A few years ago, I was part of a group of people I considered friends. I socialized with them. Had online conversations. Told them things about myself. I liked most of them, and I thought it was mutual with at least some.

Then I learned the sad truth. Some of them were not only saying insulting and hurtful things behind my back, they were overtly trying to sabotage my connections with other people. Including my own husband.

I had known that some of the people in the group weren’t my biggest fans, but I hadn’t realized their dislike of me ran that deep until two people, independently, came to me and said, “These people told me this about you and told me not to have anything to do with you.” When I vented to my husband about my pain and anger, he said, “Oh, yeah, they said that stuff to me too.”

Despite knowing there were members of the group who didn’t think so highly of me, and in spite of things a few had said to my face, I’d hung in there. I was determined not to let them “run me off,” so to speak. After all, didn’t thinking highly of *myself* mean not allowing other people to have power over me? Didn’t not caring what others thought of me mean continuing to expose myself to people who didn’t think kindly?

Nope. It didn’t mean any of that. And when I realized how deep the dislike ran, and how much damage some people in the group had tried to cause–and may have succeeded in causing, because I did learn that at least two people I’d tried to form connections with had chosen not to due to what the others said to them–I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors by staying in that group.

I left. I cut ties even with group members who, to my knowledge, hadn’t said or done anything negative, because I was no longer sure I could trust them. I blocked them on social media. I called it quits.

And I immediately felt lighter, more positive, and more sure of myself than I had in a long time.

We’re often taught that we should keep people in our lives. Especially if we’re “spiritual,” according to some, we’re supposed to keep connections even with people who are toxic to us because otherwise, we aren’t showing compassion or forgiveness. Some of us also come from backgrounds in which we were expected to accept poor treatment without complaint, and even expected to forget it entirely the moment someone said, “Sorry,” even if we knew they didn’t mean it and would only do it again. 

Some of us become conditioned to being treated poorly and blaming ourselves for it, and take that to mean we can’t walk away just because we don’t like how someone is dealing with us.

But that isn’t how it’s meant to be. We are under no obligation to keep people in our lives when we know they’re treating us badly or that they’re toxic to or unhealthy for us. We aren’t somehow more spiritual or evolved because we choose to continue exposing ourselves to people whose actions cause us to doubt and dislike ourselves.

We can walk away from those people. Not caring what others think includes not caring how others view our choices about who to allow in our lives. It includes building a life in which we feel happy, confident, and positive, regardless of what anyone else tells us we “should” do.

No matter who someone is, what their role your life has been, or if they’ve done anything positive for you, if their behavior toward you is hurtful and toxic, you do not owe them any place in your life. You have the right to shut them out for your own sake. That isn’t refusing to show compassion, and it isn’t “unevolved.” You are showing compassion for *yourself*, and evolving beyond a life where you are constantly feeling negatively about yourself due to the actions and words of others.

The time to walk away is when you feel it’s necessary. You don’t need to explain it or justify it to anyone. If you need to have someone out of your life, you have the right to make that choice. 

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