Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

The Life-Changing Magic of a Social Detox

KonMari your social space. There’s clutter there, too.

In 2019, Marie Kondo’s system of organizing & decluttering your home was popularized through a Netflix reality series. Known as the KonMari method, people around the world embraced this movement for minimalism grounded on the premise that, as Marie Kondo puts it, “Tidying your physical space allows you to tend to your psychological space.”

Thus, if we want to maintain our happiness and well-being, we must have an environment that is filled only with things that spark joy. Anything that does not serve this purpose must go.

While I’ve yet to fully declutter my own home, what I’ve experienced in my recent life is that this life-changing promise of cutting out clutter extends, and arguably even more in importantly, to the people you surround yourself with.

As it is, we’re all going through some form of difficulty — pain points that come from virtually every facet of our lives. While some stressors are short-lived, others are much more pronounced, particularly when we feel that it is something outside of our control.

As social animals, the impact of people on our psyche is undeniable. Our social interactions and the thoughts that bore from them take up headspace, sometimes occupying more estate than we wish it would. But of all the aspects of life that cause stress, pain, anxiety, and struggle, our social life should not be one of them.

Much like that messy wardrobe at home, our social circles are something we can rationalize, evaluate, and reduce to the essentials. If the KonMari method challenges people to answer “What do you truly value in life?”, the question that confronts us now is this: Who truly adds value to your life?

Similar to Marie Kondo, we start the tidying up process through categorization.

Identifying the Toxic

Gaslight (1944) — A psychological thriller where a woman is led to believe that she is insane by her husband’s lies and manipulation.

The Gaslighters are people who undermine your perceptions by denying facts, disregarding your environment, or invalidating your feelings. They make snide comments that disparage you and your thinking, whether or not they mean to do so. Those who feel entitled to gaslight others think their victims are beneath them. The worst of them will make you feel like you can trust them, leading you to believe that their remarks hold water.

The People-pleasers are those two-faced people who are quite skilled in letting you hear what you want to hear. They dabble in flattery in order to advance their own interest. Others simply have a poor sense of self-awareness and so fail to hold their own. More often than not, they have no problem taking undue credit. They freeload on the success of other people, and they would rather keep themselves busy politicking their way through things as a way to work around their own shortcomings.

The Flaw-finders are the judgmental people who define others by their shortcomings and weaknesses. Interestingly, they conveniently forget their own flaws to point out someone else’s. They falsely equate strength with a strong, dominant personality. Upon detecting your soft spots, they will end up amplifying them and using them against you.

The High-Schoolers are people who still display a high-school degree of interpersonal intelligence, maturity, and entitlement. They are a mix of your stereotypical bullies and plastics. They love popularity and attention. They have the tendency to blow up simple, petty issues. They gossip, trash-talk, gravitate towards drama, are unnecessarily rude to people and think they can get away with it. Unfortunately, Bowling for Soup was right when they sang High School never ends; Some people seemed to never have graduated.

Altogether, the toxicity of these personalities comes from ill-considered principles. They are people who live in their own delusions, swimming in hypocrisy, kept afloat by their inflated egos. Also, note that conceit loves company. So don’t be surprised to find these birds flocked together.

Overcoming the Toxic

Now that you’ve identified the toxic behaviors, you need to detach yourself from them. Here I will share two mindsets that, once fully realized and embodied, will truly spark joy in your life.

Protecting Your Psyche

Let these personalities hang around long enough and they will poison you. Worst case is you don’t notice that you’ve become like them; Best case is you try to shrug them off. Either way, they will lead you away from the best version of yourself.

Despite your best efforts to tune them out, they can still cause subliminal psychological harm in more ways than one, injuring your sense of self-worth, mental well-being, and even physical health. To combat this, you must remind yourself:

Mindset #1: The moment you let yourself believe them is the moment you start to lose.

“Don’t take things too seriously”, the gaslighter would say. Easier said than done. More aptly, I would advise: Don’t take it personally. Why? Because their behavior has nothing to do with you. Ryan Holiday says this perfectly:

“It doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.”

This truth makes it a whole lot easier to cancel them out. In one ear, out the other. Build that psychological filter, and then returns to your mood, energy, and productivity will be exponential. It will secure your self-esteem, strengthen your confidence, and clear your headspace. Most importantly, you will rise above it all with exceptional grace and strength of mind.

Protecting Your Circle

While differing in lengths, every person’s social meter is finite. When you let these toxic personalities affect you, you do not just lose who you are. You also lose precious time and energy.

Every second spent minding these toxic people, wondering about what they think about you, what they did or said, is a second that could have been spent building a more worthwhile relationship. You need to take the time and identify what value (if any) people add to your life. Remember:

Mindset #2: If they don’t build you up, they are nothing but dead weight.

A feisty, anonymous Tumblr quote goes:

“I stopped explaining myself when I realised people understand from their level of perception”

Do not allow yourself to invest any more on deadweight because it’s a dead end. Train yourself to channel your energy towards interactions with the right people — those who can make a real difference in your work and in your life. Search for that space where everybody is too preoccupied with individual growth and self-improvement. If you cannot find it, create it.

Leaning on the people you can truly trust, the people who understand your context, and the people who see the best in you, will drastically raise the quality of your days and your capability to withstand negativity.

You cannot control how these people behave or how they’re inclined to think, but you can control whether they stay in your immediate surroundings or not. As with an old piece of clothing that you have outgrown, you have every right to purge people from your life if they are no value to you. You are bigger than these people.

More importantly, life is bigger than these people. As I’ve said, life throws a lot of curveballs from many different directions. Multiple times you will fail, make mistakes, and hit rock bottom. So it’s simply irrational to expose yourself to unnecessary emotional distress. You have better things to do.

To transform your life, you must recognize the toxic, the noise, the clutter. Leave space only for the people who spark joy, and politely show everyone else the door.

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Fun-sized Filipina | Writer | Content Marketer | Enjoy all my work and all of Medium’s greatest storytellers: https://riatagulinao.medium.com/membership

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Ria Tagulinao

Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina | Writer | Content Marketer | Enjoy all my work and all of Medium’s greatest storytellers: https://riatagulinao.medium.com/membership

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