Trying to stay sane among toxic people can seem like a mentally formidable task, but letting them get to you all the time is also not the solution.
The best thing you can do, of course, is avoiding them like the plague – because in some ways that’s what negativity is. It is contagious and if you’re not well prepared or not in the right frame of mind, it can infect you. Don’t let it!
Instead, use these handy and hopeful tips to keep yourself sane.
1. Don’t let them drag you down to their level
Do you know the saying, “Don’t argue with idiots as they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience?” That’s true of toxic people as well. They’re far better at being negative and defeating than you are, so don’t fight them at their own game.
That doesn’t mean you can’t say anything about what they’re doing – you’ve got to point it out occasionally, otherwise just bottling all of that up will have you tearing your hair out.
But when you do say something, make certain that you don’t do it from a place of frustration or anger. Instead, do so from a calm place. Make your case without exaggeration or hyperbole. Tell them only the indisputable facts and then, if you can, let them mull it over before you discuss it.
2. Ration yourself
Sometimes you just have to be there for a friend because they’re having a bad time and they need your help. That’s a very admirable thing to do. Just make certain that you’re not the only person that ends up doing it by always being there.
Your time isn’t theirs, it is yours. If you want to give it to them, that’s fine. But it has to be appreciated and it can’t ever become expected. If it has become either of those things than something has gone terribly wrong.
Then it might be time to ration your time with them more tightly.
And don’t feel guilty about doing it either! After all, though perhaps we can’t control what happens to us in our lives, how we view what has happened is our own responsibility. What’s more, if you’re there too much for people you can turn from help into a crutch. You might end up enabling their behavior rather than helping them change that.
And how does that help anybody?
3. Set up your exit strategy
In order to ration your time, make certain you set up existing strategies. This is some mechanism whereby you can get away if they corner you. Then you can pull on out of your sleeve when things become too much and can make a quick getaway before things become too bad.
It’s like a big panic button that you can press to get out and just having one of those can sometimes be enough to make a situation bearable.
4. Don’t complain about them
After you’re done with them, don’t become like them by complaining about them to other people, because then you’re allowing their toxicity to spread and infect the people you care about! Instead, be the dam, be the wall, be the container that keeps that person’s toxicity from spreading on to your friends.