10 Tips to Help You Deal with Toxic People
Written by: Amber Alexander
The beauty of each of us as humans is that we are each our own swirling little universe and we get to collide and interact with hundreds of other little universes each day.
But, just like the larger Universe all around us, sometimes the chemical reactions that take place in the atmosphere are a little volatile and can lead to feelings of deflation or toxicity.
As hard as we may try to control the energy other people bring into our lives, I think most of us have experienced at least one person who really knows how to bring our mojo down, to cause those atmospheric chemical reactions that take all the wind out of our sails, darken the sunshine or leave us feeling heavy and low.
I know I have. Heck, I may have even BEEN one of those people a time or two myself.
One of the biggest lessons in life, it seems, is to learn how to be aware of and accountable for the energy we contribute to the communities around us that we move in and through on a daily basis.
In an ideal world, everyone would be an expert at realizing the effect their words, actions and demeanor have on those around them and adjust accordingly so that everyone left in their wake has a nice, peachy glow. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite there yet.
You’re having the perfect day and along comes Debbie Downer to steal your sunshine and leave you with a dark cloud! So, what is one to do?
It isn’t hopeless and you don’t have to let these interactions get the best of you either. When faced with toxic people or situations, here are some easy steps you can take to deal with them.
1. Identify Patterns
Do you find the same situation occurring over and over again? If there is a recurring interaction or event that leaves you feeling low, try and determine what is making it that way. Is it the other people involved? Or yourself? Maybe it is the environment the interaction is taking place in? When we work to find the causes, it is easier to feel that we have more control over our part in the situation and correct what doesn’t feel right.
2. Look For Ways In Which You Have Contributed
Sometimes, you perpetuate unfavorable situations without even knowing it. Is the toxicity a response to a miscommunication you have been a part of? Is there another way to communicate with the person/people involved that will not put others on the defense?
Knowing how our energy is affecting the situation will help us be accountable for ourselves and is modeling responsibility in relationships as well as excellent self-care. Knowing and acknowledging how you affect others involved will also show that you are invested in their well-being and the outcome of the situation, which will reduce tension and lend to a more peaceable interaction.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Compassionately Speak Up
Quite often, it is difficult to feel comfortable confronting a toxic person. It isn’t necessarily a skill you are intentionally taught growing up. But it is a valuable skill to have when attempting to create a healthier, more peaceful environment in your life.
Don’t be afraid to politely call someone on their energy and how it affects you. If a situation with a person reaches a point where you feel something has to be said, it helps to verbalize the situation from the standpoint of how you feel instead of starting the conversation talking about what the other person is doing.
“I have to take a moment to tell you that this interaction feels very unsafe/unhealthy/tense for me and I am feeling as if [insert alternative to make it easier, such as everyone complaining less] would help me be able to continue…” will often be better received over, “You are being too negative right now and I don’t want to be doing this” (although, there will also be situations where the latter is the more appropriate approach to take when someone just isn’t getting the point!).
4. Be Aware Of Your Emotions And Know Your Own Limits And Boundaries
It is easy to get so caught up in an interaction that you forget to check in with how you are feeling. By knowing how you are feeling and being aware of how the toxic person is affecting you, it is easier to remain calm and choose a more positive attitude. Don’t let their doom become your gloom. Likewise, don’t let them continue to enter your life in ways that tread over your boundaries. If you have identified the pattern – if the person is consistently negative and toxic – know where your limits with them lay and stick to them.
There are several people in my life that I know, as soon as they begin speaking, 75% of what comes out of their mouth will be a complaint. My boundary lies within the moment they refuse to consider solutions to the problem and choose to simply need someone to unload their toxic energy to. I know this and so I have made it a habit to keep my conversations with said toxic people short and geared towards positive topics.
5. Get Comfortable With “No”
One thing I struggle with sometimes is saying “no.” If I am asked to do something I know is within my skill set of abilities, somehow that automatically translates into me being obligated to say “yes.” But that just isn’t the case.
Just because we CAN do something, doesn’t mean we HAVE to. Especially if in doing it, we are opening up our mental and emotional space to toxic people and their energy.
6. Don’t “Should” Yourself
It is really easy to reflect on toxic situations and have an internal dialogue with yourself that begins with, “I should have said…” or “I should have done…” This will only instill feelings of guilt or inadequacy in dealing with the event that you are thinking about instead of creating space to learn about how to better react in the future.
Most of us will never be able to cut out toxic people entirely. What you can do though is learn from your experiences with them to create a mindset and attitude that helps you recover better and reduce exposure to their toxicity.
7. Remain Solutions Oriented
When exposed to other people’s toxicity, you can easily slip into the downward spiral roller-coaster their negativity spews out at you. It has been helpful for me to make an effort to remain solutions oriented. If someone is constantly complaining, ask how they can make the problem they are complaining about better. If they instantly shrug off that notion and continue complaining, it’s time to cut the conversation short and walk away.
If this is a person you have to work with, it helps to try and make your contributions to the project based on the end goal in mind to keep everyone on track and focused instead of the positivity-sucking time wasters.
8. Forgive, But Don’t Forget
Holding a grudge is like drinking poison yourself but waiting for the person it was meant for to die. It only harms the grudge-holder and, often times, the person the grudge is directed towards is completely oblivious.
It’s okay – and even healthy – to forgive and let go of situations that toxic people brought into your life that had a negative or hurtful impact on you.
Letting go and forgiving those people will create space for more positive energy and people. But, forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget what they have done or the kind of people that they are. The ideal would be to work through and move past the negative feelings you experienced, but always remember what this person is like so that you are able to hold firm to your boundaries and limits in the time you spend around them.
9. Defend Your Joy
Quite possibly, the saddest part of toxic people is the joy they suck from others. A common side effect of being a toxic person is how their bad mood rubs off on everyone around them.
If you have something that makes you happy, if you have accomplished something that makes you beam with pride and smile from ear to ear, shine away, my friend! Don’t let someone else’s toxicity or lack of self-confidence steal your happiness or your moment in the spotlight. Hold on to the good, hold it close as a shield to keep away their toxic vibes. If there are people in your everyday life that have a habit of stealing your reasons to do a happy dance, maybe it’s time to firm up on your boundaries and save the celebrating for those people who will dance with you instead of putting a damper on your day.
10. Shake It Off, Dance It Out, Breathe In Calm
One crucial step in dealing with toxic people is to be able to walk away and shake it off. Whether you accomplish this by deep breathing, moving your body, singing in the shower or any other number of stress reduction methods, do it with your whole heart and soul. Nothing feels better than turning off the lights and dancing in my dark living room at the end of a stressful day; and when I have some frustrating run-ins with some particularly toxic people, I absolutely LOVE to sweat it out through exercise. Long hot showers help too!
While you may not be able to avoid toxic people entirely, there are certainly a number of ways to arm yourself in defense against their negative vibes. Don’t let them get you down, this life is beautiful and there are plenty of reasons to be joyful! Now get out there and shine that light of yours!
As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Amber Alexander follows her passion for vibrant wellness by supporting others in cultivating greater health and joy, specializing in family nutrition and individuals recently diagnosed with autoimmune diseases and/or food sensitivities.
When not working to make the world a healthier place one person at a time, she can be found on her yoga mat breathing deeply, in her kitchen cooking up nourishing deliciousness for her family and loved ones, or out dancing in the woods. She strives everyday to do at least one thing that infuses her whole being with radiance, joy and strength and believes that a hug can solve almost any quandary.
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