Toxic People
Life and Happiness

Why Cutting Off People Isn’t The Best Way To Live a Happy Life

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We have been hearing and reading a lot of things around the topic of self-care, finding happiness, or ways to live a happy life. There are just so many ways you can improve your own, without having to make an effort too much, and it has become as easy as ignoring those people who can’t benefit you or your happiness.

Why is that?

Maybe we’re just too afraid to get in touch with the negative energy that comes from those difficult people so we decide not to be around them anymore.

The thing is, we are so eager to find an easy way towards living a happy life, that we made ourselves believe we can fix our own bubble and ignore those negative unhelpful things around us. Well, are they all unhelpful?

Before we move on, I just want to say that, yes, we deserve to be around people who can support us and make us feel happy. Yes, we should surround ourselves with people that will be beneficial for our growth and our well-being.

We must make it a habit of protecting our circle so that the stress that we feel may lessen, and our anxiety won’t get worse. It is, in fact, a matter of safeguarding our mental and emotional health.

But don’t you think that surrounding your life with just positive things may have some setbacks too? For instance, the attempt to ignore, hide, and invalidate negative emotions or thoughts associated with negativity as part of human experience is a form of what is called toxic positivity.

Would you believe me if I said that instantly cutting people off, regardless of the extent of toxic traits they emanate around us, can be a result of toxic positivity? It’s kind of similar to the negative stigma of cancel culture nowadays.

How can this affect us?

Instantly cutting people off can turn out to be a defense mechanism so that we won’t have to face negativity in our life. And this can have some bad effects too.

Samara Quintero and Dr. Jamie Long share about how avoiding too much negativity can lead to toxic positivity and can suppress our emotions. This means that because of toxic positivity and our constant need to be happy all the time, we develop stress over our suppressed negative emotions.

You might ask how is this related to cutting people off? Clearly, we are convinced enough that a person is toxic so we cut them off our lives. If you believe so, then I just have two questions for you:

  1. Do we really think about our decisions well enough to make these big changes in our lives or can we think of some reasons how this may benefit us?
  2. In doing so, are we really sure that we have already shut out all the negativity in our life? Or are we still prone to this?

To answer the second question, I have this:

The negativity bias

Humans are very much attracted to the negative energy around them.

In positive psychology, there’s this thing called negative bias. In simple meaning, a negative bias is the innate tendency of the mind to absorb negative emotions more strongly than those positive things. As a result, positive emotions tend to appear more subtle, and negative ones may feel very powerful.

This is one of the reasons why we can’t just ignore those things. Our brains are vulnerable to those negative events. And apparently, our brains are more attracted to those too! We notice negative things more than we see the positive ones.

Additionally, we are more sensitive towards the effects of negativity in our lives, and our negative emotions tend to last longer than positive emotions. This means that we can’t just shut all the negativity out (including the people around us) to become instantly happy for our own good.

One way or another, negative emotions, events, and thoughts will come and you will meet toxic people during your life too.

Limitations must be set

As for the first question above, we know that somehow it is not a well-rounded reason to get used to cutting people out of our lives without having to weigh and consider the possible outcome of a situation we are in.

I had a personal experience with someone who showed one of the red flag traits that a person should not be allowed to do to you. So, my initial reaction was to break it off with that person.

After contemplating and letting my emotions die down, I realized that I did not want to be someone who cancels another person without giving that person a chance to change things.

What I learned from this is that limitations must be set to protect our well-being. We can consider whether or not having them around would be healthy for us in the long run.

We can also look for the possibility of both parties experiencing healthy arguments, struggle or problems, and look for the benefits of these experiences to us as people and to our relationship with the person too.

These are only a few ideas to help us set our limitations before deciding to let go of them. If we don’t consider setting our limitations, we may be missing something very important.

