Friday, January 25, 2013

Toxic People and your Bliss

We all know them, we all have them in our lives.  They are those people in your life that suck the life right out of you. They often leave you feeling depressed or anxious, often with a headache or just such a low view of yourself and your dreams when you part company with them that you just don't see the point in continuing on in the path you have chosen.

Many times these people don't realize they are toxic.  I refer to them as energy vampires.  They suck the life force out of you one drop at a time until there is nothing left for yourself. Sometimes these people are our bosses, sometimes they are our coworkers, sometimes they are even the people we share our most private times with such as loved ones and family members.

They are people who have a distorted view of the world and only see the negativity.  You will often hear them mention starving children in China, or how bad life is, or how you are unrealistic for having a positive outlook.  They are out there.  If you had a magical power to see them you would run screaming for the nearest exit every time you see one because they would look similar to a black hole sucking up all the energy and light in a room and taking away the positive energy that exist in most of us.

I am unsure if this is something some that some are born with or it evolves over time and because of many heart breaks and toils.  I know I have not had an ideal life but I still try to keep a realistic view of the world.  I know there are people dying and starving daily all over out planet.  But at the same time I also know there is a lot of beauty in the world if you choose to see it.  There are several methods for dealing with negative people in your life that you cannot avoid.

The first is to limit your exposure to them.  This is often done by politely declining offers for visits or outings with them.  My husband and I knew a toxic couple, every time we were around them we would both leave our couple time with a splitting headache and angry with each other. Even if the other couple was getting along. I have found toxic couples are often very toxic to a healthy relationship (yours).  We began by limiting our time around this couple trying to find ways to interact with them on a limited basis and to do things where there were loads of other people involved. This worked to a degree but their negativity often rolled over into our relationship and we found ourselves drained after any physical contact them.  Including dinners out or meeting up for movie date, or even just hanging out for a relaxing evening playing board games and talking.  The conclusion we came to was that we needed to eliminate this couple from our circle of friends in order to keep our own sanity, wellness and happiness in our marriage.

The second way of dealing with toxic people is to learn to emotionally distance yourself from them.  This comes in very handy when the toxic person is your boss or loved one.  We all have one of those people in our lives. Someone who we cannot avoid or limit our exposure to so we plaster on a smile dread the time and do what has to be done.  Emotionally distancing yourself means your body is in the room but your mind is laying on a tropical beach somewhere enjoying the feel of the wind on your skin and warmth of the sun.  You can still hear and interact with the toxic person but you are taking active steps to protect yourself and your own well being while interacting with them. This comes in particularly handy if the toxic person is a spouse, boss or parent.  You cannot limit or avoid contact with them but you can protect yourself from their venom.

When dealing with toxic people stick to the facts, don't make up excuses why something they say isn't true simply rationalize in your mind why what they say doesn't apply to you, or doesn't affect you. Often times toxic people will say things they believe to be a reality, when in fact everyone has their own version of reality.  It is in the perception of life that we choose to thrive or die.  If they say no one ever succeeds in the music industry and your goal is to perform publicly with your own music.  Just think in your head, ok I am not looking to get rich I am looking to share my gift with the world.  I don't care if I ever see one red cent from my music, although it would be nice I am doing this because it makes me happy.  Money is not the end all be all for me.  If I happen to get paid fabulous but I am not pursuing this dream because I hope to get rich, if I am performing at my local bar on amateur night I will be happy with my musical dreams. The most successful people are those who didn't allow the toxic people in their lives to destroy their dreams and goals. Or learned to deal with them and not allow their negativity to interfere with your own reality.

Another tip when dealing with toxic people it is best to bring reinforcement. This often limits your exposure to their negativity. People are often hesitant to share their views on more intimate matters when there is a witness to their venom.  So bring along a friend or find a coworker to help you get through time spent with a toxic person. There are times this doesn't work, like when your boss wants to talk to you alone about something they don't want others to be knowledgeable of, but at times this is a great way to diffuse a toxic person and keep their rampage in check.

Another way to deal with toxic people is to watch your own body language. Most of are so unaware of the image we portray to others due to how we stand, where our hands are during the conversation or even eye contact.  Toxic people will often attach those who give off the body language of being insecure or doubting themselves.  Walk tall walk proud, and allow your body language to speak volumes if your words cannot say what you really want to say.  Stand feet apart for stability, keep arms and hands at your side not crossed across your body (this is a defensive stance and will encourage their attack). Make eye contact with who is speaking with you, this shows an interest in what they have to say but you aren't looking down or away because although you are interested you will defend yourself against a toxic attack.  Turn your full body to them, much like a cat with a dog they are afraid of.  They turn sideways and bulk up figuring the dog will think they are larger and leave them alone.  Make sure to keep your full body facing them straight on.  Many of these body postures can be read about on various sites online, it just takes a little research. But studies have been done that have found that many times victims become victims because of how they carry themselves.  If you are hunched over, avoiding eye contact or hugging yourself you are sending an open invitation for someone who feels they have power over you to try and exert that power.  It is also why in martial arts they teach you to turn sideways when facing an opponent, giving them a smaller target for striking but to be very aware of who you are fighting and what they are doing with their bodies so that you can defend yourself.

Know you own boundaries, and make sure that those are very firm lines that you will not tolerate being crossed.  Many people refer to these as your personal bubble, it is a distance from your body to another in a physical sense and many times vary from person to person. Some people are far more touchy feely than others and this often times makes us uncomfortable.  It is the strange relative that you don't know very well that insist on hugging you even though you really don't want them in your personal space, it is also your emotional space needed to maintain a healthy mental status. This could be the friend who just doesn't get why you won't do what they are asking of you, or why you won't take their advice when it is offered.  Know you own boundaries and demand respect of those boundaries from others.  If they are unable to do so go back to the tip of emotionally distancing yourself from the other person so that their negativity does not affect you as badly.  The lights are on but nobody is home kind of mentality.

You will encounter toxic people everywhere and we all have off days. Days when nothing goes right and the world just seams to be out to get us. Make sure to be able to delineate toxic people from those who are just going through a rough patch in their lives.  Toxic people are always negative there is never a good day in their world, or if they are they are so rare you never see them.  Try to be patient with those in your life, there may be a lot you don't see or understand that they may be facing. But at the same time take care of yourself and make sure to take the time and protection you need to keep you own sanity and well being firmly in place.

Be a friend or a good employee but do not allow others to make you the dumping ground for their drama.  Listen to a friend when they need a shoulder but remember that their problems are not yours unless they directly affect your life or those you hold dearest to your heart.  Do not take on the issues that toxic people often try to make the problems of others.  Toxic people do not take responsibility for their own actions and are often blind to the death and destruction they leave in their wake.  They only see what they want to see and your emotions and feelings aren't amongst the things they see in their reality.  Do not allow the words and actions of toxic people to interfere with your own inner happiness.  You cannot control the actions of others you can only control your reactions to those actions. And above all else be good to yourself.  If you have to deal with toxic people in your life do something special for yourself when their toxicity levels reach a point that they are beginning to affect you especially if you cannot avoid them all together.  Indulge in a guilty pleasure that you enjoy but rarely allow yourself.  A bubble bath, a bar of your favorite chocolate, that few extra moments in the shower or tub, or whatever makes you feel recharged, rejuvenated and ready to face the world again.

I hope my blog today has given those who face toxic people on a daily basis food for thought. You cannot completely eliminate these people from your life, but you can control how much control you give them over your life.  Take care of yourself and never allow the words or actions of others to dictate how you feel about yourself and your dreams or goals.

Until Tomorrow Blog buddies, stay safe, stay sane, and be happy.

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