There are some people who make us feel their negative aura every time they come around. They are judgmental, manipulative, narcissists, gossipers; they will never apologise and will blame you for their behaviour or reactions (“I’m angry because you made me”). Eventually, these people spread their negativity and pessimism everywhere they go. No wonder they gain the title of “toxic people”.
Toxicity is dangerous and contagious. It is even more detrimental in today’s world, where life is already too stressful for most of us and social media is there to remind us of our “imperfections”. If we are not intelligent enough to manage our emotions, toxic people will affect our mental and physical well-being. Precisely, smart handling of toxic behaviors is critical to our health, happiness, and overall existence.
Though dealing with toxic people is quite a challenge, it is not utterly impossible. Being emotionally strong and enjoying a high self-esteem are key. These are just a few ways to cope with toxic people and environments.
1. Ignore and Avoid
If you don’t like what someone is saying – because the conversation revolves around complains or a pessimist perspective of a given situation -, stop paying attention and focus instead on any positive aspect of the conversation.
Learn to ignore, avoid, and overlook toxic behaviours at all costs. Toxic people will often find a way to manipulate your feelings and seek your attention. They will compulsively play with your sentiments to suit their needs and meet their goals. In order to resist their influence, you must be aware and in control of your own feelings and emotions.
If you pay toxic people the attention they crave, you will end up ruining your happiness. Ignoring such people, avoiding such situations, overlooking their tantrums, and maintaining an emotional distance are the steps to take the moment you realize you are dealing with a difficult person.
“Let go of people who just come to share complaints, problems, disastrous stories, fear and judgment of others. If someone searches for a bucket to throw all their trash into, make sure it’s not in your mind.”
– The Dalai Lama
2. Do Not Tolerate. Speak Up!
Ignoring toxicity is a wise idea up to a certain level, but sheer mental or physical torture is not worth tolerating. If toxic people try to achieve their personal gain at your expense, you must speak up.
In our social settings, we often keep quiet instead of challenging such behaviors upfront. Remember, pretending like there is nothing wrong only worsens the situation. If they are clearly at fault, try to make them aware of it assertively. Stand up not only for yourself and your own happiness, but also to put a stop to their actions.
3. Focus On The Solution
If you fixate on how difficult people are troubling your life, you are actually giving them power over you, which only cultivates negativity, creates a stressful environment, and shatters your happiness.
Do not pay too much attention to toxic people and what they want to make you feel and believe; focus instead on your goals, actions and reactions. This will boost your sense of self-efficacy and your self-esteem. It will contribute to your positive emotions and reduce your stress level as well.
The moment you put yourself in control, you restore your emotional stability by eliminating anger, sadness, and frustration caused by toxic or destructive environments.
4. Forgive – Always. Forget – NEVER!
Forgive but don’t forget. This is a trait of emotionally intelligent people. Forgiveness is necessary to release all the negative emotions and feelings associated with a toxic person. It ensures that their toxicity does not drag you down so you can move on with total peace of mind.
Do forgive for the sake of your own happiness. However, forgiving does not mean that you are accepting, excusing, justifying, or denying the wrong act. Rather, learn from it and keep it in mind as a kind of protection from any future event. It is all about identifying the people you cannot trust and stop wasting your mental energy on them.
5. Stop Taking Everything Personally
Most of the times, toxic people make us feel guilty. They try to prove us wrong by all means and hurt our confidence through manipulation and criticism. Those who are super sensitive are an easy target.
No matter how personal the situation seems to be, do not take it personal. Toxic people tend to interact the same way with everyone. Their behavior is their self-reflection and it has nothing to do with you. Do not spoil your happiness by reacting to their drama and losing control over the situation.
Toxic people tend to interact the same way with everyone. Their behavior is their self-reflection and it has nothing to do with you.
6. Set Your Own Limits And Boundaries
As said before, keep yourself emotionally distanced from people that ruin your mood. With toxic people around, it is very easy to lose control over our personal growth.
It is important to draw a fine line between friendliness and prying. Set your own limits and establish your own boundaries for the sake of your happiness and mental well-being.
7. Value Your Inner Self
It is pretty easy to get sucked into the toxic emotional spiral if you do not learn to value yourself. Approval and appreciation always have strings attached, which eventually lower our self-esteem. Your self-worth should come from within and it should not be affected by the thoughts or actions of others.
Take out enough time to spend with yourself. This is when mindfulness becomes so important – to recognize your emotions and be aware of your mental traps.
8. Develop Your Support Network
Toxic personalities are exhausting, but tapping into your resources can help you get through the challenges successfully. True friendships have the power to eliminate all negativity, which might not be possible while going alone. So reach out to trustworthy people and spend time with them.
Building a strong support system of loyal friends will make things a lot easier for you. Gaining outside perspectives will help you discover the weaknesses in your own approach. Once you rectify those, you become able to distance yourself from toxic people and bring happiness and peace back in your life.
9. Do not join their game
Do not allow yourself to react to their game. Keep calm and rational under all circumstances (I know, easier said than done).
Learn to choose your battles wisely and use your energy for bigger and better opportunities.
Handling toxicity with ease is a feat of strength, but you must learn to do it in order to avoid self-damage. Remember that toxicity is contagious, so it is important that you are able to recognize toxic personalities and behaviours and to keep them away from you. Work on your emotional intelligence to foster a healthy environment around you.