Toxic People

There’s a relatively new term floating around. “Toxic people”. Have you heard of it? It refers to people who have wronged you in some way, people who make choices you don’t approve of, people who are aren’t a good influence, people who ‘make you’ feel uncomfortable, angry, anxious, or hurt. Those are called “toxic people”.

Can you think of a few “toxic people” in your life? Maybe it’s a coworker, a neighbour, a person from the gym. Maybe it’s closer to home, a sibling, a parent, or a spouse. We all have “toxic people” in our lives.

Here’s what thought leaders, pinterest quotes, and self-development gurus tell you to do about toxic people:

Cut them out of your life.

I don’t know about you, but that advice just doesn’t sit well with me. Here’s three reasons why.

Reason #1: You can’t run from challenge.

Got a problem? Run from it.

Is something hard? Give up.

Is something bothering you? Throw it away.

Is someone “toxic”? Cut them out of your life.

Welcome to planet Earth. There’s going to be challenge. There’s going to be struggle. There’s going to be difficult people, tough situations, and taxing circumstances. You’re not in heaven yet, so this is a part of life. But if you cut all the things that challenge you out of your life, you’ll be left with nothing.

Instead, love. I’m not saying that you should invite everyone over for a picnic. I’m just saying that you don’t get to choose who deserves your love and respect and who doesn’t. Everyone deserves your love, forgiveness, and compassion.

Does that sound hard? Yes? Again, welcome to planet Earth, where hard things are expected of you every day. So dig deep into your heart and love that person, even if it’s from a distance.

Reason #2: Hurt people hurt people.

No one wakes up one day saying, “I want to be a toxic person!”

It’s that that person has been through trauma. That person has had a rough go. That person doesn’t have the skills to self-regulate their own emotions and behaviour. That person is hurting, and they may not even know it.

There’s a quote from an unknown source, “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people that didn’t cut you.”

If there’s a “toxic person” in your life, you can bet that they’ve been hurt and they’re bleeding on you. But instead of helping them stop the bleeding, you’re upset by the blood they’ve gotten on you.

Instead, see if there’s a way you can help them heal. Be tactful, be compassionate, and be patient. Don’t take things personally, even if it feels personal. Just remember that person is bleeding out. Start having some meaningful interactions and conversations with them instead of excising them from your life.

If you catch my drift, that “toxic” person has leprosy - emotional and mental leprosy. They don’t need to be culled, they need to be touched.

Reason #3: Take a look in the mirror.

Who made you the judge, jury, and executioner? Why do you get to decide who’s acceptable and who’s not? Are you perfect? Why do you get to throw the stones?

One of my uncles once said that it takes two to tango. And I think that relates here. It takes two people to be in a good relationship and it takes two people to be in a dysfunctional relationship. If you’re in a relationship/friendship/interaction with a toxic person, take a look in the mirror. Probably the exact same traits that drive you batty about the other person are right there in some shape or form looking back at you in your reflection.

What if you are the wounded one? What if you are the one bleeding on others? What if you’re the “toxic person”?

Wouldn’t you appreciate someone loving you anyway? Wouldn’t you appreciate someone recognizing your hurts? Couldn’t that meaningful conversation that someone courageously starts with you change your life?

I know it’s hard, and I’m not saying I’m perfect at this but I invite you to join me in dealing with “toxic people”:

  • let them know they’re still a part of your life with a kind text, phone call, or conversation
  • practice compassion and forgiveness like their life depends on it - because it might
  • don’t let someone else’s choices, comments, or behaviours make you one ounce less of the person you want to be - stay kind, be light-hearted, keep smiling
  • keep your distance if you must, but maintain a loving attitude toward them

P.S. Are you wondering why I’m so passionate about this topic? It’s because I was a toxic person. And my family loved me anyway. They didn’t cut me out of their lives. They helped me grow and patiently waited for me to find my heart again.

And the material that I share with my clients is exactly what healed my wounds.

Here’s to Conquering Stress,

The Stress Experts

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