“Certain chemical compounds can be toxic, but people cannot be toxic. Your thoughts cause your feelings. Other people don’t cause your feelings. A toxic person is just someone you aren’t managing your mind around.” – Kara Loewentheil, podcaster for Unf*ck Your Brain.
Did you know the word toxic was the most used word in 2018? A question I wish I would have asked myself a few years ago is, how can I apply a word like that to a person? To suggest that a person…a human being…is poison to me? I am so ashamed. Admitting that makes me so uncomfortable.
I’m an avid listener of podcasts and after absorbing all the episodes of the current shows I subscribe to, I search out new ones to fill my brain while I run, walk or cook.
The most recent podcast I’ve been listening to, Unf*ck Your Brain by Kara Loewentheil, is blowing my mind. The episode that initially caught my attention was one about Imposter Syndrome (maybe I’ll write a blog post about why that interests me, maybe not – either way, that’s not what this post is about). I went through the list of topics and found two that really spoke to me, Drama and Toxic People, and Boundaries.
When I left Calgary in early 2017, I felt drained and emotionally exhausted. I attributed these feelings to what I thought were toxic people that surrounded me, and leaving Calgary was a bit of a way to deal with that. There were so many reasons for me to move to Victoria at the time, including the dream of wanting to be amongst the trees and mist for over 10 years, but the “toxic people” issue was like a final push to take the leap. I needed a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t figure out how else to get it.
I told people that I felt so much better here since I left the “toxic people” behind. Saying that, and believing it made me feel like shit, like the only power I had was to leave or run. I felt like I just couldn’t handle challenging people in my life, and as someone who has a tendency to think negative thoughts often, I also wondered if I was trying to leave myself behind.
You bet I was.
Side note: Whatever my reasons were for moving to the island, I’ve met so many amazing people out here. Every one of them will be so hard to leave. The reasons I’m moving back home have absolutely nothing to do with leaving people here. I’m not trying to avoid anything and that’s how I know my decision to go back is right. I’m not running.
It’s the thought that counts
This podcast and many conversations I’ve had over the past two years, have helped me shift my perspective in a way that I sorely needed. I needed to hear that my own thoughts were causing my problems. Fundamentally, I knew this, but sometimes we take the wrong path and get a bit lost in our heads. Since I get lost everywhere else, why not do so in my own mind? It’s okay to get lost. At some point in time though, you need a little kick in the pants, like someone telling you that it’s your own thoughts that are toxic. Do you know how empowering that is? To know that you can control many situations that have caused drama in your life by exploring how you are framing it?
Fuck. Yes. Own your thoughts, own your life.
One important note: There is such a thing as abusive people. There is a line between putting time and effort in to work through issues in relationships and taking abuse. You have every right to cut abusive people out of your life.
As a sign off, I’m going to reiterate a post I shared on Twitter here because I think it sums up what I’m trying to do in my life:
“There’s something that’s been bothering me for a few years, and it’s about letting go of people when they make life hard for you. This is a mistake. It’s important to recognize your ability to cope and to set boundaries when presented with difficult situations or people.
In a world of instant gratification, it’s easy to have shallow connections. But that’s not what life is about. You need hard times to appreciate good times. My challenge to you (and myself), is to nurture relationships and set healthy boundaries, rather than shut people out.”