How to Handle Toxic People
Do you know any toxic people? (lol, it’s the holidays; if yours are anything like mine, for at least one day between November and February, you’d rather rip each individual hair strand out of your head and reattach it than spend one more minute in someone’s presence). We all do, and the part many of us take a while to admit is they've made us stronger.
That isn’t to say you should simply accept any behavior or energy that comes your way (that would be a grave mistake, in many cases), but to say that, rather than throwing it out with the bathwater and naming it “toxic” and handing all the responsibility over to the other person, consider that you, too, have power here.
(It should be said that I no longer believe in the inherent toxicity of any one person. I believe some people don't share core values with me, and if someone is a "good" or "bad" person is not mine to hold; I believe we all have the capacity to be both to each other. But I digress.)
I used to wonder what the common thread was relating all these "toxic" people. What was the common thing I was "falling for" every time?
I didn't get anywhere until I examined the larger pattern. As in, I stopped wondering what all these people (friends, moms, exes) had in common and instead started examining what role was I reprising in each relationship.
I learned that, while I thought it was your run-of-the-mill people pleasing ("all these people have sob stories; I need to be there for [fix] them."), it was much deeper. It was reeeeally, "I feel small and abandoned, and I'm hoping that if I perform well enough, then someone will see/hear/validate me."
That, of course, drew people to me who took advantage of me, but I also let them. I set up a transaction: I was seeking to meet a need of theirs in exchange for validation. I put my worthiness in their hands.
They, however, didn't agree to this bargain, so, of course, I was continually disappointed.
I set myself up to be used, and then complained about being used. I thought I was being scammed by shitty people, and that may have been true, but I also totally denied that I was setting myself up for it every time, and all they were doing was knocking the pins down.
They were just doing what they do. They weren't necessarily out to get me, and I wasn't powerless. I could interrupt the pattern.
If the gym has taught me anything, it's that we have the strength and the power to perpetually reinvent ourselves—you can choose you at any moment.
You're not at the mercy of those who are pushing your buttons. You don't owe anyone the current iteration of yourself.
You can perform alchemy — you can transform as you see fit.
Holidays are a time filled with joy, and also a time renowned for pushing our buttons.
Be sure to take a moment this month (there's still time) to check in with yourself and leave the patterns keeping you small in 2018. ❤️