I’ve written about toxic people before and I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been hearing a lot from my girlfriends, readers and personally experiencing myself the bs, WTF-ness, pain and insanity associated with toxic friends and toxic family members.
Once you identify that you have a toxic person in your life and you realize why they’re toxic (which has nothing to do with you), it’s easier to create the emotional barrier that you need (read: boundaries) to feel sane, less impacted and rid yourself of the guilt for feeling that you’re somehow to blame for a grown adult continuing to take emotional sh*ts on you.
This helps because once you can correctly identify yourself as independent of the fact that you’re dealing with someone who’s using their fear-mongering, pain inducing toxicity as an adult pacifier for themselves, they no longer have that power over your emotional state. You don’t take how they’re behaving personally anymore because you know that it’s nothing more than a measure of their own pain, immaturity, trauma and avoidance.
In regard to toxic friends, toxic family members & toxic people in general, the emotional impairments of these individuals are self imposed, narcissistic shortcuts to a short-term feeling of pseudo importance & control.
And because that feeling is always short-term and perpetually fleeting, it gives them justification for spin-cycling the toxicity on their people pleasing subjects.
Yes, we’ve all been through trauma, but it’s how we choose to deal and heal that shapes who we become and ultimately dictates our own levels of toxicity – toxicity within and toxicity that we conversely choose to spew.
But what about when there’s familial ties there (whether they be actual family or friends that are just as close as family)?
It’s one thing if you have a toxic acquaintance, coworker, guy you’re seeing (that you can breakup with if you want), or friendsh*t that deep down, you know you can’t rely on. It’s a totally different animal when you’re related to and deeply invested in toxic friends and toxic family members.
How do you deal with toxic friends & toxic family members?
What if you’re not sure? How do you really know if they’re toxic? Toxic seems like such a harsh word.
Do you have to cut them off? It’s sometimes too painful to have a relationship with them, let alone be in the same room, but you can’t just cut them off or breakup with them. I mean, this is family/BFF territory here.
How do you deal?
“Toxic,” gets overused and incorrectly applied these days so I want to be clear about what true toxicity is. In my last post about toxic people, I wrote a toxicity checklist to see if you’re dealing with a toxic person. I want to go a little more in-depth today.
Toxic people definitely have certain characteristics, but they all have a common denominator of:
- Being The “Gotcha!” Police. These people would rather harbor information about you and go talk to other people close to you about the issues that they think you have, their problems with you, their “concern,” etc., than actually go and talk to YOU about it (they’re avoidant and dodge direct confrontation, so they create passive confrontation in the name of “love, care and concern”). Despite all of this, they continue to provide for you in your relationship with them on a surface level because they can never do the one thing that’s needed to actually have a true, genuine and authentic relationship: emotionally provide. And as long as you continue to do whatever it is that they fail to have a discussion with you about (which prevents a genuine connection and an environment in which you feel safe to be vulnerable), they can continue to run to other people and complain that they just keep providing and not only are their efforts unappreciated, but you don’t change despite all of their provisions. These people like door matting themselves (especially with an audience), because it perpetuates their victim mentality.
- Toxic friends and family members know it ALL. There isn’t one thing you could tell these people that they don’t already know. This naturally makes you uncomfortable around them and not want to talk to them as much. They of course passively try to make you feel guilty for it. They’re also always right; it’s very difficult for them to admit that they’re wrong.
- They’re walking contradictions, but point out the contradictions in everyone around them. They like playing investigator and pointing out the contradictions in everyone else but themselves. Bottom line: people that are quick to divisively point out the faults in others (and not have the decency to directly communicate with those people), always emanate that in which they advocate so strongly against.
- Toxic friends and toxic family members try to control you. They’ll poison your proverbial soup and then be the first ones to hold your hair as you’re vomiting (& tell the entire neighborhood how they held your hair for years to come).
- They’re boundary busters and envelope pushers. These people have zero respect for your boundaries. This is why they keep doing what they do.
- Toxic friends and toxic family members seem to always emanate an energy that they know something about you that you don’t even know, but they’ll never tell you. They are the kings and queens of withholding. They’d rather make passive aggressive “hints” that they know something. They bank on this activating your disease to please. As long as they can keep this going, their sense of control gets reaffirmed as they watch you struggle to crack their code of bullsh*t.
- They’re unable to mutually communicate because they can’t emotionally connect or empathize. They will display “empathy” for others because as long as they have the capacity to cry from a Lifetime movie on tv or drop everything to be there for others, you’ll always feel like there’s something wrong with you.
