Nobody is perfect, but odds would say that, right now, you have toxic people in your life.
Let’s define what I mean by toxic people:
Ring any bells?
It’s the last point in this list that is the most important because toxic people will bring you down without hesitation.
Identifying toxic people in your life and doing something about them will prevent you from lots of unnecessary hardship and unhappiness. Why?
Because toxic people are like sinking ships.
Their lives are a mess, and they have absolutely no trouble or conscience about taking everybody else down with them.
In fact, it’s exactly what they want.
‘If I’m unhappy and miserable you can get a taste.’
Don’t take it personally. It rarely has anything to do with anyone specifically.
The truth is, toxic people don’t have anything of significance going on in their own lives, so they make it their job to create drama – and drama is always waiting around the corner.
If you’re the one closest to them (and you normally are because you are one of the few tolerating them and their behaviour), you’ll be the one to get the brunt of their dysfunctional behaviour.
Dealing with toxic people is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to deal with stress and anxiety, and here are five ways to do it.
1. Don’t get sucked into the drama, gossip and negative energy.
Like a ticking time bomb, a toxic person will always have some drama up their sleeve. If you’re in the way, you’ll no doubt get caught up in the middle of it.
The only way to avoid the drama is not to get involved in it. Distance yourself using number five in this list. You’ll never be able to stop the drama so don’t try. Just keep out of the way of it.
Gossiping about others is a common pastime for a toxic person, which is a little harder to avoid because everybody likes a good gossip, making it easy to get caught up in it.
Maybe you’ve been sucked in yourself? I know I have. It’s incredibly difficult to break through the negativity of drama and gossip when it surrounds you. It can very quickly become your life, and before you know it, you’re in the middle of something that doesn’t involve you.
It’s the law of attraction. The negative energy that surrounds toxic people draws in other toxic people, so it’s common to find them in groups, and it’s common to find yourself being sucked in.
Being sucked into the negative energy tends to bring out the worse in you, so where you can, you should always stay out of the way of drama and gossip.
2. Don’t get into an argument with a toxic person.
Talk is cheap, and words get bandied around with ease when you argue, especially when you argue with a toxic person.
Arguments can quickly turn into a petty of war of he said this, and she said that.
It happens in all types of relationships every day, and I have no doubt you’ve got into such squabbles with your friends and family (toxic or otherwise). Usually, you can get past these petty arguments, but there are occasions when you can’t – when you’re dealing with a toxic person.
An argument will almost always involve the toxic person using privately shared information against you, which has a tendency, again, to bring out the worse in you.
It’s hard to have a genuine and heartfelt conversation (or disagreement or argument) with a toxic person because they show little interest in how you are feeling. It’s their way or the highway. When you’re dealing with such apathy, there is little point in trying to reason.
Getting stuck in a heated debate serves little purpose. All it does is fuel their anger further – you have to remember in their eyes they are never wrong – so they end up doing something else highly dysfunctional, like threatening you or getting physically violent.
The other common trait is the ‘I’ll cut you out of my life, and you’ll never see me again’. This is another example of their irrational behaviour. It’s always black or white because there is no reasoning, compromise, or rationality.
You simply can’t win with a toxic person, so it’s best not to try.
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
It’s common sense really – the law of attraction. If you surround yourself with negative, toxic people, it won’t be long before you sink to their level.
That’s why you have to surround yourself with like-minded, positive people.
Like-minded people tend to be on the same journey as you, and won’t have the time or inclination to try and dictate to you how you should live your life. They won’t be looking at your yacht criticising it – they’ll be busy builder their own yacht.
Sit on your luxury yacht and keep sailing forward. Pass the sinking ships with a smile on your face, and only invite like-minded people aboard.
4. Be confident, and stay polite.
A toxic person might be somebody very close to you, so it’s not always a straightforward situation.
You might have known them for years, and only just recognised their toxic behaviour. You might work with them and don’t have a choice but to spend time with them. You might have a deep love for them, and rather than want to distance yourself, you feel compelled to try and help them instead.
If it’s the latter, I love your loyalty, but you need to be aware that a leopard rarely changes its spots. In other words, you’re going to find it incredibly difficult to change a toxic person because ultimately, they are who they are - whoever they are and however close you are to them.
Whatever the scenario, be sure to be confident and polite with a toxic person.
They will sense any form of weakness, and they will take advantage and prey on it. Give a toxic person an inch, and they’ll take a mile!
By being polite and confident, you’re not giving them any reason to take advantage of you and your good nature. They also have no good reason to try and afflict you with their behaviour.
Like a bully, they will get bored and move on.
It’s only when they get to a stage in their life when nobody tolerates their behaviour and they become socially isolated they start to appreciate they need to change their behaviour - but that’s not your concern.
5. Limit your time spent with toxic people, and consider cutting them out of your life.
The most effective solution to deal with toxic people is to cut them out of your life, and at the very minimum, keep them at arm’s length. Otherwise, you risk sinking with the ship.
I know it comes across as harsh, and earlier I said that cutting people out of your life is a trait of toxic people, but there is no other long-term sound solution.
It’s the toxic person’s choice to be toxic – remember that - especially if the person/people are close to you.
It’s natural to feel guilt, almost as though you are abandoning them. You’re not. You’re becoming the best person you can be, and that will mean cutting toxic people out of your life. You’ve outgrown their behaviour and it’s time to move on with your life.
Plus, you’ll quickly overcome this feeling because (1) you have nothing to feel guilty about, and (2) you’ll feel much better for it.
Everybody has off days. Even the most happy-go-lucky person will struggle sometimes. Should you cut them out of your life? Of course not! You know the type of consistent toxic people I’m talking about – these are the ones you need to pay attention to.
If you’re ever in any doubt, go back to the list at the top of this article. If somebody is demonstrating these characteristics on a regular basis, it’s time to do something about it.
Do you recognise toxic people in your life? Have you had an experience with a toxic person? Share and comment below!
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ABOUT CARL VERNON
Carl Vernon is a best-selling author & speaker, talking and writing about all things anxiety, stress, success & well-being.