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Toxic People

Toxic People

February 16, 2019 9:12 pmComments are Disabled

Every year, especially on my birthday, which happens to be tomorrow, I re-avow to myself to keep toxic people out of my life. It also happens that I was reading a passage today in The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, whose chapter title is literally “INFECTION: AVOID THE UNHAPPY AND UNLUCKY.” From that passage:

The infecting-character type…stems from an inward instability that radiates outward, drawing disaster upon itself. There is almost a desire to destroy and unsettle. You could spend a lifetime studying the pathology of infecting characters, but don’t waste your time–just learn the lesson. When you suspect you are in the presence of an infector, don’t argue, don’t try to help, don’t pass the person on to your friends, or you will become enmeshed. Flee the infector’s presence or suffer the consequences.

What I love about this passage is it perfectly sums up the problem with toxic people: not that they are particularly bad people, or even that they are toxic to everyone, but that they are toxic to you.

As I get older and maybe a bit wiser, I learn how important it is to be strategically selfish about one’s own time and sanity. It’s impossible to get anything done if you are spending your efforts on fixing other people. True friends don’t demand more of your time and care than they give in return. Toxic people only take.

I don’t relish the notion that people don’t all equally deserve love, happiness, or attention. Which is not to say people deserve these things, but that they are not owed them by me, at my expense. The toxic people in your life are those people who take energy away from you.

Follow the advice of Greene and Marie Kondo and so many others, and make careful inventory of the people in your life, asking if they add to your overall happiness. If not, even if they are merely neutral, question how much time and energy you need to spend around that person. It’s not mean. It’s essential for your own wellbeing.

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