“Focus on their better qualities…”
“They’re really a good person on the inside…”
“You have to deal with him/her because it’s your relative, partner, friend…”
People in your life have lots of advice about how to deal with toxic people and attitudes but at the end of the day, you’re the one forced to make adjustments to your life to accommodate them.
I’d like you to know that if you have a toxic person taking up residence in your daily existence, you do not have to accommodate them. You do not have to keep them in your circle of family and friends. Who they are or how long you’ve known them (even since birth) doesn’t matter. You have the right to eject them without guilt.
Perhaps you think, “That person can be a handful but I wouldn’t call them toxic.”
Recognizing the characteristics of toxicity and learning how to deal with people who are toxic is critical to your mental health. Identifying those people who don’t add to your life but take from your life is the first step to limiting their impact on your life.
5 Common Traits of Toxic People
1. The Eternal Pessimist: A person who simply cannot think or act positive under any condition is draining to the others around them. They use “just my luck” or “out to get me” theories to justify their lack of meaningful relationships or success.
Even small mistakes are blown out of proportion, they talk obsessively about past problems or people, and they seek to ensure everyone knows they’re “more miserable” than anyone else. If you express a problem, an ache, or a financial woe, it immediately becomes about them and how much worse they had it. Of all toxic personalities, eternal pessimists are the most contagious.
2. The Gimme More: This toxic person might fly under the radar for a while before you recognize the signs. They are clingy, whiny, and have multiple stories about how hard their life is. They are always the victim, with a believable sob story. They are never the source of their own trouble (it is always someone else’s fault) and always “this close” from getting some imaginary break they feel they’re owed by the universe.
They are insecure, immature, and greedy when it comes to how you spend your time and with whom. They have few boundaries and will not hesitate to put strains on your other relationships, your job, and your own peace of mind. Spending a day with a person such as this will leave you exhausted, irritable, and frustrated that nothing you do ever seems to be “enough.”
They use guilt, obligation, family ties, owed favors, and any other weapon they can fashion to keep you giving until it hurts. If you’re a person who feels empathy for others, this toxic personality will gravitate to you, ultimately forcing you into an uncomfortable scenario where you have to sever all ties.
3. The Angry One: Everyone knows someone who always seems angry about something. If it isn’t politics, it’s traffic. If it isn’t a medical situation, it’s someone in line at the grocery store. This person isn’t above causing a scene over something minor – such as being bumped into – and even mild situations can cause them to rage for hours. They may shout, slam doors, throw things, curse, or other forms of negative reactiveness.
This particular toxic personality is extremely dangerous and the people around them tend to remain in a constant state of “emergency preparedness” in case they blow up.
They are not only draining, they inspire a consistent level of subconscious fear that is not healthy. Understanding how to deal with toxic people who are filled with rage could ultimately be a matter of your safety.
4. The Chicken Little: A small level of nervousness is justified – even smart – in some situations. However, the fearful toxic person is unable to control their reaction to problems (or possible problems) big or small. This type of toxic personality is steeped in doom and wants nothing more than for others to join them in feelings of fear.
They are adept at rationalizing their “worst case” scenarios and tend to draw others with similar styles of thinking to their cause, resulting in a sort of “mob” mentality that lacks reason and common sense. Anything “unknown” or “different” becomes an easy target.
5. The Green-Eyed Monster: This type of toxic person feels satisfaction at the misfortunes or failures of others and deeply envies their success. They make statements such as, “It’s just a joke” or “Serves them right” or “If I had their looks/money/opportunity, I’d be successful.”
The jealousy that fills people like this makes them unpredictable and vindictive. If they focus on a particular “enemy,” they become obsessed with picking them apart, watching (or helping) them fail, and they gather like-minded people easily.
In fact, this is the most common type of toxic personality.
Unless you have a similar way of looking at the world or you become the target of an envious individual, you may brush their actions and remarks off as no big deal. Unhappy with their own lives, these people tend to develop a click and bash anyone outside it. Their allegiances turn quickly. Those once “in the circle” can find themselves outside it quickly and may censor their own accomplishments.
If you find yourself spending more energy on the faults or actions of others rather than your goals and ideas, it’s time to redirect your focus.
How You Can Deal with Toxic Attitudes
You don’t have to keep people like this in your life. You don’t have to be one of them. Every moment is a choice. How we speak, think, and act are choices that we can change at any time.
Learning how to deal with toxic people, toxic attitudes, and toxic situations truly comes down to your own self-worth. You must first truly believe that you deserve positivity, take stock of the relationships in your life, and refuse to accept behavior that makes you stressed, tired, afraid, frustrated, or filled with guilt.
It doesn’t matter if the person in question is a parent or a friend you’ve had for twenty years. It doesn’t matter if others think you should “feel lucky” to have a high-paying job with co-workers who ruin every workday for you.
What other people think is not the issue.
What you think and how you think, is what will change the level of toxicity in your life. You must give yourself the freedom to breathe and experience joy with the people around you.
Many people advise that you “talk the problem out” with a toxic individual but I believe that is premature in the beginning. Talking to someone who is toxic opens the door for more – possibly worse – toxicity. They tend to become defensive, tearful, and even angry.
Sometimes, the situation can become dangerously combative and at other times, your own guilt or sense of obligation will cause you to surrender – even if you don’t want to.
Some of these toxic personalities will be difficult to remove. Some will become so infuriated when you begin to make yourself less available that they will do the work for you.
Simple Ways to Remove Toxic People from Your Life
Here are a few tips to removing toxic people from your life with as little upheaval as possible.
• Place gradual distance between yourself and toxic people. It’s amazing how well this works. Our modern world makes this fairly simple. Don’t agree to spend time with them. Avoid phone calls when possible. Keep texts and emails to a minimum, your answers vague, without adding personal information.
• Stay busy. Take up a hobby, agree to overtime, or join a gym. The more your time is filled, the less toxic personalities can demand their “fair share” of it.
• Break your old habits and patterns. Don’t say things to yourself such as “I don’t have a choice” or “I guess I have to see them” or “I have to include him/her” because those are choices in and of themselves. Put you first, your physical and mental health, because toxic people don’t care about either of those things where you’re concerned. They are solely focused on their needs and wants.
• Refuse to feel bad if you’re the last person willing to give a toxic person attention. Just as you must make choices about their presence in your life, they must make choices about behaviors that drive people away. Their actions are not your responsibility…your actions are your responsibility.
These steps might seem passive but they will guard your safety and wellbeing while still removing the toxic person from your life.
Don’t post about them on social media, don’t gossip about them, and when questioned about your withdrawal, keep your answers as impersonal as possible. The goal is your happiness and wellbeing…no one else’s. Reach for it and start right now.
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.