Human beings can be a complex and screwed up species. With that in mind, it’s in our best interests to look after our own psychological well being and protect ourselves from those humans that would do us harm.
In the early part of my life I was the nice guy, the bloke who would do anything for anyone. I was always laughing, even when people poked fun at me — even when the ‘fun’ they poked at me was vindictive and unrelenting. You could say I was that super agreeable guy, the one that agrees with everything and everyone just to keep the peace; the bloke who never voices a controversial opinion for fear of causing offence or upsetting the status quo.
Although today, I believe I am still a nice guy, it finally dawned on me that the way I had previously chosen to relate to people came at the cost of being a magnet for a ‘certain kind of person’. My mild-mannered, easy-going nature made me a beacon for people with a ‘toxic personality’; the ‘grown up’ version of the school-ground bully. From my own experience I can say that these people are usually male, they are narcissistic individuals and will exploit, manipulate and bully their way through life to get what they want (even with friends). They put their own needs above everything else. They seek out the ‘nice guy’ because they believe nice guys are malleable and pliable – easily bent to their will.
The toxic person can’t stand anyone who thinks differently from him. He treats those who have their own mind with disdain. He needs to control people and he is a master at manipulating how you think and feel – particularly how you think and feel about yourself. He actively seeks out people he can dominate, all with the aim of having his own personal needs met. The toxic person knows what he is doing but he doesn’t care because it works for him so why should he change. In his mind you’re just another fool in a long string of fools and ‘he doesn’t suffer fools gladly’ so “f*ck you”.
Anyone that does resist the toxic person is singled out for what I call an epic ‘mind-f*cking’ – a game designed to get you to conform to his way of seeing the world. The toxic person will crawl inside your head and wreak havoc; he’ll ridicule you and belittle you at every turn unless you meet his needs or expectations and if you react angrily he will accuse you of overreacting or of being over sensitive or aggressive; “it’s just banter”, he’ll say in a casual and flippant manner. Worse, he will suggest that you are mentally ill and need to seek help from a ‘shrink’ for your anger management problems.
He knows that this ‘gas-lighting’ behaviour will throw you off balance and get you to doubt yourself and feel guilty for having reacted. The audience he gathers around him to witness this spectacle is usually composed of ‘sheeple’; people who think like him and are sympathetic to his cause. Or, they are people who will go along with the toxic person because they recognise they are in the presence of a bully, and they are relieved that it is you who is getting ‘mind-f*cked’ and not them.
It’s all designed to make you feel bad about yourself; to make you feel that it is you who has the problem — unless you agree to go along with what he wants. Relationships like these are radio active; it’s unwise to be around a toxic person but depending on the relationship (he may be a family member, a work colleague or boss) it may not be easy to cut him out of your life totally.
Toxic people don’t see their behaviour as wrong, despite their behaviour being toxic it’s not illegal. So, in their mind you’re fair game.
It’s tempting to deal with an individual like this by ramming your fist firmly into his face multiple times — until you change his attitude. Trust me, that’s not the way to deal with the situation, as gratifying as it may seem. It would just make him look like the victim and you the aggressor and is counter productive in the long run.
Here are three ways that have helped me deal with toxic people; they appear to be common sense but are often overlooked in relationships.
1. Cut these people out of your life totally
Toxic people suck the soul out of you; I’ve found it best not to waste your precious time and energy on them. Saying“arriverderci arsehole, go haunt someone else” is perhaps the most satisfying way to deal with toxic people. Knowing that you have cut all ties with someone who has been making your life miserable is empowering.
2. Minimise your contact with these people
I acknowledge that you can’t always cut ties; maybe because you have familial ties to the toxic person. In this case keeping your contact to a minimum and limiting engagement with these people is another option.
3. Seek support to develop techniques or implement strategies to build up resilience for dealing with such people
Lets face it, toxic people are everywhere; you’re going to have to be extremely fortunate to navigate through life without encountering at least one toxic person. Dealing with toxic people is a skill that not everyone has in their psychological toolbox. In this case seeking support from a professional counsellor or personal development coach can be an effective way of dealing with such people. Counsellors and personal development coaches can help you identify problems that life throws at you and assist you in developing strategies and skills to deal with them.