What, or rather who, would you say gnaws at your peace of mind? An obnoxiously rude boss? A credit-hogging, dirty-politics-playing co-worker? Perhaps, a manipulative mother-in-law? An emotionally-exhausting friend? Or maybe a demanding partner?
You know what’s common between all these toxic people and the many more in your life? The fact that you can deal with them without losing your sanity.
You see, it’s always better to cut toxic people lose for your mental well-being’s sake. That said, you can’t always shake the toxicity out of your life. Sometimes, you have to find ways to live with it.
This is how you can achieve that seemingly impossible feat:
Fight less, see more
Concentrate less on “giving it back” to them and more on why they’re doing it in the first place.
This doesn’t involve you finding excuses for their bad behaviour and letting them crush your self-esteem. Here’s a simple example: That colleague at work smirks as you walk by for no apparent reason. Instead of reciprocating her cold behaviour, how about considering that perhaps, watching you do well at work despite the adversities could be the trigger? Try talking to her like a friend and see if that counters the hostility.
If that doesn’t help, knowing and understanding the cause of her behaviour will at least make you resent her a little less; and her actions will stop affecting you as much.
Identify the pattern
Another commonality between toxic people? The fact that they have a way of making you feel miserable—over and over again. Isn’t that why they’re called toxic in the first place? Once you’ve spotted the toxicity in a person, expecting anything less than that will only trample on your happiness.
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Let’s get back to that toxic colleague. You’ve tried to be friendly, yet she doesn’t relent. So, all you can do is take a step back! By doing so you’re lowering your expectations from her and protecting yourself against the hurt when your expectations break.
Set your priorities and boundaries
I usually apply the five-year rule when it comes to dealing with toxicity. Basically, if something petty like a colleague’s annoyance over you giving her birthday party a miss is bothering you, simply ask yourself: Will missing this party or what people have to say about it make any difference to me five years down the line? Or will taking time for myself contribute to my mental well-being more?
When I say set your priorities straight, I basically mean putting your mental health first. While relaxing at home or that feeling of accomplishment post finishing work is going to add to it, wasting time over-thinking what others are saying is only going to take away from it.
Ditch the self-sympathy for introspection
Prioritise analysing and working on your own emotions and reactions instead of victimizing yourself when you can’t change the situation. Sometimes, a controlled reaction is the best solution. And you can come up with one only if you have thought it through.
Forgive, don’t just forget
The idea here is to learn from your mistake of, say, trusting your co-worker to share credit. You forgive her for the nasty behaviour and move past it. But you keep your guard up so that you’re not in a similar situation again. Let go of the hurt, not the lesson learnt.
Find happiness wherever you can
From exercising and finding a hobby that excites you to spending time and sharing problems with trusted friends—do whatever makes you happy and takes your mind off the toxicity.