Stop Calling People Toxic - The Be Well Place

Stop Calling People Toxic (and Start Developing Compassion)

You see it everywhere: How to Remove Toxic People From Your Life, How to Handle Toxic Friends, and Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship. Stop it. Just stop it. Stop calling people toxic.

Calling people toxic gives us a sense of power and righteousness. It relieves us of responsibility and justifies our feelings and circumstances.

Though it’s true that some people in the world are bad news bears, nothing productive comes from placing ourselves on a pedestal above them.

Characteristics of a Toxic Person

Toxic people are typically associated with the following character traits:

  • Bullying
  • Manipulative
  • Passive-aggressive
  • Jealous
  • Selfish
  • Egotistic
  • Narcissistic

The list goes on. Let’s take a minute to reflect on these characteristics.

Can we honestly say that we have never exhibited any of these traits in our lives thus far? Have we never been jealous before? Have we never been selfish? Do we never think and act in egotistic and narcissistic ways?

Come on…yes we do. We’re human. It’s all part of the gig.

The goal is to not let such tendencies become a habit. When we observe others who allow these tendencies to become a habit, we call them toxic and tell ourselves that they are very bad no good people and should be avoided at all costs.

Sure, yes. Who wants to hang out and work with difficult, selfish people all day long? Not I said the cat.

But is it really necessary to judge and scorn? No. No it is not.

Maybe You’re the Toxic One

We commonly judge in others what we dislike in ourselves. This quote says it the best:

Stop Calling People Toxic - I Am Not What You Think I Am - The Be Well Place

When things don’t go your way and people don’t behave as you’d like, how do you respond? When you feel insecure or inferior, how do you treat the people you claim to love? When you find yourself in the same unproductive type of relationship, who do you blame?

It’s easy to hold other people responsible for our happiness, and it’s easy to label them as toxic when it seems they are irresponsible with our feelings. We quickly forget that we are the only ones in charge of our emotions and actions and end up thinking selfish, angry thoughts as a result.

But this behavior is exactly what these so-called toxic people exhibit. So the question becomes: Who’s really the toxic one?

Calling People Toxic Isn’t Helpful

Calling people toxic is a way for us to feel better about ourselves and escape responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and actions. It’s a way to assess blame and elevate ourselves rather than evolve and gain deeper understanding of people and relationships. Toxicity is a distraction from the underlying problem.

The more we accept personal responsibility for ourselves, the less we need to place blame on others and hold others accountable for how we feel.

But there’s no need to place blame on ourselves either. Blame is counterproductive to personal growth. Mistakes happen. We all make them. The most important thing to do is recognize the mistake, understand it and take measures to prevent the same mistakes from happening again. No finger pointing. No blame games.

So, the next time you see one of those “detox yourself from toxic people” images on Pinterest, resist the urge to indulge in the popular foolery. Instead, start developing compassion for people who mistreat and project their own personal insecurities onto others. You don’t have to be best friends with them, but you certainly don’t have to perpetuate the problem.

Let’s be the change. Let’s refuse to blame and simply accept that we are all at different emotional stages in life. Let’s love ourselves enough to surround ourselves with people who appreciate and respect us, but let us not condone those who do not love themselves.

Stop Calling People Toxic - When Someone Makes You Suffer - The Be Well Place


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    • Rachael Pasini says:

      Hey, MB! Thanks for commenting. When we classify certain people as “toxic,” we only toxify ourselves. Acceptance, compassion, and letting go are much healthier strategies. Be well!

  1. Alana Childers says:

    Lovely article. I’m sharing this. Labeling people “TOXIC” dehumanizes them. That person is transformed in your head into a substance, a poison with no feelings, no soul, no worth. They are people, not poison. They probably love their kids and their dog. I feel I can label actions/words as toxic, without labeling that person as toxic. I think using psychology terms is the new curse word – it both serves to attack and insult your opponent, and makes you look smart and educated. Narcissist is another psychology term that is over-used as a generic insult.

  2. Lisa says:

    While I agree that we are all ultimately responsible for our own life journey, there are times when toxic parents can do so much damage to children that they do need to be held responsible for their actions. Yes, they too were emotionally abused as children and passed this on to their children etc. We feel badly that they had to go through this but it is not a pass to be abusive to others. When simply asked to stop their demeaning behaviors, they can’t. “How dare you judge us!!!” “You ungrateful child!” Sometime people ARE toxic and you do need to break the relationship for your own well being. Especially in the most intimate relationship we have…..parent and child. Sometimes toxic people are too wrapped up in protecting their shame and guilt and are so afraid of judgement that they can’t be reasoned with. The sorrow of this is beyond words. Now the adult child moves on, breaks the cycle and becomes the best person they can.

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