I posted a video on this topic on my Instagram (@jwreyallday) a few weeks ago about an encounter I had while walking my dog. Today I was prompted by a second, much more personal, experience that reminded me I’ve been wanting to post on this because it’s critically important. (Ok, Universe, I see you…I’m writing, I’m writing…).
How someone treats you is a reflection of them, not of you. How you respond and what you allow in your life, however, IS a direct reflection of you. More on this in a minute.
It is an unfortunate truth that there are some deeply unpleasant people in this world who derive pleasure from attempting to cause others pain. Their reflection in the world is of their own self-loathing, pain, and internal battles which can manifest on a range from mildly unpleasant to full blown narcissism (I do not use that in a cute ‘pop psychology’ way…narcissistic rage is a real thing. I don’t wish that nonsense on anyone). These are the “hurt people” who “hurt people”. You’ve all known them. You’ve been challenged by them. Maybe they’re in your family. Maybe you’ve loved them, dated them, have been married to them. Maybe you’ve stayed too long, given too much, told yourself they’ll change…
I believe, and will always believe, that A.N.Y.O.N.E. can change and heal if they have a deep desire to do so.
But here’s the catch: my belief in them, and yours, isn’t enough.
It has to be their choice. You can’t convince anyone to do it for themselves. You can’t make someone stop drinking, or doing drugs. You can’t heal a toxic person.
We are ALL responsible for ourselves. We are ALL responsible for owning our mistakes, learning from them, and becoming the best versions of ourselves we can be. Some choose to heal, to grow, to change. Some haven’t made that choice yet. They may never make that choice.
With this knowledge that “hurt people hurt people” comes another very important distinction you need to add into your vocabulary: “AND”
You can have compassion and understanding for someone, you can even love them…AND you can choose to distance yourself from them.
You can understand their pain and their struggles… AND not make excuses.
You can love them, worry about them, care about them…AND still protect yourself.
It is acceptable to remove people from your life because their behavior has reached a point of toxicity that is poisonous to you and to your wellbeing (I’m talking about genuinely toxic people here, folks, not a minor spat with your partner over who took out the trash).
If you can’t remove them completely from your life (shared children are about the only circumstance I can see where you truly can’t cut ties), then do your best to minimize contact with these individuals.
Learn to set STRONG ASS BOUNDARIES (hint: this ties back 100% to your own self worth…trust me, I know). Boundaries are a profound act of self love, and a key to a fulfilling life. Read books on boundaries, take seminars on boundaries, do the boundary rain dance…I don’t care. Do whatever you need to do to strengthen your own self-worth and set firm boundaries.
There is no medal for “Who can tolerate the most toxic person” (I checked). You’re not giving them a gift by enabling their behavior. All you’re doing is causing damage to yourself. Toxic is toxic. When a person has proven to you time and again who they are committed to being, BELIEVE THEM, and get on with your life.
No matter what they may say to you (and they’re likely to say some pretty awful stuff…these peeps know how to cut deep especially if they’ve gotten close to you), stand firm. You can understand the poison, and choose not to drink it. Wish them well, pray for their healing. But choose yourself. Always.
See, I didn’t get this for a long time. It became “life” or “soul death” for me to finally understand.
Now I do. I understand boundaries. I understand self-worth…
….and ain’t nobody fuckin’ with my flow anymore.
Sparkle on, friends…💖
(You can hear Marlowe agrees with this video 😹…good to know I’ve cornered the fat orange tabby segment)