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Should We Really Call People Toxic?

It's everywhere.

You see it in blogposts by well-meaning life coaches that have your best interest at heart.

You see it all over social media written by gurus, authors, artists, and sometimes even therapists (which surprises me because I would think they would know better).

You hear it from your best friend that has your back no matter what.

You see it on YouTube, read it in magazines, and hear it on podcasts.

Calling people "toxic" - could it actually be the easy way out?

Could it be the easy way to villain-ize people so you don't have to acknowledge and actually sit with the reality that people are layered, nuanced, and complicated?

Could it be an easy way to ignore the fact that people are navigating realities that you will never fully understand?

Could it be that you also sometimes behave in a way that is hurtful and harmful to others?

I'm not saying that all people and situations are healthy for us to engage with.

I would even say that situations can most definitely be toxic.

And sometimes there are people in our lives that behave in ways that are not ok and that keep us from thriving and growing in ways that are hopeful and promising.

I have had to let go of relationships that have not been healthy for me in one way or another.

People CAN be mean, disrespectful, ruthless, insensitive, and sometimes even abusive.

It is NOT ok for us to just accept this kind of treatment.

It is healthy and good to set boundaries.

It is healthy and good to let people go that do not treat us well and who do not respect and love us in the ways we deserve.

It is healthy and good to call out bad behavior and hold people accountable for their harmful actions. (You can check out my post about that here.)

But do we really need to call human beings "toxic"?

Can we let go of the need to assign extreme labels and simply navigate our lives in a way that is boundaried, yet still graceful?

Can we cultivate a mindset that is built on self-advocacy, while accepting the fact that we don't always know or understand why people act the way they do?

Poison dart frogs are toxic.

Humans beings are complicated.

(This post is NOT IN ANY WAY validating, condoning, or accepting abusive behavior. If you are in a situation or relationship that is unhealthy for you, please seek the help and advice of a professional mental health counselor.)

Lots of love,

Update: I had a conversation with my oldest son about this topic and he disagrees with me on it. Fair enough. He was basically saying that it sounds like this point of view is excusing people who do really bad things. I validate his point, although I still personally don't believe any human being is inherently "toxic." I absolutely believe that behavior and situations can be toxic and that people should, without a doubt, be held accountable for their bad behavior. I just don't like how society throws that word at people when we just don't know the complexities of what others are going through.


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