Have you ever had the opportunity to associate with a group of people for a while, whether at church, at university, your sports club or at work and you begin to feel uncomfortable within that environment? Sometimes, it is observed the moment the association begins, other times the longer you stick around the more you begin to realise that something does not fit right. It may be stifling your growth and creativity, eating away at your health and mental well being or it may be stirring you towards strife and mistrust.
Many times it is evident when you are contributing or offering a suggestion or recommendation; it may be ignored or suppressed. Then there are other outward indications that all efforts are being made to avoid connecting with you. You are unable to clearly identify what it is but you know something is up.
That gut feeling that all is not well because others are avoiding you can really disrupt your peace of mind and progress if you are not careful. Where it is blatantly evident, biblical advice urges us to go to such individuals and enquire whether you have offended them in any way or simply whether something is wrong. You see, initiating such a conversation can often open doors allowing you to mend bridges, correct inaccurate perceptions and even building beautiful relationships.
On the other hand I believe the Holy Spirit can guide us otherwise at times; not everyone should be approached. Sometimes the environment described above is just one to get out of. Any efforts to address the negativity you have been experiencing over weeks or months may be scorned or rejected. Sometimes all we need is an honest acknowledgement of what we have experienced. It is an unhealthy environment that does not sincerely support the purpose God has ordained for you. It is not conducive to your growth and furtherance of your general well being. It is therefore time to split.
Here are some quick ways to help us identify toxic environments:
So while we must be careful not to judge others wrongly, sometimes the signs are too consistent to question whether or not you are in the right company.
- Individuals appear to be just tolerant of your presence.
- Your contributions are never noticed.
- There is an effort made to avoid quality discussions with you or directly answering questions asked.
- Objective conversations are difficult to have.
- Commitments made are not taken seriously
- You are often interrupted (rudely) when speaking
- You often feel demotivated and stripped when associating with such individuals.
- You are being abused and it is slighted by others in the same group.
On the other hand, here are some suggestions that the environment is healthy for you. It is actually the opposite of those above.
- Individuals are usually happy to see you.
- Your contributions are acknowledged and valued.
- You notice the efforts of others to be upfront or honest with you.
- It is easy to converse with others in the group, no matter the differences that exist.
- Commitments made with you are taken seriously.
- You are not usually interrupted (rudely) when speaking.
- Your well being is of interest to most or everyone.
Do a quick assessment of the environments you spend most of your time in and see what your conclusions are.
The reality for some is that the source of their lack of achievement or progress lies within their environment. Pursue a healthy environment where you can exhale freely, breathe in fresh air and walk within your purpose.