Before we get started, let’s take a moment to consider what it was that made you click on this post. Who are you thinking of right now? Toxic people come in all forms: friends, family, significant others, coworkers– they don’t discriminate. I’d like you to take a couple seconds to listen to your intuition. What is your gut telling you about the person you’re thinking about?
Identifying Toxic People
There are several warning signs to watch for when considering if you’re in a toxic relationship. Here are 10 of the most common warning signs of toxic people.
Staying in the Relationship
Consider your values, and then consider the values of the person you’ve been thinking of. Values include concepts such as respect, compassion, trustworthiness, and happiness. If you were to make a Venn diagram of your values versus the values of the person in question, how many would overlap? Which values, if any, are you willing to compromise by staying in the relationship? What might life be like if you choose to stay?
Let’s get real for a moment. Remaining with toxic people rarely resolves the issue. Instead, by staying in the relationship, it teaches the person that you are willing to put up with the grief they put you through. Though it may not seem like that to you, let’s take a look at the facts. Have you ever threatened to end the relationship if they didn’t change their behaviors, and then you didn’t? What message might you be sending by allowing them to continue to treat you with disrespect?
The unfortunate reality is, as much as we’d love to change people sometimes, there is nothing we can actually do to change them. Until a person decides to change for themselves, trying to force someone to change is a losing battle. The good news is, you CAN change yourself! Although toxic people can make you feel powerless, you ultimately have the power over your own life. It has to start with you.
Talking to Toxic People
- In the wise words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, you go high.” Be respectful even if they disrespect you. Be calm even if they yell. Do not give the person the satisfaction of making you out to be the bad guy.
- Talk about how you feel. Avoid pointing fingers even though you may be sure that you’ve been wronged. For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me,” try “I don’t feel heard when I talk to you.”
- Be specific. Toxic people tend to bring up the past and fight dirty. Ensure that you stay on topic by providing meaningful, specific, current examples.
It’s Okay to Leave
It is always okay to leave a toxic relationship. You deserve relationships that empower you and make you feel loved. If you are not getting that, it is absolutely okay to end the relationship. If you’ve decided it’s time to leave, just remember that it takes courage. Things may get worse in the short-term, but remember that you’ve made a choice for your present and future well-being.
- Find a trusted friend or two to help keep you accountable. Remember that toxic people may try to make you feel guilty for leaving. Have someone you trust to remind you that it’s okay.
- Write down all the ways your life will be better when you end the relationship. Keep it in a place that you can see so that when you’re feeling weak, you can turn back to a time you felt confident about your decision.
- Make sure you take care of yourself. Though you may feel instantly better after leaving the toxic relationship, it is likely that you invested a lot of yourself into that person. Make sure that you take time to surround yourself with supportive people. Make sure you are eating well. Go to bed at the same time every day and get up in the morning even if you don’t feel like it. Do the things that you enjoy.
You can do this! And if you feel that no one else is in this with you, know that I am supporting you from afar.