Eliminating Toxicity

I’ve been thinking lately about toxic relationships (of both the romantic and platonic sort) and why they’re toxic, as well as why I sometimes stick with them.

These are the biggest things I feel can make my relationships with others toxic:

  • The person needs constant attention or reassurance, or constant praise.  Or, the person is accustomed to constantly being the center of attention or having all of their needs catered to at any cost.  Basically, being needy.
  • Put simply, arrogance. Believing that everything they have to say is gold and that they are God’s gift to humanity and to me.
  • An inability to change behavior that other people don’t like.  If you do something that offends me or bothers me, I should be able to rationally explain to you why I don’t like it, and you should have the decency to stop doing whatever that thing is, at least when you’re in my presence.

These are the things that really don’t do it for me, but other people might have a different “list.”

By contrast, these are the things I appreciate from people I spend a lot of time with:

  • Not constantly complimenting me or expecting me to compliment them.  I am an independent person who doesn’t need your validation.  I want to be around people who are similar in this respect.  You should challenge me, not make me feel good about myself.  I already feed good about myself on my own.  When you act otherwise, it’s insulting.
  • Following basic etiquette.  Maybe this is a remnant of being raised in the South, but I can’t stand people who don’t have basic manners.  This is less about things like “please and thank you” and more about being on time for things (which shows that you view my time as valuable) and responding to me when I try to talk to you (it is juvenile to ignore people for any reason).

I think sometimes I view certain people as a measurement of “potential.”  If we have a lot in common, or if I find you interesting in some way, I have a tendency to ignore any toxic aspect to our friendship because I want that hypothetical person with “potential” to actually be real.  But they’re not.

Introduction

Since I was old enough to physically write letters onto paper, I’ve been keeping a journal.  Over the years, I’ve filled up many books, but they were always physical books.  I’ve always literally put pen to paper.

I’ve decided to try something new and migrate to a blog.  I’ve thought a lot about this because my journals have always been a safe haven for my private thoughts.  However, I’ve never been one to shy away from making my opinions publicly known.  Reading through some things I’ve recently written, I don’t think publishing any of it online would hurt me or my reputation in any way that I am not ready to deal with.

I think the upside to letting people, both friends and strangers, read these thoughts is accountability.  When I was a teenager, I was an avid writer.  After going through a four year engineering program where writing was barely mentioned, let alone extensively practiced, my ability to express myself through written word has declined.  By forcing myself to write and edit something I’m not embarrassed to show the world, hopefully I can improve on my writing abilities.

In addition to accountability to my own writing ability, I think a public medium such as a blog will allow me to put a little more thoughtful analysis into what I write about my day to day life.  Sometimes my paper journal gets messy.  I simply write my inner dialogue as I hear it, which is often petty or ridiculous.  As I get older, I want to clean up my thoughts into something I can be proud of.

Because this is a replacement for a personal journal, it doesn’t really have a particular topic.  I’ll write about whatever.  I imagine there is not a huge audience for that kind of discussion, but that’s not the point.

But if you’re still here, feel free to read.