OT - Toxic T'ursday
We’ve all had the misfortune of toxic people in our lives. They can appear in the form of coworkers, friends, and family members. You need to either eliminate these people from your life or learn how to deal with them effectively.
Toxic people are not caring, supportive, or interested in what’s important or best for you. Here are several ways that toxic behavior can manifest:
- They are unwilling to seek help or try to change.
- They are extremely critical of themselves and other people.
- They are needy and make strong demands on your attention.
- They try to manipulate and control you.
- They create and are surrounded by interpersonal issues.
Understand the cycle!
There is a pattern many toxic people follow. First they’re charming. This is when they’ll get you. They’ll be attentive, loving and impressive – but all of it will be to get you into position. Next, when they have your trust you’ll start to see the cracks. There will be mounting demands and a rising pull on your emotional resources. Then there will be the crisis – the test. You’ll feel stuck – whether or not you give them what they want, you’ll feel compromised. Finally, you’ll do what they want – because you don’t want to be ‘unreasonable’ or cause more drama – and then they’re back to charming you and giving you just enough of what you need to make you stay. The problem is that this never lasts for long and always comes at a cost.
The Debbie Downer
The people in your life should build you up and celebrate your accomplishments - not poke holes in them. But Debbie Downers manage to find the storm clouds in even the sunniest skies.
Got a raise at work? "That’s all? You really deserve so much more for the work you’re doing," Debbie Downer will reply.
Just planned the vacation of your dreams? Debbie’s all: "Are you sure you want to go then? It’s a very crowded time of year."
Toxic people have a way of sucking the joy out of your good news and contorting your positive news into something negative. They’ll find reasons why your good new isn’t great.
These people will try to attack, undermine or question your perception of reality to make you doubt yourself. That way, they can maintain the upper hand in the relationship.
Like all toxic people, gaslighters are insecure. These means are effective in getting their needs met but are incredibly damaging to the relationship. They may outright lie and deny it, no matter the proof, their actions don’t match their words, they intentionally confuse you, make you think YOU’RE the problem, or turn others against you.
Some gaslighters may not realize what they’re doing (a rarity!). And those who do rarely care about the damage they’re doing.
A user demands your time, energy, and resources without taking your own wants and needs into consideration.
Unless meeting your needs directly benefits their narcissistic agenda, a User will only give you enough to ensure you won’t leave them as a future resource to tap.
Users tend to be likable people who often use their charm to get their way. Being around these people can feel great,. When it’s convenient for THEM, they can make you feel invaluable and loved. But when it’s not, they’ll leave you feeling rejected, insecure, and worthless.
The Dysfunctional Family Member
If a loved one continues to engage in reckless behavior or struggles with an addiction for which they refuse to get help, it may be time to rethink your relationship.
He or she is out of control and dragging you down the drain, too. You are NOT helping this person by letting them take advantage of you, disrespect your or use you. That’s called enabling and you have to back off. Stop cleaning up their messes and don’t lend money. Stop running on guilt and the fear they will hurt themselves. They probably will and YOU CAN’T STOP IT. Keep your distance until this dysfunctional person is committed to their recovery. Sure, you can help them find a therapist, support group, or treatment program, but remember: You can’t fix their behavior for them.
The Friend You’ve Outgrown
We hope our friendships will last forever – but the reality is that many won’t, because they’re not supposed to. And that’s OKAY!! Unfortunately, guilt, obligation, and faulty beliefs keep us hanging on much longer than is good for us. Friendships should be reciprocal and balanced. If they’re not, it may be time to move on.
If you’ve got a friend who is more of a burden than a blessing, who you only hear from when they want something, is only interested in talking about themselves, or is overly critical or negative, then you really need to rethink your relationship with this person.
This person will constantly find fault with you and keep track of your every mistake so they can use it against you in the future. They play the one-upmanship card by drawing on the times you didn’t do something, let them down or did something incorrectly, and use them as evidence of your shortcomings. When you try to defend yourself, discuss or resolve it, toxic people will usually bring up a disappointment from the past, pointing out your faults and how you’re never really there for them. They are always keeping score. And you’ll never get enough points. They will vehemently defend their perspective, and take no responsibility for anything they do or have ever done.
The Critic criticized the PERSON instead of the behavior. The most harmful experience a person can have is when a parent says, "you’re a bad boy/girl" instead of saying "you did a bad thing".
A critic can bring a lot of toxicity into a relationship. Critics may never call you insulting names, but they may constantly insult your beliefs, appearance, and thoughts, often because they have low self-esteem and want to be in control. Instead of trying to make suggestions to improve your bad habits, they find every excuse to berate these habits and hinder you as a person.
The Passive Aggressor
Passive-aggression is the passive expression of anger. Common examples include repeatedly keeping you waiting or making you late for an appointment. We all know people like this. You never know what message such a person is trying to convey. You may feel that you are always walking on eggshells when you’re around them. Denial of feelings, sarcasm, and backhanded compliments are sure ways to tell that someone is passive-aggressive.
If a person cannot communicate in a straightforward manner ("I’m MAD", but will never tell you WHY), uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism, sends mixed messages, or acts like nothing is wrong – while exhibiting angry emotions – you might be dealing with a Passive-Aggressor.
The Narcissist acts like God’s gift to the universe, knows everything, is the best at everything – and is not afraid to tell you so! No matter how smart or experienced you are, you can never measure up to The Narc. Like passive-aggressiveness, narcissism is considered a personality disorder and is toxic. Narcs place themselves on a pedestal and look down at you. You may feel like are competing with this person in every situation. Narcs are often unwilling to compromise, lack insight and empathy, and wat to be the center of attention. They may ruin special occasions, such as your birthday or a milestone in your professional career, because they constantly need praise, even when it is someone else’s time to shine. Narcs actually hate themselves. They have very thin skin that is easily pricked and easy to get under, which releases rage and hate because their self-esteem is marginal. Narcs are willing to destroy everything and everyone around them when they feel hurt or rejected.
Stonewalling refers to the act of refusing communication to evade the issue – a person who refuses to engage in conversation or share feelings when important issues come up. This often makes the other person feel insignificant and unworthy of honest communication. The Stonewaller may come off as cold and refuse to admit there is a problem, but refusing to communicate creates negative feelings and barriers that make it difficult to further a successful relationship. Additionally, it can cause you to harbor feelings of resentment and guilt. If you are trying to communicate with a person you know well and he or she refuses to be honest and open with you, you may want to reconsider why you are in that relationship in the first place. By not responding to your question, the Stonewaller’s non-communication makes you frustrated and angry, because he or she won’t engage in the expected interpersonal discourse.
Ways to Handle Toxic People
Trust your gut! Abusive behavior is NOT normal and most of these people will never change.
If you can, walk away! Plan an exit strategy, if needed.
If you cannot avoid Toxic People, cut down your contact with them.
- Ignore attention seeking and insults and do NOT get involved with petty feuds or drama.
- Set and maintain boundaries.
- Be distant, but polite.
- Do NOT tell them personal details – treat them like strangers.
- Forgive, but do NOT forget.
- Anticipate push-back or retaliation. They don’t want to lose their victims!
Remember: you do not need to explain and you do NOT need their approval.
Surround yourself with people who will give as much as you do!