Antitoxin

"Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact" William James


Toxic. It's this new way to describe people and the malicious behaviors/words they spew. It's the go to word for how people are articulating their big moods, goals, and mindsets for this year - removing toxic people from their circle. Distancing yourself from people who bring you down, make you feel bad about yourself, and cause you nothing but hardship, anguish, or anger will never not be commendable. There does, however, come a point where branding anything or anyone who does not make you "happy" as "negativity" undermines the integrity of that duality. Especially in this political time and space that we find ourselves in, more and more people seem to be removing anyone who does not share their views from their lives both digitally or in reality.

 And that's not to say that letting go of people whose ideologies, opinions, and beliefs are dehumanizing (as in they invalidate your humanity) is bad - in fact, by all means, please do so (that kind of subliminal vitriol is insidiously detrimental to your sense of self), but there's that distinction of what is actual negative versus a different perspective, or a challenge. We have able to make distinctive what is actually harmful to us versus what is uncomfortable. Discomfort is not always something we should avoid, rather it's imperatively important that we seek to experience it at times so we can learn, grow, or become even more rooted in our worldview. Disagreement is not negativity. Challenge is not toxicity. And most of all emotion is not a vibe killer.

What happens when we remove all negativity from our lives? In theory, we imagine a utopian world of peace, love, joy, and positivity. That is also a world that is devoid of some of those other deep emotions that makes life full, rich, and complex. It'd be like a staycation in Lois Lowry's "the Giver" or Pleasantville. Picturesque at first but a world devoid of the spectrum of human emotion is a world missing the intricate nuances of the wholeness of life. It becomes a life where happiness gets devalued and taken for granted. It's a frivolous joviality devoid of real passion or purpose behind it. It's a permanent fake smile that is nothing more than a fleeting masquerade moment. Real happiness, real light, real positivity has feeling behind it. It's not an aversion to negativity but rather a victory against but one that has to be fought nonetheless. False positivity is just as deceptive and malicious as it's antithesis in negativity. Optimism, alacrity, zeal, etc. are most impactful when grounded in truth. 



We need both positivity and negativity, or at least pessimism or pragmatism. We have to create space to be a whole person. We have to be able to feel. We have to be able to genuinely laugh, smile, and love, as much as we should be authentic in our sorrow, pain, and solitude. When we block out the feelings, words, and actions of anyone we deem to be anti-positivity we create a false sense of euphoric gaiety. We lie to ourselves and to others. We keep our truth inside, and it's meant to be felt, viscerally. It's meant to be lived. It's meant to be breathed out. Bottling ourselves up does no one any good, especially not us. The ramifications can be explosive. Emotional health is an equally significant part of our physical/mental well-being. Expressing ourselves, sharing our story (even the pages we often skip over), and embracing all the things we experience is what makes life well ... lively. Just as our self-talk, particularly the self-deprecating variety, can be poison to our self-image, it can also have us living in a disingenuous world no quite rooted in actuality. 

Much like most things, mindsets should be taken in moderation. Extremes and absolutes leave little room for compromise, middlegrounds, or getting messy in the marginalia. It's admirable for us to want to surround ourselves with nothing but levity but gravity and gravitas are necessary to keep us down to Earth. Life is real, whether we realize it or not. At the same time, we create our own realities. The two have to blend, too much of one can be a dangerous thing. Letting the weight of the world hold us down prevents us from flying high. Soaring too high has us risking getting too close the sun, and we all know the story of Icarus. Balance is what we must seek. Balance is what we need to strive for. Balancing is what we should create. Living our best lives with bona fide positivity just as much we embrace the weight of world, being careful not to fly too high or be crushed. X


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