I love roses. Not as a flower, although they are beautiful, but as a metaphor. They are the perfect diagram of life, delicate, soft, beautiful and full of dewy promise, yet, there is a darker side, a sharp thorn that is destined to prick you and cause pain. Often, this can be true of those people closest to you in your life. That “thorn in your side,” is simply a toxic person, a sad, angry human, who is reflecting their unhappiness and trouble to you. And yes, this makes us all feel bad.
The toxic person revels in making you feel sad, ashamed, a failure. They may admit to a mistake, yet constantly blame others or the world around for their misfortunes. It is about accountability. Toxics are often the first to point out somebody’s mistakes, they love to gossip, especially if it makes them feel good, and they interfere where they don’t belong. The toxic person has issues with authority, and a deep emotional impact on our personal relationships. If we let their negative energy influence our mood, it will affect our productivity, wellbeing and our thought processes. This behavior is unacceptable for people seeking positivity in their lives, and so, we begin avoiding interaction as much as possible.
Toxic people can sabotage your life. They affect your mood, attempts at self-care and self-improvement, and that is a hard pill to swallow. Imagine, you put on those rose colored glasses only to have them knocked off and stomped upon as you attempt to make a better life for yourself. You have the negative effects of toxicity within. Raise that coffee mug if you recognize the symptoms: you feel sad, ashamed of your lack of progress, you find yourself second-guessing every move towards autonomy, and maybe, you now recognize that the quality you resent, is buried within. Toxic people have a way of making those closest to them toxic as well. But there is hope.
More often than not, we don’t recognize the pattern. Toxic people have a certain behavior and attitude that makes you bitter, angry, even irrational. They thrive on this; it’s how they spread their poison. Perhaps instead of a rose, we should compare toxic people to vampires. They suck the ambition and positive forces right out of your system. They live in a state of self-created drama, are prone to rages,complaints, and, of course, self-pity. Toxic behavior, often represented by deep anger and depression, is insidious. It is critical, therefore, to do your best to remove toxic people from your life.
I am proceeding by issuing a warning label; cutting the toxic person from your life can be dangerous – it can blow up like a minefield. It is important to try and remove yourself (and them) from your life in a rational way. You have a right to reclaim your time, energy and positive glow.
First, you need to accept that this cannot happen overnight. People will offer you advice, or not, and you will have to play this very close to the bone. Getting rid of toxic people is never easy. They don’t respect you or your boundaries, even if they claim to do so. There is a good chance they will keep coming back after you tell them to leave, or worse, they ignore you and don’t leave at all. It’s a process. You will need to distance yourself gradually.
Try as best you can not to confront them in a very private place. Toxic people tend to be aggressive and argumentative. They can also be VERY loud. A public venue offers a chance that they will attempt to keep their cool, and this saves your sanity. Either way, don’t be afraid to get up and walk out. They will be mad, but you have choices.
Try not to give explanations. Silence is golden, because most of the time, toxic people are narcissistic. They have no problem with a one-sided conversation as long as they believe you are listening. Give it half an ear. Remain calm. How much or how little you share depends on you and your relationship. Let them know that you have certain expectations, like respect, civility, and boundary control. You can even let them know that you understand their frustration, but how they vent their negative emotions needs to be expressed in a way that is acceptable. Slamming doors, screaming and putting holes in the wall is NOT acceptable.
Next, try not to argue. This is tough for me, but I am learning that I must simply restate MY boundaries with toxic people. It is imperative to make your statement, do not defend or explain, and then end communication. It’s about keeping the peacefulness inside of you and avoiding negotiations and arguments. Make it less appealing for them to want to bother you.
Creating space from toxic people is my best suggestion. It can be physical or emotional. Sometimes you cannot just walk away, but you can set emotional boundaries for yourself. You have chosen to interact when necessary but to save yourself the discomfort of angst and negativity. Again, be calm and rational, there can be a ripple effect when it is someone close to you. Be wary of others in the group who may feed into the person’s dynamic.
Summing it all up, by lessening your interaction with toxic people you are sending a very important message to yourself. You recognize your worth and value. Learn to protect yourself mentally, and remember, their toxic thoughts and actions are theirs alone. Although it’s very hard, don’t take it personally. Once you see how the toxic people can erode your sense of self, it becomes easier to distance yourself and live a more positive, productive life. So getting back to those roses, make it a point to let them bloom, but watch out for the thorns!
Stay motivated and caffeinated!