There are some that are harmful. They make us feel bad, steal our energy, cause fatigue. Even though I’ve acquired the luxury of not pretending to like people I can’t stand—by changing jobs and putting some distance between myself and those whose endless complaining drained my energy—I have to accept that such options are not always available. Nonetheless, I still believe there are other strategies, if we can’t necessarily remove certain people from our lives.
Put a limit on complainers. Listening to someone’s issues when they’re going through a hard time is an important source of support, however, you must determine the right limit. If you don’t, you’ll find that the other person has relieved themselves of all their negative emotions by dumping them on you, while you’re left exhausted.
Accept the situation but don’t exaggerate. It’s normal for you to feel bad about someone’s comment or action. Don’t fight this. Accept that it has affected you, but don’t allow it to take over your day or even your days. Remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Label the action, not the person. Labeling someone as ‘toxic,’ without having the ability of removing them entirely from your life, will make things more difficult. Evaluate them according to their actions and not as a person and focus on trying to find a solution rather than drowning in a sea of problems.
Remember their weak points. Underneath every attack there is an underlying personal issue. Is there insecurity behind that rude demeanor for example? Whenever you find yourself in an uncomfortable dialogue, examine what’s behind the curtain and try to avoid that particular sensitive spot in the future. Let them be and allow them to solve their own issues.
Don’t take it personally. We are the center of our worlds. As such, we take everything that’s done to us personally. However, most of the time the issue is quite far away from us. Try to see things from this window and leave that person alone in their world.
Learn to laugh it off. Instead of getting overly upset over every inopportune action and comment from people who annoy you, think of them as beings that need to be left alone to their own devices. Just laugh and move on.
Don’t forget, most of the time it’s not the issue itself that causes distress, but our reaction to it.