“People inspire you or they drain you – pick them wisely.” — Hans F. Hansen
I was raised to see the best in others. I was told that everyone is doing the best they can under their circumstances, and from their own level of consciousness.
This perception has worked well, for the most part, but the cracks in my outlook became visible once I grew older and stepped out into the world. I noticed that a lot of my interactions left me feeling drained and offended. Being an empath and HSP made it worse because I absorbed people’s emotions like a sponge.
I thought I was too sensitive and judgmental of others. I felt that “nice girls” like me should get along and avoid being too opinionated. This was modeled to me by the women in my culture and therefore felt like the right thing to do. Most toxic behaviors I encountered were from my close relationships with family and friends. This made calling out that type of behavior trickier.
It was only after a long period of struggling with my self-worth that I began to realize I don’t have to deal with toxic behavior. It was okay for me to build boundaries and even cut ties if I had to. There is no virtue and strength found in tolerating poor treatment from others.
We all have to deal with toxic people in our lives. They can’t be entirely avoided, whether they be a boss, parent, or coworker we can’t stand to collaborate with. While nothing is ever ideal and some degree of compromise is needed, we need to be clear about how much we’re willing to put up with.
Intuitive healer, Caroline Myss, says that there’s always some form of energy exchange with everyone we meet, whether that be a casual conversation with the barista at your local Starbucks or a deeper one with your significant other. Myss says that personal power is the currency of the soul, and each individual you deal with either enhances or depletes it.
“We should not feel like we’re not put in position to betray ourselves, where you have to compromise your sense of integrity,” Myss states. “Feeling tired, like the way we do after a long day’s work is normal and acceptable, but feeling psychically drained, where we feel like we’re losing life and ourselves, is not—it’s a red flag we just can’t ignore.”
Letting go of emotional vampires who suck up our energy with their negativity is an act of self-care. Not wanting to engage in complaints, problems, criticism, and drama shows that you value your mental and emotional wellbeing and that you have high standards.
While toxic people should not be demonized (they obviously need help to change their unhealthy behavioral patterns), it’s important to distance yourself from them to maintain your own sanity. Help them within reason and then leave them to their own devices. Engaging with their neuroses and corrupted ways will take you down to their levels of thinking and being.
Steve Harvey says that success is like pulling a wagon uphill. “You are totally responsible for your wagon. You are the only one on the rope.” What’s inside the wagon, however, will determine how quickly you can reach success or whether you’ll reach it at all. It comes down to the people you choose to be on that wagon with.
“As you pull this rope up the hill, you have to make sure that everybody that’s on the wagon is doing something to get the wagon up the hill,” Harvey says. “You’ve got to be careful. There are people who will get on your wagon and have no value. They’re just on the wagon, riding.” With this wagon analogy in mind, make a list of everybody in your life, at work, or your family and friends, who are weighing down your wagon and slowing down your success. You can easily recognize these people by the toxic traits they repeatedly display.
Here are the five types of toxic people who drain your energy and who you should avoid at all costs:
1. The control freak: A control freak is someone who needs to have extreme control over everything in their life. These are the classic “my way or the highway” types of people. They’re harder to deal with if they’re in a position of power, like bosses, parents, teachers, or heads of government. A control freak is dominating and closed-minded, and can even be aggressive and manipulative. In relationships, they don’t like to compromise and care less about the wants and needs of others, and more about their hold on the connection. They can be overly critical and find fault with everything you do if it doesn’t fall in line with their agenda.
2. The envious/jealous type: The green-eyed monster can bring out the worst in people. It’s especially pronounced in the envious type who believes they’re superior to everyone else. It is often a mask to hide their own insecurity and deep feelings of inadequacy. They tend to be jealous of those who have what they’re after—beauty, money, a job position or an attractive mate. While it’s not unusual to feel a little bit of envy once in a while, the envious type demonstrates their feelings in toxic ways—being competitive, belittling, backstabbing, and sabotaging your success. They rarely pay any compliments or feel genuinely happy about other people’s successes.
3. The whiner/complainer: The whiner/complainer always feels like the whole world is against them. They have Eeyore syndrome (based on the little donkey in Winnie the Pooh), which makes them chronically sad, gloomy, and feeling constantly victimized. They magnify their problems and the faults of others and seldom want to take positive action to change their circumstances. Their round-the-clock “poor me” attitude is depressing and can suck the life out of you if you spend too much time around them.
4. The gossiper: For gossipers, this activity is more than an occasional guilty pleasure. It’s a way of life. We may have early experiences in school where cliques huddled together to indulge in gossipfests at the expense of others. Adult life also abounds with gossip—the coworker who will talk to you for an hour about an annoying colleague, or the girlfriend who complains about her overzealous in-laws. Gossipers want to know the latest scoop on everyone else, and they thrive on picking those stories apart. Hanging out with this type of person will downgrade your intelligence and make you stoop to their level.
5. The shallow egocentric: This type tends to believe that the whole world revolves around them and their desires. They have an inflated sense of self-importance and feel entitled. They come across as selfish and unconcerned about how their actions and words affect the people around them. Their shallowness and lack of empathy can leave you feeling invisible and uncared for. Their interests are usually centered on superficial things—glamour, looks, financial success and status—there’s little or no heart.
6. The self-destructive: You can recognize the self-destructive type by the amount of drama and chaos happening in their lives. They’re often caught up in negative ways of thinking and behavioral patterns that make them spiral into failure and hopelessness. They are the drug-addicts, alcoholics, codependents, and abusive partners. Self-destruction can also show up in how they think about themselves. They tend to say horrible things to themselves, such as “I’m a failure,” “I’m always going to disappointment,” “I’m useless and lack talent.” While it’s okay to support and empathize with them, at some point, the endless pity will take a toll on you. Encourage them to seek professional help and then do what you need to protect yourself.
Protecting yourself from toxic people doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s a sign of someone with healthy self-esteem and someone who values themselves. It opens the doorway for those who can bring out the best in you and elevate you to higher states of being. Your enhanced energy can be channeled into your passions and causes that make the world a better place.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Are there any toxic people in your life you need to distance yourself from? What are some steps you’re willing to take to do that?
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