We’ve all dealt with toxic people in our life. Whether in the form of an old friend, a coworker, or ever a significant other, toxic people are everywhere. While toxic people aren’t necessarily all bad, they’re exhibiting harmful behaviors that corrupt your relationship. They might create unnecessary drama or manipulate others to get what they want.
What’s the best way to rise above this behavior? How can you identify it early on to avoid getting trapped in a web of lies? According to Psychology Today, toxic relationships take a toll on our health and wellbeing. It’s up to you to find intelligent ways to overcome these people and their harmful actions so you can surround yourself with positive people.
Identifying a Toxic Relationship
The problem with toxic relationships is that they’re sometimes hard to identify. If you’re used to abusive actions, whether they’re emotional or physical, you might start to explain them away as being normal. In reality, these relationships cause you more than stress. They’re also teaching your subconscious that these types of interactions are normal and expected. Before you know it, you’ll be surrounded by harmful people who take the positivity from your life.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to toxic people, you can recognize some actions that should be red flags. Aside from these, go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Toxic Red Flags
- Negativity – Toxic people are always focusing on the negative. They’re prone to gossip and complaining, and they never have anything helpful to say about your life or their own.
- Lack of compassion – You shouldn’t bother with people who are unable to express kindness. Whether they’re rude to their waitress at dinner or they put others down, this isn’t something worth tolerating.
- Jealousy – If he or she is jealous of your time, they’re controlling you. Healthy relationships are built on trust, and if your friend, colleague, or significant other can’t share your time, this is a dangerous sign.
- Victim – Toxic people often portray themselves as victims no matter the situation. They cannot find themselves at fault.
- Gaslighting – This is a manipulative behavior in which someone changes your own thoughts through targeted wordplay and suggestions often done to convince you that you did something wrong.
If you notice any of these red flags above, take warning. While some of these can be harmless in small doses, they can escalate quickly if you aren’t careful. It’s best to remove yourself from a situation with a toxic person with one of the steps below.
Overcoming Toxic People
Now that you know how to spot toxic people in your life, it’s time to talk about how to avoid them. This can become challenging if you find yourself in a relationship with a toxic person. Remember, people change. They might be better at hiding their dangerous tendencies until you’ve already established a connection with them. From there, it’s more of a challenge to distance yourself.
It’s crucial you don’t treat fire with fire. Stooping to their level will only bring about more harmful behavior, and it’s never worth the risk. Instead, follow one of these intelligent ways to stop their actions for good or create distance.
1. Stop Rationalizing
As a logical person, it’s hard to understand why someone would act manipulatively or with poor intentions. If you try to rationalize the behavior of a toxic person, you’ll continue to encourage this action. You’ll need to make your voice heard and don’t back down if they attempt to mislead you. Ultimately, don’t make excuses for the bad things they do. Face reality for what it is so you can start distancing yourself.
2. Establish Boundaries
A key part of dealing with a toxic relationship is to establish boundaries. This is especially important if this is someone you’re unable to distance yourself from, such as a family member or a work colleague. Be polite and firm with them, and let them know you won’t allow their negativity to affect you.
3. Manage Your Energy
While toxic people can attack you about anything from dancing costumes to a minor misunderstanding, it’s up to you to manage your own energy. Smart people know how to separate their energy from others. Harmful people tend to “suck” positivity from those around them. Don’t let others drain this resource from your life.
4. Walk Away
Finally, you need to know when to walk away. Sometimes toxic people escalate their behavior to a point where it’s no longer healthy or safe to keep them in your life. Create an exit strategy and be firm. If you make excuses or allow them another chance, they’ll only repeat the cycle. You need to put your wellness first and stay focused on your own mindset.
Toxic people can sneak into your life without notice. They’re in the workplace, in your friend group, and even in your own family sometimes. The good news is you don’t have to put up with any negative behavior. You’re the master of your own energy, and it’s up to you to create clear boundaries with these individuals.
While most toxic people are harmless aside from emotional damage, it’s important to realize that abuse does happen. It’s never worth the risk if you suspect a toxic person might escalate their harm to physical action against you. In this case, reach out to your support system or authorities for help. Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to keep as much distance between yourself and toxic people as possible.