My Bachelor’s degree is in Behavioral Science. It is a combination of Psychology and Socialogy. Even though I graduated eons ago, there are lessons I learned that I carried with me throughout life. We all have those people in our lives that seem to have a life full of drama and spend whatever time you have with them talking about their issues. Some of them are insecure; we all have a little insecurity. But, there are those people that truly believe that the world is out to get them. Other people have low self-esteem. We all question ourselves now and then but in the end we believe in ourselves. Then there are those that appear to be oblivious to the entire world and feel as if they are the center of the universe. Each of these groups of people are often referred to as toxic.
I read a book by Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, not long ago. A quote from that book popped out: “Self-Importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it—what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.”
Most people attempt to go out into the world wearing a strong mask. It is the first thing they put on every day. It is their defense. When they step out the door, they are ready for battle, looking for a battle. They are always on guard, on the defense. They often come across as if they have a high level of self-importance. But in reality they are actually very weak. Our only defense to these people is to remember that we are in control of how we chose to react to their them. It would be nice if we could just rid them out of our lives. But the reality is that we can't. They maybe family members, co-workers, customers or others that we have to inter-act with in our lives. But we can control how we react to them.
We use our own experiences as a base of how we think others should behave. It is as if we hold up a mirror whenever we interact with others and expect them to act as we would. Over the years we have built up a set of guidelines that we live by that are based on our past experiences and influences. When others go against the way we think, it often results in us getting disappointed or irritated. It is often difficult for us to take a step back from the situation. This is especially hard when the other person seems unreasonable. It is at that split second in time that we often fall into the other person’s drama and unwillingly give them control over our actions.
By doing that we are playing right into their hand and enforcing their self-imposed right to be defensive, hurt, miss-understood or indignant. They are using us to give them that “fix” they are looking for to justify their the way they view themselves. They need us to react in a certain way and they often will try to push us in a direction in an attempt to get the reaction they are looking for. They do not want us to see that they have any weaknesses, are vulnerable or have flaws. They are toxic.
I use to feel as if I always had to be heard and understood. When I felt as if someone was not giving me the attention that I deserve or at the very least taking the time to hear my side, I would find that I would lose my tempter, get more pushy, louder and demanding. Most of the time, at the end of the day, I would replay the situation over and over again in my head. I could not comprehend why others did not understand me. I wondered why every day seemed like a struggle. I wondered what was wrong with everyone else. I felt miss-understood and wondered why I never seemed to make any progress in achieving the life I wanted. When the truth was that I never took the time to sit down and set priorities and clear goal to focus on. I didn't realize that I was toxic.
I don’t know exactly when in my life all that changed, but thankfully it did. I learned to have clear attainable goals and that it was not important to win or be right all the time. It was more important for me to find my focus, take control of the direction I wanted my life to go in and to tune out all the noise that use to distract me. I learned the art of “kill them with kindness”. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt. But most importantly I learned that I have complete and total control over my actions and reactions. Now when one of those toxic people cross my path, I pick my battles. There is a lot to be said about that old saying “sticks and stones”.
I know who I am and it does not matter if everyone else knows or understands me. I have nothing to prove, no one to impress. I am at peace with myself. I refuse to allow anyone to drag me into their drama. I stand up for myself when the issue is important to my personal goals and walk away when it’s not. I do my best to keep toxic people at arms length. I live in the reality that not everyone is going to like me and that not everyone is going to be my best friend. Now when I come in contact with a person that is toxic, I take a deep breath and make sure my reaction is in line with my goals and avoid falling into their drama.