I have written about removing toxins from your home, but today I want to focus on removing toxic people and negative thought patterns from your life. Walking away from people and relationships that drag you down and releasing negative thoughts that no longer serve you will allow you to invest more energy into the positive and meaningful relationships you do have, while creating space for more like-minded people to come into your life.
It’s important to understand that toxic people are usually stuck in a place where they’re not open to constructive feedback or change. They have deep-rooted issues and lack the insight, strength or motivation to see beyond their challenges. The purpose of this post isn’t to bash them ― it’s simply for you to realize that you can’t change people, but you can take action to stop allowing their negativity from impacting your life.
The first step is taking responsibility for your life. Negativity from toxic people directly affects your energy and well-being. Being a victim or enabling people to mistreat you is your choice, not theirs. Ultimately, you are responsible for who you surround yourself with; and as a result, your health, sanity and happiness.
Finding the lesson.
You may wish to explore why you attracted this person into your life in the first place. For example, if you have a strong need to feel needed, you may attract someone who constantly complains and seeks your advice but never listen. A person who is genuinely struggling is willing to listen to constructive feedback and is open to change. Conversely, whiners and complainers don’t want to change and just want you to feel sorry for them and drain your energy. Think about what you can learn about yourself from this person or relationship on a deeper level.
Evaluating your relationships.
Next, be honest with yourself and ask why this person is still in your life. If the answer is something other than they give you love, support, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, laughter, or any other positive emotion, then you should ask yourself how you feel after engaging with this person. If you feel drained, doubtful, depressed, frustrated, scared, angry, or any other negative emotion then it’s time to reassess the reason you have been keeping this person around.
Knowing your worth.
Don’t settle for toxic friendships and relationships. You should be treated with the same kindness and respect that you show others. There’s a saying, “If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.” Nurture the positive and meaningful relationships and friendships that you do have in your life and release the ones who are not worthy of your friendship.
When you’re ready to walk away from a toxic person or relationship, honesty is best. In most situations, the most proactive and respectful way is for you to express your feelings to the person. This person could be unaware of the way they have been behaving or how it has been affecting you. By taking this approach, you are giving the other person an opportunity to acknowledge your feelings and also share how they have been feeling. Perhaps you have been acting in a way that has hurt them. It could result in saving the relationship and making it stronger or maybe it won’t ― but at least you’ve addressed it openly and honestly and have given it a second chance.
If you are unable to remove the person from your life, such as a family member or co-worker, you can still set boundaries. Limit the amount of time you spend with them. When they call, text or use social media to complain about their day, criticize others, or brag incessantly, you don’t always have to answer or view their posts. Use your social media settings and when you do answer calls and respond to texts, be clear that you can only speak for a few minutes and then you have to run.
Steering clear of toxic people.
This post by Marc and Angel gives some tips for avoiding toxic people and lists warning signs that you’re in bad company. If a new or old friend displays some of these traits, you may want to head for the hills.
- They only make time for you when it’s convenient for them.
- They hold your past against you.
- You feel trapped.
- They discredit your dreams and abilities.
- They have lied to you more than once.
- Their negativity is rubbing off on you.
- They are excessively envious of what you have.
- They are judgmental or hateful.
- They want you to be someone else.
In addition to removing toxic people from your life, it is also important to eliminate negative thought patterns and create positivity in your life. Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t allow fear and anxiety to stand in the way of achieving the things that will bring great happiness and fulfillment. Focus on the things you want to do, visualize yourself doing them, and make a commitment to take actions to meet your goals. One of my favorite quotes is, “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
- Spend some time on a daily basis clearing your mind and ridding it of negative thoughts and refocusing on those that are positive. Read my posts Discover Your Meditation Style and Breathwalking for Clarity, Energy & Calm for some inspiration.
- Engage in healthy activities that you love. When doing things that you enjoy, you also disengage from negativity.
- Read the best-selling book You Can Heal Your Life by internationally known author and self-help leader Louise Hay. It is a powerful book that explains how the thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences and realities.
- Get involved in your local community. Do some volunteer work. Donate to charitable organizations. Participate in random acts of kindness. This not only makes a positive impact on the world around you, but helps you feel more positive about yourself.