For me, the ‘essence of humanity’ is kindness.
Easy for me to say, right? Go back through time and there’s a continual running theme:
“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you.”
“Love Thy Neighbour”
― Galatians 5:4
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
― Caroline Flack
“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we Pooh?” asked Piglet. “Even longer,” Pooh answered
― Winnie The Pooh
“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”
― Tennessee Williams
Search the world wide web and you’ll find millions of references to kindness. Being kind never hurt anyone, but being mean and spiteful.. it causes pain.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always kind and I really have gotten it wrong at times but one thing I know is that when I’ve lashed out and chosen a negative route to express the way that I am feeling – it’s not only caused the other person pain, but also it’s hurt me too.
So, how then do we deal with toxic people?
Firstly, what do I mean by toxic people?
Do you know someone who is difficult and causes a lot of conflict and drama in your life? People like this can create unnecessary amounts of stress and unpleasantness for you and others, not to mention emotional or even physical pain.
I guess you could say that a toxic person is anyone whose behaviour adds negativity to your life.
One thing I would say is that often people who come across as toxic are dealing with their own issues and in order to deal with those issues, they lash out and don’t present themselves in the best light.
Wouldn’t the best option be to just cut toxic people out of your life?
It’s not always that easy.
We can work with them or they can be part of our family. If that is the case, then we need to consider the consequences and impact that severing connections will have.
Sometimes, siblings just don’t get on. They bring the worst out of one another but does that mean that you cut them out? Does that mean that you treat them badly because they treat you badly? If you do choose that route, how will that impact your parents for example? For me, I would simply say, you can’t ‘cut’ people out. I believe that we should approach negative behaviour with kindness rather than reciprocating with negativity.
Kindness can be hard though, being the bigger person can be hard. Yes, it can be really hard… but being a good person is hard and it takes work and if you compromise yourself when someone chooses to emotionally injure you, you lose your self control and the essence of who you are.
Now, it’s important to note that I am 100% not advocating that you let someone walk all over you. NOT AT ALL. No one has the right to do that but by understanding ‘why’ someone is behaving in the way that they are, you will be able to determine what you choose to do.
I’ve got a family member who is incredibly difficult – I never know where I stand and no matter what I do, it’s wrong and it’s picked apart and causes severe animosity. They are just awful to me.
While I love them dearly, I know that they cause me unnecessary anxiety and so I’ve worked hard to emotionally distance myself from them – that’s really hard. I have to work at that every day, it takes a lot of self-talk and meditation but that ability to emotionally disconnect myself means that I am able to spend time with them in a social setting with others and not lash out and cause them hurt. I think that’s the most important thing here – I am not facing their negativity with negativity – I am facing it with kindness to both them and myself.
Strange that I use the word ‘kindness’ here. I could have approached them on the attack, always ready to pounce if they say anything to me but that means that I am always on edge. That doesn’t help me and it also doesn’t help my relationships with other people either. Being on guard like that is so hard. By accepting them as they are and knowing that they have their reasons for doing what they do.. it’s easier to let go and move on – essentially not taking on their issues and moving on.
Compromising yourself to accommodate others doesn’t help anyone. Approach people and yourself with kindness and you won’t go wrong. You don’t know what someone else’s story is.. whatever it is, it’s their’s and it’s up to you how to take control of your actions.
Start with kindness.