We’re missing the chance to educate

Ignoring toxic people in our lives means that we miss the chance to educate them; to let them know that they have been practicing their life in the wrong way. This makes us an enabler of those bad habits too. It’s not just enough that when the going gets tough, you get going–literally.

Be part of the change

Change sounds way better than cutting off. It is more humane to take action towards change and help those people who struggle with toxic traits too, as being part of the human support system. Who knows, maybe they have been in a toxic relationship, they grew up with an imperfect family or troublesome friends.

Psychologically, the way humans respond to their situations is what makes them exhibit toxic traits. And the way they respond is hugely influenced by their environment, moral beliefs, cultural differences, individual differences, and such. So why not try to help those people understand that there is a better way to see things in life?

Cutting people out can’t make you entirely happy

On a different view, you can avoid this if you are just starting to establish a relationship with them. Otherwise, don’t kid yourself. Even if you cut people out, you can’t constantly ignore them. They will have space in your life. Especially if one of them is your relative, your old friend, or your boss, it is much easier said than done.

It isn’t the way to establish happiness. The word happiness is as shallow as a feeling. The deeper meaning of finding joy in your life, and being able to practice it requires a much harder effort and consistent adaptation of better ways. So if you’re ignoring people just for the sake of finding your happiness, you’re looking at it the wrong way.

It’s not enough to just take all the good stuff in

We think that if we avoid those bad stuff, we’ll only get all the good stuff in. Who says anything about that? You can’t have all the yang in the world and reject the yin that comes with it. Everything is made balanced.

More importantly, the bad stuff tends to have good outcomes too. We also learn from those people too. Who knows maybe you also need some change in you, why not encourage each other to become better?

Science shows that those people who have undergone major predicaments in their life are happier people than those who have established an easy lifestyle. They tend to be more resilient, and more knowledgeable about certain things they have experienced.

This means that we can learn from them too.

You can’t find joy by selfishly building your own comfortable bubble

One of the reasons why we choose to let those people go is because admit it, they can’t help us. It’s useless to waste energy on them. Why do we always think about what’s good for us? They may not be able to help us become better, but we could help them instead.

What if everything’s a lost cause? What if they don’t want to change, or what if they are very hard to persuade? Do you need to be affected by this? As I said, you will likely become affected by this. One of the ways to help you somehow control this is don’t take it personally.

I know it can be SO TIRING sometimes. It makes you want to feel not to just care at all because it’s MORE CONVENIENT if you don’t. But isn’t it better to engage in some healthy arguments or intervention once in a while until those people realize they’re habits are very unhelpful, than just stay away from them every time they come and go in your life?

You miss out the things you can learn from it

I, too, have just realized this as I was listening to a podcast about finding true happiness in our lives, but we are all ready to adapt and learn AMAZINGLY almost every day in our lives.

We learn new things every day, and if you’re reading this, I hope you learned one today.

If you want to find joy, what’s best for you is to change your habits, change your ways. Those things that you seem to agree with, challenge them now. Approach everything with a beginner’s mind, and welcome each moment, each lesson that comes your way.

We cut people off when we see some toxic traits

“Joy doesn’t come from working everything in your life perfectly, it comes from adopting better habits.”

Dr. Laurie Santos

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  • Nath

    I super agree with all your points, Elle! 💗 Sometimes people are not aware that they are toxic or becoming one. They need someone who will let them know and someone who will help them in some way.

    • Elle

      Awwwe thanks for appreciating, Nath! ☺️ Indeed, somehow let’s try to challenge what other people say too. I think this post is just to basically say that not because a lot of people do it, we get into that boat too without even trying to think both ways or look at a different perspective or maybe at least try to challenge what we commonly think. Thank you so much for reading! 💚

    • Nath

      So true! That’s why I love reading your unpopular opinions. It challenges the common knowledge. I suddenly remembered what we talked about in my Philosophy class a few weeks ago that it’s not worth living a life that is unexamined. We need to get in the habit of questioning and reflecting on everything before believing and not just follow what is already laid out in front of us.

