Eliminating toxicity once and for all


By Devon Rocke, Opinion Editor

Trying to thrive in a toxic environment is like swimming against the tide with cinder blocks chained to your ankles: a near-impossible feat. But what is it that makes someone toxic? If you’re in a toxic friendship, what effect does it have on your mental health? Most importantly, what can we do about it?

First things first, it is not a person that is toxic; it is the behaviors they demonstrate or the relationship itself that is detrimental. Most of us have experienced them: a friendship that leaves you feeling drained, a relationship that has kept you from exploring your true potential, or that one person who treats you like a best friend one minute and a stranger the next. In these relationships, we may be overly criticized, stereotyped, belittled and feel a lack of support. If you’re experiencing any of these characteristics, chances are, you’re in a toxic relationship. 

Before we go ending friendships, however, it is important that we consider that we may not always be the victim in this situation. To truly stop this cycle of toxicity, we must recognize the things that we do that may harm others. Take gossiping, for instance. Spreading false rumors and passing on the secrets given to you by your friend is a betrayal of your friend’s trust and is a toxic trait that some of us do without even thinking twice. Even judging a friend for a harmless interest that you may find annoying can be detrimental to your relationship, as they may be hesitant to share more about themselves in the future.

There is no denying that being in a toxic friendship takes a mental toll. It can be exhausting to manage not only your own emotions but to navigate unpredictable behaviors of the other person in your relationships. The mental repercussions toxic relationships inflict upon us should not be taken lightly. As clinical psychologist Gillian Needleman says, “They can affect your sense of self and identity, damage your self-esteem, and even lead to feelings of depression and/or anxiety.” 

So, what’s to be done about toxicity in our friendships?

The cycle of toxicity is not going to simply fix itself overnight; it is going to take reflection and the possible sacrifice of a few draining friendships to give way to more plentiful ones. As self-help author Robin Sharma says, it is essential to “clean out all complexity, build a team around you that frees you to fly, remove anything toxic and cherish simplicity. Because that’s where genius lives.” There is a future for healthy relationships, and communication is at its core.

Devon Rocke can be reached at [email protected]