Ugh, doesn’t the word toxic make your stomach clench? If you look up the dictionary definition, the first thing to come up is “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation” but the definition for toxic when you’re talking about people is “extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful”. To me, both can pertain to how a person makes you feel or acts towards you. People CAN be poisonous. People CAN be malicious. I’m sure one time or another at some point in your life or even now you have had to deal with someone who is toxic. Someone who no matter how hard you try or what you do to make things better, they continue to drag you down. They hurt you without thought of your feelings or what you may be going through. They attack your character and spread false rumors. They attack your heart and your spirit. And if you let them continue to do so, their toxicity starts to slowly infiltrate into your heart. The poison that you hated so much coming from a toxic person, starts to take over your heart as well and you start to become bitter. You don’t want to, but because you aren’t actively forgiving people who harm you, letting things ago and moving on, you will become the same kind of toxic person. The cycle will continue to worsen as you keep allowing others who are toxic in your life to affect you.
Most of you right now can name at least one or more people who come to mind when you think of toxic people in your life. You’re sitting here nodding your head and shouting “YES!!! That’s exactly what is going on!!”, but how do you fix it? What can you do to make sure you don’t become bitter, angry or sad? How can you make sure you don’t become toxic to someone else?
First off, remember that you deserve peace. No one should have to suffer continuously at the hands of another person, ever. There’s a quote I love that says “If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else”.
So, how do you find and keep that peace? Easier said than done right? Well I can’t tell you exactly how to do that, but I can tell you how I try to find my peace.
I don’t advertise myself as super religious or push my beliefs on others that don’t want to hear it, but I find peace in God. Knowing that he has a plan for me and my life, and that this is all just temporary, it helps me breathe a little easier. I also know that to find peace, you have to forgive. Which is hard when you’ve been extremely hurt. You don’t want to forgive that person, they don’t deserve your forgiveness. Okay, so let’s say they really don’t deserve your forgiveness. Don’t YOU deserve peace? Don’t you deserve forgiveness? Doesn’t God forgive you every time you sin or mess up? In Matthew 6:14-15, it says “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. So basically, God won’t forgive you if you can’t forgive others for what they have done to you. Now, God doesn’t say its easy to forgive. He never says you won’t struggle with it or can’t struggle with it. You are human after all. But you have to overcome the hate in your heart and let it go. Pray about it. Know that you have no control over what other people do. Also know that there might be a reason that the toxic people in your life might be attacking you that might not even have to do with you, or struggling with something that makes them lash out at others. But mostly, realize you will not find peace for yourself until you can forgive those people. And YOUR PEACE MATTERS. So, even if you think those people don’t deserve your forgiveness, give it for yourself. And give it to them for God. You don’t need that laying so heavily on your heart that you can barely breathe most days and always watch your back wondering when someone might attack you again. There’s another quote by Daniell Koepke I love that says, “Not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Some of them love us dearly. Many of them have good intentions. Most are toxic to our being simply because their needs and way of existing in the world force us to compromise ourselves and our happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us. And as hard as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well-being a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself”. I love this because sometimes the most toxic people in our lives can be someone we love. And that probably hurts the most. And then there are other times where this quote doesn’t pertain to a toxic person. Sometimes a toxic person can just be bitter and hateful and spiteful and cruel…and they don’t love you. They DON’T mean well and even when you want to believe they do, they don’t. And you need to learn to see that and let that go too. Because not everyone will love you. Not everyone will like who you are or how you live your life. And that is OKAY. It’s okay…really. Because their opinions DO NOT MATTER. Period. End of discussion, don’t spend one more dang minute of your time worrying about what that person or those people might think of you. YOU know your character. YOU know your heart. GOD knows your heart. And the people closest to you, who know you deep down, KNOW your heart. Eventually, people will see the truth of who you are. And who toxic people are. Forgiving those people who harm you is not excusing their behavior by any means. It’s forgiving them so you don’t allow that hurt to consume you whole. It’s forgiving them because God wants you to. That doesn’t mean you have to keep them in your life. You can forgive someone and still know that they don’t belong in your life. You can still put that distance between those people so you don’t have to continue to get hurt over and over again. But remain strong in your faith. Remember who you are. And always forgive. Because one day, you might mess up and need forgiveness too.
If I can pray for you in any way, or if you need someone to talk to because you struggle with this or even something different, please reach out to me. Here’s to your peace. To your happiness. Which YOU deserve.