So there is an unfortunate truth in the world that simply cannot be ignored. Many people like to try to pretend it’s not a thing or not as bad as it seems. Sometimes people ignore it and hope it will go away. Sometimes people enjoy the train wreck that ensues after it strikes.
The “it” that I’m talking about is toxicity. No matter who you are, I can guarantee that you have someone in your life that is somehow toxic to you. This could be a friend, a parent, a partner, a co-worker. It could be someone you really, really love or it could be someone you really, really can’t stand.
As humans, we all receive interruptions and distractions from others, some of whom we may even be able to identify as thoughtless or unkind or selfish, some of whom we can identify at toxic. There is simply no way to avoid this, to avoid these interactions completely. Because toxicity is all around us.
So what is toxicity when it comes to others? Does it mean that the person is inherently bad? Does it mean that they have ill intentions and mean to cause pain and suffering? Or does it mean something else?
For the most part, it is safe to say that people are typically NOT toxic through and through. People are typically NOT full of ill wishes and intentions and are seeking out ways to cause havoc in your life and/or the lives of others. Sure, there are some of those folks out there, but they truly are few and far between.
Toxicity is really more about someone’s behavior and treatment of you (yes, YOU). Someone may treat you in a way that is toxic for you, but may not be for someone else. This person’s behavior may cause you to feel a certain way, typically bad, and therefore you may decide to keep your distance.
It is always ok to work to keep yourself safe from toxic people, regardless of who they are. A “title” does not grant immunity to poor behavior that causes you pain and suffering. “Blood” does not give someone an undeniable right to have access to your mind, your heart, and your soul. Intimate access to your inner workings is a privilege that must be earned and a title simply isn’t enough.
Ok, so what do you do if you realize that you have toxic people in your life? How do you manage it? I wish there was a simple answer, but unfortunately there really isn’t one. There are just so, so many variables to each relationship and as we know, relationships are simply not created by a cookie-cutter. Consequently, you will need to decide how you want each of your relationships to look, toxic or not.
Some people are able to simply cut toxic people out completely. And sometimes this is truly the most simple answer although it can be very, very difficult to execute. Some people are not able to cut out a toxic person completely, for a variety of reasons. So then it becomes a matter of working to set boundaries that work for you. The hiccup here, however, is that toxic people often do not respect boundaries, so this can often feel like a lot of work.
Some people move back and forth between these two potential solutions. Again, there is no right answer except the one that works best for you, yes YOU. This is not about someone else’s needs or wants. This is about keeping yourself safe from someone you have identified as toxic to your being.
The other technique that can be helpful is learning how to shield yourself from the negative energy that the toxic person brings to your life. Shielding is really all about visualization and all about practice. It’s not something that you do one time and have it mastered. It’s something that requires diligent thought, practice, and rehearsal.
Some people shield themselves by envisioning being surrounded by a bubble. Some people shield themselves by seeing themselves in a protective suit. Some people shield themselves by imagining themselves in their “happy place”, wherever that may be, whatever that may look like.
Remember, these are just examples. Really, shielding yourself from toxicity can look however you want it to look, however it works for you. There is no “right answer” except the one that you find to be most effective. Because you, yes YOU, have all the answers you need inside. And I believe in YOU and in your ability to find those answers.
A Testimonial From a Previous HTW Client
"Never before have I ever felt so comfortable and trust worthy in a therapeutic environment. Megan has created a "zen like" atmosphere in her treatment room. Calm, safe, thoughtful. I would, and have, recommended Megan to two of my closest friends. She has saved me ANOTHER 20 years of therapy with ART and her gentle and kind manner."