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I watched a fascinating video recently. I came away from it wondering, how can I be a better person? I want to echo its sentiments and look at behaviours we have that can be toxic, and how we can work to remove them from our lives. Though we often want to see ourselves as the good guy, we have our faults as well.
Scapegoating is the practice of finding someone or something else to place blame on. Scapegoating is a sign of personal immaturity and fear of taking responsibility for one’s actions. It is also harmful to the person being scapegoated, as they take the brunt of all the anger, despite not having done any wrong. So, how do we avoid this toxic behaviour? First, by noticing when we do it and second, admitting our wrongdoing. I’m going to use my authority as a doctor here, you can make mistakes! Learn from them and grow, but don’t pin your failings on someone else.
Stone walling is the act of ignoring and not recognizing another person. This is done to shut down or dehumanize another person so that you do not have to deal with them. This leads to anger on both sides. If someone has done you wrong, talk to them. In a workplace, talk to a supervisor or HR. In your personal life, ask a trusted friend to mediate. In some cases, seek professional counselling. The act of stonewalling will only deteriorate an already weakened relationship.
This is a big one and often people don’t realize they are doing it. If you have seen a picture or a video of someone doing something inappropriate and you interact with it in a negative way-that is a form of cyber bullying. People who have not consented to be in a video or photo and are being made fun of, are victims. They are not something to laugh at for our own amusement. When you notice this happening, report the image or video. If you see people engaging in these type of behaviours, be sure to speak up.
I know we all enjoy sarcasm; it’s funny and often meant in jest. The problem is when the person who you are being sarcastic towards does not know it or is not in the mood. When we say, “it’s just a joke” we are invalidating their feelings and stress. We don’t always know where a person is coming from. Sometimes, what is a joke to us, is quite painful to another. If you make a sarcastic remark and it doesn’t land, apologize. It costs you nothing to respect someone else.
We are in the middle of a Global pandemic. Everyone’s stress levels are high and so is uncertainty, so try and be a little kinder to those around you. If you notice yourself practicing these or other toxic behaviours, take a step back and reassess how they may be affecting those around you.