Holdiay Tips: Learning To Deal With Toxic People
We have all heard the expression, “You can’t choose your relatives.” However, that also applies to in-laws, coworkers, and others around us. Have you noticed that some people seem to be emotional vampires? They suck all the positive energy out of a room. What can you do if they are your guest at a holiday meal or with someone you invited to your home? They are easy to spot because you immediately may begin to tense up or may become irritable in their presence. It's a sixth sense that alerts us when difficult people are around. Here are some tips on dealing with them:
1. Check to be sure YOU are not someone else’s toxic person. Do you always bring up old, sensitive topics that create an argument or sound critical of someone?
2. Remember that you cannot control anyone but yourself. You can control the way you allow someone to affect you, and you have 100% control over the way you respond to them.
3. Remember that people only act badly when they feel bad. If someone is being rude, focus on the feelings and ignore the words. This may be difficult to do, but when you are aware that someone else is in emotional pain, it is easier to be patient and compassionate. Responding with a comment like, “you seem to have pretty strong feelings about that. I wonder where that comes from.” Sometimes people are unaware of their inappropriate behavior or comments.
4. Don’t take it personally. Remember toxic people don’t even like themselves! Their bad behavior has nothing to do with you. It often comes from a deep dissatisfaction with themselves or their lot in life. They cannot hurt you without your permission. Never give away your power.
5. Most often when there is a debate, the reality is you are both right! It’s easier to have a debate when you realize you don’t need to win, just be willing to see each other’s point of view. You will never change anyone but you can acknowledge that, “that is certainly one point of view.”
6. Always take long slow deep breaths to release stress and tension before it builds up.
Recently I had a client come to me for help with moving past a difficult break up with someone who was very toxic during their relationship. There was a constant whittling down of her self -esteem with comments about other women or past relationships. She came to me to regain her confidence and “forget” about her “ex”. She felt very sad when she arrived. By the time we finished, she was smiling.
When you change the way you look at something, the thing you look at changes. I helped her to see that he was a ‘snake’ and that is the way snakes behave. I helped her see that she actually learned some important lessons about herself and about relationships and although the lessons were painful, they were valuable. Using the power of her mind, she was able to realize his rude comments were more about who he is and had nothing to do with her. He is not the one who gave her her self-esteem and therefore he could not take it away. She knows now that she will never tolerate negative or demeaning comments from future partners.
When you come from a place of personal power, toxic people cannot affect you. They won’t change but you can change the way you allow them to affect you and the toxicity becomes irrelevant.