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Toxic Relationships

At the time of drafting these words, the beginning of 2019 already seems quite far away. And contrary to many others whose New Year resolutions have faded into memory, mine still holds strong. Recent events, such as the premature death of a family member as well as the one of an acquaintance, made me realize, now more than ever, how precious our fleeting time truly is and how important it is to spend it in all serenity, in a state of gratitude, while in the company of those whose presence contributes to our well-being. To live with unspoken truths, to bend over pretending, to put on a façade, to want to buy peace at all cost, or even worse, to no longer be true to ourselves in order to safeguard appearances, all this ultimately not to offend anyone is unnatural and can be nothing but unhealthy. Hence, I have decided that there’s been enough political correctness for me.

Enough trying to maintain relationships that are bound to fail. Consequently, my New Year resolution for the year consists of sharing my daily life, my intimacy, with those from whom radiates good energy—an energy that is beneficial to me and so, in other words, with people that I consider to be “beautiful individuals,” at least beautiful from my own perspective.

The Beauty in Each and Every One of Us

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I don’t believe that a person is inherently mean, and so everyone has the potential to be good to others. Therefore, each person also has the innate potential at any given moment of their lives to be beautiful in the eyes of any beholder. It all depends on the individuals involved along with the context in which their relationship initiates. Keeping this in mind allows me to affirm that it is not the individual per se who is actually toxic, but rather the relationships we maintain with them. A person may be exceedingly beautiful in the eyes of one person, and the complete opposite in the eyes of another. Since each one of us is constantly evolving, it is also possible for a person to be beautiful in our eyes for a certain while, but for the relationship to become toxic over time, depending on how both of the individuals involved change over time. What’s more, as much as a relationship can become toxic, it can also revert to being good at a later time, depending on how the situation unfolds.

Therefore, for a relationship not to be toxic, it is essential that all individuals involved benefit from it. Is a one-way relationship or one that loses its value due to only one of its members benefiting really worth maintaining at all?

Thus, be it the whole nature of a person or solely their way of behaving in certain situations that makes us react in turn, their mere proximity can cause in us an instinctive visceral reaction. And if that’s the case, we should not ignore this way of our body telling us that the person in question is not beautiful but rather we would be better off avoiding them. So, if a relationship is or becomes toxic, our entire being can come to feel its effects. The simple thought of having to be in the presence of that same person can invoke an undue stress for instance.

And since a relationship is in essence, the result of the interaction of at least two individuals, sometimes more, all involved have their share of responsibility in how the relationship evolves. Unless really wanting to live as a hermit, it is important to maintain the best relations possible with all the people we are acquainted with if not only to avoid discomfort and maintain a certain level of civility, especially when it involves members of the same family, for example. However, being acquainted with someone does not signify having to surround yourself with them.

Being Acquainted Versus Surrounding Ourselves

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The majority of people who are diagnosed with an incurable disease end up surrounding themselves with merely their true friends and closest family members, upon learning of their diagnosis. They tend to get their house in order by foregoing superficial friendships, which are often circumstantial ones. Do we really need to wait for such life-changing moment to proceed this way or wouldn’t it be better if we came to the same realization and acted accordingly without being motivated by illness? For my part, I decided to surround myself only with people who live in the present moment, who appreciate the present moment, who are truly authentic and who are honest with themselves, with others and with me. And therefore, people who are neither artificial nor superficial. While doing so, I still wish not to become antisocial, as I recognize that it is practically impossible to be meeting nothing but “beautiful individuals” on a daily basis or in a social or familial context. However, as I already mentioned, being acquainted with people does necessarily signify we should be surrounding ourselves with them. Sharing our daily lives, sharing an intimacy or, in other words, surrounding ourselves with the right people implies taking relationships beyond the simple level of courtesy or politeness. It implies a certain depth, a higher level of closeness. I therefore want to share my daily life, my intimacy with those who emanate a beautiful energy—an energy that is beneficial to me. Notwithstanding what I have mentioned so far, I would like to make a cautionary remark. I am certainly not suggesting walking away from a long-standing relationship at the first whiff of toxicity. Considering that the building of one’s life story is a long-term endeavour, a certain level of patience and understanding towards the other person might be required in the hope that the situation ultimately comes to rectify itself. However, as well as it may be, we must never sacrifice our well-being over it and we must recognize, if necessary, when to put an end to such a relationship.

