Hi, my name is Chenai Mbanga! Welcome to my blog! I write to encourage, inspire and empower you in growing in your spiritual life through reflections and prose. I have been writing on this blog for 5 years now, and it has been a journey! Join me as I continue my journey toward self-actualizing.❤


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Once upon a time, someone said a certain behaviour I had exhibited was toxic. I didn’t disagree with this person at the time; not because I thought they were right, but I realized that this person was hellbent on misunderstanding me and dismissing my feelings.  In hindsight, I had to take responsibility for emotions that up until then I didn’t realize I had not properly dealt with. I had to pay attention to something that I’d neglected. That careless labelling made me ponder a lot about my actions and intentions up to that point. There’s always a lesson somewhere. 


These days everyone loves labelling anything and anyone as toxic. It has made me think about the word, and my own brush with it, and the context it’s used. When I think of the word, I think of poison. There are poisons that work quickly, and others work slowly, corroding and breaking down whatever substance they are in contact with. The goal of poison is to kill, isn’t it? 

There are poisons that are not lethal in small doses, but overtime, they produce the same result: death. 


Have you heard of a poisoned work environment?  The poison doesn’t disappear just because the poisonous person is fired.  I think toxic relationships are the same. The poison doesn’t magically disappear when you end the friendship, or separate from the family or other person. You’ve been infected too. But what is your responsibility in that space? In a workplace, what is the employer responsible for? What is the employee responsible for? Because if expectations are not communicated, if needs are not presented, and everyone assumes what is right, it won’t be long before behaviours that perpetuate that poison spring up. 


I bring up the work example because I recall asking someone why they stayed in a work environment that caused their self-worth to diminish, their self-confidence to plummet, and anxiety to increase. I know it isn’t easy to just up and leave a job. But one thing that stood out to me was that, overtime she said that she began to second guess herself. She lost the ability to articulate her needs, desires and expectations. The poison had successfully shattered her boundaries. Her employer had only made a show of fixing the issues she brought up, without changing anything. 


This resonated with me, and I realized in this woman’s story I can see where I failed in my interactions with people. How I’d begun to dismiss my own needs, for someone else’s sake. How I learned to exist in a poisoned environment, but forgot that poison doesn’t just disappear because you will it so. Its fumes cause confusion over what it means to be responsible for someone and responsible to them. It renders you useless to caring for yourself. It erodes your sense of safety, your boundaries, and hurls you into a cycle of causing harm to yourself and others (and allowing others to cause you harm) without comprehending why. 

It affected my prayer life too, up until recently. Where I can express anger, and dissatisfaction, but vulnerability, the hurt, the disappointment have been a challenge; because I perceived they didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But my emotions and feelings matter in the grand scheme of things. Because how can you build intimacy if you don’t care about the big and small things; if you don’t acknowledge and take care of the hurt?

One thing I’m taking notice of is that we are a generation that is careless and fluid with words and language.  But we also use words to hide the truth. A word can describe everything under the sun except the truth. We hide the truth so we don’t have to take responsibility for anything, or face our weakest or injured self. And a few times now, where even I have thought a person to be toxic, discernment has whispered and corrected me to reveal that the behavior stems from insecurity.  I’ve discerned the same in myself from time to time. The challenge is always getting to the root of that self-doubt.


There’s that verse in the bible that says be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  It’s a challenge for me, but when I do it, I discern the truth. I find I am more understanding. I am not quick to label someone’s actions as though I know their motivations. I’m not quick to be confident in my motivations because discernment brings out deep, hidden things that often take me by surprise.


Toxic shouldn’t be a word used so flippantly. Poison is deliberate in its purpose. I’m not saying I won’t ever use it carelessly; but be careful not to accept what people label you and your actions. There is a coldness, and lack of care that is sharp and deliberate in people these days if you pay attention. The heart of man is growing colder for sure. And it’s our responsibility that we are not poisoned by it, that we guard against others’ misdiagnosis. Some folks want to hurt others before they get hurt. Personally, I think if I am quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry or offended, the truth of a person’s heart will come to light. These days, people are not what they seem.