Are you a toxic person?
You could be my best friend, but someone else's worst enemy.
Are you a toxic person?
Yes. Yes you are. As am I and as is everyone else on this planet. I’m sorry if that upsets you, but it is a sad fact of life. You may never intend to be toxic, you may never intend to harm another person and yet what you intend and what you end up doing are rarely ever the same.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Clichés only become clichés, because of the truth behind them.
The reason I know this, is because whether or not you are toxic, isn’t always within your control. You can make all the right decisions based on your current knowledge. You can have the best manners and have the kindest nature and still to someone out there, you will have a negative effect. Perception is a thing, not unique to humans, however the way we use it is quintessentially unique.
Imagine you woke up this morning, you opened your phone and you see a text message from work, you were meant to be there a half-hour ago. You panic. Now you hurriedly rush to dress yourself, you struggle to find shoes, you barely make it out the door looking like a functional human being. You sit in the car and realise you didn’t get petrol last night, you had planned to get up early, but now you’re going to be even later due to your lack of poor planning. After ten minutes of unexpected traffic, you stop in the petrol station. You know this will only add more traffic to your journey the longer it takes. You hastily fill the tank, proceed to the checkout – what’s this? No wallet!
Now the lady behind the counter is telling you she can’t let you leave without paying, she’ll have to take your license details and registration of the vehicle. Now you’re really flustered, you start to add it up. Another ten minutes for her to take all your details, another ten minutes to drive home and get your wallet, another ten minutes to drive back and pay at the petrol station, by the time you get in you’ll probably be sacked. So you snap. You snap at the innocent lady behind the counter because of your failure to organise yourself. At that moment you allow this stranger to bear the brunt of your insecurity. That lady has no context of your morning, no previous perception of you, just this outburst. At that moment, you are toxic.
Now maybe you’re not the type to lose your head in this situation.
Maybe over the course of your life, you’ve found a way to let these feelings go. How did you learn the ability to let this go? You made mistakes in your infancy all the way through your teen years, into adulthood and you will continue to make mistakes. I think of how people who knew me growing up have a preconceived idea of the person I am, based on their understanding of who I was then. It’s odd to me that they might meet me now and misinterpret my whole being in a way that fits the narrative of me they have already created in their head.
I’m guilty of this myself, of holding grudges against people who I felt have hurt me when in reality I have no idea who those people are now. Just as they have no idea of who I am now.
When you start to look at yourself in terms of who you used to be and who you are now, you realise the things that make you so damn proud of you are and the things you still need to work on. We forget that within each of us, is a child who is still learning how to be human. If we can sit with the child within us and have those uncomfortable conversations, we have the potential to forgive ourselves for situations that continue to hold us back.
It’s not up to the people around us to heal our trauma, that burden lies within each of us. You are your own responsibility.
The paradox is that real toxic people don’t know they are toxic. Nor do they think they could be. (But that’s a conversation for another day.)
In learning how to “be an adult”, we make emotional decisions that are integral to maturing. We learn that not every situation warrants an emotional response, we learn how to control our feelings. We learn that not everyone deserves to hear our stories. What age do we stop throwing tantrums? I won’t lie, I still throw a good tantrum every now and again, but I find it’s when I’ve suffocated my voice for too long and my body reflexively explodes with emotion.
So yes we are all toxic. There are people who have been in your life, that will never forgive you and that is okay. You have to forgive you. You have to accept the version of you that others see, is the version they create. It is none of your business what they think. It is not up to you to control their perspective.
Reality itself is subjective. How I choose to live my life, no matter how good my intentions may be, will be construed as living “wrong” to someone who holds different values.
You must continue to live your values and your truths regardless of their interpretations because they will be interpreted.
I could be your best friend but somebody else’s worst enemy – whether I choose to be or not.
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