I am referring to all types of relationships in the following paragraphs: romantic, friendly, familial, professional, and more.
We have such a hard time with saying goodbye to toxic people. We are encouraged to use pleasantries and always say “yes,” and we often lose ourselves and our own happiness within that. As an extrovert who is generally pretty bubbly and positive, I have morphed into a doormat in too many relationships. This only results in hurting myself and causing a lot of anxiety. I have never really had a friendship falling out, but like anyone else, I have gradually drifted away from people. I realized that these individuals did not add to my life and did not value me in the way that I valued them only months or years after the drift.
We are all aware of the following points, but we hesitate to reflect and act upon them. I think that this is partly due to how we frame them, so I have done my best to define them in a way that works for me. I have only listed a few here, but I think that a lot of other points could stem from these. (in no particular order)
– While some viewpoints may differ, your overarching morals should align. I know that many people can somehow skirt around this, but this is not as easy to do if your relationships have depth to them.
– I have listed a few questions to ask yourself in relation to the first point. What would those around you say if you chose to get an abortion, join a union, attend a protest, quit your job and pursue your art, or accidentally pee your pants?
Even if they would not do these things personally, they should support your agency. This being said, your loved ones do have the right to tell you if they think that your decision is going to cause harm to yourself, them, or the over all community. Support and accountability go hand in hand. If your decisions are causing harm or making others uncomfortable, those individuals have the right to leave (both the situation and your friendship).
What would they say if you told them that you experienced racism, sexism, homophobia, or harassment? Would they support you or would they make you feel worse? Would they be willing to avoid visiting a place, or stop supporting a person or cause for your wellbeing and safety?
– You should be able to spend time apart. Boundaries are so important in all types of relationships, and one person cannot be another person’s saving grace. Loved ones can take part in your healing, but they cannot be responsible for its existence. You have to want to be helped to be helped.
– You should be growing along side one another and be happy for each other’s accomplishments.
– If they schedule a time to spend with you, you should be their priority. They should not be scrolling through their phone.
– Pay attention to who shows up for you in your times of need and in your times of celebration.
– The people in your life should be honest with you, and their honesty should come from a place of love rather than hate or envy. I think that insecurities and jealousy are normal, but being transparent about them is better than projecting them onto those around you. Additionally, if your relationship is having issues, be willing to talk through them rather than brushing them under the rug.
– You should feel your best around your friends and partners and after leaving them. In the moment, I might feel okay around certain people, but after I leave the hangouts, I often have uneasy and anxious feelings weighing on me. You should ask yourself if you feel lighter and happier after interacting with the people in your life. The moment that this changes, do not be afraid to ask yourself why.
From an outside perspective, we are all able to recognize toxicity in an instant, but this is harder to do when you have to consider the relationship that you have built and the history that you have with someone else. Necessity exists in recognizing that toxicity is a state of being; one may not be a toxic person just because they play a toxic role in your life specifically. It might even be fair to say that both people contribute to the toxic energy or were toxic at points in the relationship, and this does not make either individual a “bad” person.
We also worry about losing the connections. Just remember that you do not need to maintain a connection with every person you meet because enough room exists for you, and everyone else, to succeed without it. We pressure ourselves with the idea of competition and we push ourselves to accept toxicity because of it. We have been fed that some will make it and others will not, and we do not know who our bosses could be one day. This is just frustrating. What do bosses matter if you are jeopardizing your peace? Is working at that one specific organization really worth it if you could have just as much, or even more, success at another? As I stated previously, your entire life cannot sit in the hands of one person as that one person alone will not be able to carry it. While a lot of injustices exist in this world, I do think that we are also guilty of using the excuse that our hands are tied when we could take the initiative and leave what is not serving us.
Growth is not a bad thing, so do not make it out to be. Some paths diverge and some join. We do not have to be close with everyone, and we do not have to put ourselves through the discomfort of trying to do so. I write all of this as someone who falls into this mindset often, but I also have learned to trust my intuition. The only person who can tell me whether a situation or person adds to my life is myself.