How To Handle Toxic People. Step One: Open Your Eyes.
This is more relevant than you realize.
1. Know How to Identify Them
So what exactly is a toxic person and what distinguishes their behavior? We all have times in our life when we can be a little needy or indulge in momentary self-pity but the toxic person takes things to a whole new level. These are the folks that drama seems to follow wherever they go, though they constantly have endless excuses to explain why nothing is ever their fault.
They generally also love to control or manipulate other people and are constantly in need of pity, though they never seem to actually take advice to fix the problems they're always complaining about. Conversations with these people usually end up always being all about them and they tend to be incredibly critical of others. They also have a way of spinning every argument they drag you into in order to make you feel entirely at fault, no matter how ridiculous their own behavior may have been.
As may already be apparent, it's generally best to avoid getting close to these people if it's possible or cut them out of your life if you already have. Unfortunately this solution can be harder to pull off when the person in question is a co-worker, family member, or someone else in your life who's impossible to avoid. Fear not however, for below we'll take a look at some other great ways to arm yourself against them and their crazy-making tendencies.
2. Offer Advice but Not Pity
One of the most powerful ways to disarm toxic people is to insist on focusing on solutions rather than problems. While people who behave in toxic ways seem to constantly be unloading their problems on anyone who will listen, there's nothing they hate more than a rational solution.
This is due to the fact that there's nothing they tend to hate more than taking responsibility and it can be stunning to watch the lengths they'll go to in order to avoid it. Once you've offered them a solution however, insist that they act on it before doing any more complaining. They'll either be forced to take your suggestion or find someone else to listen to their constant complaining.
3. Understand That You Can’t Do Someone Else’s Work for Them
No matter how much injustice a toxic person is able to convince you that they've suffered, know that at the end of the day the situations they've found themselves in are up to them to fix. Though it's one thing to offer advice or support to someone who's genuinely interested in changing their lives for the better, don't fall into the trap of believing that it's your job to "save someone" who isn't willing to save themselves.
For instance, though it may not be someone's fault that they are genetically predisposed to alcoholism or addiction, they still have as much a choice in whether or not they seek treatment as someone suffering from any other disease. Though none of us can control everything that happens to us in life, no one can ever take away our power to choose how to respond to the things that happen to us.
4. Beware Seeking Their Approval
If you've found yourself involved in a toxic relationship, chances are that the signs weren't always as blatant as they eventually became. Often toxic people will appear very charming and impressive in the beginning in order to gain your trust. It's not until you've become emotionally involved in the relationship that their demands tend to begin. As the cycle continues, you'll notice that your needs become less and less of a consideration until one day you realize that the whole relationship has become more or less about them.
Though they may give just enough to keep you around, the hope of ever really gaining their respect or appreciation is a trap not worth falling into. Anything you're going to get out of such a relationship will come at a cost and no situation is worth trading your emotional well-being or self-respect for.
5. Know That It Actually Isn’t You, It’s Them
If you've been involved in a relationship with a toxic person for long then chances are you find yourself arguing with them… a lot. Not only does conflict make toxic people feel important and noticed, it's the only way many of them know how to connect at all. You'll often find that reason goes out the window for them during disagreements, as most of them tend to be masters of downplaying your strengths and exaggerating your weaknesses in order to keep you emotionally dependent of them for validation.
That said, make sure that you already know both your strengths and weaknesses well. By acknowledging that you have faults, just like the rest of us, you take the power of out such a person being able to use them against you.
Know that toxic people are likely to know exactly how to push your buttons and resist the urge to get pulled into an argument with them at all if you can, keeping in mind that there's very little point in fighting someone who logic rarely appeals to. If they do manage to make you feel bad however, realize that the situation is more than likely about their own insecurities and issues and probably has very little to do with you personally. This is the point where a strong support network can come in, so be sure to surround yourself with people who remind you of who you really are and will help you regain perspective.
6. Realize You Don’t Owe an Explanation
One of the quickest ways to identify a toxic person is that they tend to use people like chess pieces to get what they want. They're often masters of convincing you that no matter what you've got going on, their needs are more important and their problems more pressing. Don't fall into the web of self-pity they tend to be experts at spinning and wind up putting their needs ahead of your own. Though we're often taught that this is the polite thing to do, doing it consistently for someone who never returns the favor is also a great way to make your own mental health suffer.
This not only makes you miserable, but in the long run is going to make you unhappier, more frustrated, and less attentive in general which is actually a disservice to the people in your life who really do love and care about you. Not only does there come a point when you've going to have to use the word "no" with the toxic people in your life, it's best to learn early that you are in no way indebted to offer them an explanation for doing so.
7. Know That Forgiving Isn’t the Same as Forgetting
Though forgiveness is definitely beneficial, as much for you as for the other person, don't mistake it for allowing someone to continue to hurt you. If there's someone in your life who continues to make you miserable on a consistent basis, realize that this is in no way a healthy situation and that there's no need at all to allow it to continue. It may be time to explain to this person that you don't feel that the two of you are good for each other and that it's time to either set some boundaries or walk away from the relationship all together.
That said, beware that they are quite possibly going to blame you completely, for no other reason than that this is what toxic people do. If you're able to calmly explain your side then it might be something to consider attempting. Don't be surprised however, if the best that you can do is to apologize for anything you genuinely feel was your fault and walk away knowing that your side of the street is clean. Though you may never get an apology for their part of the many conflicts they've probably put you through, accepting the fact that this may not be something they are capable of may be worth getting the person out of your life for good.
Know How to Identify Them
Offer Advice but Not Pity
Understand That You Can’t Do Someone Else’s Work for Them
Beware Seeking Their Approval
Know That It Actually Isn’t You, It’s Them
Realize You Don’t Owe an Explanation
Know That Forgiving Isn’t the Same as Forgetting
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