Toxic people wear us out and drain us of our energy. Toxic people are frequently named “energy vampires” and can anger and enrage us. They constantly criticize or put us down, they cross our personal boundaries and typically make us feel worse as opposed to better.
Toxic people are commonly deeply negative and unhappy people. You know the saying, “misery loves company”? Well, with those who are toxic, that is precisely their underlying and hidden motive.
What Defines a “Toxic” Person? What are their Character Traits?
- Toxic people are typically chronically negative people. They are often the naysayers in life. They are the chronic complainers and whiners. They constantly play the victim, whereby everything is always everyone else’s fault. They are never to blame, and their lives are often full of highly dysfunctional/broken relationships and/or constant drama.
- They can be envious and jealous of other people. They don’t want to see others doing better in life or to feel better than they do. They are commonly deeply and inwardly insecure about themselves, their own abilities and accomplishments and therefore, feel inferior to other people.
- They typically are the takers in a relationship versus the givers. A relationship with a toxic person is often one-sided and imbalanced, weighing in their direction. They typically talk about themselves, rarely asking or caring about how you are or what is going on in your life.
- They frequently ignore, disrespect and disregard your feelings and boundaries.
- They also can exhibit an inflated ego and will show off and flaunt their accomplishments.
What distinguishes a toxic person from an unpleasant or negative person is that a toxic person frequently disrespects and crosses your personal boundaries. A toxic person also manipulates, attempts to control others and is always right.
A second distinction is that when confronted on their negative behavior, toxic people do not take any personal responsibility for their actions and often will turn the situation around on you, rage on you, accuse you of wrongdoing, twist facts, rewrite history, flat out lie and manipulate you. They may even give you the silent treatment or cold shoulder when confronted, making you feel like the person in the wrong.
A toxic person can be a family member, a close friend, an acquaintance, a boyfriend/girlfriend, co-worker, boss or partner. They exist everywhere. These kinds of people can infect our lives with poison and can impact our ability to be happy.
Do you ever feel this way around certain people? Is there anyone in your life that makes you feel worse rather than better and is doing more harm than good?
A relationship with a toxic person is highly destructive to our well-being and happiness and can negatively impact our lives. If you can relate to this feeling, read on to find out how to deal with toxic people.
Set Personal Boundaries and Limits
When the toxic person is a close family member or someone from whom we may not easily be able to walk away, we have a few options:
1. The first option is to communicate our personal boundaries indirectly and walk away. We can politely excuse ourselves, leave the room and exit from the conversation. That is setting a limit and indirectly communicating that you will not engage with that person on that topic any further.
2. We can alternatively directly state – that is not acceptable treatment, I do not accept how you are specking to me, or that hurts me, and I am going to exit from this conversation – and then walk away. That is also setting a personal boundary. If the person presses you to continue to engage in the conversation, be firm and tell them you are not willing to talk until they can be respectful, then remove yourself from the room and end it there. Do not let them take control; take control of the situation yourself.
3. Do not engage in an argument or confrontation. This will only cause the person to retaliate and it will make things much worse for you. Simply set a limit and walk away. Setting boundaries is a way to communicate self-respect and to preserve self-esteem. Boundaries draw a definitive line between what is acceptable treatment and what is unacceptable treatment. We do not have to accept poor treatment, nor should we.
Remove the Toxic Person From Your Life
Another option is to remove yourself and sever the friendship or relationship. Easier said than done, but sometimes, this is the only option left – especially if you have tried everything else including trying to talk to the person, reason with the person and get them to change their behavior and treatment of you.
This is especially true when it comes to a friend, a lover or a spouse. With a short-term friend, it is easier, but with a childhood or long-term friend it is harder. There is history involved, commitment and loyalty to the friendship and memories shared.
However, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself the question, is this relationship doing more harm to me than good? Be honest with yourself when answering this question. Look at the pattern of behaviors over time.
With a lover, there is less of a commitment involved than in a marriage, and it can be a little easier to sever ties, depending on the level of involvement and length of time together. But you should still; ask yourself the same question posed above, again, being 100% honest with yourself.
Within a marriage, especially a long-term marriage where children, a shared home and finances are involved, it can be harder and much more complex. Sometimes, I will recommend couples or individual therapy, depending on the nature of the toxic relationship dynamic. Sometimes, therapy can transform the dynamic, if and only if the person is willing to listen, respect your feedback and make substantial changes in behavior.
When children, homes and finances are involved, it may be worth the effort to try therapy, again depending on the level of toxicity and the nature of the dynamic. If therapy does not make a difference, then it is time to look reality square in the face, make a change yourself and leave the marriage. You will be far happier and healthier in the long run. Leaving is well worth the price of going through a divorce.
Sometimes, we may even have to sever a relationship with a toxic family member. Sometimes this is the only recourse when all other avenues have been explored, and when the toxicity of that relationship is literally ruining your life.
What I mean by that is when the toxic person is severely impacting your mental health, financial stability, your livelihood, career or job stability, your marriage, your friendships, or any other important aspect of your life. It is time to sever the relationship. It is especially hard when it comes to family members, but sometimes there is no other recourse.
In sum, your well-being, your mental stability and your ability to be free from people who drag you down versus lifting you up is important and vital to your happiness. Over recent years, I have deliberately taken steps to recognize, avoid and remove toxic people from my own life, which is a factor that has contributed to my happiness today.
For more information on identifying and dealing with toxic people, here is an excellent resource: How to Cut Toxic People From Your Life.
So, here’s to limiting and/or removing toxicity from your life and here’s to your happiness!