For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard there are toxic people. I would have told you I know a few. Modern psychology teaches us about toxic people, toxic leaders, toxic workplaces, and on and on. There’s pages and pages of articles on the Googles about the topic and countless books.
These are the people that trigger you in some way. These are the people that you describe as hurting your feelings or make you angry on purpose. They are described as masters of control, scam artists, degrading and critical. These people may be co-workers, or friends, or family members. They may come in the form of constant negativity, Debbie-Downers, highly judgmental, and plain mean. Toxic people are labeled as exhausting, stressful, frustrating, or chaotic.
These are the people that bring out the worst in you by how you think of them when you’re around them. Essentially, this means they have power over you because you need them to act differently so you can feel better.
Now, this will blow your mind. It did mine. What if there were no such thing as toxic people? My coach posed this question to me. She said, “What if there were no such thing as toxic people? What if there’s only your inability to manage your mind around these people that trigger you?” What the heck? Hold the front door! Mind blown!
Pull the thread of this thought…
People can do what they want, just like you can do whatever you want. You have no control over how others behave, and no one has control over how you think, feel or behave. This is great news! This means that these people that are described as toxic are not the reason your feelings are hurt or that you get angry. No one has that much power. You get to decide how you feel when you’re around them – you get to decide if your feelings are hurt or if you get angry. You are responsible for your behavior, thoughts, and feelings. When other people behave in what you’d characterize as toxic, it’s because your thoughts about them and your feelings about what they are saying or doing. You can choose how you feel. You can also choose how you respond to them.
I am in no way advocating that you spend time with people that require you to spend hours and days doing mental gymnastics. You don’t have to spend time with anyone that you don’t want to. You can decide ahead of time how you want to respond to these types of people – or not respond. You can also decide ahead of time if you want to spend time with them. Either way, the important thing to understand is they are not toxic people. They are not literally walking around poisoning you. They say something, you think something then you feel something. You get to decide what you think and ultimately feel, and that’s the best news ever. This changed everything for me.
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