Choose to be Energized & Lifted Up
Lately, I have been seeing more and more clients who are trying to cope with toxic people in their lives, unfortunately for many of them, the toxic people they are trying to cope with are at work, at home, or in their families, and the close connection to them makes it feel impossible to handle.
Here are the top signs of a toxic personality:
– they never apologize for their actions, nor do they acknowledge the feelings they’ve hurt
– people walk on egg shells around them for fear of setting them off
– nothing ever feels good enough for them
– when someone doesn’t agree with them, they fly off the handle or talk bad behind their backs
– they belittle others and try to exert their authority
– they manipulate situations to get their way
– they only see things from their point of view
– they are selfish and self-centered
– they cause drama and freeze people out if they are challenged in any way.
– they are negative and look for the worse in people and situations
– they affect the mood of the environment they are in
The first thing I do in my counselling appointments is help my client recognize the ways in which the toxic person has been rewarded for his or her bad behaviour in the past. When you begin to look at the situation more deeply, you realize how often the people associated with a toxic person, will bend their own wants and needs to suit the wishes of the toxic personality. For example, let’s say that Gord is our toxic person; Gord always flies off the handle and causes drama whenever things don’t go his way. 15 members of an extended family of 18 has decided that Thanksgiving should actually be celebrated a week later so that everyone can be together. Gord wants Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving weekend, and begins calling each member of the family separately causing s a huge upheaval; he threatens to keep his family away on Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas if the family doesn’t agree to celebrate holidays on the actual holiday, even if some people will not be able to attend. One by one the other siblings begin giving in because they don’t want the whole family arguing over a holiday and don’t want to upset their parents. In the end, Gord gets his way even though he was the only one that had a problem with changing the date. 15 people gave in to one person’s demands out of fear of causing trouble and fighting with their brother. You can see from this hypothetical situation that Gord has learned over time that if he throws a big enough fit, or causes enough trouble, he will eventually get what he wants.
What incentive is there for a toxic person to stop causing conflict if they are continuously rewarded for doing so? What child would ever learn to behave properly and follow rules, if no one was there to teach them? We teach people how to treat us, so every time we give in to something we know we do not want to do, simply because we don’t want to be in conflict with the toxic person, we become a huge part of the destructive pattern being set into motion. A toxic person’s disregard for other people’s needs and wants will continue to develop over time and will get increasingly worse as the years go by if nothing is done to stop it. Toxic people burn bridges with people and freeze them out of their lives when they are angry; it is because of this, that the people around them will do whatever it takes to avoid conflict for fear of being pushed outside the circle.
Love, friendship, and simply co-existing with others requires compassion, compromise and understanding of the needs of others. Challenges and disagreements happen in relationships; caring people find a way to maneuver through these challenges to find a solution that can work best for everyone, while toxic people bully their way through in an attempt to manipulate the situation to their advantage.
It is your obligation to be honest. It is your right as a human being to set boundaries for yourself that do not allow you to be treated disrespectfully. When you are in mutually respectful relationships with others you know that life will not always fall perfectly into place, and yet it should always be ok for you to express your needs knowing you will be heard.
It is important for you to ask what your relationships give back to you. When you give your time and attention to others, you need to ask yourself what you receive in return; is it kindness, trust, care, nurturing, loyalty, compassion, love, laughter, friendship, honesty? Also ask yourself what would you lose if that relationship was no longer there. The answers to these questions are very profound and life changing for many.
Do I think toxic people can change? I always have hope for every human being. I believe anyone can change IF, and only IF they recognize the damage they have done in the past, IF they are truly sorry, and IF they honestly want to change. Without the recognition of their mistakes, deep remorse and a true desire to change, a toxic personality will continue the path they are on.
You cannot change another person, you can only change your own boundaries and guidelines for how you expect to be treated by the people you are connected to. When these boundaries are in place, your reaction to unfair and difficult situations will be different than they were in the past. Boundaries help us to be assertive instead of aggressive; they instill self-respect and make it clear to others, that there is behaviour that is acceptable and actions that will not be tolerated.
Choose to surround yourself with people who lift you up and energize you; spend the least amount of time possible with people who are negative all the time and belittle you. Seek help from people who will offer you coping mechanisms and strategies for counteracting negative people in your life. It is a common belief that you become very much like the company you keep so up-grade to people who deserve your time and energy. Give your best to attract the best. Work on yourself first. Let go of people and things that are not challenging you to be the best human you can be. When you build yourself up, and protect yourself with boundaries, you make it very difficult for anyone to pull you down.