Freeing Ourselves from Toxic People

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(Lose the Net by Rasmus Faber Courtesy of Epidemic Music)

How amazing it is that good questions lead us so naturally to good answers, and that beautiful questions lead to even better answers! When we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we’ve opened the doors to discovery and wonder and greater understanding.

I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that matter every day.

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Spring is not only a time of new life and new beginnings but one of personal freedom as we allow ourselves to move in new directions. With each intentional step we take to rid ourselves of the clutter we’ve gathered around us, we create liberation and the space for joy and peace and calm to naturally arise.

Join me this week as we consider ways of freeing ourselves of some of the toxins in our lives, including toxic people and toxic relationships. Stay with me.

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While the work I’m doing in my painting studio keeps ramping up, I’ve been doing some ferocious house clearing as a way of creating physical and mental space for myself. As the space opens, I’m feeling far less encumbered and much more open to allowing creativity to playfully flow through my space and through me.

Among my questions as I continue removing things not only from my house, but also from my head and heart, I’m consciously asking “Does this (whatever “this” is) serve me? Is it in my way? Is it holding me back in some way?” I’m also asking “Is this still useful or is it merely gathering dust?” And, “Is having this in my life healthy for me or has holding onto it become toxic?”

I’m more than a little surprised at what a liberating process this has become, and I’m equally surprised by the ways this liberation is spreading to the rest of my life.

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Our word “toxic” derives from the Latin word toxicum, meaning “poison.” You probably know there are poisonous substances that can make you mildly sick and there are substances so deadly that just to touch them or breath their vapors can cause you to die.

More than likely, you have an array of cleaning products and other substances in your home that come with warning labels because of how toxic they are if they’re ingested or improperly handled. Those labels are there for a reason. They keep us safe.

To be clear, it’s not always a simple matter to know what’s toxic for you and what isn’t. What is completely acceptable to one person may be deadly for someone else.

For example, the last time I ate scallops was in Nova Scotia. I was ten. I had an allergic reaction so powerful that my eyes swelled shut and I could barely breath. The same thing happened the last time I was injected with penicillin not long after the scallop incident. Countless people enjoy scallops as delicacies and countless more find penicillin to be a wonder drug. I don’t have to tell you that I’m no long willing to experience either of them again. They are toxic for me.

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When it comes to exposure to toxic people, it would be useful if they came with warning labels like the products in your home. Unfortunately, they don’t, and we usually have to learn the hard way. In many cases, there’s no outward indication that they aren’t good for us. We don’t know how toxic they are until the damage has been done.

Think about some of the experiences you’ve had when you knew you were being manipulated in some way. Or about times when someone’s personal drama has affected you so strongly that you felt agitated and upset and you had difficulty staying focused or sleeping well at night.

Or consider that person you live with or work with who is constantly complaining or looking at life through a lens so negative that they create drama or chaos wherever they are. What toll is that taking on your ability to live well? How much is it restricting you from being your most authentic self? How much energy are you having to use to keep yourself balanced around them?

Or consider the person who, regardless how well-meaning they seem, is repeatedly violating your boundaries or time or physical space or spiritual expression or … well… you get the idea.

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While in a counseling session this week with a frustrated client who’s trying to extract himself from a toxic relationship, he said, “That guy has painted me into a corner.” My response surprised him. “If you’re willing to hear the truth,” I said, “he’s not your real problem. Since we teach people how to treat us by the ways we respond to them, the truth is you painted yourself into that corner. What are you willing to do to free yourself from it?”

In a matter of minutes, he came up with a healthy plan and agreed to take action and speak up for himself. In our next conversation, I expect he’ll be telling me about his regained freedom and his sense of relief for having taken the steps to accomplish it.

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While I’ve only scratched the surface, this week’s Beautiful Questions are invitations to your own liberation, openness, and personal freedom.

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Question One: What person (or people) have you discovered to be toxic for you and in what ways?

Question Two: What has toxic engagement with them cost you?

Question Three: What simple steps will you take to face the toxic people in your life straight on and separate yourself from them?

I look forward to hearing about your successes and the ways you are offering yourself greater expansiveness as you free yourself from the people who aren’t healthy for you, even if it’s nothing more than choosing “not to play” when the toxic games are offered to you. Write and tell me about it.

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As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!

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I’m happy we can engage this way as we consider things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And at, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world. It’s a great way of spreading peace.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

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