When life throws you lemons, thank it for the snack

Monday, July 8, 2013

Toxic People

A toxic person in my life recently maliciously told me to "write one of [my] rose-colored blog posts," so I decided to take them up on the challenge.

In truth, there is very little I can say about toxic people beyond advising all others to avoid them. A "toxic" person is an individual who seems to thrive on spreading hatred, anger, dissent, and all-around negative emotions to everyone with whom they come in contact. In my experience, the vast majority of people (if I had to throw out numbers, I would estimate 97%) are NOT toxic. Yes, there are times when someone is feeling depressed or frustrated and they might inadvertently try to bring others down. However, these are generally temporary circumstances. A truly toxic person engages in such behaviors more than 60% of the time, sometimes with very little motivation beyond getting whatever it is that they want (an ego boost? manipulation? sense of power?).

The greatest thing I encounter from toxic people, aside from boiling blood before I calm down, is the activation of my stubborn streak. Any time someone attempts to malign myself or someone for whom I care deeply, I decide that these are behaviors I do not wish to pursue myself. I stop and think about how horrible I feel around these people, these emotions, and I take a close look at my behavior. Sometimes I recognize that I may have unwittingly been using similar tactics, not necessarily out of spite, but most likely out of selfishness, forgetting to think before I act. So, when I see someone trying to use a guilt trip on me, or slinging slurs, or trying to bully me into something, or behaving in a selfish immature manner (acting their dress/shoe size instead of their age, i.e. in a socially developmental level at least 10 years behind their biological development), I stop and evaluate my own behaviors. If I notice that I may have used a similar tactic on others (it's all too natural, sometimes, to try to manipulate someone with a guilt-trip), I immediately mend my ways and vow to avoid those thoughts and behaviors in the future.

In essence, after I decide to avoid a toxic person until they can treat others as humans instead of objects, I take a closer look inside and make adjustments to my own behaviors. The last thing I need is hypocrisy. Challenge met: I can, indeed, find a positive life lesson from a toxic person. I just hope it helps me become a better mother, wife, teacher, human being along the way.

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