Friendships naturally have ups and downs. You might have a falling out with your best friend from high school, or you might discover your coworker was starting rumors behind your back. While problems and challenges arise in any relationship, whether you’re just getting to know someone new or you’ve known this person for years, sometimes these problems cross a line. Toxic people can be found anywhere. You see them in the workplace, you see them in school, and you see them in your own family. Learning how to deal with toxic people and eliminate them from your life in a safe way is a key part of growing up into a healthy, functional adult. Letting poisonous people take advantage of you will only deteriorate your mental wellness, and it leads to more stress than it’s worth. So how do smart people deal with unhealthy relationships? This guide will explore just that.
How Do You Spot a Toxic Person?
You’ve probably met more than a few toxic people in your life. Some are easy to spot like the bully who pushed you around in sixth grade or the boss who demanded too much of you. Others sneak up on you when you least expect it and before you know it you don’t know how to get away. Bad relationships can actually have a negative impact on your health if you aren’t careful. Toxic people don’t come as one-size-fits-all. What makes one person harmful isn’t the same across the board.
How do you spot draining, challenging people in the wild? First, you need to recognize what makes someone toxic. The overall arching theme of toxicity in a relationship is when you don’t enjoy spending time with them.
Here are the most common types of toxic people you’re likely to encounter:
- Narcissists who are unable to talk about anything but themselves and constantly put you down to raise themselves up.
- Controlling people who can’t give you room to make your own decisions.
- Negativity magnets who suck the positivity out of everything in your life and theirs.
- Judgemental people who will judge everything from your favorite jeans to your life choices. This judgment usually stems from internalized self-hate.
- Drama magnets who always have a new problem that cannot be solved.
Odds are you’ve seen these people before. Maybe you’ve even been friends with them. Sometimes a great friend turns into a toxic friend after a sad event in their life. While we all have low moments and need help getting back on track, a truly poisonous person will never apologize for their behavior or recognize they have a problem.
Handling Toxic People the Smart Way
Now that you know how to spot a toxic person from a mile away, it’s time to discuss the best ways to deal with these people when they find a way into your life. There are a right way and a wrong way to deal with these people. The key is to manage your emotions and avoid lashing out. Toxic people thrive on emotional outbursts and seeing that they’re in control. Don’t give them the satisfaction and instead develop healthy ways to handle this behavior.
- Set Your Limits
One successful way to separate yourself from unhealthy problems is to set limits. You need to know when it’s time to distance yourself from their actions. Some toxic people will always try to complain to you about their problems, and other often feel compelled to listen because they don’t want to come off as rude. Give yourself permission to say no and distance yourself when it becomes necessary. You’re not the rude one in this scenario!
- Choose Your Battles
You’ve probably heard the saying “Lose the battle but win the war,” and this couldn’t be more true to dealing with bad relationships with toxic individuals. These foes won’t back down to a fight. Actually, they’re probably looking to start one to get the attention they crave. Instead of responding with your emotions which is what they want you to do, choose your battles and only stand your ground when absolutely necessary. These people will quickly learn you’re not worth picking fights with.
- Be Confident in Yourself
Negative people are always trying to bring you down because that’s how they feel. While you can’t quiet outside voices permanently, you can choose to ignore them. Realize you’re entitled to feel happy and satisfied. Your success isn’t measured by these people who try to drag you down. Instead of letting them get in your head, try to recognize their point of view. Their actions are coming from a place of limited self-confidence, and they’re unable to ask for help in a productive way.
Only you have the power to distance yourself from toxic people for good. It’s easy to feel guilty about distancing yourself from a negative relationship, but realize you’re not required to spend time with anyone you don’t want to. Life is short, and your mental wellbeing is on the line. How do you want to define yourself? By your personal self-worth or by others? Don’t let this negativity into your head.