By Tope Akinnola
Please, patiently read this. Two weeks ago, I was an outpatient at a dental clinic, and as I watched the oral surgeon placed his hand on the plier (they call it dental forcep), to surgically extract my teeth, thoughts raced through my mind as I remembered how, for years, I reasoned away the necessity of having to go to the dentist to surgically extract the teeth, and how I rationalised my procrastination, often with seemingly legitimate reasons.
The dentist first loosened each tooth he wanted to extract with an instrument called elevator before ramming the plier into my gum to pull each tooth out. I arrived at the clinic thinking that there were only three affected teeth (based on past X-ray evaluations), only for the oral surgeon to tell me that a fourth tooth would have to be removed after he inspected my mouth.
Since I had gone through a lot of suffering and pain before and during Christmas, on Boxing Day and thereafter, I was determined to remove every source of that suffering and pain before the new year and so I asked him to knock the fourth tooth out too. I only would have to pay more money, for which I was ready.
My point here is that, the problem started with one tooth, then a second tooth got affected, then a third, and finally a fourth! Because I delayed in promptly dealing with one cavity, the surrounding tooth became affected — the decay and damage spread to the next one. That reminds me of the danger of toxic relationships or poisonous associations. Do you remember where it says that “a companion of fools will come to destruction?”
In another translation it says, ”If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined” (Proverbs 13:20, GNT). The Berean Study Bible puts it this way when it says that “a companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Well, if you have a bad or toxic tooth and you don’t remove or extract it, it’s only a matter of time when the tooth that is its ‘companion’, or close by, will suffer harm also. The same principle applies in human relationships.
“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge,” says Proverbs 14:7. That ultimately means, ”Stay away from a fool!”
Proverbs 9:6 rams it home succinctly when it also says, ”Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” You are not walking in the way of insight and understanding when you are a companion of fools! Or when you are a companion of toxic people! Or when you rationalise why you should continue to be in toxic relationships!
Or, when you procrastinate your extraction from poisonous associations and poisonous people!
Avoid toxic relationships, or people that you have associated with that are parasites; that are hypocrites or pretenders, pessimists and dream killers, as well as rumourmongers or talebearers too. Proverbs 20:19 states, “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flatereth with his lips.” In another translation, it says, ”A gossip can never keep a secret. Stay away from people who talk too much.”
Every relationship or association you are involved in is either going to add value to you or diminish your value. So, be careful, because if your relationships or your associations aren’t improving your growth potential, enhancing your access to positively transformative knowledge, or your access to the right support system, or in increasing your self esteem or self worth to face and overcome obstacles, then it’s time to jump ship — it’s time for you to pack them aside, disconnect and move on.
Otherwise like my diseased tooth that wasn’t extracted early enough, they will spread more damage to your life.
The kind of toxic associations, relationships, or people you will have to get rid of also include those who perpetually take pleasure in wasting your time; those who infect you with negativity or negative energy and so, drain your energy every time or most times you meet them; those who are perpetual fault finders and who destructively criticise you all the time to reduce your self-worth and bring you down, or strip you of your self-esteem; those who are super full of envy and jealousy; those who are self-centered, self-delusional and who always play the victim while making you feel guilty for what they are responsible for; those who repeatedly dissapoint you, intimidate you or create fear and insecurity in you, and don’t care while treating you like you are worthless and easily replaceable.
Understand and accept the fact that you cannot change someone who does not see any issue wrong with their toxic behaviour, or their toxic actions towards you. You can’t change them, but you can extract them from your life.
Some relationships, friendships and close associations have turned some people into damaged goods until these people think and feel that they are worthless. But they are not worthless. It is the toxic relationships that they’ve been into that altered their perception of who they are, making them feel like they’re worthless or of no value. They have believed a lie. Because the truth is that every human is of value!
Listen to me: you are permitted to terminate toxic relationships and you don’t owe anybody any explanation for it!
And by the way, do you know that some relationships, or associations, or friendships can affect your health? One leading research has indicated that, apart from its mental health ramifications, a negative relationship puts people at a higher risk of developing heart problems than those in healthy and positive relationships.
Research has indicated also, that hostile relationships can even slow down wounds from healing quickly.
Then, constant tension and serious conflicts in a relationship can spur your body to produce adrenalin all the time and quickly discard the excess, which can eventually lead to fatigue, a weakened immune system, and in some cases organ damage.
In another study specifically directed at women, it was concluded that ”women with higher levels of conflict in their relationships tend to have similarly high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and high rates of obesity.”
It’s time for you to re-evaluate the relationships and associations that only offer you continuous disrespect, hostile atmosphere, lack of trust, nonstop narcissism, empty pretense or hypocrisy, or those that make you cut corners, lower your standards, bring out the worst in you, while offering you insufficient support, that is, using you and trying to make you feel as if they’re helping you while in the real sense, they are taking advantage of your vulnerabilities.
What do you do about those toxic relationships? Extract them out of your life just as I had my bad teeth extracted. Don’t try to convince yourself that you will do it later like I kept postponing the extraction of my bad teeth. The more you delay, the more toxins they introduce into your life!
It may not be comfortable at first just as it wasn’t comfortable when the dental surgeon was pulling each of my teeth out with his plier, even though he already injected me with anesthetic at different locations to numb my gum. After the surgery, the anesthetic began to wane and incredible pains erupted in my mouth. I couldn’t talk for hours. I had to use a pen to scribble out words on paper to communicate, including a time I had to let the doctor know I was choking when I couldn’t swallow my saliva.
Then I had to bite on my remaining teeth with the gauze placed in my mouth in order to stop bleeding and allow blood clots to form in the holes left in my gum after the extractions. I felt the pain of the process. But about four to five hours later, back at home, I began to experience relief. The diseased teeth and the damage they were causing were gone and my healing process had started.
There are some relationships and associations that may appear difficult to be discarded because of the time, emotional or financial investment you have made into them. But when you look at the bigger picture, and consider the damage and hurt you have experienced, and the ruin you will still come to if you don’t do the right thing now, you will realise that it would cost you much more to continue to be a companion of fools.
For as long as you are a companion of fools, you will suffer harm. It’s inevitable.
Happy new year, once again.