Love your enemies – they’ll hate it!

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer‘  > So goes the old proverb, but maybe it is time to rewrite it as …. ‘keep your friends close and your enemies not quite so close‘ as toxic relationships are being linked to depression, cancer and heart disease.

According to the latest research*, relationships may be as vital to good health as a balanced diet and plenty of rest.  The study underlines the anecdotal evidence that being upbeat, positive and keeping company with likeminded people is a sure fire way to stay hearty.

Such findings are nothing new, as decades of studies have proved that mental stress results in physical illness and is even the catalyst for financial problems.

The latter may seem surprising, but only recently a report into the impact of mental health problems on personal finances, called on retailers and the financial industry to help fix the ‘toxic relationship’. In this report almost three quarters of people who have experienced a mental health problem said it had made their financial situation worse, and not just as a result of having less money to spend.

The fact is all types of toxic relationships can be the catalyst for dangerous emotions like anger and hate.  When they come together you had better watch out as the only one who gets hurt is you!  Far safer to chill remembering the words of the Dalai Lama, “We should be grateful to our enemies, for they teach us patience, courage and determination and help us develop a tranquil mind.

However, when facing up to difficult relationships, most of us either opt for getting even, or following the Christian-stance of turning the other cheek. Instead the latest advice sets out to understand the different types of toxic people and then redefine their nature and how that impacts on you.

Sociologist argue that there are four different types of enemies. First is the obvious outer enemy who seeks to harm you, and then there is the inner enemy which is your own hatred, anger and fear. Both these destructive impulses are habits that grip and crush.

The third enemy is your identity habit. You are designed to defend yourself, but this human instinct can result in only seeing things from your own perspective. When that natural fierceness is accompanied by good judgment, it can be a positive thing, but it takes a deeper level of self-awareness to see beyond our sense of individual identity.

Finally there is the super-secret enemy –  a feeling of unworthiness or self-loathing. Though unrecognised, this is what prevents you from finding inner freedom and true happiness because, deep down, you do not feel like you deserve success.

All this pseudo-philosophising is not only too esoteric for the real world, but is just a repackaging of the Buddhist concept of enlightened self-interest. “Our enemies are our best teachers,” says a teacher. “Because they ignite our anger and hatred, forcing us to look at our own shadow sides, which is the first step to moving past reflexive negative behaviour. So if you want to become invulnerable, change your view of your enemies and learn to see every instance of harm as an opportunity — as something you can use to benefit yourselves and others“.

Namby-pamby acquiescence is all very nice, but at Tonic we believe practical help is more important. If keeping bad company is ‘doing your head in‘ (in the vernacular of a stressed client), then avoidance is easier than cure.  If the enemy cannot be avoided, such as toxic relatives, partners and work colleagues, then you need to learn a few survival techniques to bring down your stress level. Mindfulness and meditation are fashionable and if all else fails, you know who to phone ….

Footnote  >  The research was carried out at California’s UCLA’s school of medicine and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

11 thoughts on “Love your enemies – they’ll hate it!

  1. Paul (client 88) says:

    Some people give you energy, some take it away from you. As a result my my is …’it is best to be on your own, than to wish that you were’

  2. Chuggers says:

    Seek wisdom. Once you have secured that you will be able to use tolerance, compassion and love. Give thanks to those who seek to harm us as if they did not exist how would we learn patience and tolerance and forgiveness?

  3. Katherine (Walsall) says:

    The UCLA’s research also found that volunteers who took part in the research experienced peaks in their pro-inflammatory proteins after participating in complex quizzes and then asked to give a public speech. In other words, overloaded brains are bad for your health.

  4. You can get rid of the friends, but toxic relatives are another story. My mum is happy being miserable and even happier making others equally unhappy. Her main weapon is gossip. Yuk! She can’t understand why people angry about her meddling. I’ve tried to pity her but now I just hate her.

  5. When you are young, it is so important to feel popular and there is pressure to have a lot of friends. As you get older and more self-confident you become much more selective about those you spend time with. It becomes a case of life’s too short to waste time on people who do not care about you.

    • Good point. I now select my friends with care, having realised at Uni that a lot of the people I knew were toxic. The put down comments, those who dropped their friends when they got boyfriends, those who would insult you but make out they were being nice and so on and so on. I dumped the lot. I can now count my friends on both hands and am so much happier.

  6. How I pray that I could have the luxury to be selective. I am elderly, live on my own and no-one ever visits me. The reason I phone Tonic is not for therapy – it is just to hear the sound of another human voice. I am so lonely that my very soul cries out to talk to anyone, friend or foe.
    Count your blessings

  7. I worked in a too stressful situation for years thanks to a monster of manager who made my life hell. I have since been diagnosed with both high blood pressure and heart problems, so the points you made in this \posting ring true to me.

  8. get a grip here guys
    this was not only yet another survey coming out of the States but was carried out in california to boot
    these are the most neurotic people on earth who dont have the slightest clue about real friendships

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>