Updated: Jan 27
“If it is unappetizing: Do not eat, date, or sign up for it. If the mere thought of it is depressing: Do not major in it, sit through it, or devote your life to it. If it is not important to you: Do not do it only because it is important to someone else. You will thank yourself.”
Toxic relationships and situationships are so common, I really can’t imagine a single human being who hasn’t asked at some point, “Am I in a toxic relationship / environment / job / etc.? I’m pretty sure I am and I hate it and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Unpleasantness in life is also a diagnostic.
Sh*t smells bad so you don’t eat it. Most toxic plants taste bitter or burn your mouth so you don’t eat them. You feel pain so that you can preserve your body’s safety. It’s a diagnostic tool.
The number one indicator of toxicity in your life is misery. If you are miserable, something is very wrong. Life is meant to be enjoyable, and so misery is how you know you are on the wrong track.
Every time I was miserable, I was doing something very wrong, in the wrong place, with the wrong people. And while moving away from toxic places and jobs and whatever else drains you instead of fulfills you is often a many-stepped, drawn-out, and lengthy process that takes discernment, planning, saving money, possibly asking for help, and committing (so that the Universe will kick in and conspire to assist you)....
Disentangling yourself from toxic people can be it’s own special kind of chaotic, self-doubt-filled, isolating, always-getting-dragged-back-in nightmare.
Especially when the most toxic person in your life is YOU (and you don’t even have a clue what to do about it).
HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW IF YOU ARE DEALING WITH A TOXIC PERSON?
I’m going to copy and paste from Natasha Adamo’s post “TOXIC PEOPLE: HOW TO GO ON A TOXICITY CLEANSE & WALK AWAY” because I don’t even bother to try to improve on perfection:
“Toxic people – the human form of an inescapable doom cloud that rains daggers…
Identifying Toxic People… Are they toxic? Take the quiz.
These people morph into the friend/partner/family member, etc. of the century when you’re down and out.
They’re a perpetual victim – it’s always everyone else’s fault.
When you’re happy or when something good happens to you, they react in a distant manner. Almost as if you’ve somehow upset / offended / taken something away from them and they won’t tell you what or why. You then find yourself wondering what you did wrong and eventually, you’re emotionally catering to them.
When you ask for their opinion, they respond and advise you in a way that elevates them and devalues you.
They’re very passive in their dimming techniques; their toxicity has a cumulative effect. If you call them out on a single episode of their behavior, they’ll fire back with a “whoa,” and make you feel like an overly sensitive lunatic.
They ultimately seek to passively damage other relationships of yours through their gossip, instigation, jealousy, divisiveness, etc.
They always have to have center stage. It’s often hard to get in a word with these people and they seem to suck the life and energy out of everyone and everything.
More often than not, they have a group of minion “yes” people (people pleaser alert), that enable their behavior (you may be one and not even know).
If you answered “yes” to more than one of the above, the person you’re involved with is toxic and you are toxically constipated and in desperate need of a cleanse. The first step is understanding why toxic people do what they do. For me, once I understand the operation of something, it’s not only easier to adjust my own behavior and expectations, but it’s much easier to accept, not be so affected, and move on.”
There are many kinds of toxic people, but there are 2 broad categories that most toxic people fall into:
TYPE 1, The Know-Nothings:
These are the literal bulls in the china shop of your heart. Anyone who has lived with animals can tell you that there are indeed times when animals know *exactly* what they are doing, and do it for spite. But most times...they are animals. Their gestalt or worldview doesn’t include any understanding of, much less value for, something like fine china.
A bull in a china shop was raised in a pasture. They (as frustrating as it will be) are not going to understand all that goes into making, crafting, decorating, and displaying of art (communication) and dishes (feelings). All they know is what they feel at this exact moment: confusion at the alien environment of a mature and mutual partnership (and whatever you have to say about it), feeling trapped and just wanting “out”, obliviousness at their size and clumsiness versus the delicate nature of the goods around them and the orderly spaces, distractions like possible hunger and horniness, maybe they ate a bad weed and have a stomachache...and no constructive way to self-soothe. So you, poor bystander that you are, get stampeded.
