Reflecting Out Loud

January was a crazy month, so crazy that it took me into February to write its monthly reflection. January always seems like a long month every year. For me it felt like January lasted for three months, like seriously! One word that comes to mind to describe January is....toxic.

And I'm not talking about sexy toxic; like you see a good looking man and your gut is telling you he's no good. It's not like you are trying to marry him so he's just intoxicating eye candy for the toxic.The toxicity I'm referring to, is the kind that will creep in and disrupt your mood, thoughts, energy, joy, and peace. It can take the form of people, situations, thoughts, just about anything.

I truly believe that once you begin to walk in your purpose, understand who you are, and begin to move to a higher level of focus and discipline; that is when toxicity tends to come at you hard and fast.I believe it's always been there lingering in the back, but now that your vision is becoming more clear everyday it will slowly try to grab a front seat. You begin to see things for what they have been all along. Sometimes it takes a change in you to see what you have been settling for way too long. I don't know about you but I know that I am over having toxicity of any amount in my life.

Everyone I come across says I have a great deal of patience, which is true. Patience and silence can speak volumes that arguments and gossiping cannot. I've also learned since I was young that I was meant to be the bigger person in all situations; meant to shed light on issues that people tend to shy away from out of fear, guilt, or ignorance. I am finally accepting patience and being the bigger person as two strengths of mine. But, can I be real for a moment?

It can be exhausting and an annoying role to have at times! I remind myself that literally if I'm not either of those then nothing gets resolved in my life.

As a result, being this type of person requires a great deal of self awareness. The definition of self awareness: conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

You have to get to truly know and understand yourself and decipher your feelings and motives. What makes me happy? What triggers my anger? What can I handle? What are my boundaries? What do I need to work on? Why did I react that way? Why do I care so much?

These can be difficult to questions to face but help to gain clarity that is vital to growth.

Self awareness is also an understanding that people will not always see where you're coming from. Remember if you know you have done your part, you can confidently wipe your hands of the situation and move forward.

One way to help you see your growth is if you encounter the same situation in two different stages of your life. When this happens to me I always think about how I would've reacted if it was 5-10 years ago. In the present I am more self aware of my actions and reactions, in the past I wasn't so much; growth and self awareness is such a beautiful process.

Below are three tips I use for toxic situations. I hope you give these a try when a toxic situation, thought, or person tries to come back. Don't allow it, you have moved on from it and elevated to a higher level for a reason. Remember that.

1. Reaffirm the reason you removed toxicity from your life in the first place.

Have you ever had a friend bring up someone you have moved on from? It could be an old friend, an ex, whoever. Or have you every heard a song, watched, a movie, or smelled a similar scent of someone who was important to you but they turned toxic and had to get deleted? Any of these instances sound familiar?

When any of these happen, I literally say out loud, ''Toxic, nope.'' Plain and simple. It helps clear the fog of the memory that's trying to disturb my groove. It can be easy for us to slip back into old patterns when a trip down memory lane is trying to entice us; all memories and flashbacks are not happy moments. Once you become self aware of your feelings towards a situation and remain grounded in that decision, it becomes a little easier deny the toxicity.

I really believe there is a good and bad side to every situation, when the bad starts to outweigh the good side, its time to reevaluate.

2. Don't place yourself in environments that you know are toxic for you.

I will admit it took me some time to grasp this. I know a lot of people who are in groups of friends and may not be friends with everyone in the group, or even associates. But can I ask you something? If you don't want to be around someone ever, why deliberately put yourself around them? Why?

I have never been one to fake the funk, if I don't want to do something or be around someone I simply say no. However, there were times when I would place myself in an environment because a friend of mine wanted a plus one, and I put my feelings on the back burner and went somewhere I had no business being. As a result, I felt toxic thoughts of the past resurface and I felt my mood and attitude change. It took me awhile to become self aware and realized I was allowing someone else have control over my mood, that just couldn't continue. I started to place my peace and joy as the top priority and have not placed myself in any situations like that again.

When you encounter these situations, speak your peace. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. If you don't want to be around someone that your friend thinks is amazing, let your friend know: "Hey girl I really want to hang with you, let me know when you're free." It's so important to remember that when you have groups of friends, one on one friendships and communication is vital. People might not like it but you are doing this for your inner peace and joy, which is priceless. If they are really your friend they will respect where you are coming from even if they don't agree or understand.

3. Do not do things simply because they are convenient or the way things have always been.

On this life journey of mine, I strive to be as transparent and real as possible.This comes easy to me because part of Soul Health Chronicles is reminding yourself that you are your only competition. In the past it was a more difficult because I wasn't keeping it real with myself about certain situations I was involved in. I am self aware of that behavior now which allows me to be real and transparent when writing.

I have been single for a long time and I enjoy it. I enjoy spending time with myself, getting to know me, and learning what I want. I believe that if you truly don't understand and know yourself, how can you expect to be in a full relationship with someone else? It just won't work. Now I love love and respect relationships and will be in one eventually, I'm not our here in dire need of anything; just drinking water and minding my business.

Now this tip comes into play when you don't know yourself, what you really want, and as a result you make decisions based off convenience and begin to settle in situations and with people you encounter and not get the respect and treatment you deserve.

You don't deserve the short end of any stick in any situation, no matter what. In my past I used to be part of toxic situations when it came to friendships, situationships, dating; any relationship. I could never really see the relationship for what it truly was because I was so engrossed in it; wanting it to work so bad no matter how it made me feel. So because I wasn't self aware of why I wanted it so bad, I began to settle and make decisions based off not wanting to be "lonely". If you don't really know yourself and why your are doing certain things, it doesn't matter who is around, you will still feel alone. Only you can fill a void inside of you, you have to remove the toxicity and do the work on you first!

I have been in situations where I stayed because I felt that person needed me, despite of how they treated me. I have been in situations that I knew weren't going past a certain point, knowing I wasn't going to be fully happy at the current level, I settled and stayed because I didn't want to lose that person even if it was only a piece of them. As a result I began to lose my focus.

I had to remove the fog in my situations, take a step back, and truly see them for what they are.and not what I wanted them to be.

Removing toxic situations from your life takes time, self awareness, and transparency with yourself. Be patient as you become more aware of your feelings, motives, and learning the why behind actions and decisions.

I am still a work in progress, I know that if I came across the same situations and people from even last year I wouldn't make the same choices. This journey is about growth and progressing forward, which takes time and experience. I hope this blog about toxicity was empowering, inspiring, or motivating in some area of your life. I can confidently say while writing this blog and thinking about the past, no toxic memories flooded my mind. I know that's because I have made peace with situations that used to be toxic in my life.

Onward, upward, and moving forward are the steps and I hope the same for you.

As always, work on becoming the best version of yourself, you are your only competition.

Shawnte' Knox

Owner, Soul Health Chronicles

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