Before I talk about how to deal with toxic people, I want to quickly check in with you. Since you’ve chosen to read about this topic, you might not be in the best place right now. So, let’s take a deep breath together.
Breathe in for 4 seconds through your nose. 1…2…3…4… Hold. 1…2…3…4… And breathe out heavily through your mouth.
It’s going to get easier, trust me. Let me share how.
Let’s first understand the term ‘toxic’ people. Toxic is a generalized term. It’s not really people who are toxic but the behaviors that they exercise and the impact that they have on us.
We categorize people as toxic by how they make us feel. They sap us of our energy, make our mood worse, harm self-esteem, and negatively impact our mental health.
(As mentioned above, I do not intend to dehumanize anyone by calling their identity “toxic”. The usage is caused by the lack of a better word. I believe all of us can be “toxic” at certain times in our lives when we lack self-awareness. Peace ✌️)
The main way to deal with toxic people is to set boundaries. And, in this post, we will learn about the 5 ways that we can do this. Here you go:
- Let go of guilt
- Accept that you can’t fix them
- Be honest
- Reduce your engagement
- Walk away (if you can)
Here are 5 Tips on Dealing with Toxic People
1. Let go of guilt
We can come in contact with toxic people in various settings. They can be in our family, be an old friend, or someone in the workplace. And, choosing to step away from them and change how we interacted can be accompanied by the feeling of guilt.
We might feel that they need us or that we should help them more (will talk about this in detail below) or that we’re being mean. But, there is nothing to feel guilty about.
You are only doing what is healthy for you. Some decisions that are good for you are not easy, but they’re important. So, let’s set aside any guilt as we choose our well-being. It’s what we deserve.
2. Accept that you can’t fix them
Kind, helpful, and empathetic people have the best interests of others at heart. We want to be there for people. We want to be good people. We want to make this world a better place. We want to give them what they need. We want to help.
I admire and respect these qualities, and they truly are needed in society. But, these qualities are strengths, not weaknesses, and we must use them intelligently.
We often stay with toxic people and pour immense energy into interacting with them because we believe that we are what they need. Just a little more love, just a little more time, just a little more low energy days on our side, and they might be happy again.
Do you know what this is? This is toxic behavior towards ourselves. If we keep giving and giving, they’ll keep taking.
It is not your or my job to fix anybody. People make their own choices. As a human being, taking this immense responsibility of “fixing” someone is unrealistic. They must choose what is good for them to be better, and you must do that too.
3. Be honest
Have you tried communicating with this person about their behavior and how that makes you feel? Honest and clear feedback might be what they need.
So, give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them what you need. Make sure to not be aggressive. Do this when you’re in a calm headspace.
And, if you have been honest in the right way, but they lashed out or took offense or didn’t make changes, then you would have to make other choices, as I’ll share below.
4. Reduce your engagement
When they call you up, how do you feel? When you know you’re going to meet them, do you feel excited or already exhausted? Does listening to them make you feel joyful or uncomfortably heavy?
The answers are surely not positive, right? As they are having such a negative and gloomy impact on you, it is imperative to reduce your interactions with them. Don’t pick up their calls. Don’t reply to them immediately. Don’t care for them to the extent of treating yourself horribly.
When you are with them, limit the time you spend. Limit the energy that you give them. Choose to put yourself and your peace first. It will make your life easier, calmer, and safer from problems ahead.
5. Walk away (if you can)
There are times when we don’t have the choice to leave (yet) without severe consequences.
Maybe it’s a job that you really need right now, so the toxic manager has to be tolerated. Maybe it’s a family member that you have to live with until you can move out.
In these cases, I understand that we can’t just drop everything and walk out. But, sometimes, we can. I remember that I had two friends who were not really friends anymore, you know?
I had a close bond with them before but with time it evolved unfavorably. One person became someone I shared no values with, and the other one sucked the light out of my face with their constant, repeated complaining.
I stayed around them only because it was less challenging than confronting them and parting ways. I didn’t feel the compassion as I did in my other friendships, but it was difficult to do something that would hurt them.
But, then I couldn’t take it any longer. I had resorted to resenting them and complaining about them. It was really taxing and unauthentic to not do what I knew I should. So, I broke those friendships. Both on phone calls.
I didn’t decide on that method, but I happened to find the right moment there. And yes, it was hard work. I felt a rock in my chest. But, that made it end. And I am so grateful for my strength in those moments because that brought such calmness and relief to my life.
So, can you walk away? Yes? Do it.
And, that’s it! These were my 5 tips on how you can deal with toxic people. I know that this situation is undesirable and it would’ve been so much better if you didn’t have to deal with it or they would’ve changed on their own, but let’s face the truth.
Know that you’re not alone and that you have the strength and courage to make decisions good for yourself.
Take care :)