The good news is, toxic people like this, just like any animal, can be tamed and trained by giving and withholding rewards (in this case, your time, energy, and attention). So far, life and environment has taught them to be selfish because what has gotten rewarded is fending for themselves and focusing solely on their own immediate needs.
They aren’t necessarily malicious at heart (although they certainly can have their moments), they are just operating on primal survival instincts that worked well among like kind. They are just “telling you the facts” or “just doing what makes sense” without any deeper nuance, meaning, or intelligence. To them, it seems oh-so-logical because it never would occur to them to take into account their impact on you. They aren’t garbage; they are uneducated children in the emotional zone that lack self-awareness because they don’t know what they don’t know. Often, unfortunately, what they don’t know includes an understanding of your needs (no matter how many times you shout them) or the idea that other people exist at all, or are differentiated in any way. Individualizing is unknown territory.
It can be extremely frustrating because we certainly think (and definitely feel) like they SHOULD know better. And often even when we KNOW they know better, they still have infantile episodes of (what feels like) inexcusable regression.
The worst WORST part is that often WE can be the bull in another’s china shop and never realize it. We are so busy lamenting our own losses and roiling in our own terrors that we project our own failings as well; we’re convinced we’re dealing with a dumb brute when actually…*we* are bellowing and trampling so loud that we’re not listening to someone who really does care and really is sensitive, caring, and emotionally sophisticated. Every human gets categorized as a cattle-prod holder because we’ve been burned.
I know because this was me.
I have yet to come across a blog, coach, or expert (other than Doctor Elinor Greenberg) who doesn’t *insist* that you should get as far as possible from such a person because “it isn’t your job to reparent them.”
I can’t join in. I have definitely been through (sometimes months-long) periods of no-contact. But someone loved me and believed in me enough to always give me another chance. Someone *did* stand in for the functional, patient, non-condemning parent I never had, years after I became a legal adult. Someone *still* gently reminds me on occasion, even to this day, that they aren’t that dysfunctional and abusive childhood I came from. Someone who continues to grow themselves and apologizes when they take a turn being the bull.
If it hadn’t been for that kind of love and commitment, I would be dead. Granted, it took alot of struggling and bumbling (but real) effort to meet them where they’re at, but I did work at it. You get to choose what you do, but if you don’t *want* to give up on someone, you don’t have to. It is always your invitation to co-create with Fate whatever you wish to make.
TYPE 2, The Know-It-Alls:
There is another category of toxic people, and it becomes very obvious, sooner or later, what to do (leave) because at some point, you just can’t take another second of them getting high off of being “right”, being “better / smarter / holier / more successful” than you, or just outrageous for brutality’s sake.
They have an empathy level that falls somewhere between politician, rapist, and landlord-when-you-are-behind-on-the-rent. If you are doing well, they cringe as if to say, “just you wait, you’ll see defeat before long” and act as if you’ve done something to personally injure them. If you are doing poorly, they may or may not offer “assistance”, but it will always include an element of gloating and you-deserve-it shame-and-blaming. They find a way to bring you down and pin you there.
You never feel like you are dealing with a human being so much as a (usually stupid) cause, embodied in the world’s saintliest martyr. It doesn’t need to matter at all: it can be a particular way or method of doing something (for its own sake, as opposed to the way you want to do something, to the same end), a nonsensical (or *incredibly noble*) point of view, LIES AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS ABOUT YOU, a lifestyle, a cult-like religion no one in their right mind would support, a so-called authority… There is always drama because *you* can never be trusted to have an iota of “sense”, goodness, or adult / experiential capability and therefore controlling you (and others) is the only “reasonable” solution. There is always drama because, no matter how mundane or how massive of an issue, there is always something they have to be railing against (and for some reason, it usually involves your fun, viewpoint, freedom, and wellbeing--the most important things in life)--to boost their ultra-fragile all-important ego and let them be a (really lame, unfun, quixotic) hero.
