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How to deal with Toxic People

Updated: Apr 27

We all have met at least that one person in our life who just leaves us in a bad mood after talking for just a few minutes. When we realize it for a few occurrences if we are not obliged to meet that person, we can just choose not to meet them.

But what if that person is someone you live with or someone you have to meet every day at work?

You cannot avoid them and what they do is going to trigger you again and again.

Before we move forward, let's understand the term 'toxic' a little and what we mean when we say 'toxic people'

We'll go by a simple definition, 'Anyone whose words or actions or reactions on everything or any certain topic constantly lowers or drains your Energy'

It's not fair to simply label people toxic.

A few important things we need to understand before we move forward:

1) It's people's behavior that becomes toxic. It's not the whole person which is toxic.

2) We all have the right to feel low sometimes, but we bounce back and start living positively again. We all become energy drainers sometimes. There is no one who has been in a happy mood throughout his life. We all sometimes feel low. So, don't judge too early. Take some time before you label someone or even their behavior.

Watch for repetitive intentional/unintentional behavior.

3) Look at yourself too. This involves bringing a lot of Self- Awareness.

Are you getting triggered by their behavior because it brings some feeling from the past or does what you feel have only to do with what they are saying at this moment? Is it what they are asking is genuine, but you are the one reacting incessantly based on your fears or traumas of the past?

A few examples of toxic behavior can be:

1) Extreme self-centeredness

2) Manipulation

3) Emotional abuse

4) Passive Aggressive

5) Blaming others all the time

6) Self-Pity

7) Unnecessary Criticism

8) A sense of entitlement

9) Passing judgments too often

10) Incessant Attention Seeing

11) dishonesty and deceit

12) Lack of Empathy

13) A tendency to create drama or conflict

14) People Pleasing

15) Rigidness/Stubbornness

16) Controlling other people

Do these points sound familiar?

Let's get into handling this situation. We are here not talking about short-term temporary solutions, but actually long-term sustainable solutions. So If you are looking for a quick fix, this blog is not for you. If you are ready to know a sustainable process, go ahead!

1) You cannot handle situations unless you learn to handle your emotions. Raise your Self-Awareness.

That sounds like a lot of work right? But see, the other person has power over you until you react to what he does or says.

So It is not a one-way street. It is followed by your reaction too. So isn't that a part of the story?

Every time the same thing happens, every time you react the same way. There is a good chance that they may never change their behavior, but when you learn to manage your own emotions, you are able to get out of the situation without much effort and without dwelling on it for long. For that, you have to heal it if it is a part of your past trauma or learn to regulate it if it is even just situational, by practicing being in the present moment.

Step 1: Connect with your feelings

What do you feel?

Know how you feel by identifying, disintegrating, dissecting, and naming your emotions.

Go for as many as you can. Try to list as many as possible.

Step 2: Watch your responses.

Where are those responses coming from?

Go back in the past in similar situations and objectively try to observe how did you respond to these situations. Contemplate how similar or different your responses were.

Step 3: Identify your triggers.

An emotional trigger is anything — including memories, experiences, or events — that sparks an intense emotional reaction, regardless of your current mood.

For you to work on your emotions and move towards a healthier side of them, you have to identify your triggers and heal them.

Read more about it here, Healing your Emotional Triggers.

Step 4: Learn to identify Projection

Toxic people will always see in others what they don’t want to acknowledge about themselves. It’s called projection. You could be the kindest, most generous, hardest working person on the planet and toxic people will turn themselves inside out trying to convince you that you’re a liar, unfair, nasty or a slacker. See it for what it is. You know the truth, even if they never will.

2) Learn to Set Healthy Boundaries.

Learning to set healthy boundaries is itself a part of a lot of deep inner work.

A lot of these people are able to repeat their behavior because we never set a healthy boundary with them in the first place.

Like your partner, friends, coworkers, or neighbor.

But it is also important with parents and family members you have grown up with.

If you identify them as one of these people. You'll have to begin the journey of setting healthy boundaries with them too.

Healthy boundaries are necessary components of self-care. Without boundaries, we feel depleted, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or intruded upon. Whether it’s in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries may lead to resentment, hurt, anger, and burnout.

This problem is so rampant and to help people with this, We ourselves created a 21-day e-course on 'How to set healthy boundaries. If you are serious about this work, check it out here.

Here are a few important points for your to remember:

Step 1: Learn to agree respectfully.

Try respectful disagreement instead of just agreeing to avoid or not seem like a bad person, or from the fear of not being accepted. You might say, “I had a different experience and I believe.......,” and describe why you think what you think. Stick to your facts, without blaming anything.

