This should probably be titled “How I get rid of toxic people in MY life,” but hopefully some of these tactics can be applied to your life too.
Do you have people in your life that make you say or do things that you don’t like? People that suck the life out of you? People that dissolve your faith in humanity? People who don’t support your sobriety?
I certainly have. But, the older I get (and the more sober I get) the less patience I have for people who don’t contribute anything of value to my life. These people have been co-workers, acquaintances and even family members. It’s not easy to completely cleanse your life of toxic people, but it’s possible to limit your association with them and to deflect their toxicity on your life. Here’s what works for me:
Tweak your friends list on Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook for a number of years and just very recently learned how to sort my friends list a bit. Did you know that you can classify your friends as “close friends,” “friends,” or “acquaintances“? The beauty in that is you can tweak things so that you see mostly your “close friends'” status updates and your acquaintances can’t see what you post or like. For years, I’ve been so judicious about what I post on Facebook because I just don’t want my 7th grade history teacher’s son to know how I really feel about our political climate. I also begin to feel very drained when people post opinions that differ greatly from what I chose to believe and surround myself with in daily life.
After a few simple tune-ups of my friends list, I can now post what I feel like posting, knowing that only those that know and love me in real life can see it. Also, my newsfeed is virtually devoid of horrible, slanderous political diatribes…it’s all unicorns and kittens these days (like, literally–which is just the way I like it).
You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Having been raised Southern and thus taught to be nice to everyone, (but that it’s absolutely ok–if not encouraged–to talk behind people’s backs, bless their hearts) I’ve been working really hard to retrain my brain and go with what my gut tells me is right. The fact of the matter is that I’m generally a good judge of character and if someone rubs me the wrong way early-on, I’ve learned to steer-clear of them. Maybe this person isn’t a bad guy at all, but there’s a 99% chance that he’s a bad fit for ME. I’m not running for Homecoming Queen anymore, so I don’t have to go out of my way to be nice. It’s been very freeing to let go of that burden. This meme is everything to me right now:
When toxic people are permanent fixtures in your everyday life. The tricky part comes when toxic people are co-workers or family–people who you can’t necessarily run the other direction from. In this case, what’s worked best for me is to take the higher road. I’ve learned the hard way that I’m in a much better position if I keep things surface-level with toxic people and always opt for saying less, rather than more.
Recently, I was put in position with a toxic person and several times, I’d feel her tugging at me–pulling me into her toxic web of gossip, racism and narcissism–all characteristics that I don’t want in my own life. I began to not like who I was in her presence. This is when I put on the brakes and shut it down. No more talk about anything more than what was necessary. I came across as very aloof, I’m positive, but I could walk away at the end of each day, knowing that I hadn’t compromised my own integrity. It was very freeing. So, oftentimes, just shutting someone down and not letting toxic people in is the way to go, if you can’t physically run away from them.
In the end, I always feel as though I’ve grown as a person when I’ve managed to dump a toxic person from my life. I always learn something–either about humanity or myself–from these toxic relationships, so all’s not lost, but it certainly puts things into perspective when I do manage to get out from under them.
So, tell us about a toxic relationship in your life…