This gets old very fast immediately.
They aren’t bulls in the china shop of your heart, they are saboteurs. They will carefully lob Molotov cocktails right through the windows of whatever you expose of your heart in the form of guilting, shaming, derision, fear-mongering and worst-case-scenario-ing, purposefully misinterpreting and word-twisting, invasive-then-recoilingly-absent, breaking your confidence and spreading your private business around for anyone and everyone to hear, making a scene, destructively lying... just to watch the fine china of your emotions (and health) shatter and char.
They are cruel not because it makes survivalist sense at the moment or because they just don’t get it, but because it’s a strategic game and they want to “win” by making you lose...either because they “care about” you or because “no one cares about you”.
Natasha Adamo explained it so well: “Toxic people thrive on opposition. They need the opposition like they need oxygen because it gives them a false sense of superiority and shields them from the one thing that they guard and protect with all of their might: the fact that they feel (and are), basic.
Take away their opposition and you’ll find that they’re just a house cat wearing a fake lion’s mane pretending to roar. Opposition is their pacifier.”
In the thick of it, being so broken and cut to pieces, intruded upon and demeaned, being so overwhelmed and overshadowed by their bravado and confidence…
It’s hard to see (when that close up) that what they are doing to you is how exactly, consciously or not, they feel and think about THEMSELVES. They lamely try to force others to give up the significance and specialness that they don’t realize they inherently have. They feel their significance and specialness only when you surrender / abandon yours, or when they malign you and ruin your life for the sake of demonstrating how sanctimonious they are. They are not only vandals but thieves, cheats, liars, and hypocrites also.
And if they don’t have an ounce of conscience or remorse that what they are doing is hurtful and WRONG (and they never do because in order to make this “authority” charade work, you have to be 1,000,000% delusional)...there is no sense trying to help them change because they won’t and YOU will get punished (overtly or passive-aggressively), pariahed, and crazy-labeled.
It feels like the relational version of taking a tollroad and expecting not to have to pay the tollbooth operator. It’s maddening because didn't your your stolen wages (taxes) supposedly *already* pay for the roads? And worse, it *looks* like the person in front of or behind you didn’t have to pay (maybe someone else paid for the people behind them...or maybe they are the mayor..or a cop...who knows?) but you do. You start to wonder why *you* aren’t important / special / lucky enough.
Just know that “free passers” (other people who always get treated with the respect and carte blanche *you* deserve and never seem to get) will pay somewhere, someday, and your best option is to take another road if you don’t want to get fined because tollbooth operators take your money, that’s just how it is, just as toxic people try to take your emotional wealth.
It’s really NOT you, or how valuable you are, or how worthy you are.
It’s them and their issues and their conscious or unconscious inferiority complex that they try to make into everyone else’s issues (camouflaged as “care”).
It’s only you in as much as YOU get to decide which road you will take, and who you will spend your time and emotional energy on.
Once you realize that some people will always demand an emotional toll (and the surrender of your autonomy) with no less sense of entitlement than an actual tollbooth employee, you are free. You can stop expecting respect, dignity, warmth, recognition, nurturing, consistency, maturity, support, or real connection from whence it shall never come. With unrealistic expectations out of the way, you can discover and honor your own value, your own standards, and allow your boundaries to enforce themselves.
You can be alot less reactive and weak and alot more “my life is my own”.
You can engage your own healing and self-awareness, and start the creative work of finding other people and paths, ones that are better than you could have ever imagined. You can get out ahead and stop playing the role assigned to you in a toxic, rigged game that was designed for you to lose. You can do whatever it takes to be physically free because you are mentally and emotionally free. As within, so without. They MUST vibrationally synchronize. It is Law.
If things weren’t lining up for you, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Your detox from toxic people, places, and events starts today. The past is gone. You start NOW.
All My Love (Always!),
Photographer Unknown, Model Unknown; Sourced from free media on Wix.Com website builder, under "Posing In Tropical Garden"