How to tell if someone is using you

How to tell if someone is using you

Friendships are meant to be simple and care-free, not complicated. Once you start questioning a friendship, you might as well start planning your exit from the friendship.

True friends will never make you second guess yourself. A true friend is someone you can speak to without fear of judgment. But not everyone is a true friend. We also have fake friends who keep you in their lives because you probably benefit them in some way.

Once they have used you enough, they will discard you for their next unknowing victim.

How do you tell if someone is a true friend or not?

Someone who uses you is NOT a true friend. You shouldn’t be the only person putting in an effort and getting no effort in return.  There should always be mutual understanding, trust and care for each other.

  • They are only around you when they want something

You may not realize this in the beginning. You might be in a bubble of happiness because you think you finally found a new friend who gets you, and they are always around you. Whenever you go out together, the scales always seem to be tipped in their favor. For example, you might find yourself always getting the bill, but maybe you don’t mind because you think that your friend is worth it.

Sooner or later, you will notice patterns and might even question why your friend always seems to be broke or in certain situations which could be avoided in the first place. Whether it’s a place to stay, unwelcomed visits, helping them with something or always bailing them out of messy situations, remember that you are not your friend’s keeper and their life is not your responsibility.

Man and woman eating

  • You only hear from them when things go wrong

Sometimes you recognize all the signs of a toxic friendship and might decide to distance yourself from them. But you might find yourself being around them again. You’re not sure how it happened or why you’re around this toxic person again, but you seem to keep getting pulled into their life.

I grew apart from a friend who had a special place in my life. The friendship became toxic so I distanced myself. And just like that, out of nowhere, she called me in a panic because she was going through some problems.

Even though I wasn’t in contact with her for more than a year, I still cared about her. When she contacted me, I put our differences aside and tried to help her but soon I remembered why I distanced myself. My friend brought back all the drama that I didn’t miss when I stopped speaking to her. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to cut myself off from her for the second and last time.

She only knew my number when things went wrong in her life. When things were great, she never tried to reach out to me, but every time I got a call from her, it was because of something that was going wrong in her life.

  • They gossip about you

The saying goes if they gossip to you, they will gossip about you. If your friend is discussing other people to you, they are probably discussing your life with others too. A person who is busy and happy in life will not have time to keep up with the lives of others. They will be focused on making their own life better.

If they are constantly gossiping about other people and still hang around those people, they are definitely doing the same to you.

Sometimes, this is a way of life for some people and they are not even aware that they are doing it.

Two girls telling each other a secret

Someone I knew used to gossip to me about her friends. I remember always telling her to address her issues with them instead of talking about them, but she never did.

I don’t think she realized that she was gossiping, I guess she assumed that everybody spoke about others. She had no problem telling me that she was taking my stories to others too. It shocked me that she naturally blurted out anything about my life to her friends.

I stopped telling her about stuff that was happening in my life because she was clearly a natural gossiper.

  • They are jealous of you

Some of your closest friends and family might turn out to be your secret haters. They are the people who are closest to you and know the most about your life. They are also the first to know about your success and failures.

If they start comparing their life to yours in any way, they are probably jealous of you. If they start dropping comments that make you question the conversation, don’t ignore your intuition or brush it off as being paranoid. There is a reason why you are second-guessing them and have every right to do so.

  • You check in with you to make sure you aren’t doing better than them

Person peeping through the window

Sometimes people keep you around because they are jealous but they also want to make sure that you aren’t doing better than them. I asked myself why people who have a lot more than others are still jealous? I couldn’t figure this out.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with material wealth. Sometimes, they despise you because of the way others gravitate towards you or the way you handle situations in your life. Just because a person seems successful and beautiful on the outside, doesn’t automatically translate to them being happy.

People can have everything and still want what you have. People want you to do well, but not better than them.  Be careful of those who support you only when it suits them. You might think that they are trying to help you but they might actually be trying to keep you down.