      Thank you so much for sharing this valuable lesson, Elle! 💖

  • Reasons to live for

    The word happiness is as shallow as a feeling. The deeper meaning of finding joy in your life, and being able to practice it requires a much harder effort and consistent adaptation of better ways. So if you’re ignoring people just for the sake of finding your happiness, you’re looking at it the wrong way.


  • PoojaG

    This is such an interesting way to look at the topic of cutting out toxic people and I definitely see where you’re coming from and I have to agree with you to an extent. I think it also really depends on the person and just how toxic they are because just from personal experience there are certain people in my life who are so toxic I have given them multiple chances to change but they still haven’t and they just completely take advantage of my kindness. It’s not really about wanting to live in a bubble but more of knowing when I am being taken advantage of. Those are the people I cut off forever. Other people I have seen change, grow and become better people and I am happy to give them a second chance.

    • Elle

      I received it, don’t worry. Haha. Thank you so much for sharing, these are very good points, Pooja. Even if we can think of it this way, we should also be able to create boundaries from those that may affect us hugely in a negative way. I get that it is the last and best thing for us do. And yes, it really depends on the person and how toxic they are, but this post is for those people who easily cut others off without even looking for other ways, or giving them chances like what you do, where they can be helpful. Unfortunately this has become a thing. I had a friend that had an issue and he lost a lot of friends for what he did, without them even considering that he can change. Basically what I’m trying to say is that if people are too close-minded about this, they will miss out a lot. A lot of us just interpret this “cutting off” in a wrong way. And in relation to finding true happiness, it isn’t just as easy as cutting difficult people off in an instant just because we feel that way. Some are just plainly doing it because it’s a thing most people do, you know, and sometimes it’s unreasonable. I totally agree that people can change too and grow and become better and I still look at it that way. But even if we consider a lot of things like these (these are just the things that those people miss out), our number priority should be ourselves. <3 :)) Thank you so much for engaging!

  • Juliette

    Love this post! I have to say that I wasn’t really convinced at first, but for some things you are definitely right! It is such an interesting thing to think about! 😊

    • Elle

      Thanks, Juliette! I’m glad you liked and heard this out. It’s always good to look at the different perspective of some things, you know. Thanks 😁

  • Chocoviv

    I can’t cut out some toxic people in my life as they are close family or friends for decades…. but I am able to stand up and teach them that if they want me in their life then they must respect me! If not, they will regret it….

  • nirajshah2003

    I think this is an interesting post, and your points are very good. I believe that it also depends on how you define a toxic person. There are people that are toxic to the extent that it is impacting your mental health and wellbeing, and you have told them about this and they haven’t changed, therefore keeping them in your life will only do more harm than good. That is where you should cut them off. Also if they are someone that you have given multiple chances to and still haven’t changed then they probably won’t change, and that’s a big red flag. I think sometimes people appear like they are toxic people in your life, but you don’t know what is going on in their lives, or they may not realise what they are doing is coming across the wrong way.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Elle

      I totally agree with you. 🙂 Yes at some point you’ve got to figure out if the good things outweigh the bad, but there’s no harm in trying before deciding what to do with the toxic people around you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😊💕

  • The Seb

    Well, I have read through and liked most of the comments because the article is well presented, well done Elle.

    But in my view, especially after reading through your views, I can conclude that there are no such people as toxic people, what makes us see them that way is the chemistry between us. We all have good intentions, but we put our interests first, and one party will consider the other party toxic. People with a stronger mentality will stick around like you have suggested and those with a weaker mentality will walk away or cry foul.

    The best example is a team comprised of ambitious players and comfortable players, this creates a toxic work environment and the weaker party is the victim.

    • Elle

      Oh, thank you so much! I appreciate your points too. Very well said. 🙂 I think that our actions towards those people are also affected by the chemistry we’ve established. Thanks, The Seb!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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