One of the greatest challenges to being a positive person, is being around toxic people. We all know them…we’ve all had to deal with them and the important thing to remember is, we can’t let other people bring us down.
Toxic people may seem easy to identify, but sometimes, their toxicity can be hard to pinpoint. Often, they know deep down that they’re negative, so they may subconsciously use little techniques to hide their negativity. Take the friend who is always late or sometimes just doesn’t show up at all — if you bring this to their attention, it’s never their fault and they may turn it back on us and say “relax…you’re way too rigid.” Or, perhaps they say insulting things to us and when we challenge them on it, they respond “oh, come on, you know I’m only teasing.” This is typically the type of cover a toxic person tries to employ — they know you’re right, but rather than admit it and apologize, they project it back onto us, shifting the blame away from themself.
The Risks of Toxic Relationships
Toxic people can create a great deal of stress and unhappiness for those around them, not to mention emotional scars. Generally speaking, a toxic person is someone whose behavior or words adds negativity and anxiety into our own life on a consistent basis. While toxicity in people isn’t classified as a mental disorder, very often they are dealing with personal stresses that manifest as passive aggressive behavior.
Its not easy or comfortable admitting that a friend or loved one is a toxic person, especially if they’re someone we spend a great deal of time with. However, if we want to live as positive and content a life as possible, we may find ourselves with no choice but to address the problem. How one goes about dealing with toxic people in their life is a purely personal choice, but there are some key indicators to look for when determining if a relationship is toxic, including:
- We feel like we’re being pressured or manipulated into something we don’t want to do
- We regularly feel confused and dismayed by the person’s behavior
- We feel like we deserve an apology or explanation from them, but it never comes
- We often feel manipulated and have to defend ourselves to this person
- We increasingly feel not fully comfortable around them
- We often feel bad about ourselves in their presence
- We don’t feel happy or relaxed around them
Sadly a toxic person’s issues may never be truly solved and they may continue to manufacture drama and anxiety. There are some suggestions on how to deal with toxic people, including:
- Don’t get drawn in: recognizing the toxic behaviors gives us some power, because we know what to look for and can predetermine that we won’t let ourselves be taken in by their behavior.
- Be mindful: being conscious of how the toxic person makes us feel, helps us to mount a defense — being mindful of our feelings/emotions/reactions to them, helps us to mange those responses to have less of an impact on our well-being.
- Talk to them about their behavior or be compassionate, but without being taken in: depending on the nature of the relationship, such as with a close friend or loved one, there is always talking to them — perhaps they’re unaware of how they make you feel, so gently let them know. Or, some suggest being compassionate, but don’t try to fix them — listen, but let them deal with their own issues.
- Distance yourself from them: at the end of the day, perhaps the best thing is to slowly let them phase out of your life by not actively keeping them in your life.
- Walk away: some people make the decision to simply walk away from the friendship/relationship.
How one deals with toxic relationships is really based on their personal circumstances and no one solution may work for everybody. The biggest step is to acknowledge that the problem exists and once that occurs, the best course of action will probably be different for everyone. As always, seeking the help and guidance of a qualified professional should always be an open option. Toxic people may drain us of our positivity, but they’re people too, so having empathy for them is not uncommon. But, we have to take care of ourselves and if toxic people are putting our own mental health and positive mind-set in jeopardy, we need to decide when, if and how we protect our personal positivity.
“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” — Deborah Reber