I’ve been hearing and reading a lot over the past month or so about how important it is to cut toxic people from your life. I’ve heard that toxic people are those who only complain, the ones that call or visit and just unload all their problems on you and sap all of your energy. The more I read the more it felt like everyone in my life is toxic to me. I already have trouble with motivation, so after a phone call or visit from one of these people I ended up feeling completely drained for the rest of the day.
Then, maybe about a week ago something clicked. I realized that the people I was labeling toxic, really don’t fit that definition. They are asking for my help, not whining about problems that they have no intention of fixing, and I realized that I had the power to help them. I may not have a degree in psychology, but I’ve done hundreds, possibly thousands of hours of research on the subject, and I can offer some intelligent advice. If I distance myself emotionally from the problem, and approach it as clinically as possible, it even keeps me from being to drained to work on myself, and I’ve learned when to say that’s more than I can help you with, you need to talk to a professional.
One piece of advice that I’ve been giving a lot lately is that you can’t solve other people’s problems. It may seem like an ironic piece of advice coming from me after What I just said, but the truth of the matter is, I was trying to solve their problems before, but now I’m helping them to solve their own. It may seem like an insignificant distinction, however there is a world of difference between the two. If I am feeling like a lazy, worthless sack of poo, and my husband waits on me hand and foot, it doesn’t make me feel loved, or more accurately worthy of love, it makes me feel even more lazy and worthless. However, if he asks how he can help me to do the things that I need to do, and encourages me to do them, I feel loved and supported, and the tasks ahead seem less daunting.
I think it is really important to know the difference between what other people are trying to put on you, and what you are taking on yourself, before deciding that those people are toxic, and removing them from your life. So if someone you love is draining your batteries on a regular basis, take a step back emotionally and think it through. Are they asking you to fix their problems for them? Do they whine about simple issues that could be easily solved, and refuse to take steps to fix it themselves? Or are they simply asking for help or a friendly ear? Humans are social creatures, and we all need to vent sometimes, and sometimes we need help. It’s the ones that stubbornly refuse to alter their circumstances, and unload all of their burden on others that are toxic, and you need to be wary of.
That’s my opinion at any rate. I’m not a psychologist so I could be way off base here. If any of you disagree with what I’ve said here feel free to comment. I would also love to hear stories about toxic people you’ve cut from your lives, or ways in which you realized you were being toxic and made a change for the better. Thanks for reading!