nose them, deal with them, and ul­ti­mately – yes – elim­i­nate them.

But there are few ar­ti­cles, if any, on how to di­ag­nose your own nar­cis­sism. Be­cause the nar­cis­sist is never you, it’s al­ways the other peo­ple, the toxic ones.

So let’s say you go around cut­ting peo­ple dead if they don’t in­crease your en­ergy lev­els; make no mis­take you are not a nar­cis­sist and nor are you a jerk. You are a self-re­spect­ing per­son mak­ing nec­es­sary elim­i­na­tions for your own well­be­ing.

Peo­ple will often say of a de­pressed friend that they didn’t know they were un­well, they wished the friend had told them. But maybe it’s a fear of be­ing that en­ergy vam­pire that stops peo­ple from con­fid­ing. When they don’t have any good news to share or an ego boost to of­fer. They’re at the end of their rope and they just need to talk, not about you, but about them. And not about happy things, about sad things.

Our story on page 12 is not a rare one. It’s a sim­ple, hon­est ac­count by a wo­man who has strug­gled with de­pres­sion all her life. A high-func­tion­ing de­pres­sive who keeps her ill­ness un­der wraps.

Many will re­late to this story – ei­ther be­cause of their own strug­gles, or be­cause they have friends who can some­times seem dif­fi­cult, stuck in a rut, un­able to just buck up and put on a happy face.

It’s a beau­ti­fully writ­ten and wel­come re­minder that our friends aren’t just there to boost our en­ergy and make us greater. Some­times they’re just there for us to hear.

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