Sociopaths can feel very sorry for themselves
How to deal with toxic people in a relaxed manner
In 1964, the American judge Potter Stewart had to decide in a court hearing whether a love scene in a film was pornographic or not.
Sounds easy. But Stewart quickly realized that this question could not be decided based on objective criteria.
Try it yourself, then you will notice.
Ultimately, Stewart defined pornography as follows:
"I know it's porn when I see it."
It is the same with toxic people.
It is not that easy to describe what makes a toxic person.
But you notice it relatively quickly when you are dealing with one.
And in this post I want to give you some tips on how to deal with toxic people in a skilful way.
Are there any toxic people at all?
First of all, I would like to clarify a more moral-philosophical question.
Is it even allowed to label other people as toxic?
Isn't that too simplistic?
Can that be reconciled with a humanistic point of view?
Isn't each one of us a product of his upbringing and his social environment and therefore not to blame that he is what he is?
And doesn't a so-called toxic person also deserve respect, even if he often makes life difficult for other people?
My answer to that: You have to be able to call things by their names.
And if a person behaves immorally, destructively or antisocially, then I can give the thing a name.
I think I can say that someone is acting toxic and that someone is poison to me because of that. A poison dwarf.
In reality, there are actually surprisingly few people who are completely toxic.
But we all probably know someone who manages to poison our souls.
What is a toxic person?
Now that we've clarified that, the question arises:
What exactly is a toxic person?
Let's try a description of the situation:
If you've had contact with a toxic person, it usually leaves you feeling bad.
Often you can't even tell what it was exactly.
But you instinctively know that the contact wasn't good for you. You feel dirty, humiliated, taken advantage of, or ripped off.
It was just toxic. As if you were exposed to a poisonous substance.
If you think about it afterwards, you can often see how a poison dwarf does it to poison your emotional life.
Here is a list of typical toxic behaviors:
- Toxic people often start an argument where a simple, clarifying conversation would have cleared the matter up in a minute.
- Toxic people are often stubborn, unreasonable and unteachable. They are not at all interested in seeing and understanding the other person's point of view.
- Toxic people rarely feel guilty about hurting others. Your sense of right / wrong is poor. You yourself are right, others are wrong.
- Toxic people often behave in a cross-border and abusive way. They do things that are simply not theirs and that they have no right to do.
- A toxic person will often have specific expectations about your behavior without expressing those expectations. If you do not adhere to the unspoken expectations, you will be punished for it.
- A toxic person puts you under emotional pressure. He's trying to make you feel guilty. For example, he will tell you that you would be a bad person if you don't dance to his tune.
- A toxic person lies in order to assert his interests. He leaves out information, adds some or he spreads rumors in a targeted manner.
- Toxic people manipulate other people to advance their interests. In doing so, they use all dirty tricks. They lie. They tell you what you want to hear. They spread rumors to get you on their side.
- A toxic person is often jealous and resentful. If I don't get it, neither should you get it.
- A toxic person often has excessive demands on others without wanting to give anything back.
- A toxic person rarely shows consideration for other people, their needs and feelings.
And of course we all sometimes behave as described here. We are all imperfect, we have weak moments and we make mistakes. Because of this, we are not automatically all poisonous people.
A toxic person, on the other hand, behaves more than average, as described above.
The behaviors from above are more the norm than the exception.
This is how you can recognize a toxic person.
By the way: It is not uncommon for even normal people to turn into poisonous dwarfs when they get into exceptional emotional situations. For example when they are abandoned. Or when a loved one dies.
How do I deal with toxic people now?
We don't really need to talk about how I deal with a poison dwarf.
As soon as I understand that someone is poison to me, I keep my distance. That is the logical, natural response.
If, while walking, I see the farmer spraying poison in the field, I turn around on my heel and walk in the other direction.
I just avoid them.
Yes, if it were that easy.
Problem 1: First of all, I have to understand that this is a toxic person at all.
I wrote above that when you see a toxic person, you will recognize a toxic person.
That is also the case. But it does require a healthy self-confidence and a strong and alert self.
Toxic people have what it takes to convince me that I am the problem, that it is ME if we have trouble with each other.
And it often takes a surprisingly long time before I realize that the problem is not me, but the other.
Many people live with a partner for years until at some point they understand that their partner is poison for them.
Or I have problems with my father-in-law for years until I realize that it is not me who is the source of the problems, but that my father-in-law is a toxic person.
That means, the first step is to realize: The other is poison for me.
Then comes the next problem.
Problem 2: I can avoid some people. Not others.
Family members, colleagues, superiors, co-workers, neighbors, other members in my club, friends of my partner.
All of these are people that I can't so easily avoid.
The following suggestions apply to contact with these people.
1. Don't take it personally
That is the most demanding and at the same time the most important tip. How on earth should I not take it personally when someone sprays all of their poison on me?
That is hard.
But that's exactly the way you should go.
Because the more personal you take the matter, the more emotional you react.
