Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Deal with Being a Toxic Person

This is a post for people who have trouble getting along with others because of certain personality quirks. I happen to be one of them though that's become less of a problem as I've made an effort to improve. I know it's not about writing but it might apply to a lot of writers since being able to think about negative things makes it easier to write about them. If this isn't a topic you're interested in stop reading.

So, you grew up in a family full of negative people. You hung out with a bunch of "losers".
People don't like you because of how harsh you are, how biting your comments are or how much you dwell on things. They don't like your destructive behavior.

Well, join the club, I guess.

I see posts online about avoiding toxic people. Cutting ties with them is the way to be happier. Articles will tell you how to recognize them. These are the same sites and blogs where the advice is dispensed to cut ties with people who aren't the kind of people you want to be.

I find this advice worrying. It suggests that if you find a damaged thing you should cut and run even if you can do something about it. It's all about the healthy person not being dragged down. There's no real acknowledgement that toxic people are just like you, people. Just like everybody else they can be bad people or good people and maybe they should be avoided. But maybe, just maybe, they grew up differently and don't even know what they're doing.

This post is for people who are toxic; The black holes wandering around haplessly sucking out the happiness. This is for you.

Here's what I know about being the little black hole sucking up everyone's ray of sunshine.

1. People don't like to overthink things or think about them at all. Relatively shallow interactions rule in casual conversation. Gory, depressing details are only for those who you know might be interested.

2. Negative emotions shouldn't be restated. If you find someone who wants to hear about what crap your day is, they still don't usually want to hear you howling like a hound dog. That's something that even close friends and family have limited patience for.

3. Just because you're willing to get as good as you give, listening to misery and hours of detail, it doesn't mean everyone you talk to is. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, isn't how it works. You only treat people how you want to be treated if it adheres to standard societal practices. Strangers don't usually like back scratches so you can't give them and never have an itchy back anymore.

4. Don't take things on face value. People, as depressing as it may seem, are more concerned with their own worlds than they are with everything going on, especially with you, even if they ask. It's not necessarily a bad thing. By remaining more concerned with their own things they maintain more sense of self. If you aren't much effected by how people act around you than you're probably egocentric too. Gaining a better sense of how people are different might help you to understand why a person withdraws from a perfectly honest answer.

5. Try not to resent the world. People are adaptable. You aren't stuck being the way you are and neither are other people. All it takes is self awareness to start changing your behavior if you wish. Regardless of what other articles say about withdrawing from toxic people, that's only one way to do things but people generally have their own best interests at heart and harsh judgement just oversimplifies them as people. True, they're oversimplifying you but someone has to take the high ground for improvements to be made. Also, bitterness makes you miserable.

6. If you're engaging in negative behavior take a good hard look at it and really decide if you think it's negative behavior. Explore why others might no like it and figure out whether you hurt people with it. Really try to get in someone else's shoes and, above all, don't decide that because you're in more pain than them or you are more damaged that you've got more rights than them. Being hurt is still bad and different people deal differently with stress and pain. You could be mean to someone and that's the last straw. On the other hand, you could get in a fist fight with someone and it's just another Monday. Generally, when people hurt others it's the person doing the hurting lashing out without thought for the other person. Allowances should be made for the abusive person, despite what others may say, because in certain circles, abuse doesn't have the same gravity. I say allowances meaning consideration for situation and upbringing not a free pass.
That said, hurting people without thought is still not a good thing. There are behaviors that aren't a good thing and if you engage in them you probably haven't really figured out what your thoughts are on them.
If you decide you like the behaviors anyway and they're very destructive, well, for now you're a bad person.

If you decide they're bad and really believe it it shouldn't be beyond you to make a change.

 If you decide they aren't damaging to others and that they aren't necessarily bad, then maybe you should look into different friends because you guys have a difference of opinion and they've shown a lack of tolerance for you.

That is one reason to get different friends; If you aren't really friends and it's nothing but a morass of criticism. Now who's negative?

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