New Year’s resolutions always seem to fit one of a couple of themes: Getting that new job, sticking to that new diet or focusing on healthy new relationships. Throughout January, Facebook and Instagram are cluttered with posts talking about self-love and how people are going to take control of their lives in the new year, all with pictures from a summer vacation saved specifically for this moment.
I have no problems with these plans. In fact, I even make them myself, but I’m not going to say that I stick to them. By January 2, I’m off any diet that I started and have already forgotten about updating my resume. And I haven’t stepped foot in a gym in the past 10 years. However, the discussion of healthy relationships and cutting out toxic people makes me nervous.
Many of my friends have talked about the importance of healthy relationships and the importance of putting effort into relationships with people who make your life better and I agree wholeheartedly. It is easy to have your mood and life outlook swayed by the people you spend time with, so why not make sure that you are spending time with positive people?
The problem is, I tend to disagree with those who talk about cutting out the “toxic” people in their life: those who don’t bring anything positive into their life and create drama instead. Not because I think you should keep these people around, but rather because I think there should be a different solution.
“Cutting” a person out of your life is an abrupt, absolute solution.
It doesn’t allow for any dialogue or growth, and it can give way to holding grudges. If you completely isolate someone you had a disagreement with, you are only getting rid of the person, not the negative energy. You will still hold onto the disagreement, and the “toxic” energy that that person brought to your life won’t ever go away.
We can’t think of people as clutter that we need to first organize and then decide whether we put them in the trashcan or not. You can’t Marie Kondo the situation: There’s a difference between asking if a t-shirt or a person sparks any joy.
People are complicated and messy, and we can’t just put a human being, who has the ability to grow and change, in a bag and take them out with the other things we’re donating to Goodwill.
Instead, I would advise people to forgive.
If you’ve had a argument with someone, talk to them about it. Even if the conversation doesn’t go the way you want it to, at least you can have the peace of mind that you tried. Distancing, but not completely isolating yourself from someone who doesn’t directly benefit your life leaves you open to closure. It also gives the toxic person the opportunity to change, and possibly re-enter your life for the better in the future.
I understand that this approach won’t work for every situation. Some situations and people do need to go out with the trash. However, treating every situation with the same intensity and absolute outlook can lead you to hold onto unnecessary negative energy.
So instead of blocking numbers from my contacts in 2019, I’ll be focusing on not eating leftover Chinese food for breakfast and attempting to go to the gym at least once.