Respect yourself enough to be absent in their lives

Sometimes we have to recognize those who portray a different persona to who they really are. Even if this takes some time to do, the important thing is that you come to this realization and take action at some point.

If you think that you are being used, the chances are that you are probably right. You wouldn’t be questioning friendships or people if something didn’t seem off. If you are constantly broke or drained because you are spending your time, money and effort on others, recognize the situation and respect yourself enough to be absent in their lives.

Surround yourself with people who get it

Surround yourself with people who get it

Do you ever feel like you’re misunderstood? One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is to be misunderstood. Most, if not all of us, just want to be heard. As we grow an develop in life, our views change and we tend to outgrow people.

It can be a challenging time. Especially when you try to hold on to something that starts to feel ‘off’. Why does this happen and what can you do about it?

Everyone’s life story is different and just because you lived your life in a certain way before, does not mean that that you cannot change. You don’t have to be the same person you were a year ago or even yesterday.

Change is the only constant and change means that you are doing something right!

Books on a shelf

Why should you surround yourself with people on the same mission as you?

Quality of thoughts

You are more than likely to adopt the habits of the people you surround yourself with. If you look at the people that you spend the most time with in your life, ask yourself: do they elevate, challenge and inspire you? Or do they bring you down with negative thoughts and drama?

Sometimes we hold on to people or situations longer than we need to because it is comfortable or familiar. But being comfortable is not where growth happens. If you keep doing the same thing, you cannot expect different results.

The quality of your thoughts affects the actions you take in life. You can change the quality of your thoughts by either being around high-quality people who have bigger ideas than you do or changing your environment.

You shouldn’t be the smartest person in the room

If you are the smartest person that you know, then it’s time to seek new people in your life. It is so important that we continuously learn so that we can grow. If you don’t surround yourself with people you can learn from, it becomes challenging to grow in life.

Rubic cube

For many years I surrounded myself with the same people based on the history I shared with them.

After many inner conflicts, I decided to lean towards those I can learn from and those that challenge my views. By doing this, I am slowly creating new thoughts that are leading to a new life.

People who haven’t been where you’ve been

If those that you surround yourself with haven’t been where you’ve been, it is almost impossible for them to understand you. No matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to relate to you.

People often try to connect with each other by saying ‘I understand how you feel’. If they haven’t been in your situation, they cannot understand how you feel.

I knew two people: the first person’s child passed away and the other person went through a divorce. When the person experiencing loss of a child was faced with depression, the divorced person told the mother of loss that she understood how the mother felt! Jaw drop! The divorced person did not even have kids. The divorced person compared her divorce to losing a child. It’s official, stupid people are everywhere!

People who have been where you want to go

Many people have already achieved the things you want to achieve in life.

We should look up to these people as mentors and people who inspire us to be better. A person with an open mind will listen to the views of others, even if it challenges their own. Challenging views are a great way to grow and do things differently to what you believed was true in the past.

Successful people have achieved their goals because of the actions they took. Observe these people and ask questions so that you can also elevate yourself and shift your mindset.

Not so long ago, I spent a lot of time with people who spoke about what they wanted to achieve in life. The problem was that all these people did was speak without executing. When I spoke about my goals, I was laughed at. But I still took action to help me achieve my goals.

I went from hanging around the dreamers to hanging around people who questioned and challenged me. I used successful people that challenged me to elevate me and I watched how they do what they do and why they do what they do.

The thoughts, ideas and conversations are different. I don’t feel stupid in a room full of successful people, instead I am grateful to get the opportunity to learn from these people.

Raise your standards

Stop settling for anything that doesn’t bring you the most joy. Whether it’s people, a job or a situation. Let it all go and raise your standards. It doesn’t matter what others think of you.

Who cares what others think? If you are not causing harm to anyone in the process, re-evaluate your life and get rid of toxicity. Stop holding on to anything that expired in your life.

