Toxic people are just a matter of life. No matter how hard we try to avoid them we often find ourselves surrounded by people who just suck the life out of us. These are often people who are extremely self-centered, never allowing others a word. Sometimes they are family members who think the world revolves around them. Sometimes they are our chronically ill friends who are so focused on their illness that they can’t see that there is still life to live (I’ve been that friend).
I have a few friends that love dearly but when I’m around them I find myself getting anxious. They spend every minute of the conversation focused on the drama in their life, or just focused on themselves. I try to get a word in, to share a story, to feel a part of the conversation, only to be interrupted with “yeah but me” stories. These are people that I find I spend very little time around. I meet up with them only occasionally and it seems that the entire purpose was to remind myself why I keep them at a distance. It’s OK, though, obviously they need someone to hear them. So, that’s my job in that moment. I just have to remember that it’s not my job every day.
Whatever type of toxic person you find yourself around, there are a few things to remember:
1. They are not a bad person, just not the person you need in that moment – It’s easy when you spend time with someone who sucks the life out of you to blame that person, to think that they are a horrible person. But, they aren’t. They are just not the person you need to be around. I can only imagine during the worst of my illness when my mind was absorbed with nothing but pain, if those who loved me had decided I was a terrible person because my focus was off. Thankfully, they did not judge me that way, so I have to remember not to judge others as well.
2. Passive aggression is still aggression and you don’t have to put up with it – We all have our moments when we are passive aggressive. We hold back on saying what we really think and instead take subtle jabs at the person near us. This is also a sign of internal pain. That person is struggling and they don’t know how to express their feelings and needs. They may have a real issue with you but don’t know how to express it. Unfortunately, most people who are passive aggressive also don’t realize what they are doing or that it’s harmful to others. It’s important when dealing with these types of people that we communicate clearly to them about how we feel, that we let them know when their jabs bother us and ask if there is something more behind it. Sometimes they just need us to open the door so that they, too, can communicate openly.
3. Just because others are toxic towards you doesn’t mean you should be toxic towards yourself – When we live with chronic illness our self-confidence gets smashed to bits. So much of what we love is taken away (things we love to do, jobs, ability to care for ourselves, etc), we can begin to feel like we deserve to be treated negatively. Our own self-talk because toxic, so why shouldn’t every one’s feelings towards us also be negative. Why should they treat us better than we are treating ourselves? These are the thoughts that go through our heads, but they aren’t true. Never allow someone else’s negative actions to become an accepted reality. Never allow yourself to feel that you deserve to be treated poorly (whether by yourself or by others). When others are toxic towards you step away, and always remember to treat yourself kindly.
Toxic people will always be around. It’s up to us to take the steps to keep them from disrupting our lives. Living with chronic illness leaves us fragile enough, so we can’t allow others the chance to break us.
Take care of yourself