When I moved from Massachusetts to Florida, I sought out new connections with individuals and groups. Casting a wide net, I let intuition draw me to this or that person or organization. Over time, I culled my connections by following my interests and instincts, and by deciding which of them enhanced my physical and emotional well-being.

Do you seek optimum health in your connections? Regarding individuals, here are some things to look for. How an individual takes care of her or himself and treats others; manages emotions; grapples with problems; is there for you; is neither jealous of nor competitive with you; can engage in and tolerate disagreement; can be honest with you; is change, not-victim oriented; can talk about intimate issues and listen when you open up with the real you; values physical and emotional health and strives for it; and shares some of your passions, values, or interests.

When looking for a group to join, it’s also vital to have an idea of what you’re seeking and what you definitely want to avoid. During my life, I recall having been in several settings—educational and occupational--in which too much griping and groaning went on and not much fun or problem-solving. If you tend to see yourself as a victim, this type of group might feel right and familiar to you, but watch out. It’s best to seek out collective situations in which there’s a healthy, proactive, empowering mindset.

Notice how you feel in group settings. I recently left a group I’d been in for several years because I noticed that more and more I felt angry at the end of meetings and as if I were wasting my time. Initially, I’d loved this particular crowd, but over time some individuals I liked left and others I didn’t care for joined and the tone of our gatherings felt more hostile than relaxed. Another aspect of group assessment is how it functions. Is it dysfunctional like your family is or was and, therefore, feels familiar? If so, stay away. Look for groups that are well led, where people can be honest and open, where’s there’s fairness, enthusiasm, compassion, kindness, and compatibility among members.

If you frequently complain about a friend or group—old or new—that’s a signal that something is wrong with the connection. Usually it’s worthwhile to try to discuss your feelings to try to improve the relationship, but if you’ve done this to no avail, it’s time to say goodbye and move on. As your eating problems and life in general improve, you may find that you’re drawn to healthier people and groups. Surrounding yourself with healthy connections can do wonders to speed on your recovery.