We all know one...we likely encounter them daily...perhaps we are related to them... worse yet....we might even live with them...admittedly....maybe we are one - or at the very least, we exhibit some toxic behavior .
Toxic people drain your precious energy...they come in many different forms...sometimes they exhibit many characteristics...sometimes they possess just one. Some you need to avoid all together...others you can limit your time with or learn to practice good boundary setting....for some, bringing their behavior to their attention may actually create change for the better, as often times we are unaware of our behaviors ...that's good news if you yourself are the toxic person ! There is hope.
Let's consider the different forms of toxic behaviors ...
The Negative or overly Critical one - this person will always find the downside of everything...they complain incessantly and seem very hard to please. They will find it hard to be joyful or just be in the moment as they will be analyzing everything that they can find fault with and readily share what they discover.
They will rain on your parade, discounting your efforts, enthusiasm and delight in life changes and adventures. Instead of being happy for you, they will say your promotion will require more time at the office. Or a planned trip is at a time when the weather will not be ideal. The new shoes you bought are suede and will stain in the rain.
They may criticize you, find fault in everything you do, express hesitation or concern in your abilities eg "you can't do that", "you aren't good enough".
Being negative is a natural human trait- it takes work to conscientiously turn the negative voices off and replace them with positive thoughts. Practicing gratitude goes a long way towards re wiring your negative brain. This can be done by creating a gratitude journal that you write in everyday -like any exercise, practice is the only way to improve. Finding gratitude in each day will become easier as the days go by. Alternatively, making a concerted effort to acknowledge negative thoughts and replacing them with a positive can also be very helpful.
How can you deal with a critical, negative person? Be assertive, but not demeaning. Clearly communicate that their criticism is hurtful. Don't respond "tit for tat". Set healthy boundaries - change the subject in a conversation that is fraught with negativity or criticism, and if that doesn't work - leave the conversation. You may have to go so far as to take a break from the relationship for awhile, or even permanently. Know your worth. We teach people how to treat us. Set your boundaries and honor them.
The Victim or Drama Queen - these people always have something going on, whether real or perceived. They are trolling for sympathy 24/7 . They may seek to be persecuted in order to gain attention or avoid self-responsibility. They may blame other people and circumstances for their unhappiness. They are often unable to accept constructive criticism. They feel powerless to change their circumstance. They will put themselves down.
Sometimes these behaviors are developed when someone truly is a victim of a form
of abuse or trauma, or simply they have observed a parent or close friend / family member with these traits and they mirror them. The benefit these people see to being a victim is that they find others will lavish attention on them and feel sorry for them. They feel "interesting" to others by having a dramatic story to tell. They can avoid responsibility and are less likely to be criticized by others.
Those that play the victim, often do so unconsciously or unintentionally. There is comfort and perceived safety in playing the victim. Alternatively - some narcissistic people will adopt a victim role to further control you. These type of people know exactly what they are doing and take their manipulation to extreme levels.
How can you, yourself get out of a victim mindset? Take more responsibility for your own happiness....when thinking "you make me so angry", instead replace the "YOU" with "I" and rephrase the statement to "I feel so angry when I hear you say that".
See yourself as a Survivor. Be in the present moment, don't dwell in the past. You cannot change what happened to you but you do have total control over how you react to it. Being a survivor is empowering and inspiring. Being a victim is depressing and is just wallowing in self pity.
Be aware when you are attempting to gain sympathy from others - take responsibilty
for your own feelings. Consider mistaken beliefs are creating your suffering and examine what is behind this feeling. You don't have to believe that voice your head! Practice being thankful, an attitude of gratitude goes a long way!
When dealing with the Victim personality - don't fall into their trap...don't provide the sympathy they are looking for; instead listen with a neutral position and then reinforce their capabilities in handling the situation. Or you can always perform a little reverse psychology by whole heartedly agreeing with their scenario - they may realize how ridiculous and dramatic they are being and decide life really isn't that bad.
