When it gets Toxic~

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Toxic people defy logic.

According to Travis Bradbury, Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, ” Toxic people are blissfully unaware  of the negative impact they have on those around them and often times they thrive on creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way they create unnecessary strife and worst of all stress!”

Most people have known or worked with (or are related to) someone who just seems to spread negativity everywhere. Examples include a work associate who constantly complains about how poorly the company is run or a friend who can never seem to see the good in anything (and who never hesitates to tell you all about it). These are the toxic people in your life.

After a conversation with a toxic person, your mood probably will be lower.  Does this bring anyone or any situation to mind?

So how do you spot a toxic person?

Do you know someone who always make brings you down? Think about this person. Is he or she a complainer? Someone who always expects things to go wrong? Someone who constantly finds fault with you and others? Does he or she always seem more cheerful once they’ve gotten their frustrations off their chest and into your ear?

If any one or more of these is true, you likely interacting with a toxic person.

Truly, if that toxic person (people) are family members and friends, it’s likely to be more difficult to avoid challenging interactions altogether. We all rub shoulders with toxic people.  So, we have some choices to make!  Do we allow ourselves to be silent sufferers under the weight of their regular negativity? OR do we learn to navigate them wisely as to protect and preserve our own emotional health and well-being?  If you choose the latter, here are a few tips:

Set limits on time and proximity with a toxic person, have boundaries. – A toxic person wants you to listen to them and often we do because we don’t want to be rude, but there is a fine line between being sympathetic and getting sucked into their emotional vortex.  Travis Bradbury uses the example that “IF the toxic person were smoking would you stay there and breathe in their 2nd hand smoke?  Of course not, we would all find away to excuse ourselves as quickly as possible!! ”  We should use that same urgency with toxic people.

Keep your EQ (ability to rise above) high when interacting with toxic people. – Toxic people tend to be reactive and emotionally irrational. They may have a need to win every verbal battle and find it pleasurable when they can see they’ve brought you down to their level. Rise above!!  Is this really a battleground you want to die on? Is this an argument worth winning? Walk away from the chaos before getting sucked into their negative dialogue.

Don’t let toxic people limit your Joy! – When toxic people see “boats rise”, when they see ongoing success and joy in others they often become opinionated, sarcastic, or just simply negative. Don’t let them steal your joy from you!  That age-old term “consider the source” would apply here!  In times of celebration surround yourself with life-giving people who are for you!! Call in the troops!! But never allow a toxic person to have the power in your life to squelch your joy!

Lastly, be kind. – we all have a story and I have learned one thing to be true about toxic people,  many of them have a mountain of baggage, disappointment, and rejection hooked to their souls like a ball and chain.  YES, we need boundaries, YES, we need to stay out of toxic conversations, and YES we need to not allow them to steal our joy…..but showing grace and kindness may give a toxic person something to ponder.  It’s possible!

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Is it alright to have Boundaries?

 

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I’m a people person.  People have always mattered to me; even as a child I felt great empathy and protection for people around me.  Some would say that this is a good trait and I might too.  But love for people without boundaries can create unforeseen challenges and relational mistakes.

Let me add another layer to this discussion by saying that I am also a Christ-follower; wanting to be more like Him each day. Also, take into consideration that I was a Pastor’s wife for over 10 years and truly felt that the right answer to any request had to be “yes.” Somehow setting boundaries with people seems unloving; maybe even unkind.  Right?   Well, that’s what I felt for many years.

Some behavioural styles have an easier time saying “no”, I’m sorry I cannot help”, or “this is not a good time”; while other behavioural styles feel awful if they ever have to say “no”.  I have always admired those who have a stronger resolve with their boundaries because it is something that has taken me years to learn!!

Throughout my life time I have found myself in situations with people where I knew I wasn’t the cause and I knew I couldn’t fix the situation.  I have found myself pouring hours and hours of time into people I “hoped” would get healthier only to realize they are content with their choices.  I have protected people only to find that they were the antagonist in their situations.  I have counseled with people who later turned and said ” I was actually the problem.”

I don’t have any resentment towards those situations because I had put myself there; and I have learned so much from them over the past 10 years!

Setting boundaries helps us to manage our time better; truly investing our time and talents where we should and saying no to those situations or people who would, knowingly, drain our bandwidth to a point of “empty”!

Setting boundaries keeps us safe from engaging in emotional situations that we can’t, or shouldn’t, get caught up in.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve all found ourselves wondering “how did I get involved in this?”  Having quality relational boundaries will help us to have a better filter to know when we “should” step in and when we “should not”.  We can always pray for the situation.

Setting boundaries with our finances or personal items can help us to appropriately help other while not becoming enablers.  Consistently bailing people out, loaning money, cars, or household items can easily create resentment over time and ultimately harm the relationship we are trying to assist! Certainly there are times when sharing what we have is entirely appropriate, but there are clearly times when it is more loving to say “no”.

As a Life Coach, I have had so many conversations with amazing woman who will say, “I just can’t say No”, I don’t want to disappoint anyone”, “They’ll think I don’t care”, or “if I don’t bail them out, what will happen to them?”.  It’s hard to set boundaries.

But~ Boundaries are so necessary.

It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them honestly with others. Setting personal boundaries can preserve the integrity of your relationships, ward off resentment, and ultimately create environments for honest conversations.

Most people are surprised when I show them from the Bible examples of Jesus setting boundaries and practicing personal soul care.  I would encourage you to read the Article ” Jesus Set Boundaries” to help you re-think about the boundaries in your own life.

http://www.soulshepherding.org/1998/07/jesus-set-boundaries/

I know this can be a challenging topic ~~ but it’s really important.