Toxicity & Forgiveness

I’ve heard a lot of advice about cutting toxic people out of your life. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is that simple. Often times, these people are inextricably linked to us either through family, work, or other reasons.  In many cultural & religious traditions, it’s wrong to cut off family members & break family ties.

So if we cannot completely avoid such people, we should try to limit the power they have over us.  How?

1️⃣ Remember that most people who behave negatively are doing so out of their own pain.

So try to view them with compassion. Realize that they have their own hurt that is causing this behavior. Look at their brokenness rather than their harshness. This will decrease the power they have over you. Do not confuse compassion with sympathy or empathy. Do not become a doormat or let them abuse or hurt you. But rather shield your heart from them & think of them in a different way; view them as weak rather than strong.

2️⃣ When you interact with someone you perceive us “toxic”, realize that perhaps they are bringing out the worst in you. In that case, you benefit more by addressing what is within yourself, rather than worrying about their bad qualities.

We have certain chemistry with everyone we interact with; synergistic or antagonistic. The way our substance is touched by another person’s substance can bring about a good or bad reaction. Most of that is related to our own old wounds.

So when someone brings out negativity in you, take a moment to try to address those feelings. Don’t worry about the other person, reflect on yourself. What are you feeling & why? Try to peel back the layers & dig a little deeper. Perhaps with time you can realize what things trigger you or open your wounds. What things touch on your sensitivities and why. By doing that you can safeguard yourself & protect yourself from further hurt.

Ultimately I think forgiveness is better for us. So if we can try not to hold grudges & forgive people, it will decrease the power they have to hurt us. By forgiving & letting go, we are not doing it for them or justifying their actions, we are doing it for the healthiness of our own heart. ?


There are times in life when people will hurt you. Often it’s the people you trust the most & have allowed yourself to be most vulnerable with.  Getting through those experiences can be very tough.  Here are things that may be helpful.

Talk it through with a trusted person.  Sometimes you need to get it off your chest & you need someone to listen & empathize or sympathize.  But other times, you need good advice on how to handle it.

In the case of the former, speak to someone you trust to not share your personal life with others.  Choose someone who will respond in a way that validates you without stirring you up further.  Otherwise, your well-meaning friend may make you feel even worse.

In the case of the latter, speak to someone who can look at the situation objectively & give you good advice.  Consider seeking professional help from a #therapist, especially if this may be an ongoing situation.

Take time to process your feelings before you confront the person that hurt you.  Write out what you wish you could say to them.  Then edit it over time.  You’ll find that as time passes & your emotions become less raw, you will be able to say things in a less confrontational way.  Often, if you spend enough time on this step, you won’t even feel the need to share those words with the other person because that process can be therapeutic.

Depending on the situation, you may need to eventually explain to the offending person why what they did was hurtful to you.  If so, make sure you’ve taken time to process your feelings, calm your emotions, & think through your approach.  If you attack them, they will go on the defensive & not really hear what you have to say.  If you want some change to come from this conversation, you will have to approach it calmly, & clearly outline how it could be handled better to be less hurtful to you.

Also check out my blogpost Overnight Hearts about the value of sleeping on things.

Have you had to interact with people you feel are toxic?  How have you managed? What are your tips on handling hurtful situations and arriving at forgiveness?

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