We’ve all known toxic people in our lives, even if we haven’t always recognized them as such immediately. Most simply, they’re not good people: They’re selfish, lack ethics or a conscience, and thrive upon manipulation of others.
1. They don’t listen, not really. Instead, they find ways to make all of your interactions about themselves.
2. They refuse to admit their mistakes, much less learn from them. Instead, everything is always someone else’s fault.
3. Drama follows them, and everything is always exaggerated for effect.
4. They can’t help but lie, unrepentantly, compulsively, and often.
5. Their relationships are many, but not deep. Instead, they value other people in their lives for what they think they can get from the relationship, rather than any sort of real connection with you.
6. Their experiences are the only ones that matter, and good luck trying to tell them otherwise.
7. To build up their self-esteem, they feel the need to continually talk others down.
8. They have a compulsive need to dominate and control the people around them, as if that will somehow make them stronger or more impressive somehow.
9. They don’t care who’s feelings they hurt, nor do they care much for diplomacy—they’d rather watch things burn.
When it comes to toxic people in your lives, there are only so many ways to deal with them. In particular, we love this advice from a Zen Master on Reddit:
‘The deeper your present moment of peace is, the easier it will be to react non-passionately when faced with hostility. As you get better at this, you realize how tortured and suffering an individual has to be to try to elicit such harsh reactions. Based on your knowledge you can develop your empathy and compassion and in time this insight will let you be more peaceful in the present moment.
Eventually with enough peace and insight on your side you can begin to extinguish the fires of hostility by extinguishing anger with patience and understanding. It’s hard to continue treating someone harshly when they are treating you well. You can effect a change in the mental state of the person being hostile to you. In helping them relieving themselves of their negative feelings and anger, you are not just helping them but also yourself as you no longer need to deal with them as the people they were.”
In other words: Follow the principles of ahimsa. This practice of non-violence is key to many philosophies, and even Gandhi relied heavily upon such teachings.
The basic idea? Don’t let your anger get hold in your mind. Instead, use your strength to remain calm and be the better, stronger person.
While it may not change the toxic individuals in your life, it can change how you respond to them—and thus lessen their ability to affect you, much less control you.
This was inspired by an amazing article here