Courtney Arlesia

Why I hate the word toxic!

You’re toxic, she’s toxic, he’s toxic, that’s toxic, this is toxic, EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING IS TOXIC!

Yes, I wrote that in my Oprah voice.

I know I can’t be the only one feeling as though this generation learns a new word and suddenly it becomes a trend. I do think it is great that we are aware of toxicity, however, I feel many of us lack so much understanding to it.

I look at celebrities like Kanye West, Tamar Braxton, Fabolous & Emily B, and then I dial back and look at those in my life and most importantly MYSELF who have been labeled as toxic or having toxic behavior! I mentioned those people specifically because they are just a few people who have publicly displayed toxic behavior and now that they are publicly displaying growth, NO ONE is accepting of the growth part. And this is why I HATE the word toxic.

Having a background in mental health, and merely being a human being, I see so many people who most would consider to be toxic. However, by the time a person encounters me they are more than likely trying to work through that toxic behavior. Some people that display toxic behavior may also be displaying symptoms of depression, anxiety, unspoken fear, defense mechanisms, hurt, or a list of multiple mental health concerns but we get so caught up in the word toxic and saving ourselves that we don’t take time out to investigate and possibly help someone else save themselves. Now do not get me wrong, no one has to sit around and be mistreated by anybody or deal with toxicity. What I’m suggesting is that we look at little deeper and gain understanding. Because even if we must walk away, we can walk away with compassion for self and the other party involved. When we have understanding and compassion that automatically eliminates bitterness and the lack of unforgiveness.

Let’s go back and look at Kanye West. This is a man who started his career proclaiming Jesus Christ and somewhere along his walk in the world he changed his tone. Now that he is back walking with the Lord, he is called fake and accused of making a mockery of the church. As a Christian woman, I sometimes don’t understand Christians and the bible they are reading. The one I read tells me before Paul was Paul, his name was Saul and he HATED the church. Now I won’t preach on that today but what I will say is: ALL PEOPLE HAVE THE ABILITY TO GROW, CHANGE, AND BE BETTER HUMAN BEINGS!

Let’s not only change our understanding of the word toxic but also how we define it. What I mean is, when someone is displaying toxic behavior instead of calling them toxic, call out the behavior that’s toxic. The reality is, we all do bad things from time to time, we are all capable of hurting the ones we love, and we are all capable of hurting ourselves. Just because a person falls short doesn’t mean they are an all-around bad person for the rest of their lives. Let’s be real, there are real bad people in the world that lack the ability to change and/or don’t have a desire to change, but that is not the narrative for most of us. Most of us desire to grow and be better for ourselves and those around us.

I pray that we learn to give people the same grace we desire people to give us. I pray that we learn to celebrate people and their areas of growth instead of keeping a person boxed in as if growth is available to everyone but them. I pray that we look in the mirror with our masks off so that we can truly have understanding, compassion, and forgiving hearts to those around us. I pray that we look at the word toxic and accept the fact that we too might have been toxic or will be toxic, and because of that we give people the space they deserve to grow.

With love,

Courtney Arlesia

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