Things are certainly different on the other side of abuse and healing from said abuse. You get stronger and wiser each and every day during the healing process and years after. You learn to recognize “them”. You know, those people…the abusers, social media trolls and other toxic people of the world. You also learn how to deal with them properly while educating yourself during the healing process.
Toxic people are always victims. More than likely their victimization is the result of their own manufactured drama. Specifically, drama manufactured by them.
I encountered a toxic person recently while doing some work for a client of mine. This person, a manager was tasked with being my point of contact. She spent many of our conversations griping instead of providing me with the information I needed to complete the project. She complained about her employees making mistakes and claimed to be a victim of sabotage. She has a habit of saying one thing one day and something else the next. She is very indecisive and has trouble making even the simplest decisions. After speaking with her for two consecutive days, I knew who she was. I knew she was someone who projected her own issues onto others. I knew she was dishonest. I knew she was a chronic complainer. I knew she was an unreliable source of information. I knew she lacked personal accountability and credibility. I remember thinking to myself during a conversation with her, “I see you.” To quote Mya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I did just that and was not surprised one bit when I was I recruited to the role of scapegoat. I finished my deliverables in the pipeline and walked away from the contract.
In another situation, a dental assistant is negative and gripes about her job to her patients constantly. Her words are always sharp and unkind. If someone said it was a beautiful day out, her response, “No it’s not!” If a patient shares good news with her, don’t expect a, “Hey, that’s great!” She goes for the negative, “You better hope it works out” or “Don’t get too happy, it has not happened yet.” Get it? She is a toxic negative Nellie.
Why Does the Negativity Persist?
The negativity persists for quite a few reasons:
- Toxic people tend to blame others rather than look inward. In other words, they project their failures, losses, shortcomings or mishaps on others. Depending on the situation, it may be too painful for them to look inward or they just don’t know how.
- They are stuck. People are not born toxic but may become toxic after suffering losses, lack of success and bitter from a devastating situation. Eventually, it becomes a habit, and the toxic person can’t get out of their own way.
- It works for them. Some people like to operate with a low bar and are quite comfortable being a pessimist. Of course, these people are likely to classify or cloak themselves as realists. The general attitude is, low expectations = less/no disappointment when things fall apart. I am unhappy, and you should be too.
- They suffer from an untreated mental illness or unresolved childhood hurts.
- Toxic people focus on the wrong things. They like to focus on what they don’t have instead of being thankful for what they do have. These people tend to measure their success by the success of others instead of running their own race.
How to Handle Toxic People
- Do not engage or limit your contact if at all possible. This goes for online trolls, flying monkeys, emotional and physical abusers, etc.
- Take command of the conversation and change the subject or excuse yourself when a toxic person goes negative while engaged in a conversation. This comes in handy if a toxic person is a close relative, co-worker or supervisor.
- You can call them on their negativity or griping, but be mindful. The toxic person may not be receptive to your words.
- Tune them out with music or a motivational book through Audible or some similar app. This comes in handy if you work in a toxic environment. It gives you a breather and can give you a good dose of positive energy between meetings, stressful work call or any toxic interaction.
Your Health and Toxic People
Toxic people can bring unwanted stress to your life. They can be emotional vampires and will drain your soul dry. Long-term stress from exposure to a toxic person can affect your health in various ways. Headaches, depression, compromised immune systems, and elevated blood pressure are among potential health issues due to exposure to long-term stress. You matter. Your health matters.
Let’s say it together…Not my clown, not my circus.