People can be toxic in different ways, but regardless of what kind of toxicity they bring to a relationship, they just have to go. One toxic person in my life was manipulative of my time and resources, and another always talked about himself and how bad things continued to happen to him all the time. For my own sake and the sake of my family, I had to tell them both I didn’t want to hear from them again.
Sit down and really think about the relationships in your life. Think about how you react to those relationships. Do you find yourself screening phone calls because of one or two people? Are you avoiding activities you used to enjoy because a certain person makes them miserable? These are glaring signs that you’re in a toxic relationship.
When Toxic People Are Poisoning Your Life
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism. If someone is causing damage to your life, then he’s toxic and should be dealt with accordingly. People who suck the life out of you with negative attitudes, constant complaining, gossip, selfishness, or extreme dependency are damaging you in a way that can cause depression and anxiety.
You wouldn’t hesitate to cut toxins out of your diet, nor would you think twice before removing toxic substances from areas where your children play, so why is it that we are so hesitant to remove toxic people from our lives? The most obvious reason is that most of us like to avoid conflict and don’t want to hurt another human being’s feelings.
However, you need to have the courage to tell a toxic person the truth. Not only is this the only way to remove a damaging relationship from your life, but that person needs to have his feelings hurt so he can examine his life, face his own toxicity, and hopefully make a change. He may or may not change, but that’s up to him — not you. You can only change your own life by choosing who can be a part of it.
Freeing yourself of toxic relationships is not easy, but there are 3 steps you can follow that will help:
Step #1: Establish Boundaries and Don’t Apologize for Them
Boundaries are instrumental in maintaining your sanity and health. If people don’t respect your boundaries, they aren’t respecting you. Make a list of your own personal boundaries, and don’t be afraid to tell other if they cross them.
Step #2: Know that Toxic People Won’t Leave Easily
In any ecosystem, toxins must be met with powerful forces to eradicate them. Toxic people will not just “go away.” They may push back and become irrational, angry, or act like victims. Don’t beat around the bush or defend yourself; tell toxic people the truth and be consistent and firm in your decision.
Step #3: Recognize Signs of Toxicity in People
You have to learn to recognize the signs that a person is toxic, or it won’t be long before the seeds of toxicity develop stubborn roots. You must learn to protect yourself from toxic people in the same way you protect yourself from catching a cold by washing your hands and avoiding contact with infected people. Watch out for people who negatively affect your other relationships, invade your space, and take up a lot of your time. If a person makes you feel uncomfortable or unproductive, he’s probably toxic.
It’s Ok to Say, “I Don’t Want to See You Again”
Because toxic people are drawn to those who are empathetic and trusting by nature, it can be difficult for that kind of person to do what it takes to free himself. At first, you might feel as if you’re being harsh or mean, but recognize that it’s Ok to defend yourself and your sanity. If you value your physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health, you’ll do what it takes to get rid of toxic relationships.
It’s important to remember that when you remove toxic people from your life, you’ll go through an adjustment period during which you might question your decision or rationalize the behavior of the toxic person. Be strong and remember that you are doing this for your own good — and for the good of your family. Negativity will eventually manifest itself physically and emotionally, causing a ripple effect that will impact both you and your loved ones.
The truth is that we need relationships, but we don’t need every relationship. Surround yourself with positive people who bring you up, rather than drag you down. You don’t have to sacrifice your sanity because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. You don’t have to be controlled by your own kindness. You can be a good person without bending to the will of those who damage you with their own selfishness.