Most people do not set out to be toxic. However, because we are humans and because humans are imperfect, we sometimes act in toxic ways.
I have always had the best intentions when speaking with other people, yet looking back on who I was in my 20s and who I am now, I know that I once was very unintentionally toxic. Even now, I try to remain as self-aware as possible, because it’s easy for me to say something and without meaning it, say something that ends up coming off entirely the wrong way. But, I firmly believe that as long as we are willing to accept the fact that we are wrong and need to do better- there is always hope for us yet.
With that being said, it got me thinking: what are toxic things that people say to one another without necessarily meaning to? Here are some of the ones that I came up with and that I noticed being mentioned in other, psychology-based articles and sources.
1. You’re strong, you will deal with it.
When you say this, you may have the best intentions. But, the thing is, while your intentions may be good, you are only making this person feel even more powerless. Instead, empathize and offer support.
2. I’ve been there, too.
When someone is grieving, drawing the attention back to yourself might be a way for you to relate to them and make them feel less alone, but it’s never the right time to say this. You might have lost someone or been through something difficult, but you will never know exactly what someone is going through. So, be mindful of that.
3. Time heals all wounds.
Time does not heal all wounds. Some wounds are so painful, that it can be impossible to see past the present and it’s not a good approach to try to tell them that their pain will be meaningless one day. Instead, validate their emotions and offer support.
4. You are being too sensitive.
You might not mean to gaslight, but that is exactly what this phrase does. Not to mention how emotionally invalidating this is. Rather than calling someone ‘too sensitive’ remember that everyone experiences everything differently and be there for them.
5. Some people have it way worse than you.
Never in the history of mankind has anyone ever been made to feel better by being told this. It’s pretty much a slap in the face to someone who is legitimately hurt or upset. Yes, starving to death in a third-world country is a terrible thing- but that doesn’t take away from the pain someone is feeling in a different situation.
6. I told you so.
It might be tempting to say, especially when you warned someone, but once the damage is done, saying “I told you,” is only going to rub salt in their wound. Not to mention it’s just hateful to say.
7. You might not want to hear it, but…
Then don’t say it. See, that’s not so hard, is it? Even if you think you can shed some bit of truth if you think they don’t want to hear it or aren’t ready to hear it, keep it to yourself. You cannot force someone to see or understand something they aren’t ready to see or hear.
8. Well, if I were you…
You aren’t them, and it’s not your place to say. Keep unmerited or unrequested advice to yourself.
9. Everything happens for a reason.
Nope, no it doesn’t. Everything does not happen for a reason. I’m sorry. But while it might be a nice sentiment, it’s simply not true. This is toxic positivity and there’s no place for it.