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7 Smart Ways to Deal with Toxic People

inShare 248Email Don t let toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and get them out of there. Surviving the ups, downs, and lightning storms of other people s moodiness can be quite a challenge. It s important, though, to remember that some moody, negative people may be going through a difficult stage in their lives. They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional su pport. Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for (although w hatever the cause of their moodiness and negativity, you may still need to prote ct yourself from their behavior at times). But there s another type of moody, negative behavior: that of the toxic bully, who will use his or her mood swings to intimidate and manipulate. It s this aspect o f moodiness that inflicts enduring abuse and misery. If you observe these peopl e closely, you will notice that their attitude is overly self-referential. Thei r relationships are prioritized according to how each one can be used to meet th eir selfish needs. This is the kind of toxic behavior I want to look at in this post. I m a firm believer that toxic mood swings (like chain letter emails) should not b e inflicted on one person by another, under any circumstances. So how can you b est manage the fallout from other people s relentless toxicity? 1. Move on without them. If you know someone who insists on destructively dictating the emotional atmosph ere, then be clear: they are toxic. If you are suffering because of their attit ude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn t seem to help them, and they don t seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, Do I need th is person in my life? When you delete toxic people from your environment it becomes a lot easier to br eathe. If the circumstances warrant it, leave these people behind and move on w hen you must. Seriously, be strong and know when enough is enough! Letting go of toxic people doesn t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being. A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you re always giving and they re always taking. If you must keep a trul y toxic person in your life for whatever reason, then consider the remaining poi nts 2. Stop pretending their toxic behavior is OK. If you re not careful, toxic people can use their moody behavior to get preferenti al treatment, because well it just seems easier to quiet them down than to listen to their grouchy rhetoric. Don t be fooled. Short-term ease equals long-term pai n for you in a situation like this. Toxic people don t change if they are being r ewarded for not changing. Decide this minute not to be influenced by their beha vior. Stop tiptoeing around them or making special pardons for their continued belligerence. Constant drama and negativity is never worth putting up with. If someone over t

he age 21 can t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, it s time to 3. Speak up! Stand up for yourself. Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others cut in line, take money and property, bully and belitt le, pass guilt, etc. Do not accept this behavior. Most of these people know th ey re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronte d. In most social settings people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up , so SPEAK UP. Some toxic people may use anger as a way of influencing you, or they may not res pond to you when you re trying to communicate, or interrupt you and suddenly start speaking negatively about something dear to you. If ever you dare to speak up and respond adversely to their moody behavior, they may be surprised, or even ou traged, that you ve trespassed onto their behavioral territory. But you must spea k up anyway. Not mentioning someone s toxic behavior can become the principal reason for being sucked into their mind games. Challenging this kind of behavior upfront, on the other hand, will sometimes get them to realize the negative impact of their beh avior. For instance, you might say: I ve noticed you seem angry. Is something upsetting you? I think you look bored. Do you think what I m saying is unimportant? Your attitude is upsetting me right now. Is this what you want? Direct statements like these can be disarming if someone truly does use their mo ody attitude as a means of social manipulation, and these statements can also op en a door of opportunity for you to try to help them if they are genuinely facin g a serious problem. Even if they say: What do you mean? and deny it, at least you ve made them aware tha t their attitude has become a known issue to someone else, rather than just a pe rsonal tool they can use to manipulate others whenever they want. (Read Emotion al Blackmail.) And if they persist in denial, it might be time to 4. Put your foot down. Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it. It s all about finding the stre ngth to defend your boundaries. Demonstrate that you won t be insulted or belittled. To be honest, I ve never had m uch luck trying to call truly toxic people (the worst of the worst) out when the y ve continuously insulted me. The best response I ve received is a snarky, I m sorry you took what I said so personally. Much more effective has been ending conversa tions with sickening sweetness or just plain abruptness. The message is clear: There is no reward for subtle digs and no games will be played at your end. Truly toxic people will pollute everyone around them, including you if you allow them. If you ve tried reasoning with them and they aren t budging, don t hesitate to vacate their space and ignore them until they do. 5. Don t take their toxic behavior personally. It s them, not you. KNOW this. Toxic people will likely try to imply that somehow you ve done something wrong. A nd because the feeling guilty button is quite large on many of us, even the implic ation that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsett le our resolve. Don t let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take noth ing personally. Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to eve ryone they interact with. Even when the situation seems personal even if you fe el directly insulted it usually has nothing to do with you. What they say and d o, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the Relationships chapter of 1,000 Li ttle Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.) 6. Practice practical compassion. Sometimes it makes sense to be sympathetic with toxic people whom you know are g oing through a difficult time, or those who are suffering from an illness. Ther e s no question about it, some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, o r even mentally and physically ill, but you still need to separate their legitim ate issues from how they behave toward you. If you let people get away with any thing because they are distressed, facing a medical condition, or depressed, eve n, then you are making it too tempting for them to start unconsciously using the ir unfortunate circumstance as a means to an end. Several years ago, I volunteered at a psychiatric hospital for children. I ment ored a boy there named Dennis, a diagnosed Bipolar disorder patient. Dennis was a handful sometimes, and would often shout obscenities at others when he experi enced one of his episodes. But no one ever challenged his outbursts, and neithe r had I up to this point. After all, he s clinically crazy and can t help it, right? One day I took Dennis to a local park to play catch. An hour into our little fi eld trip, Dennis entered one of his episodes and began calling me profane names. But instead of ignoring his remarks, I said, Stop bullying me and calling me na mes. I know you re a nice person, and much better than that. His jaw literally dr opped. Dennis looked stunned, and then, in a matter of seconds, he collected hi mself and replied, I m sorry I was mean Mr. Marc. The lesson here is that you can t help someone by making unwarranted pardons for eve rything they do simply because they have problems. There are plenty of people w ho are going through extreme hardships who are not toxic to everyone around them . We can only act with genuine compassion when we set boundaries. Making too m any pardons and allowances is not healthy or practical for anyone in the long-te rm. (Read Who s Pulling Your Strings?) 7. Take time for yourself. If you are forced to live or work with a toxic person, then make sure you get en ough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate. Having to play the role of a foc used, rational adult in the face of toxic moodiness can be exhausting, and if you r e not careful, the toxicity can infect you. Again, understand that even people with legitimate problems and clinical illnesses can still comprehend that you ha ve needs as well, which means you can politely excuse yourself when you need to. You deserve this time away. You deserve to think peacefully, free from external pressure and toxic behavior. No problems to solve, boundaries to uphold, or pe rsonalities to please. Sometimes you need to make time for yourself, away from the busy world you live in that doesn t make time for you.