You’ve heard it before. Maybe you have even said it, or some variation. “Detox the negative people out of your life.” The basic tenet is that we all deserve happiness, we all deserve to be around people who make us feel good, nobody deserves to be abused, and we have a right to control who we do and don’t allow into our inner circle. Sounds healthy, right?
The problem here is that while abusive people are always toxic, “toxic” or “negative” people are not always abusive. Sometimes people get poisoned, and that makes them “toxic” for a while. But with treatment, care, and support those people can get better and become whole, healthy, happy people again-something they deserve too. Or, everyone can just detox them and they can stay toxic and embittered forever.
When you google “detox negative people,” page after page of results pop up. How to detox negative people out of your life and feel good about it states that a toxic person is “a person who complains and dumps their problems on you but doesn’t do anything to change their situation.” Removing negative people from your life says, “A positive attitude is contagious, but a negative attitude spreads like wildfire. No one wants to be around someone that is constantly negative and complaining. These people are toxic, and it is reasonable to remove them from your life.” How To Tell When It’s Time To End A Friendship writes, “you put in most of the effort. You invite, call, and initiate almost everything to keep the friendship going.” In all three of these examples, and many more, people who feel poorly more often than they feel well, or who don’t employ “normative” social tools-no matter the reason-typically meet the standard of “toxic” and are therefore worthy of being detoxed. I have a major problem with this.