- Toxic (Tahk-sic), meaning “poisonous”
Have you ever been fortunate enough to have a toxic person in your life? I say “fortunate” because having them is actually a blessing in disguise. They teach us to rise above what they think of us and love ourselves. They teach us that we cannot control what others think of us and to be ok with that. They teach us, to put it bluntly, not give a fuck anymore.
Some of you were probably raised in a toxic family. A family where you may have been the “scapegoat” and never measured up. Some were physically abused, or just as bad—emotionally abused. You may have been put down, told you weren’t wanted, made fun of just to be used as a pawn for the toxic person in your life. Maybe it was a sibling, a parent, a friend or even a spouse. Most every single one of us as had the “fortune” (there’s that word again) to be connected at some point or another with a toxic person.
What IS a toxic person? According to Jodie Gale, MA, a psychotherapist and life coach in Sydney, Australia:
“Often the person is deeply wounded and for whatever reason, they are not yet able to take responsibility for their wounding, their feelings, their needs and their subsequent problems in life. They may overidentify and act out the parts of who they are, such as the victim, bully, perfectionist or martyr, she said. “They act from these parts trying to get their needs met, albeit in an extremely unhealthy way.”
According to Gale, it’s common for people with toxic behavior to: create drama in their lives or be surrounded by it; try to manipulate or control others; be needy (“it is all about them all the time”); use others to meet their needs (such as “narcissistic parents”); be extremely critical of themselves and others; be jealous and envious of others, bemoaning their bad fortune and others’ good fortune; abuse substances or harm themselves in other ways, and be unwilling (or unable) to seek help from loved ones, a therapist or a recovery program. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/02/28/whats-a-toxic-person-how-do-you-deal-with-one/
I am betting that right now, some of you are mentally recognizing people either in your past or present that fit this description to a T. I know I certainly am. But, we don’t have to become poisoned by their sickness. We don’t have to let us affect us anymore. NOPE. Not a second longer. There are very specific ways that you can deal with these “jewels” and move on with your life and it’s not always easy, but it is WORTH IT! Will there be drama? Possibly. Will you be better off? ABSOLUTELY!
Gale suggests first having a “sit down” with the person and letting them know how you feel. On this, I call BS. It doesn’t work and if you’ve ever tried it, you know it personally. When you approach a toxic person and make yourself vulnerable, they will not respect your feelings or try to be a better person. Nine times out of ten, they will deflect, play the victim and make you feel worse. So honestly, don’t even waste your time. I have found that the easiest and less painful way to deal with this person is to set up personal boundaries, keep them at an arm’s length (if you are forced to have them in your life) and make sure you surround yourself with people who love and reassure you when needed.
IF they are just a friend or spouse, walk, NO RUN away. FAST! No really. Do it NOW! It will never get better. They will never change. Their life is built on this pattern and it has worked for them and they are not about to change it for you. They already look down on you and don’t respect you enough to change or “do better”. The definition of insanity is to continually do the same thing and expect different results. Would you wake up every morning and drink poison, knowingly, and then wonder why you were sick? NO. So, WHY would you continue to engage a toxic/poisonous person and wonder why you are affected? You don’t have to be. You have a choice. Read that again. SLOWLY.
YOU. HAVE. A. CHOICE.
If they are a co-worker or family member, your choices may be limited. You may have to be around the person, without choice and there are ways you can lessen the blows. The first thing you need to do is break the cycle. This means, simply, setting up boundaries and not engaging in the games. They will eventually grow weary of you not playing your role and will move on to another, weaker target. The thing about toxic people is they love engaging you, dragging you down and pulling you in. But, you are in complete control of that. If they say something hateful, smile and walk away. Each time it gets easier and you get stronger. THIS is where the “fortune” comes in!
When you acquire the skill of refusing to “drink the poison”, you gain SO much strength. You have less stress. You have less drama in your life. You begin to believe in yourself and know your true worth. You surround yourself with healthy people who make you rich in love, compassion and beauty. You begin to transform, no longer oppressed by their negativity and you feel FREE!
Sometimes it means walking away from that person or deleting them from (GASP) Facebook. Sometimes, it may mean avoiding parties they attend or leaving a whole group of friends, because those friends allow their poisonous behavior to thrive. And, sometimes, that is hard. But, I promise, IF YOU DO IT, you will thank me years from now. You will notice that your life is peaceful, that you are stronger and that you no longer “attract drama” like you once did. You will recognize the signs as soon as you meet another toxic person and it will save you a lot of time and heartache by not growing closer to them. And most importantly, YOU will love yourself more. How could you not? If you find yourself resistant to this, then ask yourself why.
Are you getting something out of their toxicity?
Are you getting sympathy for the way they treat you?
Do you get to play the role of the martyr?
What will you do if you have nothing to complain about anymore?
Has that role become your friend?
You are the only one who can lessen toxicity in your life. No amount of complaining will make it disappear. No amount of crying will change that person. And, if you CHOOSE to continue to engage in it, then you give up your right to complain anymore. How much sympathy would you have for someone that walked off a cliff, then complained about having broken bones? None. You would have none. Because the truth is, we are all adults. We ALL have the ability to do what is best for ourselves and we can no longer expect to swallow glass and not cut our throats.