As Wikipedia points it out, toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism. In this post I want to talk not about the toxicity of substances, but rather the toxicity of people. And although people are not substances, the damage that they can inflict can be a lot worse.
Toxic people have always existed around us. Some of us have only had an experience of dealing with them, while others need to interact with them on a daily basis. It may be your neighbor or someone you know, or it even may be your family member or your best friend turning into one. Regardless of who they are, the way in which they influence us, people seeking for happiness and piece, is nothing but negative. Based on experience I can say that if you care what other people around think of you, and you allow them to influence you, your mood may be destroyed even on the most blissful days, like your graduation day or marriage. That’s just what toxic people do, they find ways to push your button and pull you down.
Why do I feel that I need to write about this topic? Isn’t this blog all about self-development, growth and happiness? Well, it is, and that is exactly why I need to write about this.
You see, our happiness, good relationships, mood and overall health are not a 100% under our control. The external world obviously plays a significant role in the way we feel ourselves on a daily basis. And this is the exact reason why I have previously told you to get rid of external distractors that may be taking you down, such as the TV or large amounts of social media. Toxic people also fall into this category.
Toxic people have always been around
All toxic people share a number of traits that make them toxic. Some have the traits more emphasized than others, but the general picture is always the same. They tend to be selfish, egocentric, always try to be right and never wrong. They say things that can make you shiver, and they are incredibly persuasive, if you allow them to be. Moreover, their level of self-awareness is quite low.
There are probably hundreds of books in psychology published on the topic of human toxicity. I am sure there are many reasons for them to act in such a way, most of which stretch from childhood and are related to the inability to love and accept themselves. But we don’t always want to or care enough to understand the root cause of their problem. We are directly affected by their behavior, and that is what we aim to avoid. To be happy and proactive we must surround ourselves with positive and like-minded people.
To begin with, you must learn not to care about what other people say or think about you. I know, it may sound like a cliche, but the best weapon against toxic people is not to run from or avoid them, but to learn not to resonate with them. That means that you don’t fall for and consume what they say to you. Sometimes toxic people may act at first as if they want to be your friend, or that they care about what you and others have to say. But sure enough, soon you may be hearing them say something negative or judgemental about the people around you. Gossiping is also something they love to do. Any of this ringing the bell yet?
A lot of self-developmental work is related to becoming more aware of your thoughts and actions. You learn to understand your subjective mind, and aim for objectivity. Toxic people, on the other hand, are the complete opposite of awareness or objectivity. They criticize others for no real reason, and they are completely unaware of the damage they are bringing into the life of others. Well, they may be aware, but that just makes the game more fun to play.
How to avoid toxicity
Because we live in the digital world, where people are able to hide behind their screens anonymously, toxicity has become almost like a trend. Just go and have a look at the comment section of Youtube. See what people say about others. You are ugly; fat; retarded; you have an annoying voice, horrible makeup, wrong colored t-shirt, etc… You get the point. Because people are free to say whatever they want and not have to be responsible for it, it has allowed anger and toxicity to boom like never before. “Keyboard warriors” – the experts in any field, will make sure that you know that they are better than you.
With things being digital, we can easily avoid these discouraging comments (although some people feel that they should respond to these comments). In the real world, however, things are not that easy. Luckily enough, toxic people are quite easily identified. For example, I may be trying to have a conversation with such a person, and everything seems fine until they say something that is extremely negative, exaggerated and obviously not true. Usually, the best thing to do after that is to avoid listening to the person any longer.
If you can’t avoid talking to that person, try to be as honest as you can be. Here you must be 100% direct. By being direct and by saying “no” to the things that you may be being pulled into, you are making it clear that you are not interested in sharing your story with them. If you feel too awkward or shy to say no, or you allow the other person to find your weak spot, you may be in for a surprise. Like I said, if you don’t see it, toxic people are very good at being persuasive. In other words, be direct towards them, be cold-hearted, and don’t look for a friend in them. You need to be able to make the right decisions on time.
Should we help toxic people?
I am not sure whether you will agree with me on this one or not, but I see no reason to help toxic people. Let me rephrase that actually, I see no reason to help toxic people unless they are asking for help. But this is a very rare case. Usually, toxic people are proud and know better than you do. To be honest, a toxic person genuinely asking for your help is pretty much unheard of.
What about toxic people that are your relatives or friends that are beginning to act in such a way? Maybe somebody will tell you that you should completely isolate from these people as well, but I don’t believe in turning away from family members or best friends. You can always spend less time with them, and that should be enough not to take you down. Also meditation, and controlling anger towards others helps not to take them seriously. With friends, I have noticed that if they really are becoming toxic for one reason or another, you will eventually stop having contact with them. However, it probably won’t be because of you. If you show them that you are not interested in that behavior, sooner or later they will stop resonating, and will leave you alone.
Also keep in mind that many of you that suddenly decide to get on the path of self-development, may take this path very abruptly, and the negative behavior in others that now becomes apparent to you, has actually always been there – you just didn’t care before. Therefore, never make any decision that you will later regret, especially when it comes to your family. Before finally deciding to take distance from them, always ask if they are willing to exchange toxicity for awareness (use your own words here, but you get the point). The chances are that the answer will be “yes” are quite low, but at least you were honest. Once again, directness and honesty are some of your most powerful weapons.
Please do not take me wrong. Self-development is about helping others just as it is about helping yourself. But it is about helping others that are actually in the need of it. Unfortunately, there are more people in this world that will tell you how you will never succeed, and that all of your dreams are just a figment of your imagination. Your job is not to prove them wrong, but to focus on your own progress and on helping those that are ready to accept the help.
The world is full of haters and will always be. Your job is to be the light and to be a perfect example of what humans are capable of. When others see what you do, those actions will be worth a thousand words. Concentrate on perfecting yourself first, and that way you will able to help other as well.
“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth just like you did.” – Jill Blakeway
Thank you for being with us!