Toxic people are all around us, sucking our energy, the way a vampire sucks blood from his victims. At least, this is the general, dramatized picture of toxic people, but who are they, for real? They don’t come with a label, so you must first learn to recognize them and then do your best to deal with them, like most successful people do.
Toxic people have a high destructive potential, thus they can make a difference between you living a successful life and failing in all departments. This is why it is so important to know how to protect yourself from them.
Avoid people who try to take control over everything, the eternal-victim type, the arrogant type, the self-appointed judge, the gossip, and all the people who rely on lies and negativity to gain what they want.
How do these people affect you? They stress you out! Stress can bring an incredible amount of chaos in your life and you may end up failing on your job. Recent studies conducted at Stanford and Berkeley Center have confirmed that stress can deplete neurons, leading to brain damage and lower cognitive performance.
Buddha put it simpler: “An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your body.”
How can you stay away from toxic people? Here are some of the methods used by highly successful people—embrace them, adapt them to your own lifestyle, and make the most out of your life!
One of the most common types of toxic person is the complainer: they tend to portray themselves as victims and try to find people to listen and join their self-pity parties. The best way to deal with these toxic people is to define limits for them—don’t be rude and just push them away from you. Instead, let them explain their problem and then ask them how they plan to solve it. This will stop the complaints and can actually help that person, so you will be in a win-win situation, like you should be, if you want to be a successful person.
The secret of all toxic people is that they tend to overwhelm you and make you respond to them on an emotional level, which is the point at which you become part of the negative mix. To deal with this, you must detach yourself and think about who you are and what your goals are. This will put you back on track and help distance you from their storm.
Stay aware of your own emotions and allow yourself some time to rethink the situation. Remember you only need to respond to facts from toxic people, not to their emotional roller coaster.
When you are dealing with a warrior type of toxic person, you must know when to fight back and when to call it a day. Many negative people can be really violent, with the sole purpose of making you react in an impulsive manner— and impulsiveness often means poor judgement. Don’t try to beat them at their own game. There is a harsh phrase for these people: “Never argue with stupid people; they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience”. Just replace “stupid” with “toxic” and you have a new motivational to pin on your board.
One tip on this point is to limit your caffeine intake, because it stimulates the release of adrenaline, which makes you more prone to fight an angry co-worker or so-called friend. Instead of coffee, drink more smoothies and green tea, which are known to boost your energy and refuel your vitamin and mineral intake, as well as raising your intake of antioxidants.
In order to impose limits and be able to pick your battles, you must be consistent in your behaviour. Never, ever step out of your armor, because you will be hit by toxic people. If you’ve made up your mind to avoid a certain person, do so, all the way. One single leak can turn into a river and you will be instantly drowning into the waves.
Successful people know how to protect themselves. Don’t be afraid to be egocentric, and don’t let other people’s mistakes bother you or steal your productive time—give a person a chance, then move on when they fail on you. If you invest time into giving a toxic person a second chance, you are bound to take a couple of steps backward in your own self-development.
And when you feel guilty about this, remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right; for you’ll be criticized anyway”.
Focusing your attention upon your problems or on someone else’s problems is a sure way to get stuck. What you should be doing is focusing on solutions: this relieves stress and makes room for the so-called constructive stress, which is the urge to solve the problem. This will put your blood in motion and help your mind focus on positive emotions. In terms of toxic people, this can be translated as focusing on how to deal with them, not on how dysfunctional they are. Again, this is a win-win situation.
After an encounter with a toxic person it is normal to feel bad about yourself, to a certain extent. But, you need to minimize this impact and the amount of time you spend thinking about toxic people and their problems. Negative self-talk is not only useless, but can drive one mad and is a strong barrier against productivity. The only thing you will manage to do when you lose yourself in self-talk is to focus on all the negative thoughts and bring a bad karma all around you, which is basically bad energy. This promotes depressive states and procrastination, among other things.
Humans were built to live in communities and support one another, especially during hard times. Dealing with toxic people is difficult, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. A fresh point of view can help you solve the problem, relieve you of the person who is bothering you, and make you feel better about yourself.
You can’t pick your family, but you can and should make wise picks when it comes to your friends, co-workers, and mentors. Detach yourself from people who are disrespectful to you and your work, and seek the company of inspiring, creative, and supportive people who can teach you new things and help you boost your performance. Remember the Latin phrase “festina lente”—hurry up slowly—and invest your time in own self-development, making every second count.
Singer Adele can give you a strong example of how to do it: “I have insecurities, of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.”
Last, but not least, don’t let toxic people steal your joy. When you are proud of yourself for something you’ve done right, don’t let an arrogant person steal your happiness—block all the negative remarks and take your time to enjoy your moment of glory. However, don’t dive too deep, because you risk developing a toxic personality yourself. If needed—in other words, if you feel like doing it—take other people’s remarks and find the positive, constructive ideas in them, so you can learn from them, even if they are not the best teachers one can have.
And remember, the only person who really knows you is yourself, and only you can work on your faults in order to achieve personal and professional success.
Featured photo credit: toxic via flickr.com
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