Sometimes your most loving act is to unsubscribe from someone else’s toxic issues. Sounds harsh, right? Well let me explain.
A toxic issue is something which is hazardous and dangerous, involving a behaviour that causes damage & harm.
The idea of unsubscribing from toxic issues in other people’s lives could sound unloving, uncaring & lacking in compassion. It’s not meant to. It actually requires humility, courage & honesty to face up to this, especially when you have a heart that genuinely wants to help others. It’s not that we should ever stop loving people. We are always called to love. But committing ourselves to loving others doesn’t mean we have to subscribe to their toxic issues. It is simply wrong to ever be guilted or manipulated into taking on toxic issues and making excuses for behaviour which is corrosive. To just go along with it actually does far more harm than good and is ultimately unloving.
Many good people, in a noble attempt to help others, can find themselves subtlely drawn into profoundly personal matters that run deeper than they can grasp and for which they are out of their depth. However with toxic issues, what can often happen is that those offering help become smothered in layers of toxicity and even end up being blamed for the very issues for which they’re trying to help.
While it might take courage to unsubscribe from toxic issues, the price of staying subscribed is huge…and just keeps rising. It’s certainly of no useful help to the other person. We also end up becoming swamped in a world of issues which God never intended us to solve. The deeper we go, the more our faith gets contaminated by the toxicity of the environment. You then find yourself swimming through oceans of mess which you don’t have the ability to clean up. That’s God’s job and it is never wise to try and do God’s job for him. In the end, we become of no good use to anybody, not least family and friends. This is unfair on them and others who God calls us to reach.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life is never to yield to the temptation of making other people’s issues my own. I am responsible TO other people. However I am not responsible FOR other people. This revelation changes everything. It keeps the love strong and takes the pressure off.
Never fear people who threaten to leave you because you refuse to defend or condone unacceptable behaviour. Clinging on to this kind of toxicity is in no way helpful to them or you. Remember, no one who leaves you will ever limit your life anyway. So it’s never wise to live in fear of the limitation that someone’s departure might create. Real limitation actually occurs when we subscribe to issues that God never called us subscribe to.
So how do we unsubscribe from toxic issues whilst still keeping a heart of love for people? Here are six ways:
1) Stop making excuses for someone else’s bad behaviour
There is never an excuse for poor behaviour…ever. To excuse it is to encourage it. So if you find yourself making allowances for it, that’s a sign you need to unsubscribe.
2) Stop trying to fight other people’s battles for them
When you’re fighting for someone more than they’re fighting for themselves, something is very wrong. Encourage people to move on in life. Stop trying to move on for them.
3) Stop allowing the line to be crossed
Toxic issues will always try to find a way of pushing past the boundary lines of your life. It’s important to establish strong boundaries over which they must not cross. Remember, you are the gatekeeper of your heart (Proverbs 4:23)
4) Stop a culture of gossip
When you find yourself in conversations that are always at the expense of other people, have the honesty to call it for what it is – ‘gossip’. Put a stop to it. It’s a toxic culture.
5) Stop allowing yourself to feel guilty for other people’s issues
I repeat: You are responsible TO people. You are not responsible FOR people.
6) Stop taking everything personally
Be objective and not subjective. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by the sentiment of ‘feelings’. They’re fickle.
In the end, it’s always important for us to stay subscribed in faith to God. He’s got this.
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