- They’re brutal in their honesty, never kind. Their brutality is divisive and robs your relationship of the inclusion and connection that being kindly honest always provides.
- Toxic friends and toxic family members are professional victims that are responsibility avoidant. They love being the victim. They consciously and subconsciously seek out ways to feel rejected, abandoned, oppressed, judged and marginalized in ways they are clearly not. This usually results in excuses, justifications, deflecting and/or blaming. Their victim mentality comes from their avoidance of responsibility; they thrive on opposition. If they keep choosing to believe they live in a world that’s always against them, their actions and decisions can never be at fault, only justified.
- Toxic friends and family members are more comfortable when you’re having a hard time. They recoil at any mention of your progression and you find yourself comforting them instead of celebrating your successes. Deep down, they resent your progress.
- You feel badly about yourself whenever you’re around them. Basically, toxic friends and family members have a PhD in making you feel guilty, sh*tty, and uncomfortable for a reason that you’re not even sure of and can’t put your finger on.
How you CONSISTENTLY FEEL when you’re around someone is the strongest indicator of whether or not this person deserves your emotional investment.
Okay so you definitely have toxic friends and/or toxic family members. What do you do?
Understand that it’s not the cause as much as it’s the effect. Who cares why they do what they do? Look at the effect that it’s having on you. Trust me when I say you’ll end up being the one that suffers. This is why the majority of the time when drunk drivers get into accidents, they live and the innocent people they hit don’t make it. They’re loose, unaware, ignorant and clearly don’t care.
Decide NOW that you’re done getting into head on collisions with the emotionally impaired. You’re not a cat. You don’t have the luxury of having 9 emotional lives.
The reason that your toxic friends and toxic family members do what they do is because deep down, they’re unhappy. They feel like they have no control over themselves or their lives, so they have to control the relationsh*ts they procure. Happy people don’t need to make others feel uncomfortable or like they’re in trouble. They aren’t threatened by the success of people who they claim to love and root for.
They’re too busy being HAPPY.
Cutting out toxicity in your life is so incredibly crucial because toxicity is ripple-effecting contagious. The toxicity of others makes you angry, so you engage in self blame. Bitterness eventually starts to creep in. You then may take that bitterness out on someone that doesn’t deserve it, further perpetuating the cycle. This is why distancing yourself from toxicity is so incredibly crucial.
How do you protect & distance yourself from toxic friends and toxic family members?
You realize that their emotional handicap has nothing to do with you not being “enough.” Yes, you totally could have allowed them to feel angry, upset, offended or whatever but you didn’t IMPLEMENT avoidance, disrespect and toxicity within them.
When you allow people to own their own behavior, you’ll start to be more interested in taking ownership of yours.
You realize that there’s no point in explaining anything to these people; you just DECIDE to create an emotional barrier. If they were able to empathize, you wouldn’t be reading this post. Explaining to the empathetically bankrupt is pointless. ACT accordingly (& always in kindness).
If they had a physical handicap, you’d accept it. You wouldn’t fight it and you definitely wouldn’t think that their physical impairment was because of you, so why are you making their emotional impairment about you?
It IS possible to create emotional distance if you can’t create physical distance. This is done by deciding that you’re done arguing with reality and you’re ready to LISTEN to the consistent ACTIONS of this person, mourn the relationship that you thought you had with them and let go of expectations.
Start expecting more from yourself – like the fact that you decide NOW to put an end to the emotional investments that never yield a return. You can still love them and have empathy for them. In fact, you will have a deeper level of compassion for them because you’ll be able to better see their suffering as independent of everything that they claim it to be the result of. They’re just unhappy and unwilling to put one foot in front of the other. You aren’t.
Cutting toxic people out, whether it be emotionally and/or physically sends a powerful message to your self esteem. You’re translating to yourself and to the world that you’re a person of value because you’re treating yourself as such. You are prioritizing your peace, well being and happiness over someone else’s selfishness, emotional vampiring and dysfunction.
The moment I started to truly believe that I deserved better and began to treat myself with respect, a funny thing happened. I became less tolerant of people who disrespected me and I no longer took their toxicity personally. I didn’t feel guilty in emotionally distancing myself from them because I allowed them to own their actions.
Once I realized the extent to which the toxicity of others eroded my self worth, it became more and more impossible for me to allow them in my emotional life.
I’ve been traveling for almost 2 weeks and have been fighting a nasty cold 🙁 I’m getting better though! All new posts, all this week & next.
Love to you all