Let them judge you or even hate you, it doesn’t matter. If people choose not to support your decisions in your life, you need to find new people. Criticism, snarky remarks and negativity should be a thing of the past. It doesn’t matter who these people are, if they bring negativity to you, let them go.

Girl walking away

Letting go

Let go of the old to make place for new

If we hold on to things that no longer have a place in our lives, there will be no place for new things to enter.

Think of your life as carrying a suitcase, if you carry around all your old clothes, you won’t be able to buy anything new because you will have no space for it.

But think about those old clothes that you outgrew, they don’t fit you anymore so why would you keep them? Friends or people that you knew when you were younger might have been good for you back then but sooner or later, we outgrow certain people or situations. It is up to us to realise when it is time to let go so that better things can enter our lives.

Let go of low-quality people

Low-quality people will drown you with their negativity and drama. Learn to spot them early and don’t keep these people in your life. If a person constantly complains, gossips or is negative, that is a low-quality person.

You become like the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with successful people, your chance of you becoming successful too is very likely. Similarly, if you surround yourself with negative people, sooner or later you will also adopt that vibe and become negative too.

Your vibe WILL eventually attract your tribe

Don’t worry about those that misunderstand you. Even though it’s tough when you feel like a misfit, there are plenty of people out there who will understand you. But those people are not always right in front of you.

I always felt like a misfit but I found my people when I started doing the things I love. I found them during my solo travels and at crazy music festivals.

When I started pursuing all the things I love, I met people who have similar personalities and interests. Life is so much better when you finally find at least one other person who gets you, but until then, keep doing what you love, even if others don’t understand you. Never change for someone else’s idea of who they think you should be.

Always be true to yourself!

Protect your peace and get rid of toxicity

Protect your peace and get rid of toxicity

The stigma of mental health illness is slowly being broken. If you’ve ever suffered with mental health, you know how debilitating it can be. Maybe the Covid19 pandemic helped people speak out about their mental health challenges.

Growing up, I’ve also struggled with my mental health and I’ve come to realize just how important protecting my peace is. It is a game-changer.

Years ago, I started protecting my peace without even knowing what protecting my peace meant. I did it unconsciously.  I never cared much about external validation but the person I was with, was the polar opposite of me. Because of this, I found myself being in the company of people I didn’t really want to be around.

I started distancing myself from those who drained my energy. This created some backlash against me. I started asking myself if I was the problem but now, I know that the problem wasn’t me.

What does protecting your peace mean?

It might sound silly but I wasn’t even sure if I understood what inner peace meant at the time.

Protecting your inner peace means that you need to listen to your inner voice. You know that ‘gut feeling’ that people talk about? You need to listen to that.

It’s about finding happiness and contentment within yourself, and being aware of what triggers your anxieties and fears. Protecting your peace also means staying away from things that drain you or threaten your state of well-being.

Why do you need to protect your inner peace?

It is important because if you don’t then you will be doing things to please other people regardless of how it makes you feel. Eventually, if you keep putting everyone else’s needs before your own, you won’t be able to take of yourself. You will be drowning in others’ problems.

Instead of focusing on what makes you happy, your focus is placed on other people. It can become a dangerous cycle and your life can take a downward spiral.

Stress, Anxiety

Earlier I mentioned that people are speaking out about their mental health issues. Sometimes, the stress and anxiety we fell might have nothing to do with our own issues. Often, it is the actions of others that trigger stress and anxiety within us.

If we allow the actions of the others to make us anxious and stressed, we are cheating ourselves out of our own happiness. It doesn’t matter who the other person is, our well-being must always be our priority.

Time, money, effort

Sometimes, helping others takes a lot of time and effort. Other times, you might also be spending your hard-earned money on them. These actions eventually become draining or worse, detrimental to your mental health.

I have been guilty of this, but protecting my peace is becoming my main priority. Sometimes we need to take a step back from our actions to gain a different perspective.

Recently a friend of mine reminded me that I needed to stop trying to help everyone. Even though I knew others needed help, I wasn’t in a good space to offer the help they needed. I was helping others but hurting myself in the process.