And that's exactly wrong.
A toxic person often lives off your emotional reactions.
Energy vampires who drink your emotional energy and leave you empty.
Don't let that happen.
In addition: When we feel personally attacked, we often tend to feel revenge. We want to repay the other. But this often sets in motion an escalation spiral.
Many neighborhood disputes therefore end in a fight or in court.
Even if it's hard. Make it clear to yourself again and again:
This is not about me, about my personality, about myself, my worth as a person. It's about the thing.
The other wants to pull it to this level. But I won't allow that because it only weakens me.
2. Protect yourself mentally
It is not uncommon for toxic people to launch large artillery pieces. The ammunition in these guns is mostly pure emotion.
- They insult you on a personal level.
- They do hurtful things.
- They blame you.
What can help you here is to systematically process these psychological attacks.
You can talk to others about it. Or keep a journal and write about it.
Key questions for processing the emotional attacks are:
- What weight do I want to give the statements of a person who obviously only wants to harm me?
- What was said only to deliberately injure me?
- What of what has been said is true and what was not at all?
- Which conclusions that have been drawn are in my opinion incorrect and valid?
- What do I actually want to take responsibility for and maybe even apologize for?
So it is a matter of tearing apart emotional conversations a bit and separating the poison from reality.
That way you will recognize the toxic person even better for who he really is.
3. Draw clear lines
It is not uncommon for toxic people to behave in a cross-border and abusive manner.
They do things that are not theirs.
They don't do things that by agreement or by the rules of good manners they should do.
In this case, it is important to make clear, factual announcements.
Such a clear announcement looks something like this:
“The other day you just put the envelope with Thomas's birthday money in your pocket on your birthday. And that's not okay because that is not your money and you cannot dispose of this money even if you say you are depositing it into Thomas’s account. If you don't return the money, I'll go to the lawyer and sue you for theft. "
This is a clear message that only describes the facts and the consequences.
It is important to only assert things that were actually observable.
Always stay with what really was. Keep your own interpretation out as much as possible.
And then clearly state what the consequences will be if the intrusive behavior is not corrected or if it happens again.
You have to speak clearly to toxic people. If possible without evaluations, without emotion. Just the facts.
4. Focus on your goals
A toxic person entangles you three-three in a web of allegations, blackmail, lies, feelings of guilt, allegations, whining, self-pity and many other things.
It's pretty hard to keep a clear head here.
And often we ourselves react very clumsily by putting ourselves on the same level as the toxic person.
We then hit back the emotional way.
Or at least we try.
Because on the toxic human playing field we are mostly hopelessly inferior.
The poison dwarf simply has more practice.
But there is an easy way to keep directing your thoughts in the right direction.
A simple question helps:
What was it again that I realistically want to achieve here?
Or to put it another way:
- Where do I want to go in the end?
- What is my goal here?
- What is the end result that I am aiming for?
My goal in an inheritance dispute with toxic people could, for example, be to enforce my own inheritance claim without resorting to imprecise means myself.
My goal in an argument with a toxic neighbor could be, for example, that we get back to at least a neutral relationship or that I otherwise erect a high fence.
My goal with a toxic supervisor could be to gain the support of my colleagues and the works council and to get the supervisor transferred together or to look for a new job within 6 months.
Sometimes all you have left is to set yourself a goal, to maintain an upright posture and to protect yourself psychologically and mentally.
But you should always have a goal in dealing with a toxic person that you can focus on.
Because if I focus on my goal while dealing with the toxic human, I rise emotionally to a higher level.
I tend to look at the whole mess from above.
I can take a deep breath.
I can react more carefully and sensibly.
I can do the things that bring me closer to my goal.
I can act rather than react (see below).
The important thing here is that I achieve my goal realistic am
Because when dealing with a toxic person, there are often clear limits to my options.
If my goal depends on the cooperation of the toxic human, then I have a problem.
In addition, your goal should of course always be ethical and moral. So be a constructive and life-serving goal. So don't make it your goal to show someone what's going on. Because you're not a toxic person. That is the difference.
Therefore: Set yourself a life-serving, realistic goal and focus clearly on your goal when dealing with the poisonous dwarf.
This prevents you from getting bogged down too emotionally.
5. Keep your guilty conscience in check
It is a wonderful trait when you have a high level of compassion towards others.
When dealing with a poison dwarf, this compassion can quickly become a trap.
Because a toxic person will often take advantage of that.
He will provide you with many explanations and excuses as to why he is the way he is.
This sometimes leads to the fact that you develop a guilty conscience towards the poison dwarf, because he is also poor somewhere.
He is too. He's poor. If you are caught up in your own destructiveness, it is definitely terrible.
But if you develop a guilty conscience now because you are asserting your interests or showing limits to the poison dwarf, you will be helplessly at the mercy of the toxic person. Then you are wax in his hands.
Don't let that happen.
