Imagine this scenario: You are in a race. At the finish line there are medals, each representing a goal you set at the beginning of 2019. The gun pops, signaling that the race has begun. As you run, your heart pounds and adrenaline surges throughout your body.
However, instead of focusing on completing the race, your focus shifts to the burning sensation in your calves, your heavy breathing and the long journey to the finish line.
Toxic people are like running in a race with lead shoes — they slow you down. Cutting ties with toxic people is a difficult, yet necessary task. Here are a few tips that will help:
RECOGNIZE THE BEHAVIOR
Unlike cleaning products, toxic people don’t have warning labels on them. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to their comments and behaviors.
Take an inventory of your relationships by answering each of the following questions:
- Do they give advice that builds you up or tears you down?
- Are they there for you when you are celebrating or achieving milestones?
- Do you receive as much as you give in the relationship?
- Do they only talk to you when they need to hold a gripe session?
If one recognizes any of these behaviors or comments, they should re-evaluate how much time and energy they devote to that person.
What if the toxic person is your boss or a family member? While it’s not always feasible to avoid these people, it is possible to manage how much energy you spend dealing with toxic behavior. If you find yourself trapped in a negative conversation with your mother, politely cut the chat short or focus on something else. Life is too short — don’t waste it on fruitless conversations with those who aim to get a rise out of you. While you’re at work, focus on doing your best to complete the tasks you are assigned. Accept criticism for your work but ignore unnecessary jabs at your self-esteem. Toxic people thrive to suck the confidence and positivity out of you. An article from Psychology Today suggests to keep a ‘kudos folder’ — a folder filled with messages of praise either from yourself or others. Then, you are able to look through it whenever you feel upset and you can even use it to feel better!
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE THE PROBLEM
If you yourself exhibit toxic behavior, it might be time for you to figure out ways to become a more positive and supportive person. For example, if you gossip like Regina George from “Mean Girls,” consider making a gossip jar. Like a swear jar, a ‘gossip jar’ calls for a fine — add a dollar to it whenever you catch yourself gossiping. However, not every whispered or private conversation is gossip. Unlike venting, gossiping is done with the intent to undermine and harm others — it begets more negativity in the world. Therefore, one should consider putting the funds from the gossip jar towards actions that will have a positive impact on others. For example, pay it forward in a drive thru or donate it to a charity of your choice.You’re not only helping someone else, but you’re letting the toxicity from yourself go.