I think that the people in our life have the potential to help us evolve into better versions of ourselves. On the other hand, toxic people drain us from energy and do not help us move forward. In some ways, they even take us backwards.
When my youngest sister traveled, I made her a journal to capture her experiences and added quotes. One of them was this:
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
This quote now hangs on my fridge too.
I would like my children to adopt this message. I found this quote when I was 16 and had to evaluate my relationships and how they made me feel. It is not easy to recognize that people who are close to you are unhealthy for you, but it is very important.
Recently, I was asked in a magazine interview for my opinion on teen dating. My answer was that if the dating partners help my teens feel better about themselves, then their influence is positive and I am happy for my teens to date them.
In order to teach our kids this skill of associating themselves with the right people, it will be good for us, as parents, to do the same. We need to clean from our life the people that drain us, rather than make us feel bigger and better than we already think we are.
How to find the toxic people in your life
When doing this evaluation, follow these instructions:
- Make a list of the people you are in contact with over a year.
- Write down how often you are in contact with each person every year (this will give you an indication of the intensity of the relationship).
- Write down how good you feel about your interaction with them on a scale of -10 to 10, with -10 for those that damage to your self-esteem and confidence and 10 for those that make you feel great and increase your happiness.
- Next to the bad influences, you can write the reasons you feel bad with that person.
Types of toxic people
Here is a list of typical behaviors that can drain you. Try to link them to the people making you feel worse about yourself.
- Catastrophizers – people who see big doom and gloom in the future.
- Jealous people – people who are unhappy when you succeed.
- Devil’s advocates – those who question the things you do and make you doubt yourself.
- Judgmental people – people who tell you their option about everything you do without being asked, as if you need to please them with the way you run your life.
- Critical people – people who tell you their negative opinion without being asked.
- Advisers – those who expect you to follow their advice, once they give it.
- The “should’a” people – those who tell you what you should have done. Also known as “20/20 hindsight”.
- Almighty know-it-alls – those who patronize, speak to you from above and think they know everything and you have no clue about your own life.
- “My way or the highway” people – those who expect you to do what they want, or else, and punish you with anger, disappointment and abuse.
- “One up” people – those who follow every experience you share with them with their own experience that was better.
- Victims – those who take no responsibility and use guilt feelings to force you to change your mind.
- Fortune-tellers – those who tell you what you can or cannot do and predict your future if you do or do not do something.
- Gossips – those who feel so weak they talk badly about people behind their back. At the back of your mind, you know that at some point, they will talk badly about you too, if the do not do it already.
- Jokers – those who make fun of you and think it is funny even when you do not.
Toxic people are bad for you
It is wise to identify those people and try to limit your exposure to them. Think of your mind as a physical body. If you take poison, it will damage your body, and if you eat nutritional food, it will boost your body. The toxic people, those who scored negatively on your list, are like poison to your mind.
Bad influencers damage your self-esteem. Good influencers support your self-esteem.
In the personal development world, we say that in order to achieve a goal, we need to surround ourselves with the people who possess the same qualities we are aiming for. Hanging around other people affects us in a good or bad way. This is why we read biographies of successful people when we need inspiration. If you hang around lions, you learn their ways, and if you hang around wolves, you learn their ways.
Do this relationship stock-take so you can teach your children to do the same. If you teach them this skill from a very early age, you can relax about who they spend their time with and how good these people are for them.
Join me next week to learn how to overcome the energy drainage around toxic people.
Until next time, have a happy life,