When people come to you with their problems but can see that you are in a bad space, they should not place additional pressure on you. If those people cannot acknowledge your well-being, then you need to re-evaluate the people you surround yourself with.

As much as you would like to help the world, just remember that you need to help yourself first.

How to protect your peace

Hire and fire people in your life

In the past, I was ridiculed for not wanting to be around certain people. I wasn’t exactly vocal about how I felt, but my actions spoke louder than my words. I stopped allowing people to mistreat me.

People get comfortable disrespecting you if you allow them to. I wasn’t aware of my own emotions or state of mind so I didn’t pay attention to my external environment either.

I kept some people in my life longer than necessary when I didn’t pay attention to my inner voice. I would get annoyed when I was around them but didn’t do anything to stop spending time with them.

When I gained enough courage to distance myself from those that drained me, my life began to change for the better. I replaced people that drained me with people who uplift and inspire me.

Time-off from technology

A habit most of us have formed today is checking our phone as soon as we wake up. Sometimes, we are still in bed but going through our messages. Before setting our intentions for the day, we allow our thoughts to be controlled by what’s on our screens.

If we receive bad news, then our whole day might be ruined. Protecting our peace means controlling our intentions and actions. By reading and responding to what’s on our screens before focusing on our own needs, we are allowing our thoughts, actions and day to be controlled by others.

Limiting our time with technology helps us refocus on the things that we want to do without interruptions. There is no pressure to respond if you haven’t seen the messages. Also, the negative stories in the media cannot affect you if you didn’t see it.

Learn to say NO

When we do things that make us uncomfortable, it triggers stress and anxiety. In the end, we are the ones that have to deal with our mental health. Making others happy should not be to the detriment of our mental health or peace.

You don’t have to say yes if you don’t want to. Those that love you will understand if you cancel plans or don’t want to do something.

Stop running back to those who broke you

Remember that person who hurt you? That person is not in your life anymore for a reason. Although people change, old habits also die hard.

Just because you are growing as a person, it doesn’t necessarily mean that others are also working on themselves. If they hurt you before, the chances of them hurting you again are high.

Forget about those that drain you because you will find people who add value to your life instead of dragging you down.

Don’t allow others to distract you from protecting your peace.

Things will fall into place

Be aware of what brings the most peace in your life. Others may not understand or agree with the things you do, but if it makes you happy, then do more of it.

I’ve just turned a year older and I couldn’t be happier. There was a point when I was worried about getting older and having certain expectations for my life.

But as I get older, the opposite is happening. I have accepted that things will happen at the right time and no matter how hard things may seem now – in a year, these problems probably wouldn’t matter.

When you have nothing to prove to anyone, you have reached a new level in your life and this will elevate you even further. Don’t ever stop protecting your peace.

Bad things will happen, even if you’re a good person

Bad things will happen, even if you’re a good person

Updated June 2020

Life can be so frustrating. Just when you think that things are looking good, something will go wrong. But I’ve learned to view life just as we view the weather – always changing.

I initially wrote this post in 2019, before I was faced with my health issues, and before we got caught up living the Covid 19 lifestyle. I will tell you more about my health diagnosis in my next post. But for now, I want to focus on what I thought were bad things happening to me.

It’s a crazy time to be alive

This past month has been an interesting one for me. A few weeks ago, I fell and hurt my leg. I think I officially reached my height of clumsiness (who falls into a hole…except me) I wasn’t able to stand or walk so the doctor booked me off work. A week later my phone was stolen. I want to say…story of my life…but in reality, this is not the story of my life.

Just as good things happen, bad things also happen to people. How you choose to deal with the situation is what will make a difference. Will you sit around and feel sorry for yourself, or will you dust yourself off, create solutions and try again?

Seriously…falling into a hole?

Yes, and it was stupid but, when I hurt my leg, it was a crucial week at work – mandatory meetings that I had to attend and other important stuff that needed my attention.

