This week I had the honor of being published on xoJane.com, an online women's magazine run by former Sassy and Jane magazine goddess, Jane Pratt.
I chose to write about the advice I keep seeing on social media and in self-development literature to "dump toxic people" from our lives so that we can be free and happy. There are several reasons I disagree with this mentality, and I'd love for you to read the xoJane article and find out.
Who knew it would be such a hot topic?!
It was posted under the title "UNPOPULAR OPINION: Calling People 'Toxic' Is Complete Bullsh*t."
To sum it up very briefly, I argued that calling people "toxic" is over-dramatic, self-righteous, and ultimately disempowering. I did include a caveat that there are situations where a person doesn't belong in our lives because they compromise our safety in some way.
I didn't write the "Toxic People" article about abuse.
It's about putting on our big girl pants with the people we find "difficult" instead of labeling and blaming them or feeling so helpless that we just walk away to avoid conflict.
I have to admit that I was afraid my piece would be met with the sound of crickets and that no one would share it or comment on it.
I'm so glad I was wrong. At the time of this writing, the piece has been shared over 1,400 times. It caused a bigger stir than I expected, and plenty of people disagreed with me. Many made excellent points, some readers missed the point entirely. That's part of the beauty of getting published on a site like xoJane.
What really struck me is that the most "Unpopular Opinion" of all, the one that many readers simply could not wrap their minds around was this: That everyone is worthy of compassion. Everyone. EVERYONE.
I guess I forgot that only a few years ago the idea would have seemed crazy to me, too. But today it IS my message and I’m sticking to it.
Bottom line: If you've got a long list of people who are no longer in your life because you decided they're too toxic for you, then it's probably time to take a look at your role in all of these relationships to see why this pattern keeps repeating itself.
I want to say again, THIS WAS NOT AN ESSAY ABOUT ABUSE and if it had been, I would have offered very different advice.
I talk openly about my past experience with abuse because I think it's VERY important for others to know they are not alone, that it can happen to anyone, that you can come back from it, that you can absolutely go on to have a successful and happy life. You can!
And, when it's appropriate, you can even forgive the people who have hurt you. (But first you have to GET OUT.)
But to bring it back to the intention of my article, as radical as this may be: I TRULY BELIEVE EVERYONE IS WORTHY OF COMPASSION, and that's why I wrote what I did. I stand by it.
Do you agree?
Are there people in your life (or in your past) who you consider toxic?
What unpopular opinions are you sticking to?