The Art of Removing Toxic People

“New year, new me.”

Ever heard of that saying? Well, this year is going to be different. This is the start of a new decade. And that is what makes New Years a festivity for so many people. The New Year is a chance that comes every 365 days. It is understandable that 365 days do not feel really long in the grand scheme of things, but within those days, there is a lot that can happen. Whether they include the greatest moments of your life or times when life becomes a little harder to get through, there is always that one day out of the year where a collective hope among everyone reappears. It is time to make the change you have been waiting for.

But how are you going to achieve the status of having this newer, better version of yourself?

There will always be a new list of goals, but unfortunately, we all can admit that it is hard to keep up after the first week or so. In order for a goal to work, it requires a lot of motivation and realistic expectations. Yet, underneath all the common goals for better grades, a healthier lifestyle, or learning a new hobby, there is the similarity of change. For some, that change might also be removing or distancing away from an aspect of life that has proven to be toxic.

So, this is the art of removing toxic people.

It is a healthy goal to have for oneself, but it is often the hardest to accomplish because it is so personal. From my own experience, the difficulty is not the moment you do it but the events leading up to it. How do you identify if a person is toxic in your life or not? There are always the obvious toxic individuals: for example, the ones whose actions belittle you into changing in ways that do not benefit you. But in general, whether a person has malicious intentions or not, they can still be toxic. Toxicity is not always directly caused by a person but instead, their negative energy.

Not all situations are the same. Toxic people can be the people who use you. Perhaps they might not know that they are taking advantage of you, but there are people out there who have full intentions of using you. That is toxic. It is unhealthy for you because you lose more than you gain from that relationship. You know the saying. I know it too. Any relationship takes two sides to work. It is a give and take situation that requires balance. One side cannot always give while the other side takes. Both need to be able to collaborate and contribute in order for a relationship of any kind to work. For me, it took a while to understand this. I have become friends with a few people in the past who only stayed when it was convenient for them. From an outsider’s point of view, it should seem obvious that they were not a friend. However, I get how hard it is to acknowledge someone is toxic. I kept staying, thinking that I was doing what was right. However, they took energy and time away from me. All of this would have kept continuing if I did not listen to my other friends who were making me aware of what was actually occurring.

It really is difficult to leave a toxic person behind and continue with your life. They could be really great at first, and that first impression can last a long time. However, it is not selfish to look out for yourself. Just like how you should not be around people who lower your self-esteem, you should not have to find yourself among people who drain your energy. The people you need to be around should make you feel good about yourself. They should be the people that help you grow without having to put you down first and leaving you to realize what you are worth.

So, it starts with distance.

Well, in all actuality, it starts with admitting that the individual is toxic. You do not have to hate them. You just have to realize that they are not good for you and that it will be okay to leave them. But after that, it is time to start distancing yourself. It is not necessary to tell them about this. The potential problem with telling them is that they might take offense to being thought of as toxic, but it is important to remember that it happens. Not all toxic habits are done out of malice, and people can only handle so much. For that reason, it starts with less interaction. The more you communicate with them, the harder it will feel to let go. The guilt might not go away at first, but you just have to leave them. Slowly increase the distance. Remove them from social media. Remove them from your phone. And just slowly distance yourself in person too.

There are instances where a friend has become toxic to me over time, but I did not completely cut them off. They never treated me horribly in any aspect. But the problem was that their negative energy was contagious. Over time, it got to the point that I was unable to talk to them without feeling like they drained my energy. In that case, it was hard to remove them from my life. I had to distance myself slowly instead, which feels more like a kinder way of removing yourself from someone’s world. The individual was as harmful as the constant drain I felt being around them. At the time, I thought maybe one day I will be mature enough to handle that situation in a better way, but I did all I could at the time. And I was doing what was best for my mental health. For my friend, I decided not to tell them about this because I understood there are some things they could not help, and I cannot blame them for the feeling of toxicity I felt around them. Therefore, I just kept some distance and moved on, and they did as well. Eventually, we got back in contact again, and this time, we had grown and the feeling of toxicity was not present. But I was super cautious and made sure it was safe before I really allowed them back in my life.

Each scenario is different. But when I say distance yourself, I advise against waiting for them to change. Some people just do not change. You have to move on because it is not healthy for you to keep someone in your life who is toxic. It is hard to not have hope, but it is ultimately better for yourself to let go.

As the year was winding down and I was purging people off my social media, there was a sense of guilt. However, I ultimately made the best choice for myself. And that was a fresh breath of life that I gained back. A relief.