How do you feel when you read articles and social posts that suggest you need to: "cut toxic people out of your life"?
I see so many social media posts suggesting that I cut toxic people out of my life, and all the resounding "yes!" responses that they generate. However, they almost always leave me with a feeling of uneasiness. This type of message may inadvertently expand the ego, while not really offering positive modeling or an understanding of everyone's unique situation.
It’s very easy to pronounce that everyone needs to cut toxic people out of their lives, and that we all deserve better. But what are the realities beyond that idealistic recommendation?
Ask yourself: Is it your Ego or your Soul responding to that need.
It's subtle, but there's a meaningful difference between cutting toxic people out of your life for your Self, because you truly know you are worth it and value yourself at that level - and choosing to do it because you want the other person to suffer or to make them understand their wrongdoing.
If you feel yourself comparing yourself favorably to the “toxic” person, and a sense of self-importance sweeps in, then you are, unfortunately, responding to Ego.
For those of us with issues around Self-Worth, i.e. not feeling “good enough”, we can already be more susceptible to being drawn into relationships that don’t serve us, and which conflict with our Soul’s highest path of evolution.
Check-in with your Self-Worth
If we all had the amount of Self-Worth necessary to correctly handle people who routinely hurt us, we probably would have made different choices already. It's our own wounded Self-Worth that keeps us prisoner to another's unacceptable behaviors.
Cutting someone toxic out of our lives is something we may not be able to do easily, or on our own. We may recognize a situation as toxic, but feel powerless to act. Then, due to our lack of wisdom on how to act in accordance with what our Soul is truly calling out for us to do, we don't cut that person off, and that in turn reinforces the message that we're not good enough, because we feel incapable of making "the right" choice for ourselves.
Heal your wounded Self-Worth
To begin the path of healing our Self-Worth, we might cut someone toxic out of our lives, but if we haven’t walked the path of healing the root cause, we will only end up letting them back in again – or attract another similarly toxic person into our lives. It takes deep work, and a desire to heal the wounded self and create a life that is free from toxicity.
It all begins with how we love and accept ourselves. We must make a daily commitment to remind ourselves how valuable we are, and support ourselves in ways which remind us that we are worthy and whole just as we are. We must bring so much awareness to our thoughts, that we can re-write the thought patterns that have previously served to re-affirm our feeling of unworthiness or incompleteness.
The complexity of release
I would also like to add that cutting people out of our lives is not always a simple task! It can be agonizingly difficult, actually. There are so many factors to consider! Family may be involved, close friends, professional colleagues. Messy, interwoven situations which don't untie as easily as a whimsical social media meme may suggest.
I am speaking from personal experience when I share: Cutting someone off in anger, does NOT leave you with a feeling of peace. It haunts you. If you do want to permanently sever ties, you must find yourself very healed, grounded and centered first. Cutting someone off should protect you, not harm you.
Familial ties are blood ties, not easily broken. If our parents or siblings are involved, it can be very traumatic to cut someone off. It will take a huge amount of self-awareness not to always be looking for affirmation of their love to fill up your empty well of Self-Worth, while also finding a way to evolve beyond the guilty feeling that you are doing something wrong.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you most likely need to seek external support. Unfortunately, in my past, I had personal experience with the cruel illusion of being under someone else's control. Just "cutting them off", may not seem like a viable option for many. Asking for help is often the only way to crawl your way out from under the fear of leaving.
Asking for help isn't always easy
If you aren't able to do it alone, but know you have to, then you will need to seek and accept help. To do this brings about the added challenge and likelihood of feeling really ashamed. I was horribly embarrassed to have been in an abusive relationship. I felt that it reflected poorly on me, and was confirmation of my weakness and worthlessness. Because of that shame, it was excruciatingly difficult to ask for help.
What CAN I do to feel safe and detox from harmful people?
I see it like this: there are levels of toxicity. Start by determining what level you are being impacted by.
If you are in a high level toxic relationship that you feel threatened and trapped by, it is essential you follow your heart’s calling to find safety for yourself, and for some, your children. Please visit https://www.thehotline.org to seek assistance for Domestic Violence, including online chat, and telephone numbers for both English and Spanish speakers in the USA.
Another high-level toxic relationship is indicated where Narcissistic people are involved. It is a tragedy when you have a parent who is a Narcissist, and I would highly advise seeking professional therapy to help you navigate the road to healing. You will likely need to create strict boundaries, and have support in doing so. Anyone involved with a Narcissist needs to remember that they are actually incapable of empathizing with your emotions or world view. You will not be able to change them, and it is best to protect yourself by distancing yourself from those who lack empathy and are master manipulators.
If you are experiencing this level of toxicity, your physical safety must come first, and you must find the courage to seek help, as well as work diligently to plan how to remove yourself from their influence. Don't delay a moment longer.
Mid-level toxicity is when there are people in your life who create negative vibes when you see them or interact with them. These are people who may stir up trouble for you, they may want you to suffer in some way, or they may simply be very selfish in their demands of you.
You may find these people popping in and out of your thoughts throughout the day, and you may notice yourself generating negative thoughts towards them, as a way to process the toxicity being imparted. You may also experience difficult situations because of their behavior towards you.
This type of toxicity is still very harmful, as the current of negativity bubbles under the surface of your life, impacting your thoughts and emotions. You may be able to “cut them off”, but then again, you may not! What if they are the parent of your child? Or your best friend’s husband? Or an entire sector of society? It might not be easy to simply cut them out of your life completely.
At this level, it’s important to structure boundaries, and let the other party know what is acceptable, and what is not. It will require work to uphold those boundaries, but if done correctly, should be achievable.
Low-level toxicity is more like friends, acquaintances and colleagues who gossip, make inappropriate comments and jokes about you or others, and who do not operate with self-awareness. These people are likely toxic, but aren’t connected to you in a way that is difficult to break away from. You can decide on boundaries that feel appropriate to protect yourself from the negative impact of their toxicity.
For example, you can tell someone that you simply prefer not to engage in gossip. You may even choose to stand up for yourself or others who are at the brunt of their negativity. It is ok to remind someone what is acceptable and what is not, and speaking up in the face of that sort of negativity goes a long way.
These people are rarely so offensive that you need to “cut them off” in a dramatic way. You simply stop socializing with them so often. You don’t engage with their negativity. You find ways for it not to affect you.
We should take the issue of our Self-Worth very seriously. Working on the that must be a priority: begin a practice of self-inquiry to discover which ways your own thoughts and behaviors are toxic to yourself. If we are able to speak kindly to ourselves, to forgive and love ourselves, and detox from our past experiences, we will start to create less toxic relationships in the present.
Crucially, we should never consider “cutting someone off” as a broad sweeping solution that anyone can do with ease. How we protect ourselves is layered and nuanced, and often tricky to implement. Be cautious, and ask for support as necessary. Ensure that your physical safety is your number one priority, and your emotional and spiritual equilibrium are your secondary priority.
If we live by the rule, "do no harm", and extend it to ourselves and others, it goes a long way to preserve a beautiful, supported energy that will allow you to blossom and grow toward your highest good.