By: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo
In the early part of my childhood, it was just my mother and me. Then my mom met a man. At five years old, I could only imagine him being someone that would come in and mess up the good thing mommy and me had going.
To my pleasant surprise, "He" became “Daddy,” and he filled a void in my life I didn’t know I'd had. Daddy never treated me any differently, and some of our characteristics now are so similar that you’d swear we were biologically related.
Growing up, I rarely thought about my biological father. I never knew him, I didn't know what he looked like, and most importantly, I already had a dad. I felt loved, and that was enough for me. The topic of my biological father was one of those “family business” topics that we rarely spoke about. When I was 20 years old, I met him. Sadly, that was our first and last encounter.
I will spare you all the details of the disappointment I experienced opening up Pandora’s Box, but I vividly remember one key conversation. It resulted in me saying, “All I ever wanted you to say is that you’re sorry. But I am sorry. I am sorry that you don’t know one thing about me. You don’t know my birthday, you don’t know what college I went to, and you don’t even know that I love bad reality television. You don't know because you never asked. I feel sorry for you, because you’re missing out.” During several phone conversations, he never once asked me about “me," and his reply to my statement was “we are both adults now--you need to let it go.” His statement set off a loud siren in my head, and the truth of the matter was--he was right. I let him go.
There are people in our lives that will only cause us disappointment and disruption.
We encounter these toxic people in the workplace, in our families, or in our romantic lives. The definition of toxicity is poisonous. Who in your life is poisonous to you growing as a person?
You do yourself a disservice when you say you want a successful career and/or love life, yet you continue to allow toxic people or situations to enter your life. Now don't get me wrong--every now and then a little drama can be exciting, but not the kind that flips over tables and calls you out of your name.
Here are 3 ways to identify toxic people (in your personal or professional life):
Everything Is About Them. Please don’t ever forget that you have feelings as well. My grandmother would always say, "We come from a long line of “caretakers," but don’t care for someone more than you care for yourself." If you find it hard to ever have a two-sided conversation with a friend, partner, or colleague-- a conversation where your voice is heard as much as theirs--this should signal the reddest flag you’ve ever seen. If every conversation is a battle where you leave exhausted, it's probably time to re-evaluate the value add of this person.
You Are Not Allowed To Grow. Typically, toxic people have a hard time seeing you win. The slightest indication that you are evolving and growing, and these people like to remind you of your faults and issues. This could be the "mean girl" at the office, or a significant other. They love to remind you of the old you, and how you will never add up. Please know that this form of toxicity is damaging, and often will not stop without you saying enough is enough. I would think long and hard if this person is worth the heartache.
They Always Kill The Moment. When you are around this type of person, it becomes more of a Real World/Road Rules Challenge, than a Folgers "savor the moments" kind of experience. When this person feels the need to control your behavior, you are allowing them to control your happiness. You get one life to live and one person or place shouldn’t control whether or not you get to enjoy a life worth being happy about.
Britney Spears had a hit song called, Toxic, She wrote, “I love what you do, but you know that you're toxic.” My belief is that most toxic people know that they are toxic. The aha moment has to come for us to recognize they are toxic and run for the hills.
Again, this pertains to friends, family, colleagues, partners, etc. We all have to make the hard decisions sometimes for our wellbeing. I had to decide that, regardless of blood, some people aren’t worth the trouble or the heartache. If I continued to allow someone to negatively disrupt my life, at some point I would only have myself to blame. Remember that toxic people are poison, and enough poison can be lethal.
P.S. Thank you to the only father I have ever known! Thank you for so many things--taking me to the emergency room when I battled asthma for years, teaching me how to drive, being mean to my first boyfriend, and most importantly, showing me that I never missed out on a father’s love.