February marks the end of a mini era as a negative person exits my life, for what I hope will be forever. So I thought it appropriate on the Rebalancing Blog Series to address a topic that many/most deal with at one time or other in their lives and how to overcome this and become a happier and more wholesome person.
*if you don’t want to hear my experience then skip to the 5 Steps below*
Once upon a time I lived with a toxic person. Let’s call this person Sarah. Flashback 2.5 years, grievances with Sarah were just a niggle in my mind as I scoffed or “Laawwled” at some off-the-cuff remark she made whilst smiling and laughing like it was all just “bantz”. Then after a few minutes that “off-the-cuff” remark was still branded across my brain like a cattle iron. Only then did I realise that it had hurt, that it was not nice and more importantly it didn’t feel good. Sound familiar? The more it happened the more I wondered why I was letting this person get away with such sugar coated malice, delivered in a sweet and lyrical voice. I tried reasoning with myself. After all, my sister who had co-existed with Sarah for so long, managed by just pitying her insecurities she was projecting onto us. This wasn’t working for me. I was now avoiding initiating conversation or being in the same room for too long, because whenever I was, I would come away deflated, clouded in negativity and self doubt. Sarah was the devil in Topshop skinny jeans.
In truth, I blame myself for letting the toxicity seep into my life for so long. So long that the damage it did is only just starting to be repaired now. I waited too long to confront this daemon, because like many toxic personalities they come in many guises.
1 year ago life was on the up for me. After several years of being unhappy in my job I made changes that allowed me to follow my dreams; launched my own brand, started a blog and got a job in fashion. As my life became more fulfilled and exciting the more toxic our relationship became at home. I could define Sarah’s put downs, the sly remarks, bragging and forced perkiness as dislike or as jealousy even, but it went deeper than that. This person wasn’t being cruel to be cruel, she was so negative and unhappy in her own life that any iota of success or happiness another person felt needed to be eliminated by her; punctured like a party balloon.
I tried several ways to “deal” but all were unsuccessful. At one point I even convinced myself it would be “samaritan” of me to explain why she has so little friends and why she was failing to make a success of her 20’s like all her peers were. BUT then I realised I was only doing this to hurt her, to make her feel as bad as I did. How would I benefit from this conversation? I wouldn’t! I would have chewed on a slice of victory pie for all of 3 seconds before it soured and spoiled in my mouth. Those who knew the situation kept telling me to just to feel sorry for her, pity her. It didn’t help because it didn’t stop anything and that’s MY fault because I stayed in her line of fire, I co-habited with her.
I also wrongly looked to my sister and flatmate for help. It’s worth noting than when you are being directly affected by somebody this way, you cannot use others as a crutch or a shield because we are all created differently and everyone has their own way of dealing with things. My sisters, who lived with Sarah for 7 years dealt with it differently; 1 stopped living with her, the other just left the room when Sarah started her shit. This approach didn’t work for me. So after a year of keeping quiet, in a telephone call I told her in so many words what I thought about her. I wasn’t proud of this moment, I felt I showed weakness, bitchiness on my part, but on a positive note it meant she finally realised that just fragments of the relationship remained.
After our final blow she proceeded to block me on every social media platform and ignore my presence for 2 straight months in the house. This was the lowest point. Having aired my feeling I was suddenly consumed by the situation. It was real. My house wasn’t a home and feeling sorry for her turned to anger. I knew it wasn’t healthy but in many ways I brought it on myself after years of shrugging off the remarks, dickhead behaviour, the inflated sense of self-importance she imposed on everyone around her. When you open the flood gates…
January marked the month that Sarah decided to move on. Weirdly, me outing my true feelings towards her came as a shock, she genuinely didn’t realise she made people feel the way she does and still, up until our last conversation was declaring herself a nice and good person to the very end…I was the bitch because my feelings and actions towards her were so unjust in her head. Sarah, like every human has the capacity to be nice and is very often nice to others. It just so happens that her relationship with me never made it past a passive aggressive, faux friendship at best. What women like me, my sisters or other females in her peer group inspire in her to act the way she does I do not know. But it’s now that I stop feeling bad for the way she acted. It’s a shame as she’s probably gained nothing from this long and drawn out situation and in semi-disbelief, semi-anger (at me, at herself, I do not know) she moved out.
SO FAR you could say this is a pretty negative post but that’s because this was a negative experience. This is an exorcism, an expulsion, a purrrrrge of my feelings as I write off one more thing that I will not be carrying forward into the new year.
Okay now things are going to get positive!
SO with my experience behind me I have written out below a few pointers on how to deal with negative and toxic person you find in your life. Having experienced the full 360 of the situation these are the 5 actions I wish I had taken sooner.
Step 1 – Pick a filter
The 1st lesson I want to touch upon when dealing with negative people is that nobody will filter that shit for you. Toxic people and negativity is everywhere in life and it’s up to you to filter that stuff out otherwise it will swim into your mind, body and soul like sewage floating down the Thames.
Which leads me on to the word of the year…
Step 2 – Be Mindful
Mindful is the word of 2016! So what’s it all about and how can it work for you?
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
For when the filter isn’t strong enough and negativity or toxins seeps through this is the 2nd port of call for dealing with negativity or negative persons. When you can acknowledge something has come to pass or something has been said that has had a negative impact on you, then this is the first step is ridding the mind and yourself of that experience. It takes practise and I have been listing to a great app called Head Space at night in order to sharpen my focus and attentions so I am better equipped at dealing with negativity and then removing it.
Step 3 – Stay Detached
This is a great piece of advice for anyone who encounters a negative person. Unfortunately in my situation staying detached from your housemate when you are locked into a 3 year tenancy is challenging. I try not to engage every time this person irritated me. When I did I was only seen as argumentative and in the wrong because my true feelings surfaced. Rather than argue, try to ignore any negative comments. Control your emotions and prevent the situation from escalating. Walk away from unnecessary conflict. You’ll be respected for taking the high road. But this isn’t a permanent way of dealing with someone; if you live with them and they show no signs of moving out, MOVE OUT.
Step 4 – Disarm them
Don’t try to solve or fix them because at the end of the day these aren’t your issues even though they are being projected onto you. Now I may sound hypocritical right now because this step totally did not work for me, I am unfortunately way too hot headed and emotional to bite the bullet. But if you can, like my sisters, deflect the negative comment with a smile and saying something so immensely positive you will confuse the person. In comparison whatever they said will look bitchy, sad and stupid and you can walk away feeling good and leave them floundering alone in their toxic puddle.
Step 5 – It’s not you it’s them
Remember, if you find yourself in a situation where you are having to engage with a toxic person and you are suddenly feeling less positive than you did 5 mins ago, don’t waste valuable time and energy trying to make sense of their actions. Do whatever you can to prevent yourself from becoming emotionally invested in their issues and walk away.
I think its fair to say that this is definitely an area that I am working on. Part of me wishes I could end this post with a big F888K U, buuuuuut instead I’m going to sign off with a few quotes I read today.
“I promise you that the person who highlights your flaws to make you feel small hides behind a mask of insecurities” – Reyna Biddy
“Perhaps that is where our choice lies — in determining how we will meet the inevitable end of things, and how we will greet each new beginning.” ― Elana K. Arnold,
Starting over is an acceptance of a past we can’t change, an unrelenting conviction that the future can be different, and the stubborn wisdom to use the past to make the future what the past was not.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
Peace & Love homies.