Nearly everyone has to put up with toxic people in their lives. I mean, research shows that apparently eight of ten of us are dealing with ‘poisonous pals’ (You can read that article here). With this in mind, it is very likely that someone in your life is acting a little bit toxic. Whether it’s a friend, colleague or family member.
Therefore, there is bound to be someone who has made themselves a place in your life that isn’t very good for you. But firstly, how do we recognise toxic people and, then, deal with their behaviour?
But What Exactly is Toxic Behaviour?
Chances are that we might not even be aware that someone in our life is toxic. They can be difficult to recognise, or even make you think that the issues are yours. So how the bloody hell are we supposed to know is someone’s behaviour is toxic?
Anybody who is causing you either physical or mental harm is toxic. That’s the most basic definition. Toxic behaviour can be vastly different, depending upon the person. But here are a few common examples of toxic behaviour that you can encounter:
- Manipulating a situation
- Being overly critical (and we aren’t talking about that honest mate who calls you out when you’re being a bit of a dickhead!)
- Belittling you or your feelings
- Not being interested or caring about you
- Putting you in uncomfortable or dangerous situations
Basically, anybody in your life who is making you feel like rubbish might be a bit toxic. It doesn’t just mean romantic relationships but friends, family, co-workers and everyone beyond that.
Now that you’ve recognised someone in your life isn’t treating you right, then how should you deal with it?
Cutting Those People Out
This can be one of the most difficult things to do, but sometimes it’s the only option. Sit down and consider, do you really want someone in your life who makes you feel shit? The answer usually is a big, fat no because we don’t want people making us feel shit in our lives.
When we are aware that someone is acting toxically in our lives, sometimes it is better to cut them out. To just call it a day to that relationship (on whatever level that might be) and put yourself first.
And you are totally within your rights to do so. The people around us should be loving, uplifting and championing us. We deserve people in our lives that actually care and make us feel good.
So if someone isn’t providing that for you, then you can just say goodbye to them. You totally can cut out the toxicity for the sake of your mental health and happiness.
It’s Not Always That Easy
But sometimes, it isn’t that easy. Not that cutting someone out of your life is ever easy, but you know what I mean! Sometimes that option isn’t possible.
Now, I’m not an advocate for staying in friendships, romantic relationships or the rest with people who treat you like trash. But if it’s a colleague, unless you’re prepared to quit your job then you can’t really cut them out. Similarly, if it’s a family member then it might not be so simple to cut those entangled links.
(Side note: Do not feel guilty for cutting out family members who are toxic. Ignore the ‘but they are your family’ phrase, or the guilt from parents who feel you owe them the world because they produced you. You have to do what’s best for you!)
What if we can’t cut those people out? How do we cope with their consistent toxicity? We have to find some way of coping with or changing the dynamic of the relationship.
Honesty Is The Best Policy, Right?
Once you’ve realised how toxic someone is being, then one of the first steps is to talk to them. It’s going to be a bloody difficult conversation to have because you’re basically telling someone how shitty they’ve been behaving. However, talking about the way you’ve been feeling is so important. Let them know (preferably in a calm and non-aggressive way) that what they’ve been doing isn’t ok.
Having this conversation can go one of two ways. Either they won’t have realised how they’ve been acting. Or they’ll not understand what you’re saying. Be prepared for that. With some people, you can talk until the cows come home (where did that phrase even come from?!) and they will never understand your point.
If option one happens, then hopefully the relationship can grow and become less toxic. But if option two is the winner, then you’ll have to find other ways to cope with the person.
Do What Makes You Comfortable
First things first – set boundaries! You need to do what is best for you, so figure out what that is. Decide how you need this relationship to be for your happiness and set those boundaries.
Whether it’s limiting the time you spend with someone. Or making certain topics of conversation off limits. Those boundaries are there to protect you from damaging behaviours.
You don’t even need to tell this toxic person what your boundaries are. As long as you are aware of them and stick to them, then that’s enough.
Consider Why They Do It
A lot of the time people are just dickheads, and there is no other way to say it. There are just horrible people who go out of their way to hurt, degrade or belittle others. And there is not much you can do to change it.
This isn’t always the case though! The toxic people in our lives could be acting this way because of their own struggles. It could be mental illness, addiction or their own toxic relationships. There are plenty of legitimate reasons that can cause people’s behaviour to be toxic. That doesn’t excuse their behaviour.
But knowing this can help you find coping mechanisms. When you know why people are acting a certain way, it can help you to cope with those actions. If you know that they are struggling with something in their lives, it can help you to feel compassion, understanding or even help to take things less personally.
Check In With Yourself
It is essential for you look after yourself especially when dealing with toxic people. Check in with yourself. Your mental wellbeing is the most important thing for you to consider.
Spending time with a toxic person can leave you feeling drained, inadequate or trigger issues. Make sure you stop those feelings from damaging you. Take the time to check in with yourself. Always look after you because you are your own priority.
Focus on re-energising yourself and removing negativity from your headspace. Spend some time practising self-care and looking after you. After all that toxicity, you deserve and need it. Whether it’s taking a walk in the fresh air, having bubble bath, watching your favourite film or getting those feelings out by journaling. Do what you need to look out for your wellbeing.
Related Post: Let’s Talk Self-Care
Dealing with toxic people in our lives is never easy. So whether you decide to cut someone out, or find your own strategy for coping, you’ve got to do what is right for you. If you’re struggling to cope with a toxic person in your life then you can always reach out to me, even if it’s just for a chat because I know how shitty it can be!
Head over to my Instagram here to help us create a discussion about toxic people by sharing your own coping mechanisms!