You're thinking about that person right now aren't you? You know, the one who makes you want to poke ink pens into your own eye sockets?
Some people in our lives drive us absolutely nuts. We want to shake them while saying, "What in the hell is wrong with you?" Family members, friends, co-workers and life partners can all drift into the category of toxicity. Sometimes we work on projects which are the highlights of our lives and we find ourselves trapped by a nut case. You desperately wish to move on, but you feel guilty about booting them out of your life.
I am in week four of the six-week OCourse, "Thrive" with Arianna Huffington on Oprah Winfrey's website. Last week, we worked on identifying the most important priorities in our personal lives and dropping the priorities which just take up space. People who are considered to be fundamentally different from my personal core values were on the table. Not an easy process at first glance and it disturbed me for a time.
The course is interactive. I was asked by a Productions Assistant from OWN if I had a question for Arianna which could be shared with everyone in the course. In week three, Arianna speaks about "letting people off of your train." Your train is a metaphor for your life and the people who are riding with you as time moves forward.
My question was...
"When focusing on the priorities and projects [of my own], I have found some of the ones I want to keep, have people within them that I want to let off my train. What is a good way to deal with them?"
Arianna's answer to my question was a deep probe into my core values and how to evaluate whether or not people in my life are truly toxic. Her answer was brilliant. The fundamental difference I have with relating to my core values becomes a key indicator of toxic people in life who need to be escorted off of my train. Some folks may have difficult personalities which oppose mine, yet at the same time they maintain similar core values. Those are the ones who are not toxic and are the ones who I can simply set time limits upon.
I reflected upon how I have let people off of my train in the past with relation to my most passionate personal project. As I think about it now, I realize the notion of cleansing the toxicity from life is one of the core messages within Path of Three Hundred.
Let's say for a moment that you are in a relationship with someone you believe to be the love of your life. "Oh yeah, that one...I can't live without him or her even though he or she cheats, lies, talks crap behind my back and walks all over me as if I was a doormat." Well, there is the very clear clue of a toxic person who must be booted off of your train. Yes, forgive them and yourself, but get them the hell off now. This is the one on your train who is easy to boot off once you find the courage within yourself to be alone for a while. The bonus with this one is you may find yourself on a very cool, yet scary, adventure where you learn epic lessons of life. I did and was transformed.
You are in the midst of creating something which you feel passionate about. Your life's work which you feel could bring about massive positive change in the lives of millions, both alive and yet to be born. OK, that may be a bit extreme, but you get my drift. You are working on your passion and fulfilling a dream. Whatever it is, it's big to you.
Along the path of your project, you invite others (or they invite themselves) to join you in the creation of your masterpiece. As time goes by, you begin to realize a few of them are not really on board with how you think. Yet, they contribute in such a way that their efforts make your project even better. They may even help create a better you.
Thus, a dilemma and this is where Arianna's answer to my question becomes a key point. There will always be people in our lives we can only take for brief amounts of time. They exist in a gray area. We really do not have to do anything except establish some boundaries. Perhaps difficult at first, but once they are set, life will flow nicely.
Arianna said, "Make sure people are truly toxic."
I had to let her statement gel for a while...days actually. I meditated while at the beach with my dog and took several long walks in silence. Upon the reflection with her statement diving deep into my core, I realized something about myself. I was doing something which I cannot stand being done to me. I was judging people I loved when I simply needed to establish some space. It's part of the awakening process.
The cool thing about this process is now you have a way to recognize the ones who truly are toxic and the ones who we just need to put a little distance between us and them. You can boot someone off forever. Some need to be escorted off your train if they are "draining energy instead of being part of the joy of our lives," as Arianna stated in the answer to my question. You can keep most of your people around with respectful and loving distance.