Your disagreement might upset them, but the good part is that 'Now they know you think differently' and it might also lower the chances they’ll try to bring up the same topic again.

Step 2: Stop defending or trying to prove anything

When we constantly observe such behavior, we get into the habit of defending ourselves or try to tell them that what they are saying is not true.

We want them to understand us and see us

We also feel that we have done something wrong, even if we know that we have not. But it just gets out nerves because of how guilty and shameful such people make us feel. Sometimes, the accusations and stories are built around which are not even true or correct. They can even go to an extent where we start questioning and doubting our own selves.

When you see this happening, you have to remind yourself,

What they are saying is about them, not you. Acknowledge their words, and you can respond like, 'I acknowledge what you are saying but I don't feel that way. So, If you have made up your mind, Let's not talk about this further'

Step 3: Have THE conversation with them

Many people who carry these toxic traits are aware of it and many are actually not. Some are doing it intentionally, others unintentionally.

Now, this is about having a conversation about their behavior. Whether it is their conscious behavior or unconscious, it is going to make them uncomfortable.

But an open conversation may help them realize this behavior is unacceptable and is not helping anyone. But you have to be cautious about how you communicate your message.

It is highly recommended that you use the “I statements,” which feel less accusatory for the other person and they would listen to you better.

For example:

  • “I feel it is irrelevant to talk ill about other people at home/workplace. It makes me uncomfortable unless it is very necessary. I won’t participate in those conversations.”

  • “I value trust in friendship, so If this continues, I can’t continue this friendship with you.

Step 4: Value your energy more

Most people are not able to set healthy boundaries because they undervalue what they provide in a relationship. They do not value themselves and as a result, others also don't value them.

How would they value you if you are not able to value your own self?

Isn't it unfair to ask for something from others that you cannot give yourself?

So, to be able to maintain healthy relationships, you'll have to value yourself more. As we live in a mirror universe. What you are inside, is reflected outside.

If you want to work on improving your self-worth, you can try listening to our subliminal 'Becoming whole and worthy' for 21 days.

Step 5: Learn to say 'No'

Saying 'No' makes many people very uncomfortable as it brings to the surface many deeply hidden feelings of being left alone, hurting the other person, being called bad, feeling abandoned or getting rejected, etc.

But we do these people-pleasing acts, out of our unconscious conditioning.

People who love us would actually love us more when they get to see how we respect ourselves. and those who get too hurt, 'Actually, only wanted us to be people-pleasers so that they could get what they wanted'

Saying 'No' is not an easy thing in the beginning.

Start small and practice doing it slowly once in a while.

When you don't want to do something or hear gossip,

Say 'No. I do not appreciate this. My values do not support this.'

No is a complete sentence and one of the most powerful words in any language. You don’t need to explain, justify or make excuses. ‘No’ is the guardian at your front gate that makes sure the contamination from toxic people doesn’t get through to you.

Step 6: Don't take everything personally

What others do has more to do with them. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality.

Try following the law of mirroring in this case if you want to do deep inner work,

First, Everything that bothers me triggers me, and I want to change in others, is what I want to change is inside me.

Second, Everything that the other criticizes in me, or judges in me, if I end up triggered, it is repressed in me, and I judge myself for it too.

Third, Everything I love about others is also inside of me.

Fourth, Everything that others want me to change in me, but I am not triggered by it, I leave it to them.

In brief, what you love or hate in others is about the parts of you. What others love and hate in you is about them. But if it triggers you, it’s again about you and you need to pay attention to it.

and if you are not triggered by it, then it has nothing to do with you.

Step 7: Maintain some distance

This one is simple. Whenever possible. Just maintain some physical distance too.

You might face some passive-aggressive remarks or outright accusations when you make your excuses. Try not to respond, even if you feel upset. Remember: It’s not about you.

People who behave toxically tend to focus on themselves and what they want. They might blame you or other people for any problems they have and show little interest in your feelings or needs. This can make spending time with them unpleasant.

If you’re dealing with someone who picks fights with you or repeatedly pushes your boundaries, consider scaling back the amount of time you spend with them.

Dealing with toxic people takes an enormous amount of energy. You don’t have to step up to every battle you’re called to. For many toxic people, conflict is the only way they can connect. It’s the way they feel alive, noticed and important. Save your energy for the people who matter.

Step 8: Don't fall for it again and again.

