A Different Approach to Dealing With Toxic Relationships

We’ve all encountered them, those people that grate on our last nerve because they’re always complaining about something. Nothing’s ever good enough, they’re never happy with anything no matter how good it is, and generally, they bring everyone down when they come skulking around.

“A toxic relationship is one that is marked by anger, mistrust and manipulation. It can be very challenging to recognize a toxic relationship in your own life,” says Chel Gacrama, the content editor at Cast Noble. “The key to identifying a toxic relationship is to pay attention to how it makes you feel. If you find yourself feeling angry, upset, and frustrated, then there may be an issue with your relationship.”

Toxic relationships are so common that 84% of women and 75% of men report having had a toxic friendship at some time. And 80% of Americans say they’ve experienced emotional abuse in a relationship.

Recognizing toxic relationships in your life is the first step in protecting yourself and helping those you encounter to be less toxic in their daily lives.

Maybe it’s a close friend whom you love dearly but cringe every time they call. Or perhaps it’s your spouse’s parent(s) who overstep boundaries. You've got a co-worker that's constantly complaining, or worse, a boss creating a toxic work environment. It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be able to rid yourself of every toxic person in your life.

But what if you had a better way to handle those toxic people in your life?

Believe it or not, there is a positive way to deal with every interaction without letting it blow you up inside.

Here are six ways to turn a negative interaction into something positive for yourself and possibly the toxic person as well.

Hold Up a Mirror

Not literally, but when you encounter someone who’s particularly toxic to you, especially if they seem only toxic to you, take a minute, or ten, to think about why they’re toxic toward you. It may not have anything to do with you as a person. Yet there could be something in their interaction with you that you could work on.

If, say, you tend to be impatient, their impatience might grate on you more. Being able to see in yourself the faults you so easily recognize in others can go a long way in deflating their toxicity. Walking a mile in their shoes before you let their toxic self affect you can give you a whole new perspective on them.

Seeing the world through their eyes can go a long way in helping you let go of your own anger toward them and may even lead to a healthy relationship – if they are willing to let go of their anger as well.

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Be a Giver

Sometimes toxic people are ignored because everyone around them just wants them to go away. But what if that toxic coworker or friend needs something only you can give them? Toxic people are rarely open to advice and usually become defensive when you try to point out their issues, so you’ll have to take a patient approach to this one.

But, if you can work them around to your perspective, you just might get them to understand themselves a little better. It will take time, patience, and loads of kindness and love, but those are the best gifts you can give a toxic person, and the more you give, hopefully, the more they’ll gain.

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Count Your Blessings

Learning to be thankful for what we have is a lesson that even adults need to be reminded of often. In our tech-driven world, we forget to be thankful for family, friends, a good job, etc. Taking on a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality hinders the ability to truly count the many blessings in our lives.

Toxic people struggle with this the most. They tend only to see what’s not getting done, what they don’t have, who doesn’t like them, etc. Because of this, learning to be thankful and full of gratitude yourself can help stem some of their toxicity when they’re in close proximity to you.

They’ll be so fed up with your gratitude that one of two things will happen, they’ll leave you alone after a while because they can’t stand it, or they just might learn to look at the blessings they too have to be thankful for. You can always hope for the latter; either way, you’ll be more thankful.

Be the Change You Want to See

Mahatma Gandhi is famous for saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Oh, if everyone lived by that creed day in and day out. But what does it really mean to ‘be the change?’

While that answer might be different for everyone, it could be showing kindness to someone who’s never kind to you. It could mean taking a supper dish to your elderly neighbor or inviting them to dinner at your house. It could be helping a stranger pay for gas when they’re out of money.

Whatever the circumstances, and they’re sure to be different for everyone, it’s easy to spot them. They’re usually something that takes us out of our comfort zone or interrupts something we feel is important. It’s a late-night call for a ride to work or a last-minute stop to pick something up for dinner when you’re already struggling just to make it home. Those small and sometimes big irritations are a perfect time to exercise the kind of love, kindness, and patience it takes to change the world.

If you’re someone who gets agitated easily or is constantly stressed out, and you behave in a way contrary to how you’d normally react, what would that do for the person on the other end of that interaction? Instead of yelling, you give someone a calm answer – even when you want to shout at them. Now that person can see a different side to you.

If we can learn to show kindness and love when someone’s being nasty, people will be positively impacted.

Good Boundaries Make Good Relationships

When you encounter someone toxic, you must learn to set and protect your boundaries fiercely.

This is especially true when dealing with family, who you often can’t get away from. Setting and keeping boundaries allows everyone to know what you will and will not tolerate. For instance, if you have an in-law who thinks it’s okay to overstep your parenting with their own opinions, and that’s a boundary line issue with you, you’re going to have to tell them so.

Boundaries are different for every person, but they are imperative to a healthy mental state and a better relationship. Sometimes they’ll offend people, and that’s okay. The offended person is the one with the problem, and they’ll eventually get over it or stay away from you. Either way, your mental health won’t suffer because you’re letting people cross boundaries without standing up for what you want and how you really feel.

Let Your Light Shine

It’s rare to find someone who is always, constantly positive. If they are, people usually label them as ‘fake’ or ‘insensitive.’ Learning to radiate positive energy, kindness, and love when faced with a difficult person, however, can change the entire encounter.

It will keep you in a positive mental state and help you deflect their negativity. The old adage, misery loves company, is as true today as it was the day the phrase was coined. But that doesn’t mean you have to be that company.

Radiate your own positive light and let the negativity roll off your shoulders. When those negative interactions are over, you’ll walk away feeling lighter, your mental health won’t suffer, and most importantly, you’ll be able to shine that light the next time you encounter a toxic person.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.