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Tidying Up Should Also Include People, and Here’s Why

Nothing feels better than tidying up your house. If you’ve jumped on the latest, “Does this bring me joy?” wagon, congrats, your house is probably the cleanest it’s ever been. There’s a sense of calm and freeness that comes with a clutter-free home. You’ve held up every stuffed animal and kindergarten portrait that your mom made you take home with you 10 years ago and decided whether or not they were here to stay. But you probably left out all your friends, family, and acquaintances.

Your house is different than your relationships, but you may be able to clean them up in the same way. Sure, you can’t “fix” them, clean them, or throw them in the dumpster, but, you can choose whether or not to invest more time into them. The mere thought may be giving you some anxious feelings, but that’s exactly why you should consider doing it!

You can’t tidy people up … or can you?

We’ve heard it said over the years that toxic people aren’t good for us. In fact, they can be seriously damaging to our mental health. Through the many relationships we experience, those that are harmful to our wellbeing shouldn’t be prioritized. And yet, we find ourselves bending over backward for people who wouldn’t do the same for us. We’re under the impression that we have to keep these relationships intact, but it’s not reciprocal.

Why do we feel like this?

Well, it depends. There are a lot of reasons why you may be feeling guilt when it comes to relationships. Perhaps you’re harboring some childhood trauma. Maybe you just hate being the “mean” one. Or maybe the very thought of cutting out a toxic person is just as toxic to you as their comments and behavior.

There’s something so simple about Marie Kondo’s method that applies so well to relationships. In fact, it may be the very thing that gets you to finally kick the toxic relationships to the curb.

Does this person bring you joy?

It’s a yes or no question. You don’t have to go through a checklist or see whether or not the internet keyboard warriors would back you up. If the majority of the time that person brings you joy, then it’s a good relationship. But if you find yourself making excuses for someone, smiling to hide the hurt, or cringing every time you see their name pop up on your phone, what are you doing?

A lot of us feel guilty thanks to toxic people. There is shame that’s associated with cutting off these relationships, but it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. They use manipulation and coercing behaviors to make you feel bad if you try to let go of them.

Toxic People Can Be Anyone

A lot of people think that a toxic relationship has to mean a significant other. However, that’s far from the truth. Toxic people prey on anyone and everyone, and sometimes, it can even be your own family. A parent, friend, significant other, even a coworker can all be toxic. Toxic people may be suffering from a mental illness or be plain old, rude people. Whatever it is, you don’t have to stay in that relationship.

You have every right to get out from under the toxic person’s thumbnail and live a happier, more joyful life. There are plenty of ways to find out whether the person you’re thinking of is toxic, but you really just have to ask yourself whether or not they make you happy. Your time matters, your opinion matters, and your life matters. You shouldn’t have to wait around and feel bad by living in a toxic person’s shadow. It’s time to tidy up everything in your life — especially your relationships. Once you do, you’ll have a lot more joy to bask in.

Tidying Up Should Also Include People, and Here’s Why

Jessica Carpenter

Jessica Carpenter graduated with a B.S. in psychology and a M.S. in health. She writes what she loves in a city that she loves while chasing around two toddlers and a dog.

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APA Reference
Carpenter, J. (2019). Tidying Up Should Also Include People, and Here’s Why. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 10 Jun 2019 (Originally: 10 Jun 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 10 Jun 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.