I usually work from home but during this week, I needed to be at the office. Since I couldn’t walk or drive, I worked from home and managed my meetings via virtual meetings.

I still had to get the work done, and couldn’t afford to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I figured that feeling bad for myself will not change my situation so I got on with life.

I think my strength comes from not have the privilege of relying on anyone. I had nobody around to feel sorry for me, and I would never want anyone to feel sorry for me.

I don’t know if its wrong to feel insulted when sympathy is shown towards you. I appreciate empathy or understanding but never sympathy. We are not victims; we are fighters.

It wasn’t the end of the world, I saw a doctor and got on with life, one leg at a time.

Urgh…then they stole my phone

Just as I was mobile again, I went to a music festival with my friends. People who live in South Africa, know how bad crime is here. Within a second, my bag was opened and my phone was stolen at this festival.

I didn’t care about the device itself being taken; my concern was about all the information I had on that phone. Especially pictures from my travels that I didn’t back-up to my computer.

I could have cried and complained about all the bad things that were happening to me. I could have blamed the world for hating me, but shit happens. I try my best to deal with a situation and move on.

So, I got home from the festival and changed all my passwords, canceled all my bank cards, got a new phone and tried to logout of my many apps. I didn’t realize how many apps I use until I downloaded at least 40 different apps on my new device.

Since updating this article, the app number has gone up to too many to count.

But I am still smiling

My misfortunes happened in a space of two or three weeks.

These past few weeks made me realize that bad stuff happens all the time, whether we deserve it or not. I don’t think that anyone deserves bad things to happen to them.

Let’s not forget that good stuff happens too, but it’s still human nature to focus on the negative and take the positive for granted.

Does feeling sorry for yourself change anything?

I think what matters is how we deal with negative situations and turn them around to work for us. When I hurt my leg, I think those that were with me felt bad for me but the injury didn’t faze me.

Feeling sad for myself was not going to take me back in time or change the situation. Feeling bad for myself would have only stolen my present moment. Focusing on something we can’t change is the worst thing we can do to ourselves.

When I lost my phone, I told my friend that I didn’t care about it being stolen. The reply I got was that “I must be rich to not care about my phone”.

Honestly, I don’t place much importance on material things. Whether it’s a phone, clothes or a car. Crying over my phone wasn’t going to bring it back anyway.

I’ve changed

If these things happened to me 10 years ago, I would have never been able to get a new device the next day.

 I would have not been able to work from home or drive by myself even though I could barely walk or stand up.

It took me years to get the strength I have today. It was a long, hard struggle. But here I am!

It may come across as self-centered, but after battling years of abuse, depression, and dependency, I couldn’t be happier with the person I am becoming.

Some days it’s a struggle, some days the anxiety gets too much. Other days are better, other days I wake up as the happiest version of myself.

It may sound as if I am bipolar but I’m not. I am fighting to live happily, even on my darkest days.

And I am still grateful

I am so grateful that I taught myself how to not depend on ANYONE today. I am so grateful to everyone who turned me down or criticized me so that I could learn how to handle situations on my own.

You don’t notice how much you’ve changed

You might feel like you are living the same life as a year ago, but I challenge you to write down something about yourself and keep that writing away for just one year. It can be short writing, even a few sentences.

When you read this writing a year from now, you will notice how much you’ve changed. You will think about what you placed importance on now versus what is important in a year.

You will have grown as a person and as you grow, your thoughts and actions change. Your priorities also change.

You got this – with or without them

If you need help from people, and those people are not there for you, it’s okay. Those people are teaching you to rely on your own strength that you didn’t know existed. What may seem like a curse now, will be a blessing soon enough!

You just need to believe in yourself, even when the whole world is against you. Let them criticize or ridicule you.

Don’t pay attention to them. Never stop believing that you are capable of achieving all the things you dream about. Everything starts with taking the first step towards what sets your soul on fire.