Can people be toxic? You bet! Toxic people write on the walls of your mind, and color your thoughts and behaviors.
Toxic People are often close to you. They are the ones who say they love you or tell you things “for your own good.” The difference between a relationship with a toxic person and one with a healthy person is that the healthy person applauds your efforts to change, grow and be more of who you really are. On the other hand, the toxic person is someone who has a vested interest in keeping you the way you are. Using warnings, mocking, veiled cautions, and other tactics, toxic people discourage you from changing anything. In the process, toxic people steal you away from your true SELF.
Here are three reasons why toxic people don’t want you to change for the better:
- The only way they can feel good is to make you feel bad, unimportant, or not enough. When you do something good – something that requires you to make a victory stretch – they either have to find something better that they did or make what you did seem not as important.
- If you change, it’s like holding a mirror up to them. The toxic person may be forced to see themselves in a different way – and they probably like things just the way they are. To avoid having to get honest with themselves, they will do and say things that will cause you to feel bad about yourself, such as using guilt or demeaning barbs, to keep you “in your place” – which means the place where they feel comfortable.
- Your self-improvement plan makes them feel bad because they aren’t working on their own self-improvement. If all your friends smoke, drink or eat together (to excess), that’s something you have in common – and maybe the thing that holds you together. If you give up smoking, go on a diet or start exercising, your self-improvement might feel threatening to the relationship.
A toxic person is abusive. Not physically, unless it’s domestic violence, and that is always toxic. Usually toxic people are damaging mentally and emotionally. They play to your lowest opinion of yourself and to your fears around positive change and healthy risk.
Got a toxic person or two in your life? Here’s how to handle it:
- Avoid/Disconnect from Toxic people: Ask yourself this question, “What purpose does this person serve in my life?” Ask and see what comes up in your head – don’t edit – just notice. Disconnect from all those people who you don’t support your life or make your life happier or better. If you can’t totally disconnect (the toxic person is your mother, a spouse or your child), then…
- Stop unnecessary and unproductive conflict. You can walk away from an argument, hang up the phone, stop returning emails. Here’s how to do it:
- warn the toxic person that if they engage in toxic behavior again [make a degrading comment, start an argument, do a certain behavior], you’ll hang up or walk away or whatever your method is.
- if it happens, do exactly what you say you’re going to do
- in time, they will get the message and either stop connecting or change
- Boost your positive self-talk in advance. “I deserve to be well-treated by others” or “thanks for your opinion; I’ll take it under consideration” and phrases you can practice and, when you use them, you’ll deflect their efforts.
Toxic people really serve no purpose in your life but to drag you down. They’re victory vampires who steal your energy and leave you feeling lesser about yourself and your life.
You can do better – you WILL do better once the toxic people are gone.