The thing that bugs us about toxic people isn’t that they’re toxic.
It’s that we’re toxic when we’re with them.
In response to their aggression, we become defensive.
In reaction to their attempts to control, we get into power struggles.
In response to their superiority, we feel inferior.
In reaction to their criticisms, we become small.
So, it’s not so much the unhealthy person we want to avoid.
It’s the person we become when with them.
Some of the people we struggle with the most are not those we can so easily get rid of. Like family members and old friends.
We might try to improve the dynamic by processing our feelings with them. “When you do this, I feel that…” Yet that only works with someone who’s actually well enough to care about their impact on you.
Most likely, if you have a toxic person in your life, you’re not going to change them very much.
Does that mean you have to get rid the person if you ever hope to be healthy yourself?
Yet you must decide to stop giving your power away.
You must refuse to be motivated or manipulated by fear, obligation or guilt in any relationship.
And be willing to speak truth as you understand truth, and set boundaries which offer consequences to bad behavior.
Make it a habit to speak truth because truth has a way of disappearing toxicity.
“Ah, I see you’re putting me down again! I suppose you feel safer being in the one up position! Let’s take a break until you can get a handle on yourself.”
The secret to having healthy relationships with unhealthy people, is to respond to someone’s lack of health in a healthy way.
-Katherine Woodward Thomas