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?
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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:
- 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?
- 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.
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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?
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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.
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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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