Weapons Against Toxic People

From the previous article, you may be able to Recognize Toxic People and their characteristics better.  This said, now what?  What do we do with these people?  Below are some steps I have found that helped me overcome toxic people: 

1)    Know Your Personal Obstacles:  The first step in dealing with any problem is dealing with yourself first and overcoming your personal obstacles.  Judith Orloff, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA says that because we are good and kind people, most of us need to overcome these challenges:

o   Fear of Offending:  These people may be in your family, friends, or in positions of authority over you.

o   Feelings of Guilt:  Feelings that you “should” be nicer, should be a better Christian (or Religious Person), you feel bad for these people (SHOULD Monster ALERT!!!)

o   Feelings of Helplessness:  You feel trapped, overwhelmed, or drowning

o   Fullfilling Unconscious Needs: They make you feel needed, important, included, social, etc

2)    Set Limits/Boundaries:  Start by setting boundaries with them.  Understand and accept that this of course will not go well at first because their sense of entitlement will be infringed upon.  They may behave as if to say “How DARE you set limits?!” But keep strong and know that you have every right to have your boundaries AND have them respected.  I’ve mentioned this analogy before but it’s like owning a house.  If someone came on to your property and started trampling your pretty flowers, you would let loose the family dog to chase them away, and then you would build a fence so they couldn’t do it again, right?  Having relationship boundaries is the same and you have every right to build your fences.

3)    Rest & Support:  You need to rely on your Safe People and your network of people who ACTUALLY support you.  Sometimes feelings of guilt, helplessness, and exhaustion gets to be too much and in these times you need to search out support to build you back up again.  Get some rest, meditate, and find your center when not being with this toxic person.  Surround yourself with positive messages and thoughts to try and get you through dealing with them.

4)    Do Not Let them Steal Your Joy:  Understand and accept that these people are toxic and it may even help to envision that they are actually rattlesnakes or scorpions or other poisonous creature.  Their toxicity has nothing to do with you and only a reflection of their inner demons.  It may even help to disconnect emotionally from everything they have to say.  You are the master of your own happiness and do not allow their behavior to determine your joy.  Don’t try and beat them at their own game, out-do them, one up them, teach/show them their bad behavior, and do not take whatever they say personally (even if they want you to).  Just know and accept that they are toxic and may always be and do not allow it to affect you on the inside.

5)    Create An Escape Plan:  If all else fails you may need to run.  There comes a time where you have tried everything possible and you must retreat.  Even if you have put your foot down to set boundaries, they are not respecting them, they have no consideration for you, and they are still outright verbally or even physically abusive – then you may have to escape.  There is only so much toxicity that you can absorb before it effects your emotional, physical, and spiritual health and nothing is worth that.  It may take time and lots of sacrifice, but develop an escape plan to avoid these people at all costs.  I never believe someone is permanently trapped.  If you cannot leave a toxic person, you may need to go back to step one to identify your personal obstacle because most likely that is what’s stopping you.

Toxic People will ALWAYS exist.  There is no way to avoid them completely whether they are within your family, friends, coworkers, spouses, or strangers.  We can only do our best in dealing with them and know when it is time to avoid them.  Hopefully with some of the points above you may be better prepared.


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