Merriam‑Webster defines toxic as “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation”. I have thought about this word all day, for a few reasons.
I think there can be many things in life that are toxic beyond even the obvious ones, the literal and visible ones. Today I watched as two people I care for were exposed to toxins – in the form of toxic personalities, that is. I observed as both of these strong, intelligent individuals were debilitated, filled with doubt about themselves because of another person’s toxic influence. I gotta say, it both made me angry and completely empathetic because I’ve been there. And, it took a lot of learning and growing for me to recognize this sort of thing in my own life and make my distance from such toxins.
As women, I think we are so often very hard on ourselves. We are our own harshest critics, we second-guess ourselves, sometimes losing the strong footing we have worked so hard to secure in our lives. It makes me wonder why we fall into these obvious traps, why we make ourselves feel less than we are because of the influence of another.
I was able to share my opinions on the situations today because these two people value my friendship, something I am honored to have in both of them. My initial reactions of anger made me first want to find the toxic people that hurt my friends and return the favor. Yeah, I know, not the best way to go since my mother has always told me “two wrongs do not make a right”. When I stopped a second to think about it, I offered what someone once offered me – an sympathetic ear and a reminder that we owe no one else in this world any validation or explanation, no one but ourselves.
I hope reminding these two strong, amazing women of who they were made a difference in their day. I hope they see the toxic thing in their lives and are able to remove them in their own ways. And, most of all, I hope they always remember these wise words from Stuart Smalley, a favorite old character of mine on SNL:
“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. and doggone it… people like me!”
If you’re not smiling, even just a little, you probably need to do a YouTube search and check out Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley. You can thank me later.