All of us know someone who makes us feel happier simply just by being around them. I’m sure all of us also can think of someone whose very presence stresses us out. If we don’t know a toxic person right now, it’s likely we will at some point in our lives.
Toxic people can come in a variety of forms from the overtly nasty, judgemental and spiteful through to those who are little more covert. Like those who have perfected the art of the little ‘dig’ seemingly directed at us.
These are the types of people that radiate a considerable amount of negative energy, and tend to operate on a different frequency. In many cases, they leave us feeling not only uncomfortable, but also somewhat drained.
Whatever format the toxicity takes, we walk away feeling a little more negative about not only ourselves, but dreading the non-pleasure of the next encounter.
When I’m looking into others’ writings for managing stress, I often see the sound advice to rid ourselves of the toxic people we have in our life. That cutting them out is life changing, up there with more vegetables, a walk along the beach and a regular massage.
It’s all well and good to advise this, but easier said than done when we are dealing with people.
What if the toxic person is at the workplace of your dream job, and you’re not prepared to leave it? What if the toxic person is part of your usual social group and to end that relationship would mean distancing yourself from your whole group of friends? What if it’s a toxic relative who you have to see at every family gathering, and you’ll just make waves with your nicer family members by not going?
What if it’s your ex and you have to see them twice a week on your children’s handover days?
What if it’s your mum?
Sometimes it’s possible to take that big step and confidently wipe someone completely out of our life, but in many cases, we can’t. Sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes it’s not appropriate and sometimes it’s just not the right thing to do.
Apart from rebuilding your confidence and dusting yourself off after each encounter, there are some other things that you can do in order to deflect their radiating negative energy.
Firstly, don’t take it personally. Content people don’t usually create negative energy, so it’s likely that the person you’re perceiving to be toxic, is not happy themselves. The toxicity is coming from within them, probably for another reason, rather than you. Always think about what their behind-the-scenes story might be. They could be struggling themselves in an area of their life, and haven’t quite taken the steps necessary to manage it.
Secondly, no one can ‘make you feel’ anything. You choose the way you feel and you can choose the way you react. You don’t have to take on anything that others say or do. You can learn not to fuse with other people’s moods nor ride the wave of emotions of other people you spend time with. Difficult, yes, but this can certainly be learned.
Lastly, learning to be confident and more assertive in your life will always come in handy when dealing with people. Pulling a toxic person up on their behaviour is possible, but many of us avoid it for fear of the repercussions. People who’re toxic are rarely aware of their own toxicity, nor of the effect their behaviour is having on others. Bringing it to their awareness allows them a fair chance to work on their behaviour.
Cutting toxic people from our life and ending toxic relationships we get stuck in can often be the best thing we ever did in our life, but in reality, it’s not always possible. In fact, there’s a fair chance that many of us won’t actually make that permanent step. So learning how we can deal with them is the best way forward.
Being on the receiving end of a toxic person can feel so personal; but the reason they are doing it, often has nothing to do with us.