We all want happiness, fulfillment, joy and abundance. It’s a lot of inner work that must be done to get to this point in life (and it’s always a work in progress, and not so much a “destination”). Yet oftentimes, what’s holding us back from contentment in life isn’t us, but others. As the saying goes, you are the average of the 5 closest people in your life. If that holds true, we need to be very particular, selective and mindful of who those 5 people are. This is why negative, pessimistic, and otherwise “bad” or toxic people need to be identified and cleared out, ASAP.
Notice when a stranger gives you “bad vibes”? Or you have a conversation with a co-worker and you feel like they aren’t telling the truth or the whole story? This energy is definitely picked up on (by our gut or intuition) and carried over to us. This is why it’s important to essentially get rid of toxic people from your life, they simply will eventually rub off on you (for the worse).
So if this is all true, and we must be careful with who we associate ourselves with, how do we recognize “toxic” traits in others so we can make a determination if they aren’t a right fit? Herea are a few warning signs that someone in your life is toxic (and if they exhibit many of the below behaviors, it’s definitely time to re-evaluate your relationship).
Toxic people are generally unsupportive of you, your ideas, dreams, and your general actions. I’m not the kind of person that needs cheerleading, however, I don’t appreciate when other people tell me that I should quit a goal or dream. If someone is being unsupportive of you and your decisions consistently, they should be considered toxic.
Put You Down
Name calling and any other type of derogatory terms (even if it’s suppose to be a “joke”) is a form of put down. Typically the other person is trying to make themselves feel better, and they have to put down others in order to do it. Not only is this mean and rude, it’s just plain manipulative.
Toxic people often try to control others, due to their own insecurity about things in their life that they can’t control. If someone demands to know what you’re doing all hours of the day, or they try to literally order you around or tell you what to do, that’s a sign of a controlling and toxic person.
Toxic people try to play the victim card, for attention or pity, and ultimately is in an attempt to manipulate others. Oftentimes, the person playing the victim clearly isn’t a victim of anything in reality, but is a made-up narrative from their subconscious (essentially tricking themselves into thinking they are a victim). If someone plays the victim and then asks you to always do favors, or to pay attention to them 24/7, or talk to them all hours of the night, it’s actually a sign of a toxic, selfish and manipulative person. This can be taken a step further where the toxic person then starts to blame you for their made-up victimhood and then asks for an apology. Hey, it happens!
Toxic people don’t take responsibility for their actions and life outcomes, and instead immediately try to displace the blame onto others, out of fear of being out of control, fear of feeling embarrassed, or simply “looking bad.” And when a toxic person displaces the blame onto other people, the put downs typically come out.
How to get rid of toxic people:
There’s two schools of thought on this, and it depends on how comfortable you are with confrontation.
Confrontational: Confronting the toxic person that you no longer want to be friends/be in a relationship with or associate with them. This sometimes doesn’t even work, because the toxic person will try to play a victim and then turn around the conversation to displace the blame onto you somehow. If the toxic person in your life is in your immediate family or circle (boss, spouse, partner, close family member) then confronting them is the only real way to handle the situation, by actually stating that you are having a problem with them and the relationship.
Non-Confrontational: Getting rid of the toxic person in a non-confrontational way is to simply stop talking to and associating with them. This works for anyone outside of your immediate sphere (friends, co-workers, associates, neighbors, even extended family). It doesn’t matter if the toxic person is texting, calling, emailing, G-Chatting, Instagram DM’ing, mailing letters, whatever the form of communication is, you need to be unresponsive. If you don’t want to go cold-turkey, slow down the communication little by little in order to create more distance in the relationship. This newfound distance will give you back more time in your life where you can then fill that time with new people who truly care about you.
When you’ve chosen which method to use, keep these points in mind to help with the process:
Accept that it’s going to be mentally and emotionally draining for you. Not going to lie, it’s difficult to get rid of people in our life. But this is why couples divorce after 20 years of marriage, they don’t consciously choose to get out of the toxic relationship and waste that time being unhappy.
Try to confront in a public place. If you have to directly confront a toxic person, do so in a public area or even with another person present. This is especially important for those who fear their physical safety (such as confronting an aggressive spouse).
Write an email or letter. Gosh, this sounds horrible, but seriously consider writing an email or even a handwritten letter to the other person. It’s difficult to articulate your emotions fully when face to face in such a tense situation, so writing down your thoughts and feelings (and being able to pause, reflect and edit) will make your message clearer. If you’re going to go the written route, do a rough draft and read it back to yourself. If when reading the draft, you feel angry or hurt yourself, then it’s a sign that you need to revise it. Don’t go to the toxic person’s level and intentionally try to make them feel bad about themselves. Instead, written form is meant to be in hopes that the other person will understand you. So be nice, even if you don’t necessarily feel like it.
Block all forms of communication. Unfollow them from social media, block their phone number. After the cut-off, don’t let the toxic person have a chance to even send you a message in any form and thus open the door to communication. This is how on-again-off-again relationships end up being this way, the two parties simply stayed in communication.
In the end, those around us shouldn’t make us feel bad, ever. People who truly care about us and our well being shouldn’t make us feel like a lesser person or kill our self-esteem. Because if we let others do this, we ultimately have ourselves to blame, not them. Toxic people are only concerned with themselves, so you should do the same. You’re in direct control over your life, happiness, and overall wellbeing, so it’s your job to make sure you stay in the driver’s seat of your life.
Photo credit: @jaiperdumaveste