Dealing With “Prickly” People and Toxicity (Episode 209)
Are you drained from dealing with difficult people in your life? Sometimes toxicity is here to stay - you have people you love or are required to work with who simply aren't in the same mindset as you. How do you keep up your happy when others are determined to bring you down?
In this episode, Nathan and I dig deep on what toxic relationships look like, when to set boundaries, and when to walk away
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What Is Seen as Toxicity?
It's behavior that nudges you out of your own authenticity and derails you in a negative way. When someone is exhibiting toxicity, it may feel like they have power over you to sabotage who you are and bring out a person you may not want to be.
We all carry around an element of heaviness - our lives aren't perfect. And this isn't about identifying a person as toxic; this is about behavior. Difficult people may exhibit toxic behavior like an acid that festers and eats away at them and others. When their shadow is darker than your light, your focus may be leaning more toward the toxic side. We all have the potential for this to be our focus. We have to flip the script.
How do you set boundaries on the toxic elements of life?
We intentionally seek out positivity...or negativity in our lives. And for those people living in toxicity, it's oftentimes simply that they tend to weigh more on the negative. This is a clip from Simon Sinek, who says,
Our brain is amazing, but sometimes it can work against us. If we choose to think about everything we want to avoid, we focus on our obstacles. If we choose to focus on the things that inspire us, we focus our opportunities. The way we view our careers, relationships and ourselves is often a matter of perspective.
This isn't just about being like us. It's about intentionality. We all have the power to choose the path we're going to take. The hard truth is you are NOT going to experience the "rainbows and unicorns" lifestyle until you first get right with yourself. If you believe you can't do it, you won't.
We push our children to find their own limits. We want them to overcome their own mental hurdles on what they can/can't do. They need to butt up to that edge and experience negativity, and determine how they are going to work through it.
The feeling of not being able to do something, or getting caught in the comparison trap, so much has to do with where we focus our energy, and what story we tell ourselves. What do you want to hang on to and make into a big deal?
If it's not going to make any impact on your life five years from now,
why are you wasting five minutes today?
We see or look for what we want -and the bunny trails we go down creates algorithms that keep multiplying.
How much are you feeding into a negative conversation?
How much energy are you investing in a battle?
Is it your job to make the world right?
Your Advice is a Gift - once given, it is their's to do what they wish. You don't give your boss a mug and then go check his cupboards out six months later to see if he's using it. Same goes in reverse. People can give you advice and suggestions, but it's up to you on how you unwrap the box and take it. You have the power to set it aside, or walk away.
Don't Dull Your Sparkle
When you get advice, it's a gift - the receiver gets to choose how to take it. Once given, you have to let go of the outcome.
It doesn't have to be an anchor to challenge your confidence and negate what you believe in. When someone gives you their opinion and advice, it's simply that. You get to choose whether you take it to heart or let it go.
How are we going to unwrap this gift and hold on to it? This may be their reality of what the gift is in the box, but that's their reality.
Nobody has all the answers. Life is a grand experiment. We cannot control everyone else's response or what "gift" they give us. But we can control how we respond and react.
This is a helpful little book on not welcoming drama in your life.
What Do You Surround Yourself With?
Positivity is what fuels my engine. If I don't surround myself with it, I will eventually run out of gas.
Pay attention to the virility of hate, and how we tend to focus in on the negative.
Who do you surround yourself with?
Do they lift you up or bring you down?
Determine how you are going to receive and perceive the feedback from others. When things become personal to you, you tend to find more of it in your life - it's the reticular activator. What impact it will have on your life is entirely up to you.
When you feel you're braving the wilderness alone, it can be a lonely, dark and scary path. It is important to know that you are a valuable, important part of this world and you do NOT deserve to be treated poorly. When you don't engage in toxicity, it isn't just running away; it's preserving your own energy force.
You might have set up an expectation of what that relationship is supposed to look like and you are frustrated because they didn't meet that expectation that was only in your own head. Recognize toxicity at face value. It is what it is. It is simply one perspective, and it doesn't have to be embraced by you.
