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How to Handle Toxic Relationships

Posted Feb 17 2011 7:18am

Toxic relationships are those which have become extreme. You experience a sense of dread, misery, illness and nervous energy, whenever you have to handle people with toxic energy. They can be people in the office, friends or even family members.

Going Bananas Over Bananas

Toxic people are either skilled in poking holes or dampening your aura. You cannot help but feel affected by their energy. You feel drained energetically after a mere 10 minutes with them. You find yourself having to make excuses to go to the bathroom, just to take a breather. I recall this being my experience, whenever a particular friend with lots of toxic energy came over for a visit two years ago. My article today shares 25 ways on handling toxic relationships.

Signs of toxic relationships

Lei provided some helpful descriptions of what toxic relationships can look like. In the question that she posted in response to my 70 Ways for Self Care article, she wrote…

“I work full time with the most toxic people I have ever met, people that complain, gossip, criticize, are sensitive, and quick to retaliate if you put them on edge. I haven’t been in this position for a year yet, and at first I would find myself talking in conversations about people I never even knew until I realized this was the reason why I’d feel so drained at the end of the day.

I figured since my co-workers aren’t going to change, I decided to change my attitude and simply tune them out, but now I feel as if they purposely ignore me because I ignore them, except they don’t know why. I cannot avoid the toxicity spilled out by these people and I can’t change jobs. I don’t feel I should have to either, but how to cope in the mean time without coming off as stuck up?

I have no reason to suggest my ideas to these people, because I already know they will not consider it since they find no fault in themselves and anyway who am I to judge? I just want to be happy and have energy at the end of my work day. Please offer any advice. I’m new to your site and absolutely love it. Thank you for sharing!”

More than just having the ability to press our buttons, I would classify toxic relationships as having overt control of some kind. In extreme cases, they can be manipulative, abusive and aggressive. The hold that they have over you feels lethal. You are unable to feel “safe” in their company. You feel as if your survival – whether physical or psychological – is being threatened.

Toxic people are prophets of doom. They have a poor outlook on life. Toxic people shift all the blame to everyone else but themselves. They refuse to take personal responsibility. Toxic people feel as if everyone owes them a living. They make their lives sound as if they are on spikes all the time. They thrive on repeating stories, whether their own or gossips about others. Toxic people have a knack of blowing up stories into catastrophic proportions. At first, we are drawn to their stories and feel bad for them. And then, we began to feel physically, mentally and emotionally ill ourselves from hearing the same thing over and over again.

It is also possible that you let toxic people take away your individual right to choice. You unconsciously allow your happiness be dictated by their irrational fears. If your toxic relationship is in a romantic or family situation, you are likely to experience trauma and pain. You will find it hard to walk away immediately if there are blood ties involved.

25 Ways to Handle Toxic Relationships

It can be hard not to be affected by people who are toxic. There may be a variety of reasons of why people become negative or difficult in the first place. Here is a list on how to deal with them in a variety of situations:

1. Avoid investing yourself emotionally into the content of their stories. It’s okay to feel sympathetic but understand that there can be more sides to the same situation than what they are sharing. It’s a bait that toxic people often put out. They like to draw you into their dramas, gain sympathy points and get a pat or two on their heads from you. Over time, they also keep expecting the same “poor thing” reactions from you.

2. Learn to say no to unreasonable demands. It is important to set limits. While you are compassionate, you also need to be firm in where you stand. Be clear in the values that you hold.

3. Refrain from wanting to take charge of their lives or make decisions for them. Toxic people can have a hold over you. Being sympathetic, you want to help. However, you cannot learn their life lessons for them.

4. Avoid taking what they say to heart. Difficult and negative people have toxic things to say about everything and to everyone. So don’t take what they say personally, unless the scathing remark is intentionally directed at you. In which case, you may want to see if their remark is worth doing something about.

5. Learn to take charge of your own emotional well-being. Avoid letting toxic people determine your mood. Release any absorption of negative emotions through the use of Emotional Freedom Technique . Take charge of your own well-being.

6. Create an energy shield before meeting people who are toxic. I share this in my last article. Read how to create a personal energy shield for protection here.

7. Keep a focused attention on the blessings that you enjoy.
Don’t allow their cynicisms about life affect you. Instead, always count your blessings.

8. Consider a change in perspective. Can the negative remarks be made with good intent? Can it be possible that the remarks are made because they care enough about you?

9. Learn to steer the conversations in a more positive direction. Be mindful about how the conversations are going. Avoid getting pulled along into the deep hole.

10. Avoid lengthy discussions. To avoid going into a lengthy argument, recommend a third party or a book that can help your negative friend see things in better perspective. Sometimes, it is best to let an external authority be the one to give advice.

11. Take walks in the park or garden. Allow Mother Nature to help you clear the negative energies that you have absorbed.

12. Wear clothes of cooling colors before meeting people who are negative or difficult.
Avoid colors that will make them “see red”, for instance.

13. Walk away, if you need to. If you cannot hold your space, be prepared to make an excuse and walk away. Take a short break and breathe.

14. Be mindful about your non-verbal communication cues in front of them. The reason of their negativity may stem from the signals that you have putting out. Unconsciously, you may be pursing your lips, crossing your hands or shaking your head in disagreement. Sensing your disapproval, they become defensive.

15. Stick to safe topics. Choose topics that are non-controversial like the weather for instance.

16. Maintain a sense of humor. Having a light-hearted perspective is always helpful for all kinds of situations that life presents. If you can slip in a joke during their negative tirade, it might just distract them from continuing their usual script.

17. Compliment the person. For this, you need to be sincere. You need to able to see that every person has a positive side. You focus on making him or her feel good first before making a request.

18. Simply observe, don’t judge them.
Refrain from reacting. Assess whether it is important if you respond or not. Don’t sweat the small stuff that they love to obsess over. Avoid allowing your ego in taking over.

20. Plan for the meeting. If you know that you are going to meet someone negative or difficult, be prepared for what he or she may say. Have an idea about what you can do and how you can respond. Here is your chance to develop better relationship and communication skills. If you are able to cope with a toxic person, you can handle anyone!

21. Send the other person showers of love, compassion and healing, when you meditate. The other person is merely projecting his inner reality through his toxic behavior. In reality, he or she is really “suffering”. It is likely that he or she is feeling insecure and fears losing psychological control.

22. Avoid feeding the situation with more energy.
Stop going around telling others that you have suffered under the wrath of this person. You are merely feeding an already toxic relationship with more negative energy.

23. Learn how to cut binding cords energetically.
Break the bonds that bind both your souls on an energetic level.

24. Visualize for a better tomorrow before bedtime. Visualize for a growing, healthy and positive relationship. You would be amazed how just this simple tip alone can work miracles!

25. And most importantly, learn what the toxic relationships are really trying to tell you. Questions to ask yourself: Why are you attracting them? Are they indicative of your low self esteem, lack of clear personal boundary, your need to practice patience or simply a need to use any one of the 24 tips above?


Share a Tip

Ever been in a toxic relationship? Share what happened and what tip has worked for you.

Take care,

evelyn lim signature

P.S. Today’s post is part of the Abundance Alchemy Answers series. Final post, How to Align with Financial Abundance Consciousness, will be posted in 3 days’ time on Monday.

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