One of the things I’ve learned as I age is that I have the right to decide who is in close relationship with me.
It is a lesson that sounds like a no brainer, but has proven to be one of the toughest I’ve ever applied to real life.
From a young age we are taught to be polite and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Be kind and remember the feelings of others before your own. I believe in those values, but I feel as though they’ve been muddied with the idea that one should just accept and let slide toxic behavior from others in the name of said kindness.
My Mama and Dad raised me right. They really did. For all that I’m mouthy and opinionated and (I’ll own it) fairly judge-y, I work hard at being a good person and I am very aware of my flaws. I know I’m a Judgey McJudgerson so I work hard to back that down and keep it to myself … most of the time.
Lately, the negative and darkness has been thick. People I don’t know, and A LOT of people I do know, think it is ok to be mean and rude in the delivery of their thoughts and beliefs. I’m all for being passionate about what you believe in and I understand when that passion gets out of hand. The Lord knows I’m guilty, too, but y’all. I’m scrolling my newsfeed. I see the memes about comparing women you don’t know to pictures of horses asses, or worse. I see the crude comments and nasty images and outright lies that are being spread as gospel truth.
I see people using the actual Gospel to spread lies.
What are we doing?
I’m not sitting on some high horse looking down, but I am going to decide to make better choices about my own behavior and that means I also have to make decisions about who I allow in my front yard because part of who we are is the people with which we surround ourselves.
It is ok to say “no” to people who don’t share the same values with you. It doesn’t mean you think someone is less than you and it doesn’t mean you don’t love them as a human being. It just means that you don’t share a path with them at this point in your life.
This is a good thing to recognize.
I’ve noticed in the past few weeks that I have a lot of acquaintances on social media with whom I have nothing in common besides maybe one or two shared experiences from years ago. We don’t share any of the same values. We have no similar core beliefs. We don’t even talk to each other beyond social media. Ever. I scroll their pages and I find I don’t even know them.
Sometimes, it is ok to let people go.
I don’t remember where I heard it, but a saying has stuck with me for years and years. I’ve shared it with my children as they’ve navigated their own relationships growing up:
“There are hands you shake and hands you hold. Wisdom comes in learning the difference.”
You get to decide who you kindly say hello to in passing and with whom you share the details and intimacies of your life. I truly believe being able to apply this is important to individual happiness and mental health.
Please continue to be polite to others. Use your dang manners and try not to say anything if you can’t say something nice, BUT you don’t have to allow toxic people up on your front porch for the sake of misplaced kindness because that is no kindness to yourself at all.