Toxic People

As the holidays loom near, some of us get a little anxious thinking about possible encounters with toxic people. They could be family, frenemies, acquaintances or guests. Toxic people tend to judge, belittle, control manipulate and make every effort to sprinkle a little drama on every situation.

Perhaps what is most unsettling about toxic people is the way they make us feel. Time with them is usually emotionally draining, confusing and sometimes disturbing AF.

Here are some tips to help you recognize and navigate your dealings with these venomous creatures and maybe even quell the toxicity during the holidays and beyond:

  1. Don’t Play Their Game – I saw a quote once that read, “The only way to win with a toxic person is not to play”. If at all possible, try to not to engage with a toxic person. In fact, try to avoid them. If that’s not possible, keep communication polite, simple and short. Try not to engage too deeply or give the toxic person an audience.
  2. Don’t Be the Prey – Toxic people are notorious manipulators who may try to use you to get their way.….even if it’s just agreeing with them or turning against someone else. Toxic people love to feel as though they’ve recruited you for their cause. During the holiday gatherings, an example of this could be someone trying to protest that Aunt Janet not having enough vegan options or trying to get everyone to dislike Uncle Tony’s new girlfriend. Its one thing to be passionate about something, but it’s another to use it as a way to create an “us vs. them” vibe. Try to remain neutral or indifferent, despite their influence and intrigue.
  3. Watch Out for Jekyll and Hyde – Toxic people are almost always two-faced. One day, they may be a sweet and gentle breeze. The next day, an aggressive and forceful hurricane. This goes beyond being moody. Toxic people are usually calculated in deciding what side of themselves they will present on any given day. It’s just their way of manufacturing mystery and confusion so that they can see how far you’ll go to try to figure them out.
  4. Don’t Take their Judgments Personally – They may criticize or throw some subtle shots your way about the way you dress, your social/economic status or they may even These are the type of people who make others feel bad in order to make themselves feel good. It’s a sad but true reality that judgmental, toxic people operate this way to intentionally lower your self-confidence. Although it might sting, try not to take it personally. It’s more of a reflection of their own insecurity. Listen for phrases like, “you’re overreacting” or “why are you so sensitive?” or “I was just kidding, lighten up”.
  5. Don’t Be Tempted to Fix A Toxic Person – Its futile to try to fix or make excuses for the words or actions of a toxic person. They are usually very defensive when someone tries to call them out on their shit. The result will either be them going to extreme lengths to play the victim role OR blaming everyone else (including you) and taking no personal responsibility. You are only responsible for your own thoughts, words and actions, not theirs.
  6. Create and enforce boundaries – Anna Taylor says “love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how to use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept”.

Toxic people are usually drawn to empathetic, compassionate people so be careful. When in doubt and you feel like giving a potentially toxic person the benefit of the doubt, think of toxic people you’ve encountered in the past. What were the warning signs? How did this person make you feel when you were around them? Since you can’t control their words or actions, how can you safeguard your own words, actions and feelings? At the end of the day, it’s all about protecting your energy and not allowing toxicity to seep into your mind and heart.

 

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