When it comes to people that I deem less beautiful, they are by no means bad people, but simply people I wish to avoid. Life is too short for us to allow any other person to drag us into their gloominess, their despair, or to allow them to drain us of our vital energy. Many aspects of our lives are greatly influenced by our inner circle or closest relationships. Our mood, our mental health, how we treat others, how we treat and view ourselves all stem from the relationships we keep. It is therefore important for us to choose whom we associate with wisely (and in the context of today’s modern reality, it may even apply to our virtual friendships). To rub shoulders with some of these individuals occasionally in a social context certainly, but to frequent them daily or repeatedly for more or less lengthier periods of time is another story.

Helping Those Who Wish to Help Themselves

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Any person in need deserves the sympathy and compassion of others. But even though everyone is worthy of help, we would be misguided to impose it upon them unless they truly feel in need, are receptive to our help and request it themselves. And if the relations you maintain with each of these people hold the potential to be toxic to you, be it the case, the responsibility rest with you to ensure that none of the individuals you’re trying to help end up having a harmful influence on your daily lives or infringing upon the intimate portions of your lives. As I mentioned in my father’s eulogy: “In death, my father continued to teach me about life. To see him get sick worrying too much about loved ones taught me that I shouldn’t allow others’ misfortunes to feel as if they were my own.” And so, while I care about people in general and wish to help them, it doesn’t mean that by doing so I should allow them to affect my daily life. As a matter of fact, I will help only those who wish to be helped, but even more so, the ones who wish to help themselves, without allowing their state of being to negatively affect me.

In Conclusion

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Considering that relationships are part of an evolutionary process, it is important to remain true and honest towards others, but above all, to remain true and honest towards oneself. And so, if a relationship you maintain with certain people appears toxic, recognize it and to remove yourself from the equation or even better yet, avoid situations that could be harmful altogether. Be honest with yourself, for yourself, first and foremost. Be charitable and support those in need but only if in doing so you won’t get affected negatively.

Avoid being imposed situations that may be detrimental to your well-being. Be it social or family pressures, societal conditioning, the culture of guilt inculcated by Christian religions (if you associate with this denomination), just to name a few, we often feel compelled to conform to these unwritten rules, these social conventions considered law while in reality it should be quite the opposite. For instance, being members of the same family does not automatically mean that a lasting harmonious relationship must exist between each of the family’s members on the sole premise that they all have the same parents, so we should not worry or blame ourselves if this is not the case. Thus, we may not always have a choice in the encounters we make, but we certainly always have a choice in the relationships that we choose to maintain, even if some choices are more difficult to make than others. Being our best selves comes easy when we are surrounded by those who are beautiful to us. So, go ahead and surround yourself with them.


In one of his podcasts, Wayne Dyer mentions a book he was reading at the time, entitled “Vasistha’s Yoga,” which may be one of the most influential texts of the Hindu religion. The book covers, among other things, the “four gateways to enlightenment,” one of which is called Satsang and which can be translated as: “The company that you keep” 9:11 to 26:06.

You may listen to the full interview here:

The essential elements of his talk that relate to the present subject can be found at the following segments: from minutes 9:11 to 21:58, as well as minutes 25:18 to 26:06.

Here are a few notable excerpts:

“You should never spend an inordinate amount of time around people that you would not like to be like.” 11:57-12:06

“If I have a choice to go out and spend an evening with anyone that I would not like to be like, my preference would be to spend my time alone.” 12:58-13:10

“You have a tendency when you are around people who are judgmental to become judgmental yourself.” 13:56-14:02

“And if you find yourself in poisonous company, even poisonous to your spirit, don’t tell yourself that I have to be around other people in order to be happy…” 19:14-19:30.

“Be aware of the company that you keep and when you have the choice to keep company with poisonous people or be by yourself take the option to be by yourself” 25:26-25:37.

Join the discussion

    • Roman, sorry it took me so long to reply, I didn’t see you had left a comment. Much appreciated as comments is one way to give life to my blog and make it pertinent. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my post, many more to come in 2020, that’s my new year’s resolution now that I’m almost done rebuilding my digital life following getting my laptop stolen.

  • This resonates Jacques. Your posts are filled with timeless wisdom. Looking forward to more to more podcasts and blog posts in the future. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gratia,

      Thanks for talking the time to comment, it is much appreciated. I always wonder how many people and who reads or listens to my content. Taking time to comment has you have is not only encouraging, it also gives life to my website’s blog and podcast posts.

      I’ll keep at it as I love writing and pondering, in hoping to keep you coming back for more time after time.

      Until next time, be well and let’s philosophize together.


Further reading