We’ve often heard professionals and people’s advice that we should stay away from toxic people with Toxic behaviour for our sanity because they carry an air of negative energy with them.
This is good advice, except for the part where it skips how hard it is to Identify toxicity in the first place. The truth is, identifying people who exhibit toxic behaviour is as hard as limiting your access to them. For example, how do you accept that a parent, a partner or a close colleague is toxic to you and you need to handle it?
Many people find it difficult to process when people are toxic and in denial. Two reasons attributed to denial of control by toxic people are. First, they have a very close relationship with them, and they feel obligated to love them and make excuses for their behaviour.
Secondly, acknowledging they are toxic means, they accept they have been used all along. So, you find that people don’t know how to handle toxicity meted at them.
Finally, accepting that someone brings bad energy around you and knowing how to handle it are two different things that are difficult to deal with. Managing toxic people might require deploying diplomatic or very drastic measures depending on the intensity of how it is expressed.
Toxic traits can manifest through self-absorption, manipulation, emotional or verbal abuse, and dishonesty.
Here are things to do when you finally identify that someone is treating you with their toxic behaviour.
How to Deal with People with Toxic Behaviour:
Have an honest conversation
It’s challenging to have an honest conversation with a toxic person, especially if they are manipulative. The reason is that they can twist your words against you to insinuate things you didn’t mean, so you end up feeling bad for standing up to them.
Regardless of their toxic trait, you must be honest with them and call them out on their manipulation. Therefore, when you talk to them, keep things neutral and straight to the point. Address what they did to you from the point of the role you played in it and take responsibility.
Tell them you’re not responsible for every other thing that happened, and you will not feel guilty for it. That way, you are not accusing them but merely standing your ground with honesty.
Don’t try to reason with them
As I stated earlier, knowing someone exhibiting toxic traits is key. It is a complicated task, but once you can smell toxicity from afar, the best approach is not to let yourself get drawn in. you cannot reason with someone that believes everyone is the problem except them.
For example, if a person gets satisfaction from talking trash about others, guilt-tripping people or spreading negative energy like confetti, you cannot reason or level with them. Therefore, it is best to stop them from proceeding with any toxicity in the beginning or give replies that kill their spirit to continue.
Please resist the urge to try and fix them
Toxicity makes people act below the standards of human relationships, but for some reason, people with toxic traits genuinely believe that they are wiser than others, so they act the way they do.
Once you begin to see through all the layers of toxicity, you cannot help but feel pity for them, which arouses a need more often than not to fix them. The best you can do for them is be honest with them and hope that with an open mind, they can question some of the things they do and embrace change.
Say no and mean it
Saying no to people who spread toxicity can be tricky. A narcissistic person will meet your resistance to their control with more gaslighting and emotional tantrums. You will need all your willpower to spot their bad energy and say no to them when they are manifesting their destructive energy.
You are to say no to their request to use you unjustly, manipulate you, talk negative things about you and make you feel bad and responsible for their misery.
Make yourself unavailable
You must limit them from accessing your physical, emotional and social media presence. If you are in the same house, office or physical space, you must keep busy.
Let them know you will attend to them only when you are done, and don’t give them a definitive time for when you will be done with the work keeping you busy.
Suppose they occupy so much space in your mind by causing emotional stress. In that case, the best strategy is to channel your energy to something else and be physically busy so that your mind does not have the time to replay scenarios.
If they are in your social media space, you can mute them, take a break from the friendship or block them.
Resist the urge to blame yourself
The most essential hold a toxic person has against their victims is when the victim of toxic relationships believes it is their fault or they are to blame for how a toxic person feels or behaves.
When they push the blame on you, remember to stick to the facts and not allow the emotions they project on you to guide you. If they are trying to blame you for their poor choices, you remind them that they had a choice, made it, and it has nothing to do with you.
A narcissist is a selfish person on any given day. They are so self-absorbed that they can only think of themselves. Sometimes the only way for them to see how self-centred they are is to provide them with a taste of their own medicine.
Put yourself first when they need you to be someone other than who you are. Think of you when they want you to throw yourself under the bus for something they are responsible for. Put yourself first when they are emotionally stressing you out. If you need to take a break or cut off from them to be all right, then by all means necessary, do so.
Demand respect from them
The bane of a toxic person is their ability to disrespect you with their behaviour. Everything they do is rooted in disrespect and undermining other people’s intelligence through techniques like manipulation and talking down on people.
They don’t know how to respect people’s feelings or personal space; therefore, you must teach them and be firm with it. You must, first of all, learn to give yourself respect and expect nothing less from others.
Please pay attention to how they make you feel
Do you feel stressed by the mere thought of being in the same space with some people? Do you feel the need to overexplain all the time when you are with some people? Do you find yourself apologising and working on eggshells all the time?
These are some tell-tale signs that you are dealing with a toxic person. Once you can identify these signs, you know that no matter the overexplaining, apologising and care you show them, they will not change.
The awareness that all efforts to make them feel better at your expense will only be a disservice to yourself will help you stop trying and take it as it is.
Encourage them to seek help
I must tell you that it will be tough to do, and here is why. You can’t convince people to get help except if they want help. Even when they decide to get help, it takes time, and so much frustration before some get better.
Meanwhile, others abandon the mission of getting help along the way. However, don’t get tired of suggesting that they should get help, a part of them is listing and processing it, and someday they will take action. It would be best to remind yourself that whenever you suggest they seek help, the choice is theirs to make. If not, you will get burned out by their constant resistance.
The more you show how distressed you are by toxic people, the more they try out all the tricks from their playbook.
The next time a toxic person is trying to do a number on you, try to breathe slowly, work on relaxing your muscles, and use words of affirmation to remind yourself that you are not how they want you to feel. Don’t try to justify yourself or answer them immediately. When replying to them, keep it short and straight to the point.
Seek professional help
You are not blowing things out of proportion or overreacting if you seek the professional help of a therapist to make sense of how toxic people in your life make you feel.
They will guide you in identifying the toxic traits of people around you and teach you how to be confident enough to stand up to them systematically. They’ll also advise you to conclude on your own that you need to cut off some people from your life.