Many of us have a family member who makes us uncomfortable whenever we see them. Maybe they make jokes about our appearance, they try to manipulate us to get what they want, or they’re just authorized people who don’t respect anyone else’s limits.
This person may be toxic, but if you have a close connection, you may be reluctant to close your life completely. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with their bad behavior, though. News week he asked psychologists how to recognize a toxic person and how to treat them.
How to recognize a toxic person
Psychologist Chloe Carmichael, author of Dr. Chloe’s 10 Quoteshe thinks it’s important to make a clear distinction between toxic people and people who just don’t like you or don’t share your values.
There are usually two types of toxic people, he said News week: “Someone who clearly shows an extreme amount of disrespect or real malice towards you, and someone the level of disrespect and malice towards himself causes him to disrupt the lives of everyone around him.”
The first type, according to Carmichael, is aggressively toxic to others: someone who is physically violent, insults you, or tries to hit you.
With the other type of toxic person, the level of disrespect or negativity in their life makes their presence toxic. “Like an active alcoholic who just wants to sit back and complain about how terrible his life is, but refuses to accept any help,” he said.
Greg Kushnick, a psychologist living in Manhattan, added that a toxic person usually does not respect the limits of others and can rob you of energy and motivation, affecting your sense of free will.
“Toxic people generally can’t put themselves in the shoes of others and adapt their behavior accordingly. They usually have their own version of reality and are closed to the perspectives of others,” he said. News week.
How do you deal with a toxic person?
One of the biggest challenges when dealing with a toxic family member, according to Kushnick, is that every time you are activated by them, you are trying to deal not only with the present moment, but also with memories of previous interactions. So the first thing you need to do is decide how much is too much.
Set your limits
It is essential to know yourself well to protect yourself. This will allow you to recognize when a toxic person is being insulted or manipulated. “This self-knowledge includes your morals, your values, and a deep awareness of your triggers,” Kushnick said.
Set your limits. “What are you willing to put up with? What is considered too much? To feel better prepared to deal with a toxic person, you need to remember your options on how to respond to toxic behavior,” he added.
Kushnick also recommends receiving input from a third party who can help you see your blind spots and provide perspective.
Try talking about it
If you want to keep a toxic relative in your life, or at least have a friendly relationship when you see each other at family reunions, it’s worth talking about.
Carmichael said the first thing to do in this conversation is to acknowledge that you have allowed a toxic pattern to develop, because you have allowed that person to abuse you without putting limits and that you are no longer willing to accept it.
He gave the example of a mother-in-law who constantly makes nasty comments about her daughter-in-law’s weight or fertility. A woman in this situation can politely ask her mother-in-law to talk about it.
Carmichael said that this discussion could begin: “I wanted you to know, I realized that I have allowed a certain pattern to develop, in which you make observations about my weight or my fertility, and I’m not clear how it should be. “I don’t agree with that. And that’s why I’m telling you now that you really don’t agree with me, and I’d like you not to comment on these things. Do you think you could do that?”
Giving the person the ability to respond to more “aggressive” limits helps, he explained. In many ways, toxic personalities are like bullies and withdraw when someone withdraws.
Carmichael added: “If they persist, you can say, ‘Look, I’ve been supporting you for a while. I shouldn’t have, I told you about it and I told you it’s not acceptable. So, at this point, if you insist, what will happen is … “And tell them what your next step is, which could be, for example, ‘My husband and I will get up and leave the family visits.’ .
See if you need it in your life
If your behavior does not change after this conversation, Kushnick said you need to consider whether it is worth keeping the person in your life.
“If the toxic person doesn’t make adjustments based on multiple attempts to give feedback, it may be necessary to distance themselves from that person, at least temporarily, to regain balance, perspective, and feel protected,” he said.
In this scenario, Carmichael suggested, “I realized that the way you treat me is not acceptable. I no longer feel willing or able to work with you, so this will be our last conversation.”
Resisting a toxic person can be scary, especially if they are likely to become aggressive, so you may want to bring an ally with you, he added.
If you remove a toxic person from your life, how do you overcome them?
Permanently removing someone from your life is not easy, especially if you are close. Carmichael offers three key tips for dealing with the situation.
Recognize that it’s okay to lose them
First, he said, “It’s very important to remember that just because you’re missing someone doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake in saying goodbye.”
He added: “When a relationship ends, even if it is an unhealthy relationship, there is often only a pattern of familiarity or even just being able to count on the presence of that person, even if it is negative. so it’s normal for things like loneliness to arise, because before that toxic person took up a lot of your mental space. “
Make a list of the “10 most toxic things they’ve ever done.”
According to Carmichael, making a list of the “10 best toxic things they did” or their nasty behavior will remind you why you removed them from your life.
“When we’re in that lonely, vulnerable mood, we can sometimes wear our pink memory glasses, and it can be hard to remember all the things about the person that we really just want to get rid of in our minds anyway. “.
Plan a little self-care
Self-care is always a good idea, but it is especially important in times of stress or sadness.
“If you plan to have this farewell conversation with a toxic person, consider planning a lunch or dinner with a good friend to follow immediately. Also consider activating your social media network and explaining what’s going on in your life.” said Carmichael.
He advised that you schedule at least three meetings with friends a week during the first few weeks after the conversation, so that you have a lot of built-in social support, and maybe schedule some extra trips to your therapist if you think you need them.