The Jealous one - Envy is the counting of others blessings, rather than your own. Jealousy is a monster...that lurks and waits for the moment to pounce. It thrives on feelings of inadequacy, poor confidence and moments where you may have felt slighted. We have ALL felt this way at one time or another.
Jealous people may appear overly praising of your success but then the moment you leave, they will be rolling their eyes. They may flaunt their own success and try to steal your thunder, or are always "one upping" you. They may imitate you in the way they walk, talk or dress. They tend to be highly competitive because they want to be the one always reaping the success. They will take pleasure in your failures. They may talk about you behind your back.
They are always looking over the fence or stating "must be nice". ( refer to my recent blog https://www.behealthycoaching.com/blog/must-be-nice ) . They will not have genuine and sincere happiness for your achievements, and will always feel resentment when you share your good news. They are blind to their own blessings and choose to focus on the things they don't have, rather than appreciating what they do have.
These people can leave you feeling unable to truly enjoy your success and blessings in life and almost impose a sense of guilt.
So how can we diffuse a jealous situation? Be sincere in your compliments and celebrations of their successes. Don't be overly bragging, but at the same time be firm yet humble in your achievements. If they are imitating you - try to praise the efforts they make to be themselves, rather than focus on them trying to be like you. Show them they don't have to be you to be great! We are all amazing and beautiful in our own unique way. Remind them that this isn't a competition.
Celebrate your failures - when we fail, we learn. Handle your mistakes with grace. They cannot get satisfaction from your failures if you have a positive mindset.
Sometimes we don't realize our behaviors exhibit a jealous nature - when faced with this from others, be kind but also take the time to communicate your feelings using "I" statements. Being aware may bring a change to the behavior.
If we ourselves are feeling jealous - we need to delve deep and ask ourselves what is triggering these feelings. Are these limiting beliefs? Are they rational? Perhaps we need to work on our own self esteem and confidence and take the time to really observe the many blessings we do have in our lives. Perhaps this is the catalyst we need to take action in our own lives and move forward rather than being stagnant where we are. Our job is to learn and grow and be the best version of ourselves, not the best version of our neighbor or the celebrity you admire. (https://www.behealthycoaching.com/blog/be-you)
The Narcissist - one of the most concerning types of toxic people - they have a grandiose self-importance and entitlement and need constant praise and admiration. They can fly off the handle at the slightest criticism or disagreement as they tend to be extremely sensitive.
Living in a fantasy world of distortion, self deception; they often lie or exaggerate their achievements and talents in career, relationships and life. This is an effort to mask their true inner feelings of emptiness, shame or inadequacy. Anything that threatens to burst their bubble is met with extreme defensiveness and even rage. They leave you treading very lightly so as not to set them off.
Narcissists are unable to identify with the feelings and needs of others - they lack empathy. They easily take advantage of others in order to meet their own needs. Relationships with narcissist are generally one sided with the focus always needing to be on them. They are not looking for partners - they are looking for obedient admirers.
They require constant admiration and when that is lacking, they may treat others as if they have been betrayed. They can at times maliciously exploit others, however typically Narcissists are simply oblivious to the effects of their actions and will not be capable of understanding how others perceive this as they only understand their own needs.
Narcissists can be bully's - frequently demeaning , intimidating or belittling others. Generally this is a result of them feeling someone has something they lack, or when others don't bow to their demands and in fact challenge them. They respond with contempt. Putting others down helps them prop up their ego.
These are the the people you are best distancing yourself from. Narcissists are very resistant to change. Their charm and magnetism may reel you in - however you must know your needs will never matter - your desires and feelings don't count. Observe how they treat others, eventually they will treat you the same.
Dealing with a Narcissist can be near impossible - if you need to discuss a difficult subject, do so gently and calmly - never argue. Have a strong sense of self and set healthy boundaries that you are prepared to follow through with. Let go of the need for approval from them and don't buy into their version of who you are. Instead learn what a healthy relationship looks like and spend time with people who give you an honest reflection of who you are.
If any of these resonate with you and bring to mind people in your life or perhaps some of your own negative behaviors, consider what changes you can make to focus on the positive and surround yourself with healthier relationships that lift you up and support you.