I love the Wikihow pictures, especially on bizarre subjects.
What do we do about the toxic people in our world?
You know the words that go along with them.
And it goes on and on and on.
What do you do about people like this?
In many ways, this depends on who they are and what role they play in our life.
If they are an acquaintance or casual friend, you can simply choose if you want them around or not. No matter what anyone says, we are allowed to break up with our friends.
If the person carries a little more weight in your life (a spouse or family member) or you don’t have a lot of choice about them being there (a boss or co-worker), things are a little more complicated.
So what do we do?
There are a few different things, depending on the relationship you have.
Choose your reaction to their behavior. It is always helpful to remember that people behave this way because they are suffering. Babies scream and cry and lash out when they are in pain, many adults never find a more constructive way to meet their needs. Remembering that they are suffering is always important.
Complainers often feel like they have no control and seek to alter things through complaining, drama creators feel insecure so they cause trouble between you and other people so that the two of you can team up. Laziness is often depression related, but it can also be an expression of powerlessness of something they saw modeled growing up. Cruel and manipulative people are seeking to get their needs met in very unhealthy and unskillful ways. Those who tend toward self-absorption and a lack of insight were often not raised to have these things and, due to the very nature of self-absorption and no insight, probably don’t even know they are there.
Confront them, kindly and with compassion. Without hurt or anger. Tell them how their behavior affects you. If this is a person who cares and deserves to be in your life, this should at least be able to be a conversation. If it cannot, you have to decide if they are someone that gets to keep a spot in your life. If they are, accept these things about them and move on. If they are a part of your work environment, then it may be time to look for a new job.
Draw boundaries. Not everyone has access to all parts of our life. This doesn’t change because they are family.
No matter what, keep a focus on the fact that you are choosing to have these people in your life. Not as a way of blaming yourself or assigning responsibility, but because there is a great deal of power in acknowledging our ability to choose.
No one gets a free pass to stay in our life. Who we spend our time with determines who we are. Our time is all we have. Could you be investing it more wisely?
We’ll wrap this little series on other people up tomorrow, thank you for reading. I am really grateful for everyone who takes the time to look at these blogs every day, and I am always open to suggestions for how they can be better.
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I write, podcast and make videos about living in freedom through mindfulness, intentionality, compassion, and equanimity.
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