In an ideal world, severing all contact with toxic people is the ideal solution. However, not everyone can up sticks and leave with children in tow, lack of finances, affordable housing and other practicalities. Toxic people are first class crazy-makers and energy vampires.
Here are some tips to help you cope when toxic people are pressing your buttons-
1. Don’t J.A.D.E– Don’t Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain. If you do they’ll only rip you verbally and emotionally to shreds resulting in you taking the blame AGAIN for being ‘crazy’ bipolar, too sensitive, or just plain selfish.
2. Blank Face– Toxic people mirror your facial expressions and read into every nuance to see if they’re getting a reaction, which they use to their advantage (and your disadvantage). Try showing minimal expression in your face and body language.
3.Keep them in the dark-Keep personal information to a minimum and be aware that they will drag you into drama triangles between other family members and friends. Try only to speak positively of mutual friends and family as toxic people will use anything you say as evidence against you.
4.Don’t React– Toxic people play the victim and try to make you feel guilty and ashamed. The best way to cope is to detach with these phrases “Oh…” “Really…” “mm” ” Perhaps” ” I’m sorry you feel that way” ” That must be difficult” ” I’m not going to discuss this right now” ” I know how you feel about this and we see things differently” ” I have a right to feel/think/do what I want and so do you” ” I’m not going to discuss the past” ” Let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that” ” I’m not going to discuss (person’s name) with you, you best speak to them yourself” ” I’ve made a decision not to talk about anyone unless they’re present
5. Don’t ask for permission- Avoid ending each sentence with ‘okay?’ and ‘Is that alright with you?’ You don’t need their permission. Sound more assertive by lowering your tone of voice and try to speak slowly without accentuating the last word of the sentence which can often sound like a question. (Which is more common in US and Australian language
6. Trust yourself– Toxic people specialize in confusion. They are highly invested in making you doubt yourself. Often, no matter how much evidence you have, they will always deny it and believe their own version of the story. They also believe they have insider knowledge of how you think, feel and act. No matter what they say, trust yourself. Even if you have to keep a note or tell a friend to get clarity on the truth. Trust yourself first.
7. Get out of their way- Communicating with toxic people is like tip toeing through land-mines. They know how to get attention by playing the victim, exploding in anger or intellectually ripping you to shreds with their ‘superior knowledge’ Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of the way, by going into a different room, going for a walk or even leaving for a few days to save your own sanity.
Finally, being around toxic people is exhausting and affects every area of your life. The 7 ways can help you save some of your sanity. But the ultimate solution is to remove yourself from them permanently.
Remember you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it and you certainly can’t change it. But you can start today to detach yourself from the madness and use your energy to plan a new life for yourself and your family.
Take Good Care
P.S -Have you experienced any of the above? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
Jacqueline Groves AdvDipCBT is a Psychotherapist and coach with over 23 years’ experience of helping clients overcome emotional abuse from toxic relationships.