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:
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:
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.
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