We all have them. A toxic person. It could be a friend, a family member, a neighbor, spouse, partner, or even an adult child. But what do we do with them? Of course, we continue to care for them and attempt to make that relationship better, but what if nothing works? What if that person is so negative and unhappy in their life that it trickles into the lives of others?
Someone I know recently pondered that maybe we are crazy to keep trying, or maybe we are just good people to continue to give and give positivity with only negativity and harsh treatment in return.
Is that it? Are we just good people and good people will notoriously get dumped on? I think that’s a pretty slippery slope to get on. If we start believing that because we are good, and therefore the negative people in our lives must to be the polar opposite, aka bad, does that in turn mean that we are setting them up for failure or placing a negative label on them? Or is it some type of self-preservation to acquire a belief like that?
Each relationship is going to be different for each person. The level of negativity or toxicity that they deal with will have so many various stages and impacts, that it isn’t fair to group everyone together. However, perhaps we can all find a common ground of how to recognize those toxic people in our lives and make decisions how to move forward by asking ourselves some basic questions.
- Who are these people to us? If this person is our adult child or spouse, the decisions we may make to keep them in our lives will most likely be different compared to if they are a neighbor or co-worker.
- If they are for example a child or spouse, do we feel loved? Do we feel safe? Or the neighbor or co-worker, do we feel appreciated or respected?
- How far are we willing to go with our own happiness at stake? Does this person thrive on taking our happiness? What are we willing to give up or lose?
- What have we tried? Do we offer counseling, mediation, neutral ground discussions, etc? Is this person even willing to partake in any of those forums?
The decision to keep a toxic person in your life is going to be a personal one. An important one. A difficult one.
Personally, I found that when I’ve pondered the above questions and depending on the specific relationship and levels of attempts I’ve made, I have unfortunately had to move on with my life without a few toxic people. It was hard, but I never regretted it. But, I’ve also had a couple of extremely negative people in my life, whom after working on specific challenges they had, they successfully dropped a lot of their personal toxins weighting them down, and could mend relationships around them and lose the label of the “toxic person”.
So, is it up to us to change the toxic person? Is it our responsivity to ensure they live a positive life at the expense of our own happiness along the way? Making those individual decisions is just that. An individual decision based on the answers you give yourself to the above questions. You have one life to live. Find your happiness.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”….. Eleanor Roosevelt