We are social animals and hence constantly need to interact with all different kinds of people in our lives, they can be our friends, colleagues, family members, or friends. Some of these relationships can be genuinely good for you by bringing hope, joy, and purpose in life, but also some toxic relationships can leave you with frustration and negative feelings. Here, we will focus on how to manage toxic people in your life.
Now, there can be multiple reasons behind the toxic behavior of others such as personal problems or childhood trauma, but it’s also important to realize that they can cause harmful effects to your mental and physical health. Research suggested that people in toxic relationships, experience stress, low well-being, anxiety and are more prone to heart diseases.
So, how would you know if you are dealing with a toxic person or not? The answer is simple, you observe the behavior of theirs and if you find any of the following things relatable then it’s a toxic person for you:
- When you’re with the person, you often feel depleted or lose energy.
- You usually feel worse after spending time with them.
- The person constantly blames you for things or feels better in making you feel small.
- You feel like you’re always giving and the person is always taking.
It’s important to remember that a toxic relationship doesn’t necessarily need to be with your romantic partner, but it can be any person you interact with, let it be with your family member or someone at work.
How to manage toxic people in your life?
The best possible response could be building distance between you and the toxic person. In several cases though, people find it hard to avoid the toxic person or let them go, which can be because of the fact that we humans face difficulty in handling changes, and oftentimes we get stuck into a state of helplessness.
This helplessness is experimented by Martin Seligman when he conditioned an animal in a helpless situation and after some time when he presents an escape to that animal from that unpleasant situation, interestingly, the animal did not leave, in conclusion, it learned the helplessness. Similarly, humans also feel that they are unable to leave an unpleasant or toxic environment after spending some time in it.
So, how do you get over this helplessness? Firstly, understand that if helplessness gets learned then you can also learn positivity and can get over your irrational thoughts by using help from your friend or a professional.
Secondly, understand the importance of yourself and your self-care. You can ask the following questions from yourself to become more aware of yourself and your self-care:
- What are your key values?
- Who respects these values and who doesn’t?
- How much time do you give for “me-time”?
- What do you do to prioritize your physical and mental health?
Try to build a habit of journal writing everyday in which you can write all your feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Doing this can help you understand yourself as well as help you understand how others’ behaviors affect you.
The most basic method is to communicate about their toxic effects to them. A lot of people aren’t even aware that they are being toxic for someone else and communicating this can help them to work on the issue, instead of building a distance. The tricky part is how to communicate without hurting them? To do this, try to take a few things into consideration of your message of communication such as:
- You talk about the issues you have with them, not with anybody else.
- You focus on being clear about their toxic behavior and how it affected you emotionally.
- How they can work on themselves and if they wouldn’t then increase your distance or take necessary steps.
Next, you need to learn how to set physical and emotional boundaries. Try to set a time limit of maximum time you will spend with any toxic person and if they get better you can increase the time, but if they don’t then try to decrease the time limit you spend with them. Furthermore, you need to set emotional boundaries with toxic people as they show signs of manipulativeness, they can use emotional methods to drain your resources, hence, try to set a limit on how much you can help them if you ask for them.
If you face difficulty in saying no then you should also learn how to say no to others as it helps you to enforce these boundaries. Start by saying “NO” in the mirror a few times everyday, then start saying no for small things in your close circle and gradually increase your difficulty with saying no to toxic people when they ask for any unreasonable favors. You can even take the help of your friends in building this habit.
Finally, realize that you can not change other’s behaviors, but you have control over how you deal with situations presented to you. Therefore, give yourself power by working on healthy coping strategies for yourself, such as meditation, journaling, exercise, healthy food habits, building self-worth, and doing things you love.
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