In Life Coach, Psychotherapy, Relationships, Self-Care

Are There Toxic People in Your Life?

We recently discussed the common warning signs of toxic people. So now that you’ve identified these negative people in your life, how do you deal with them?

The most often described toxic person that my clients bring up is the one that they have known forever.  They know the person isn’t good for them, they don’t like spending time with them, and they know they should cut the person out of their lives, but they have a lot of difficulty because they have so much history together.

If you have a toxic person in your life, it’s time to do something about it. Cleansing your life of toxic people doesn’t necessarily mean you have to remove them from your life entirely. There are steps you can take to help you deal with and hopefully correct these unhealthy relationships.

4 Steps To Help You Towards Cleansing Your Life of Toxic People

Talk to the toxic person about their behaviour

If it is someone who you care for and they are safe I would first try talking to them. If they are receptive, you can assist them in getting help. But realize that you can’t force someone to get help who doesn’t want it. Be open and honest but caring and compassionate. People often get defensive when getting feedback like this – it can be hard for anyone to hear. So write everything down you want to say, rehearse, pick a good time and place to talk, and make sure you are not emotional (especially angry) when you have the conversation.

Don’t blame, shame or attack just state the facts as neutrally as possible.  It’s important to remember that you can communicate everything perfectly and still not get a positive response. If someone is toxic they will most likely respond really poorly to this. They might get mad, attack you, dismiss your feelings and thoughts, blame you, or react in a number of ways that aren’t your fault. Be prepared for this reaction.

Set Boundaries

Establishing boundaries is crucial to all healthy relationships and another step towards cleansing your life of toxic people. At our clinic, we set boundaries with our clients by having a cancellation policy in place. Another example of boundary setting is when we tell our spouses that it is hurtful when they flirt with others.

If someone dismisses your feelings or doesn’t respect your boundaries you probably need to consider if this is someone you want in your life. Dismissing feelings may look like someone telling you that you are being crazy, silly, sensitive, or dramatic. Someone who doesn’t respect your feelings or desired boundaries might get mad at you for expressing them or they might punish you by withholding attention. These are all examples of how a toxic person might respond.

These responses send the message that your feelings are not important. If someone treats you this way it is time to make your feelings important by cutting them out of your life. The healthiest relationships have the strongest boundaries.

Here are a few other examples of establishing boundaries:

  • If someone is always complaining and being negative but not taking actions to correct their problem, stop spending time listening to them. You might feel rude or mean by not listening, but you wouldn’t sit in a smoke-filled room while someone smoked around you and you shouldn’t be around something that is bad for your mental health either.
  • You might feel embarrassed by public displays of affection and you communicate this with your significant other. Sometimes a compromise can correct the situation such as an agreement that hand holding, a quick hug or an arm around the shoulder are okay but not long make-out sessions or being overly touchy-feely.
  • If your parents put down your career aspirations stop talking to them about it. Instead, talk to the people who encourage and support your dreams.

Delay. Delay. Delay.

Setting boundaries and making changes in a relationship can be challenging. A great tip when attempting to make these changes is to delay your responses to any requests from others. Don’t make any quick decisions or promises. Put others off by telling them you need to think about it, you need to check your calendar or you need to talk to your partner.

This will give you time to say no or to decide what your boundaries are, communicate them and stick with them. If others don’t respond well to your boundaries it is probably time to consider cleansing your life of that toxic person permanently.

Cutting them out of your life.

If all else fails, remember that it is okay to cut toxic people out of your life. You might not have a lot friends or family which leads you to keep unhealthy people around because you are afraid you will be alone. Or you might be running a business and you’re afraid to lose clients.

The truth is we have a thriving business full of clients (and you will too!) who respect us and treat us the way we deserve to be treated. This reduces stress for everyone and makes us really love going into work each and everyday. We get to be surrounded by positive, healthy people.

It’s true that when you close one door another door opens. Sometimes toxic people take up the space, time and energy leaving no room for new, healthy people to come into your life. Make space, time and energy for the right people by cleansing your life of toxic people. Your quality of life can only improve!

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