You can feel a little sorry for the poison dwarf. But stick to yourself and your goal (see above) for the relationship with the toxic human.
6. Get support
Dealing with poison dwarfs is extremely exhausting, exhausting, disturbing and otherwise a very bad thing.
What helps you here are other people who are kind to you.
People who listen to you.
People who bring you back to the level of reason.
People who will confirm that you are okay.
Because when dealing with toxic people, it is not uncommon for us to start questioning ourselves.
Then we need people who can talk us out of these self-doubts.
We need reassurance and a good dose of affection and love.
But support is not only good on an interpersonal level.
Also at the factual level.
Because often in a dispute with toxic people there is also something at stake.
A conflict between neighbors where the property line really runs.
An argument with the ex-husband or ex-wife over property. Especially bad when children are involved and visiting hours or maintenance are involved.
An inheritance dispute.
Often it is about one thing that should be clarified on a rational level.
This is where intermediaries, arbitration boards, mediators or lawyers help.
When dealing with toxic people, the following applies: Get as much support as possible.
7. Do not assume that the toxic person wants peace
Peace-loving people assume that others feel the same way. That everyone wants peace.
But that is not the case.
Toxic people often seek conflict, quarrel, emotion, intrigue.
So when I assume that the other is also interested in peace, I am often wrong.
And based on this misconception, I often misjudge the reaction of a toxic person and therefore act clumsily myself.
Because I thought we were all peace-loving and sensible people.
That is why it is important to realize again and again: The poison dwarf does not want peace. He is much more likely to want war. Even if he claims the opposite.
8. Do not try to convince the poison dwarf
Oh, if only the other would finally understand that he is making life so difficult for everyone else.
Oh, if I could only make my point of view understandable to him.
This desire is normal and natural.
But completely past life.
Toxic people are mostly not exactly interested in understanding your point of view.
"Great mind, save me from judging a person until I have walked a mile in his moccasins."
But you can keep your shoes on.
A toxic person doesn't want to walk in your moccasins.
He wants to stay in his film and carry on as before.
So don't try to convince him. He doesn't want to hear it. He doesn't want anything to be in what you say.
Then the poison dwarf would have to question himself and that is what he or she exactly does not want.
Therefore: Do not try to convince toxic people. This is lost, frustrating labor of love. Assert your interests and draw clear boundaries. That's all you can do
9. Do not try to understand the toxic person
This point is the direct connection to the previous point “Don't want to convince the other”.
When a person is toxic and destructive, we are just always perplexed.
We wonder: "Why is she doing that?"
And of course we can think of a lot of reasons.
Difficult childhood? Never had a chance? One disappointment after another? Personality disorder? Has nothing else in life? Is that just boring?
You can think about the reasons why someone is acting toxic.
But that's no use.
Because the other doesn't change because of it.
The human psyche is a complex matter. And you will never understand why someone behaves the way he does anyway.
If you try to understand a poison dwarf, you are just wasting your energy, which you should better invest in the three important points:
- How can I achieve my goals in this matter?
- Where are my limits and how can I make them clear and defend them?
- How can I protect myself mentally?
10. Act instead of just reacting
It is not uncommon for you to get into an exchange of blows with toxic people.
He does that.
That's how I react to it, after all, I can't let it go.
Then he does this to top my answer.
I'll really show him where the hammer is.
And the matter escalates on and on.
Here you have to realize that your own reaction is often only determined by the previous action of the poison dwarf.
And then often I do exactly what the opponent does.
He hires a lawyer, I hire a lawyer.
He's sawing my tree. I cut a hole in his hedge.
He cleared the account. So I'll make the car safe.
I only react and am therefore very predictable in my actions.
And that is exactly again the playing field of manipulative people.
In this game of action / reaction, toxic people are usually much better.
Also because they are not afraid of conflict, stress and pressure. On the contrary, that's why they play the game.
The important thing here is not just to react to what the toxic person did.
It is better to go into the acting position yourself.
So to ask yourself:
- How could I determine the game we're playing here?
- What reaction does the poison dwarf expect from me here?
- What if I just didn't react?
- What would I have to do to break the spiral?
- How would I astonish my "opponent"?
- And: What was my goal again and which reaction is best here to get closer to my goal?
Act. Not react.
Lean back again and again. Breathe. Turn on your mind. Look at things from above.
Don't just hit back blindly.
Don't just react.
So, those were the suggestions for dealing with toxic people. I summarize that again:
- Do not take it personally.
- Protect yourself mentally.
- Set clear boundaries.
- Set goals and keep an eye on them.
- Don't let yourself feel guilty.
- Get support.
- Don't assume that the other will want peace too.
- Don't try to convince toxic people.
- Don't try to understand toxic people.
- Act instead of react.
If I wanted to sum it all up in one sentence, it would be:
Stick to yourself and your goals, take as little personalization as possible, and act wisely.
Is that easy
No, no way.
But the tips above make dealing with poison dwarfs a bit more bearable.
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