Ending Toxicity

Toxic. It is the name of a Brittany Spears song. In fact, it was the first song I ever downloaded on Itunes using a free download from the top of a Diet Pepsi bottle.  Year: 2003.

Toxic. It is also a contagious emotional, psychological state of being.

I believe all people are loved, children of God. That being said, I also believe it is possible for loved children of God to operate in very toxic ways. It happens all the time.

Angry attitudes, lost tempers, passive aggressiveness, triangulating, rudeness, irrational thoughts, complaining unceasingly.

Truth be told, I imagine we can all get a little toxic from time to time. I know I do. Especially if a meeting is going too long, I am hungry, or a mean boy hurts my feelings.

But true toxicity is about more than a missed night of sleep or a bad break-up. For a whole variety if reasons, sometimes people slip into a toxic slump. And they tend to vomit (metaphorically) toxic puke all over everything they come into contact with.

It happens in homes and workplaces and churches all the time. It happens everywhere actually. Sometimes it isn't just an individual. Sometimes a whole system or organization gets infected.

This has been one of the aspects of life that I have found most challenging.

What am I called to do when someone is being toxic? What is my role when I see someone treating others in negative ways and spreading toxic junk all over?  What is my role when I am part of toxic structures/systems?

There are so many layers to every human being. I get that. It isn't good to judge. Everyone has a story and a history. It's important to be patient.

I get all that.

But eventually, there has to be a point where I am comfortable saying to someone: this is a toxic behavior, and you are infecting those around you. As your sister in Christ, I want the best for you. And this behavior needs to stop.

My usual pattern of behavior is to either try to please the person or somehow will them into a sort of temporary kindness. Or I ignore them.

These are not long-term solutions. They are unhealthy patterns I learned a long, long time ago when my people-pleasing tendencies first began.

 I have all the kindness techniques figured out quite well. But now I really want to learn how to call a spade a spade. I want to learn how to confront disrespect head on.

I want to be a great leader someday. I believe we can all be great leaders.

In order to be a great leader, I think I need to learn this skill of being able to clearly name toxicity when I see it infecting a person or structure. I will always be a person who wants to help and problem solve to repair broken systems.

But first, there often needs to be a step where the toxic behavior is clearly named.

Underneath it all, I want to help shape a world where people respect themselves, others and God enough to communicate and behave in healthy ways.  Isn't that what we all want?

So how about you?  How do you deal with toxicity?

1 comment:

  1. wow. this is REAL. and timely. dealing with this with co-workers right now. thanks, Emily.
    - Carol