A lot of people say family is everything. People swear that they are nothing without their family. What happens when you have toxic people in your family? How are you supposed to spend time and energy with people who don’t have your best interests in mind? Are you still supposed to enjoy your family? Is spending time with your family something you will continue to enjoy and treasure? Sadly, it is not likely.
This is not the ideal situation, but something I can completely relate to. Having folks in your family that irritate and frustrate you is probably something you can relate to as well. So, how do you deal with these negative folks? Let’s discuss…
1. Call a spade a spade.
Most people are delusional about who they are in this world. Why? The truth is too hard to face. Do people really want to acknowledge they are mean, spiteful, jealous, hateful, greedy or disturbed? No! The alternative feels so much better. It is up to you to be analytical when dealing with others. As Maya Angelou once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” If you want to create healthy boundaries with toxic people, you must be willing to clearly identify those that fit the bill.
2. Identify your triggers.
We all have triggers that drive us up the wall. I have family members that love to point out my weight or something negative about my general appearance. This is a huge trigger for me. Why not just say hello? Or, god forbid, ask me if I am happy? Life is much more than how we look. Instead of getting mad every time someone said this to me, I took a step back to realize this was a trigger for me and decided how I spend time with people like that. Can you identify the triggers toxic people use against you?
3. Accept what is in your control.
As a coach, I love to teach and remind my clients what they have control over. You are in control of what you say, what you think, and what you do. You can’t control the actions, thoughts or behaviors of others (especially toxic people).
4. Be willing to get real.
Getting real means you are willing to have a conversation where you lay out what you need to continue to interact with the toxic person (if you must) without losing your mind. This conversation might not be easy or comfortable, but it is very much needed. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, you can have this conversation. Here are some tips to make the conversation go well:
1. Write out the talking points.
One of the best ways to be comfortable with speaking with others involves being prepared for the conversation. Write out what you want to get across with the other person.
Hey ______________ ,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, I really appreciate it. I wanted to talk to you about something I have been thinking about for awhile. Recently, when you _____________________ (conversation or action) it ___________ (describe the issue with the conversation or action and why it bothered you). I am not sure what your intentions were, but going forward I would love for you to stop ___________________ (saying or doing). Can you agree to doing this?
2. Take a deep breath.
It is so much easier to calm our mind and body when we take a pause to take a deep breath. Before you start this conversation, take a deep breath and focus on the outcome you want to take place.
3. Stay focused on what you want to get out of the conversation.
This a conversation that you need to have. It doesn’t matter how the other person responds. You owe it to yourself to lay out what you need to have a amiable relationship with this person. If the person takes offense, that is none of your business. Focus on the words you need to get across, not how they will respond.
4. Remain calm.
You catch more with honey than vinegar. If you want to have a calm and logical conversation, you need to show up with that intention. Even if the other side gets emotional or illogical during the conversation, it isn’t a race to the bottom. Stay calm and focus on what you are saying.
5. Accept the conversation is a victory, regardless of the outcome.
It is brave and bold to live a life where you stand up for yourself and draw a line with others who are disrespectful or hurtful towards you. Whether the conversation goes well is irrelevant. Speaking your truth is a win.
5. Pay attention to the action over the words.
To create and enforce healthy boundaries with a toxic person, it is important to focus on the actions not just the words said. The person may say all the right things when you confront them about the past difficulties you share with them. But, if they refuse to take new actions and prescribe to the boundaries you put in place, you will need to assess if you are willing to still have this person in your life or if you need to take action to remove them.
Natasha Nurse is a speaker, coach, podcaster, and content creator. She started Dressing Room 8 to provide a web-based resource where women can gain personal and professional empowerment through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog. Dressing Room 8 helps women learn how to think with clarity, dress with confidence, and live with purpose. She is the Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine and she co-hosts a podcast with her husband called WokeNFree. Follow Natasha on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Don’t forget to join her Dressing Room 8 and WokeNFree groups on FGB.