By now, Western culture has acquired a few staple selling points. These consist of a good amount of things including social media - particularly how one’s life appears on social media, our aesthetics regarding our bodies' shapes and sizes, and our self-love. Let me tell you, self-love is in right now. Along with green juices and Instagram themes, self-love is exploding with popularity. And this, in and of itself, is a great thing. I am so in favor of self-love, confidence and doing what you need to do to make yourself happy. What I’m not in favor of is how the media promotes self-love in the form of cutting other people out of your life.
If you’re at all present on the Internet, you’ve probably seen on some blog or forum how important it is to “cut out the negative people from your life to truly be happy” or “eliminate the toxic people.” I used to buy into this completely. I essentially believed that you should do whatever it takes to make yourself happy, even if that meant disposing of someone in your life. I paid no regards to the other side of this process -- that was until it happened to me.
I was cut out of someone’s life in a very precise and efficient fashion. The process of eliminating me from this person's life was executed quickly and easily -- for them. For me, however, it was hell.
But wait a minute, what constitutes a negative person? Is there a universal definition for someone who is no longer needed in your life? The truth is, there’s not. The definitions of these terms are completely up for grabs. For the sake of this piece, I’ll come up with my own definition: a negative person in one’s life is someone who, according to the person doing the cutting-out, is no longer contributing any positive attributes or benefits to the greater relationship and well-being of the other person. Basically, it’s when you realize that someone isn’t making you happy enough anymore that you need to, apparently, “cut them out.”
And defend this process all you want, but I argue that it is cruel by nature. And I’m not talking about eliminating a truly negative and toxic person who is just factually unkind. I’m talking about eliminating someone who you have deemed unhealthy for you because of something that is no fault of their own, but is a problem with the relationship, or better yet, with you.
People use the “cutting out” method as a mechanism to escape their own insecurities and struggles. Blaming someone else for a challenge you are facing internally is easy for you, but is truthfully terrible for the other person, and in general solves nothing.
To be “cut out” feels like going from safety to insanity, from being comforted to being tortured, from being happy to being literally non-functional. When the person who is cutting you out is important to you and your everyday life, that’s when it hits you the hardest. And that’s what happened to me. It changes everything. It has you questioning whether or not you can ever go back to being as happy as you were. You drive yourself crazy wondering what you did wrong and where you failed to make the other person sufficiently happy.
Almost all the time, there’s no explanation, or at least not a decent one. The “cut out” people are left to rebuild themselves while the person doing the cutting out is free to go make new friends who they have deemed “better.”
It’s like getting replaced by something newer and shinier than you. It’s not being good enough anymore, not quite making the cut. It’s punishment for something you didn’t do, and you can never figure out why. And while you can prepare yourself as much as possible and get yourself back to a happy place in your life, the “why” question, and the painful sting of memories cut short, never really ends.
Even now I believe in surrounding yourself with positivity, and people that inspire you to grow and be your best self. But there is a way to do this that does not involve damaging other people. And no matter how much harder it is, it’s worth searching for.