You know how the doctors tell people who have a cold or the flu to stay home from work? There’s a reason. Colds and flu are contagious. That means whatever illness they have, it can spread to everyone around them.
It’s the same with toxic people. Whatever a toxic person does or says is designed to make them the center of attention. S/he needs an audience. If you’re the audience, s/he will do and say whatever is necessary to keep you in your same place: guilt, obligation, accusation, fear...anything. It’s a type of emotional bullying.
Toxic people have venomous energy. It’s contagious. It will infect you and make you sick. Toxic people suck the joy right out of your life!
How their toxicity shows up in your life is that you feel you aren’t enough when you are with that person. If you want to do something to improve your life, s/he mocks your efforts. Or, whenever needed, you're expected to drop what you're doing to help him or her out of whatever is the latest crisis. When you are together, your conversations are littered with unending accounts of the latest crisis and depressing stories about others, peppered with personal jabs and put downs ("just kidding"). And if you don’t play, they make you feel guilty.
The best thing you can do right now is:
- Identify the toxic person or persons. Do you have one of these in your life: drama queen, queen bee, perpetual victim, bully, self-focused narcissist, short-tempered, the Debbie Downers...or someone similar.
- Note: sometimes the toxic person isn't just one man or woman; it can be a whole group.
- Make a decision to let them find their way out of your life right now.
- If you can't go cold turkey and feel you want to let them down "easy," have plan for gradually limiting your contact
- Be busy with work, your kids, a class you’re taking, other people.
- When s/he makes you feel bad for not spending time with him/her, challenge the behavior. Be persistent!
- If the toxic person doesn't get the message, refusing to let you have your best life, be blunt.
You wouldn’t let someone come into your home with a deadly disease. Toxic people are a deadly disease, so don't let one come into your house - and more importantly - your mind and energy with their toxic manners.