Most people grow up in the body, but they actually have not evolved to become adults. They are still living with unconscious behavior and patterns. Now, they are not willing to change their behavior or even see what they are doing. When they are showing tantrums as children but When you stand strong and don’t give in, they’ll go harder for a while. We all have a tendency to do that – when something we’re doing stops working, we’ll do it more before we stop. Toxic people are no different. If they’ve found a way to control and manipulate you and it stops working, they’ll do more of whatever used to work before they back off and find themselves another target. Don’t take their escalation as a stop sign. Take it as a sign that what you’re doing is teaching them that their old behavior won’t work anymore. Keep going and give them time to be convinced that you’re not going around on that decision you’ve made to shut them down.

3) Become empowered

Step 1: Take responsibility

It takes a lot of courage to accept that you play a part in every story that happens in your life. The way people behave is more about them, how we feel when it happens is also a fact because that's what we have experienced with them. But only making this whole thing about them, is not complete?

Can somebody say something to you that you don't listen to it?

Can somebody give something to you if you don't receive it?

So, making all that about them is merely being a victim. The ones who would not do anything about their situations and continue to cry about them.

Not, you have an opportunity, to change the role you play in the play and be the one with the boundaries, the strength, the smarts, and the power to make the decisions that will help you and others to thrive.

Even if they’re decisions you’d rather not be making, own that it’s a step you’ve taken to get what you want, rather than to bend to someone else’s will. Realize your strength, your power – which is why you’re nobody’s victim

Step 2: Connect with you inner power

We give all our power to people around and we forget we could be on the driver seats of our life as well. The secret to handle these people is by making your decision from a position of power, rather than feeling controlled.

We fall for these relationships and we continue them because we are afraid to be alone, to feel connected, to have someone etc. These things continue because we are too not able to leave them. You are coming from the space of fear, not power. People can sense things, so if they can sense how fearful you are, they will keep using this, even though unconsciously.

So. you'll have to believe on your strengths, your beauty, your wholeness and your power. Personal power is everything to do with what you believe and nothing to do with what they think.

Step 3: Own your strengths and weaknesses

Once you are aware of your flaws, and own them, nobody can use them against you. Toxic people will work hard to play up your flaws and play down your strengths – it’s how they get their power. If you’re able to own your strengths and weaknesses, what they think won’t matter – because you’ll know who you are and what you are.

You will feel complete. So you won't be trying to fill yourself through others.

Step 4: Own your strengths and weaknesses

It's important for you that you come to a conclusion about what you want to do with this relationship with a toxic person.

If you want to continue it, the answer has to be 'Yes. I know how it feels and I want to continue it the same way even if it doesn't help me'

If you want to do something with it, the answer has to be 'Yes. I want to take the steps to get over this'

Stop being in the middle! Where you are not doing anything and also crying. That way, you are only accepting the other person to change which is not possible.

4) Try being in their shoes for once.

We all look at how people are today, but we forget, what they are today is a result of their whole lives which we barely know anything about.

We don't know what they have gone through and how rough life was to them.

While their toxicity is no excuse for you to continue the relationship. But for your own transformation, look as them as humans too. With flaws.

So, cut off the ties or maintain distance. But this won't impact your current and future, as you won't be holding any bad feelings foe them.

A few points to remember:

1) Offer Compassion, not fixing: People can change, but they have to be willing to put in the work to do so. You might want to help someone you care about instead of writing them completely out of your life. But, while you can always offer compassion and kindness, you likely won’t be able to change them.

At the end of the day, they have to commit to putting in the effort. Trying to help someone change before they’re ready can sap your emotional resources further.

2) Don't expect changes: You can’t reason with toxic people – you just can’t. That’s one of the things that makes them toxic. Decide where you stand, and then stand strong. You don’t need to do any more than that. Do good for them, and let them take it further if they want to.

5) Self-Regulation. Practice Mindfulness. Forgive, and learn.

1) Bring focus on yourself

We sometimes end up focusing so much on others and what they do to us because we don't know what we want to do in our lives. We don't know what's our own life expression. We don't feel motivated to do something about our lives. So it's time that you find all things you love.

How would you like to live? How would you like to spend your day?

2) Practice Mindfulness

Read about it in detail here, Why be mindful?

3) Focus on the solution rather than the problem.

You fall for their behavior and What keeps you stuck is playing over and over in your head the vastness of their screwed-up behavior. It will keep you angry, sad, and disempowered. If you have to make a decision that you’d rather not make, focus on the mess that it’s cleaning up, not the person who is making your life hell. Focus on moving forward and getting over it, rather than any temporary pleasure you get out of talking to them or crying about them.

4) Surround yourself with people who will value you as much as you do.

You might not have as much freedom in certain parts of your life to decide who’s in and who’s out but when it comes to the ones you open your heart to, you absolutely have the choice. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to let them know what they mean to you.

Watch our Open Discussions on the same topic

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