The other night I finally watched the film I, Tonya, and as a lifelong figure skating fan, I remember the whole debacle that lead to the clubbing of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee and Tonya Harding’s lifetime banishment from the sport. I will not give anything away about the film, and I must first admit that it is a Hollywood movie that has probably added more drama to the events in question for cinematic effect.
What struck me most about the story is that Tonya Harding was surrounded by terrible and abusive people all her life. Her monster of a mother and violent boyfriend/husband constantly diminished her in every way and at every chance, and at the end of it all, she paid the biggest price. She took the fall for everyone’s mistakes.
What was sorely lacking in her life was the wherewithal to completely stay away from toxic people and relationships. To some degree, she had to know that her mother and husband were bad people. Perhaps the powers they held over her and what she perceived as their love were too strong. They doomed her from the start, and she was not strong enough to fight against them.
To be fair, she made plenty of her own mistakes, and again, she should have cut these people out of her life. There is much for her to own up to.
The film made me think about the times that I have come across people who I decided I needed to stay away from because they only caused me grief and anxiety. When I learned that I have the power to decide who I allow in my life, this was a liberating and healing lesson.
I have identified some characteristics of types of people I generally avoid. Maybe you have come across some of these too?
1. The Takers
The Taker is the person who always asks something of you and only contacts you when it suits their needs. They generally do not reciprocate in any meaningful way, and they leave you feeling empty.
2. The Self-Involved
Conversations with the Self-Involved are generally one-sided. They blather on and on about their problems, their accomplishments, or their desires. They do not often say “How are you doing?” A good friend should be genuinely interested in and care about your well being. These people mainly care about themselves.
3. The Mean-Spirited
It is rare that I come across mean-spirited people, but when I do, I give them their space while I stay away. They are often consumed with negativity, bitterness, and jealousy. These qualities are also not often overt, but they are pervasive and destructive over time. I make a point to stay positive and be kindly honest when I come across someone like this, but I protect myself and my sanity all the while. It often does not take much make for them to point their vitriol at you.
These are just three examples, but there are all kinds of people out there that we should at least be wary of. They usually do not show their colors right away, but I have learned to pay attention to anyone I come across and to observe them carefully. I pay attention to what they say, how they treat me and other people, and how they make me feel.
While we’re at it, it is also advisable to question any of our own behaviors toward other people that may be disingenuous, unkind, or just plain mean-spirited. None of us are perfect, and we should not try to be. Nevertheless, everyone wins when we can all choose to be more self-aware and conscious about treating each other with kindness and respect.
It is worthwhile to surround yourself with good people–those who make you feel better about yourself, who make you laugh and enjoy life, and who make you feel safe and loved. Find those kinds of people and be that kind of person back.