Do you ever feel as though, somehow, toxic people seem to find their way into your life?
Maybe you never noticed it until later on, or perhaps you’ve forgiven poor behaviour from these type of people multiple times before. For reasons you may not even be able to fathom, you feel deepening reservations towards them. You may feel confused or wary, with that nagging ‘gut feeling’ telling you to back the hell away.
These thoughts increase as their unhealthy impact becomes more apparent to you. Maybe a friend or family member who once lifted you up seems to now bring you down, tarnishing your perception of them in the process. They may even make you question your own boundaries and acceptable levels of tolerance.
These people can prompt you to question yourself. You may think:
Am I overthinking it?
Is there something I’ve done wrong?
Am I the only one who sees this?
Rather than asking yourselves these questions, it’s time to pose a different kind – What is it about them that makes me feel uncomfortable? If I don’t get this feeling with others, why am I wary around them? Chances are, there’s a very plausible, very real, explanation for why you feel this way.
Have no fear, though! This is only a temporary symptom of a curable situation. If you feel like toxic people gravitate towards you, you can learn clever ways to deal with them.
According to Marc Chernoff, New York Times bestselling author and co-writer of “one of the most popular personal development blogs” (Forbes), there are at least seven ways to deal with toxic people. So let’s discuss them.
Move forward with your life
There is nothing worse than trying to accept someone’s poor behaviour time and time again. If they are more of a hindrance than a help, it may just be time to move on.
It doesn’t matter how friendly they try to be the seventeenth time around. If it’s repeated toxic behaviour you’re getting, why keep them in your circle? Which brings me to Chernoff’s next point:
Don’t accept their behaviour
“Toxic people don’t change if they are being rewarded for not changing,” writes Marc. He warns that ‘tiptoeing’ around them can result in continuous toxic acts on their part.
If you pretend the behaviour is acceptable, you best believe they’re going to keep doing it!
Stand up for yourself.
“Most of these people know they’re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted,” writes the life coach. “In most social settings, people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up.”
Be careful with this one, though. Depending on the type of toxic person you’re dealing with, keeping quiet may sometimes not be the worst thing in the world if they exhibit traits of manipulation… So be careful with your words and audience. Which brings me to the next point:
Don’t let them take away your dignity.
“It’s all about finding the strength to defend your boundaries,” writes Marc. “Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it.”
Remember: the behaviour is on them, not you!
“Toxic people will likely try to imply that somehow you’ve done something wrong,” believes Marc. “And because the “feeling guilty” button is quite large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve. Don’t let this happen to you.”
Dealing with people who are toxic is just that – they breed toxicity, not you. In fact, it’s the good they see in you that allows them to play on your forgiving and accepting nature. Which is why it’s important to:
Set up your boundaries, yet still be your compassionate self.
“Some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, or even mentally and physically ill,” writes Marc. “But you still need to separate their legitimate issues from how they behave toward you.”
While some of these people are seeking genuine help, you shouldn’t feel like it’s your responsibility to solve everything. There’s a difference between setting up a boundary between you and someone who needs help, and losing compassion. You can still be a good person, help those in need, and also eliminate their toxic effect on your life.
If you keep a reasonable distance, but they demand more attention from you for trivial things, cutting the cord does not make you a bad person at all. It may seem this way because you were once there to lend a helping hand, and now you aren’t. That’s not because you lack compassion, it’s because you realise the boundaries that should’ve been there all along.
Give yourself space from them, and if possible, eliminate them from your life altogether.
If you feel happier without them around, then without them is best. However, according to Marc, it’s not always so simple. “If you are forced to live or work with a toxic person, then make sure you get enough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate,” he writes. “Sometimes you need to make time for yourself.”
All in all, this is YOUR life, and you are in control of who you choose to let into it. Every case differs, and as Marc tells us, some will be harder to manage. However, there is an ultimate reality of each situation. If you feel like toxic people gravitate towards you, at least one thing should be clear by now: you can take active steps to manage it while still being true to yourself.