Most Don’t Even Know When They Are Toxic
I’ve been growing weary about how often people are quick to label things as “toxic” or “negative.” In fact, I’ve recently written about how we can use toxic motivation to get positive results. I’m all for loving people from a distance when your well-being promotes it, but we have to be cautious about cutting people off just because we can vaguely categorize them as toxic.
Most People Aren’t Deliberately Being Cruel
We are all responding to certain stimuli based on our conditioning and what we’ve learned over the years. Some people never learned better behaviors than the self-destructive patterns their families promoted.
This means that our coping mechanisms do a lot of our thinking. When facing a reality that isn’t pleasant, it can be easy to come up with creative justifications or live in total denial. Sometimes, a husband may feel so powerless to a wife’s situation that he convinces himself that she is choosing to focus on the negatives rather than focus on the positives.
Granted, it is certainly nothing short of selfish to ignore someone’s suffering just because you are helpless to the situation. But, this case is more of a survival mode issue than it is maliciousness. You may need to maintain emotional independence from this person, but if they are not gleeful in your suffering, they may need a little patience and forgiveness.
Hurt People Hurt People
People who are suffering often express that by lashing out. Emotionally healthy people aren’t assholes. They don’t need defense mechanisms to compensate for damage. They have healthy boundaries that function in place of attitude, denigration, and superiority. Hurt people — there’s just pain and anger.
They can heal, but have to choose to do that. There is no way of knowing if someone will change their perspectives. Some do, some don’t. These are the ones you may have to love from afar.
Most People Mean Well
We use “mean well” to describe someone who didn’t perform well. People generally make decisions with the best of intentions. The parents who bubble wrap their children to a level of total dependence often don’t mean to make 20-year-olds who are emotionally still pre-teen, but they check all of the boxes of what is necessary for it to happen.
In the above situation, the husband doesn’t mean to make the wife feel alone in her pain. He only means to distance himself from feelings of helplessness to her pain. Unfortunately, his refusal to accept that her situation keeps him from being able to understand her situation. He meant well, but didn’t do well.
Only you can determine if someone is “too much” for you. But, make certain that you are understanding someone’s motives before determining your response. Your response may be of the best of intentions, but could be toxic to them if you aren’t careful.
It’s that easy to slip down that slope.
Related Journaling Prompts: That “toxic” person — is it them or their coping mechanism? Have my coping mechanisms made me toxic to someone else?
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