Every one of us has experienced having a toxic person in our lives at one point or another. It’s impossible to avoid every toxic person; sometimes we work for them, sometimes we’re related to them, sometimes they’re a friend or even a partner. Since it isn’t realistic to think we can avoid all toxic people, we’d best have a strategy for dealing with them when they do appear in our lives. Here are some suggestions on how to cope with toxic people in your life.
What does it mean exactly when we say a person is toxic? It means that this person has habits, characteristics or behaviors that create dysfunction within the lives of others. They may even be aware of it and doing these negative things on purpose for their own gains without considering what they are costing other people. These are more than mere “trouble-makers”, these people can invade the parameters of our lives and destroy us if we allow them to. That is the definition of a toxic person. So how do we deal with them?
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
You got it. Boundaries. We must for our own sakes’ set solid boundaries with everyone, but, especially toxic people. If you are stuck in a position where you have to deal with this person regularly, make it clear that you are not willing to be one of their victims. As soon as you recognize that they are leading you down the path of dysfunction, put on the brakes. If this is someone that you work with and have to get along with in order to keep your job, it is vital that you handle it professionally but not sugar-coated. Recognize the positive aspects of their involvement, but reject the negative. Just do so constructively. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but your boundaries will save you from getting dragged into their mucky, messy ways.
Stand Your Ground
Many toxic people are used to getting their way by being bullies. They either take advantage of a weakness or they convince you that you have a weakness when actually you don’t. This is a tactic they use to control other people so that things go their way. This is manipulation, and it is neither professional nor respectful to manipulate people for any reason. A toxic person doesn’t know how to succeed by being hard-working and honest. The concept is foreign to them. This does not mean you have to take it, though. If you believe something is being handled poorly or in a shady, manipulative manner, stand your ground and don’t allow it. You don’t even have to be confrontational about it; simply do not engage or respond to the dysfunctional behavior. If their behavior goes against your work ethic, stand up for yourself and what you believe is right. The more consistently you do this, the less use you will be to the toxic person and they will go around you rather than run you over.
Preying on the Weak
Many habitual manipulators choose their targets based on how easy they are to influence. This makes the job of the toxic person much easier if they can gather enough unsuspecting or weak-minded people to do their bidding. Toxic people will create scenarios in which they cannot lose, and the more people they fool into following them, the more the toxic person can control the situation and get what they want. This benefits no one, not even the toxic person, as creating that type of environment is really not serving the highest good—always. Whether you are in the workplace or see this person socially, they will make it seem like you are benefitting from this dysfunctional game, but do not be fooled. The toxic person does not care about you even if they say they do.
If you aren’t careful, toxic people can and will invade your life thoroughly that you will not be able to see a way out. Like the roots of a weed, the toxic person weaves their way into your life in such a way that makes escaping seem impossible. This is how they remain in control of their own sick games. If this is happening to you, it is in your best interest to do whatever it takes to eradicate this cancerous personality from your life completely. If you have done everything in your power to avoid engaging with this person and they still manage to create chaos or unhappiness for you, you have no choice but to sever all ties. This takes courage and mindfulness; you must believe that cutting them out completely is for the best and just do it. There may be repercussions. Do it anyway. In the long run, you are better off without them. Believe in yourself enough to stand up and defend your own well-being, and move on. You will be so glad you did.