You can find toxic people pretty much anywhere. They are like Starbucks. At every corner, there is one free load of negativity and self-hatred baggage that can be delivered on your doorstep.
Jokes aside, toxic people are everywhere. They start in high school, where the teenage insecurities mixed with a hormonal storms, nurtures an environment of nasty behaviours, where the meanest dog is the alpha.
But for negative, toxic pups who don’t take the first step in the real world, they grow into adults and sooner than you think, you are surrounded by thousounds of negative Neds and Nancies, and absolutely NOBODIES, who squeeze into any possible space into a conversation with you, only to share their own black and white version of the story.
We know who these people are and we know we should avoid them; so why do we keep clearing our schedule for them?
Know who you are.
Our perception of ourselves is influenced by the opinions that people around us have of us, so it makes sense why a sly comment from your mum might infuriate you and leave you feeling down about yourself.
But as a Japanese proverb says, we all have three masks. One that we have with our friends and family; one that we put on when we are at work, or in social situations; and the last one is the one that we wear when we are by ourselves. I personally find that developing your own mask and fighting to hold that mask in more than different aspects of your life is the key to being able to truly accept yourself. Once you know yourself, you start to appreciate the time that you take to be by yourself, and stop giving it to people who don’t deserve it.
Spend time with yourself.
If there’s one thing I have learned being an only child from divorced parents who worked a lot is, you have to walk this world alone and it’s going to be boring if you don’t do it yourself. That means that if you want to play Harry Potter, you have to be Harry, Ron, Hermione and Snape at the same time, otherwise you get bored and lonely.
The reason why you keep giving time to people who don’t deserve it is because you can’t be by yourself, nor you value time spent by yourself. Yes, a movie with a friend might be better than watching it by yourself, but if that friend is constantly talking through the movie and interrupting you every time you are about to say something; is it worth it? Of course not. So spend time with yourself. Go for long walks and just get lost in your thoughts; write down your thoughts and read them again to actually learn the way you brain thinks and processes emotions and experiences; do things that make you happy and that don’t require the company of another person.
Take a step back.
When someone makes a comment and you can feel that they are already draining you from your own energy; take a step back. When people say hurtful stuff about you or other people, your immediate response is to take it literally and personally and that comment is thrown straight into our heart and poisons into our mind.
But when you take a step back and really focus on what the people is saying, you will find that the arrow will just fly over you, if not past you. When people complain, or say hurtful stuff, what they really are expressing is pain and dissatisfaction that they experience and that they don’t know how to deal with themselves. When your so-called “best friend” talks behind your back, or laughs when you are talking about something you’re passionate about; all you have to see is a lot of insecurity and absolutely no idea about their own identity of what they are. When your partners keeps comparing you to other people, or gets passive aggressive about certain things, they are just in pain because they didn’t get what they wanted, nor they know what they wants. Now that you have taken a step back; is it worth listening to the comment and take on board their baggage of pain, on top of the one that you carry from your birth until your death? Spoiler: no. Drop that baggage as if you had to pay an extra charge on it, nod and just walk off. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
You can help your friend and give them support, but if it’s a hopeless case of being stubborn and having it their way; just drop them. It’s not worth it.
Don’t make time for them.
As I have said, ain’t nobody got time for that. And for that, I mean the bullshit that people tell you to make you feel about yourself, or the dramas they carry with their lives. If you can’t confront a person, or you really just can’t be indestructible in face of a harsh critic; just don’t make time for them. If your friends are exhausting you, don’t make time for them. Stop hanging out with them. Even if you went partying together in Greece, or you went through the same break-ups; if they make you feel bad about yourself and/or they drain your out of your life juice, then you have to drop them in the nearest trashcan and call for the garbage truck to collect them.
Phase them out and just move on. People who really want to be their friends, they will make the effort to be in contact with you and understand why you don’t want to hang out anymore; but toxic people..they will make it about them for as long as anyone is listening, and then move on to the next person to drain. Like the quote says, “Fake people have an image to maintain, real people just don’t care”. And you don’t have time to care.
Learn from other people’s toxic behaviour.
Sometimes toxic people teach us a lot about ourselves. Everyone has it in them to become a life-sucking, obnoxious and self-obsessed person. We all go through pain and we all like to complain. Some learn how to filter their thoughts around people, and ultimately learn that because you are in pain, it doesn’t mean that everyone else has to listen to it, or endure it in a 4-hour long phone call. But such is life and some people just never learn and you can’t do anything about it.
But while you listen to the same drama, same nasty comments and same negativity, analysetheir behaviour.
Pay attention to what drives people insane, the rising of their emotions, the light in their eyes when they comment on “how stupid” your ideas are and the words that they carefully pick to depict your failures and actions. All this is not just evil, people are not just possessed by a demon. But you have to go beyond that: notice signs of insecurities; like not making eye-contact, touching their necks when they are boasting about stuff (they are probably less confident than you believe them to be); when they are fidgeting with some stuff, or their voices go higher than normal. Your body tells the truth that your mouth can. Once you learn how people use their toxic behaviours to manipulate you, or put you down, you learn how to avoid them and if you’re smart, avoid the same behaviour yourself.
Stay in your lane.
If you’re used to have it your way and know what you’re about, it’s easy to get irritated and lost in somebody else perception of you, especially when it’s negative.
We feel down when the person that we like makes a hurtful comment about ourselves, or when our families don’t agree with what we do. You may want to make everyone happy, but if someone has got a toxic thing to say about you; they will say it and all you can do is either accept the constructive criticism, or walk away from it.
Stay in your lane is the best mantra you could possibly embrace. Have fun, know yourself, know who you are and what you’re about and just keep going without listening and turning into everyone’s minds. If you do things to please somebody, or seek for their approval; then you will never be happy.
Be an adult and understand that YOUR life choices, no matter how wrong or right they are, they are YOURS. If you are heading towards a stupid decision, then you have to deal with the consequences and own up to it. If you are heading towards something that is reasonable and it is for YOU, then who cares about other people? Everyone is trying to survive in their own lane.
Trust your gut.
If every time you are meeting a person, or you’re with them, you feel like ripping your skin off your body; then you should probably trust your gut. You gut has it’s own infinite wisdom and when you quiet your mind and actually listen to how you react in presence of certain people, you definitely learn who to avoid and who is worthy of your time.
If a person you are romantically involved always makes your gut feel like it weighs tons, then it’s probably not love, it might be a bit of lust, with a sprinkle of desperation to be loved and appreciated; and a shitload of not listening to your gut about someone who might not be as perfect as you think they are.
If your gut feels like somebody is wrong for you, then it probably is true, and no matter how much you try to convince yourself, or they try to convince you, the truth always comes out. So trust your gut and don’t trust your head, not even your heart.
People who thrive off drama and negativity will always be seeking for that within you, so the only real mechanism is to fight back with an antidote. Positivity and no absolute care in the world about dramas, nor interest in partaking it.
It is so hard to avoid confrontation and drama when we are attacked on a personal level, and that is often due by the amount of negative messages our society sends us through television, advertising and so on. We have become used to accept negative attacks as something normal, that is necessary for us to keep going. It’s not.
Keeping a positive attitude is like a shield against this world. The more you keep a positive attitude, the more your brain will start detoxing from all the negative bullshit that has been tangling around your head.
The easier it feels to be positive, the more confident and stronger you will feel about yourself and your ideas; therefore less likely to be hurt by comments, or remarks that should have no place into your life. Like Di Riseborough said: You only have so much energy each day. Don’t spend it on things that don’t matter, or on people who don’t value you or your time. Be discerning.