Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health: Toxic People

I stood up from the table and pushed in my chair. I was leaving and I was leaving my friend sitting alone, at the local Italian pie joint. One deep breath and I spun around and walked away. Doing this was something that took me a long time to learn and it wasn't very easy. As radical as it sounded, walking away was the healthy thing to do: I was dealing with a toxic person. Part of being healthy is surrounding ourselves with other emotionally healthy people. Everyone is a work in progress, but some are less in the construction business and more in the destruction business, tearing others down and inviting destructive behavior wherever they go. Toxic people are more often than not, wolves in sheep's clothing. They can be family or friends and often are people that we have to learn to deal with no matter how challenging.

There is a difference between toxic people and those who merely test our patience. It can be a fine line, but once they cross it will you know? When Aunt Mildred goes from a busy body, good intentioned Aunt to a toxic person it can be tough to distinguish and even confront. One way to gauge who may be toxic for you is to think about what they add to your life. Toxic people drain us, they subtract from our life more than they contribute. They tear us down with their words, actions and with their negative energy.

This can be in the form of:
  • Passive agressive behavior
  • Consistent negative thinking
  • Creating or inviting drama
  • Confrontation with no intention of resolution
  • Nagging, Nay-saying and being a relentless Debby downer
  • Chronic blame shifters
  • Crossing Boundaries despite our attempted enforcement
Everyone of us has the capacity to display one or many of these characteristics at any given point, but when our friends and loved ones call us out on it, we are willing to evaluate our behavior, get honest with ourselves and make a change. Toxic people refuse to see that their behavior is causing problems or that they are crossing boundaries with their behavior. If you do try to point out what they are doing or discuss it, often, they will blame you for their actions, deny their actions and tell you they are not behaving that way or finagle their way around the topic. Being evasive about their behavior is a another tell-tale sign that they are a toxic person

Their inability to change is not your fault. If you engage in this or nearly any debate with them, they will lead you on a wild goose chase. So how can we deal with those that are a permanent fixture in our lives? If you are able to pin-point the behavior that is toxic for you, you should confront them with it and create a boundary surrounding it. I will talk more creating those boundaries and moving forward more later...

This is a long one!! So I am splitting it up, come back for Toxic People part two tomorrow....

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