One of the most recurring themes from my past two years has been the practice of eliminating toxic* people and situations from my life. It has been the most necessary and challenging lesson I have ever learned. By the time I turned 25, I really started to practice what I preach about making space. Of course, not without screwing up here and there. Many, many times.
*And no, this isn’t an excuse to write a blog post to talk negatively about anyone. Quite the opposite.
By making space, I mostly mean letting go. With that, you can’t really harbor any resentment. That’s the key. More on that later.
The definition of toxic
First, let’s define “toxic.”
This doesn’t mean they’re bad people or situations in general. I mean, they might be. By my definition it just means that their energy doesn’t quite mesh with yours and they’re just going to bring you down or keep you stagnant.
Sometimes people only work in your life for a particular time period. It’s the sad truth about growing up.
Friendships, unfortunately, come and go
Freshly 24, I had confronted a friend that I had over a decade’s worth of love, but also quite a few years of frustration with.
Spoiler alert: It did NOT go over well. My hurt feelings spilled out quickly over a number of texts (never a good look) and long story short, my messages were left unanswered altogether.
I never claimed to be the only one at fault, but there wasn’t even an attempt for reconciliation. Ties were severed instantly. And it was sad, I’m not gonna lie. But that’s where all of this started.
I faded away from other friends whose behaviors were self-serving and stopped putting my energy towards them.
Toxic love is even worse
Then, I noticed similar situations started to happen in my other relationships. That’s when everything started to snowball. Rapidly.
I fell for someone who was too self absorbed to fall for me. It took me months to finally cut things off.
I was stuck in an on-and-off-and-on-and-off relationship that spanned literal years. An on-and-off relationship should be in the dictionary next to the word toxic.
I got swept up by a guy who had no interest in being serious and continually disrespected me.
Then there was another who was too freaked out about his own life to think about mine. Of course that had to be the reason—it couldn’t possibly be that we just weren’t right for each other.
And another who must’ve lived on some other planet he was so delusional.
I was striking out left and right but I kept going. I was fueling the fires of these negative situations for myself for too long, and for what?
See what I mean about toxic? And this is just across a span of six months. What gives?
The second part of the definition of toxic
The second part of (my) definition of toxic is that if you don’t let go and make space, you will start to get trapped in a pattern.
It’s like I was addicted to getting things so wrong (I wasn’t, I swear). I was attracting the very situations I wanted to avoid. I kept letting myself get stuck in similar situations hoping things would be different but seeing the same signs from the beginning. I was neglecting the fact that while these are all relatively good people, clearly they’re bad for me.
What I’m trying to illustrate here by airing my dirty laundry is that these situations each sucked in their own ways, big or small, but I played a major part in them by engaging in similar situations that failed me before.
People tell you what you don’t want to hear
After a while I stopped chasing after them when things started to fizzle out and before they burst into flames. It took me quite a bit to figure this out.
It’s like the quote says:
Quit making excuses for everyone else
We’re so quick to make excuses for people in our lives to try and find reasons why they act the way that they do. The guy that can’t own up to his mistakes? He’s just damaged. The friend who didn’t want to have a conversation with me? She’s too self absorbed. It can’t possibly be us…right?
The truth is, those things we tell ourselves about other people, or even ourselves, might not even be true. We are constantly feeding ourselves lies.
The REAL truth is, the answers that people give you (or fail to give you) ARE the answers. You need to take them at face value. The way that people act towards you and treat you are the answers you’ve been searching for in that text message or in-person conversation.
Sometimes, that REALLY sucks.
Quit complaining & let it go already
There comes a time when you start to get frustrated about the whole thing. Regardless of the situation, when people hurt you, you’re more likely to start thinking negative thoughts about them. It’s essentially human nature.
Even when we know we’re not totally innocent, we start to place so much blame on the other people. You think about all of the terrible things they’ve ever done to you so much that you forget there was ever any positivity in the relationship.
After a while, that starts to get reallyold. People get sick of hearing your complaints. You get sick of your own thoughts. It feels difficult to “get over” it.
The trick to letting go of toxic situations
Here’s the kicker, and the choice I made for myself that changed everything:
When you make that space, letting go of the negativity or resentment you might be harboring, amazing things start to happen.
But that’s only if you remember that trick. And meanit.
If you REALLY want to let them go, you can’t hold on to any negative feelings that came with them in the first place. That’s not creating space. That’s actually adding more crap to your life to weigh you down. I swear that once I figured this out, I felt so much lighter. It all started to click.
To anyone out there that I’ve severed ties with over the past few months or years: I wish you nothing but the absolute best. And I mean it. I hope you can mean that too.