Tips for Shifting Toxicity to Positivity
You want to be very clear on what you want to be your focus. If you chameleon to the energy of others around you, be prepared to be sucked down. If you want to stay in an atmosphere of positivity, just ensure it maintains with you.
Have some accountability to help you defrag. There are people that need - and want - to dump on you. Not all of it is welcomed or invited. We talk about this on the podcast, and how, when we have our own cups full, we have the bandwidth to take in more. Because I have the energy from my own rest and release, I'm able to be there for another when they need to have a dumping ground. I'm a coach for a reason - this is a natural gift I've developed to be a listener for people. Yes, I do more than just listen, however that's a powerful practice I've developed as I recognize the need to simply vent and get it off your chest can be an important part of the healing and letting go process.
So here are 5 tips for steering toxicity to a more positive conversation -
- Instead of being interesting, be interested: flip the conversation over to them, and focus in on them. Turn the question back to them and ask them what they are up to. Sometimes people just want an opportunity to talk about themselves, and you can simply take it as that.
- Kids are a great neutralizer - sometimes shifting the focus to the kids can help as well. Let them guide the conversation so it stays more g-rated.
- Have a script - prepare a response. If you are vegan, unschooling, an entrepreneur, etc…if you know you are doing something that is different than the “norm” in your family, know ahead of time how you can respond without defensiveness, etc? If someone is dumping all their info on you, simply say, "thank you for that - I hadn't seen it from your perspective before." It's true, non-arguable, shows appreciation and respect, yet doesn't invite more conflict.
- Admit your fears and hesitations. Ask them what they did in your situation. Sometimes a gentle reminder that you are half their age or new to this phase is helpful. It’s okay that you don’t have it all figured out - and they may recognize it more when they think back to when they were that age.
- Take the controversial big picture topic and shift it to one “safe” story - like telling a story about something cool your kids learned this week vs. whether unschooling is right or wrong.
It Is What It Is
It’s okay to not all sing “Kumbaya” together. You have one high expectation, and it’s this:
You are going to deliver your best self
Take personal responsibility. Handle yourself with grace, love and respect. Don’t weigh your happiness on someone else you have no control over. Take ownership of what you can do. Set boundaries. Draw the line for how far you are willing to go.
When you look back on this, will you be proud of how you carried yourself in that situation?
We’re all kids at different ages. Maybe that person who you feel just “doesn’t get it” is simply a version of who you used to be. We are all on different journeys, and we learn at our own individual pages. Just because it’s personal to you, doesn’t mean they are at the same place. Respect their journey and where they are without the agenda of getting them to the same perspective you are at.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Practice reaching out to people on that edge and make amends. See them with a childlike perspective - they have their own story. Practice cleaning up a relationship in a positive way vs. adding to the toxicity. Start to forgive by seeing them where they are. Everyone has those moments of fear and reaction.
Recognize sometimes the best thing you can do is simply accept the "gift" - of advice, negative feedback, bad attitude, etc - as their way to relate. You take it at face value and you get to decide what you do with it after. Even amidst the cynicism and negativity, oftentimes people are trying to connect in their own way. The more we recognize those personality styles and different approaches, we can understand what triggers reactivity - and toxicity - in our lives. And when we can recognize those strengths and what triggers us, the more we can come back to how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
- How to Eliminate Toxicity and Thrive with Organic Relationships
- Are Your Relationships Organic…or Toxic?
- Toxic Mama, Toxic Home: How To Reduce Reaction And Give Your Children Wings
- TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM (EPISODE 57)
- 5 Tips for Difficult Conversations You Want to Avoid (Episode 82)
- When Routines Are Off And Expectations Are High (Episode 83)
- Here Come The Holidays…and the Relationship Drama (Episode 27)
- Bonus Parents, Step Parents, and Blended Families
- 6 Tips on Navigating Criticism (Episode 146)
- Navigating Family Culture with Jodi Chaffee (episode 174)
- Navigating toxic behavior (Episode 176)
Questions or comments?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
Or, hop on over to the Unschooling Families FB group and ask your question there!