Simplifying relationships is one of the hardest challenges we can face. There is so much emotion involved that even when people are a negative part of our lives we can stick it out and put up with a lot of awful things for the sake of keeping the peace.
Perhaps the toxic person in your life is the spouse of someone you do care about greatly.
Is your neighbour bringing you down with her daily whinge session and you can’t figure out how to extricate yourself from this situation?
Do you hang on to a friendship because you have known each other so long, even though whenever you leave her you feel deflated or down on yourself?
Most people have at least one person in their life that leaves them drained . Do you feel a bit sick when you think of getting together with? Do you have less energy or feel depressed after being with them?
We have a couple of options available to us rather than just accepting the status quo for years on end. We can remove these people from our lives or we can minimize contact we have. Sometimes the first option is simply impossible (think of work mates or family members where you feel cutting ties would be too great a price to pay), but you still have choices to make.
I am not talking about people in your life who hit a rough patch or complain occasionally like the rest of us. I am referring to the people who chronically live in the land of negativity and want to take you down with them. There is a big difference between letting off steam and hurting people, manipulating them, “taking” all the time, etc.
How can you minimize interactions with toxic people in your life?
You can be in the same space but not interact – think attending Christmas lunch, but not engaging in a long conversation with your Aunt who always ruins your day. There is no rule that you must selflessly sit through 20 minutes of her horrible chatter. You can be subtle and occupied and move on after a quick hello. You can choose how to spend your family gathering.
You can say no – turn down some invitations that you know include the one friend in your circle who tears you down, don’t accept the playdate offers from the mom who leaves you upset or gossips about other people you know, don’t let yourself get sucked into yet another session with your friend who spends the whole time talking about how horrible she is and how miserable her life is (when that is all she ever talks about).
You can set limits – you may think part of being a good friend is always being there to support others, but friendship is two way street so feel empowered to set the bar lower and free up your time and energy for positive pursuits for yourself or others in your life. You are not responsible for fixing other people. Accept that this is how they are and if you cannot cut them out of your life, let go of the need to help them find the positive path.
How can you protect yourself emotionally from negative relationships?
Remember it is about them – keep yourself separate from their words and actions and try not to take it on board. Listen and release rather than worrying about this person or trying to sort out or change their life for them.
Put yourself and your family first – often toxic people will use up a lot of your time and energy. If your toxic person tries to constantly pull you into her drama do not let it trump your own life. If you cannot find your way to remove yourself entirely from the situation at least don’t drop things for this person. Focus on your priorities and what is important to you and be in control of how you spend that time and what you bring into your day.
Additional reading: Great post from Alicia at Alicia’s Little Moments with a round up of ideas for dealing with people’s negative energies.
Challenge: Look at the relationships in your life and be honest about those that are purely negative. Can you let go of them entirely? Can you minimize your involvement? can you use some of Alicia’s tips to cope with the negative energy? On the flip side build up, prioritise and nurture the positive relationships in your life. If you have already let go / minimised relationships share your experience if you are able.
As you release yourself from the weight of negative relationships you can be free to grow in other directions and with other people, breathe easier, feel stronger and lighter.
Find your simple,