How to Keep Toxic People From Wrecking Your Motivation

No matter how much good you do for others, or how much progress you make in life regarding things you perceive as your own weaknesses, toxic people know how to swoop in like vultures and wreck it for you – but there are some things you can do to keep your cool and stay on your own path.

Maintaining Motivation in the Face of Toxic People
Maintaining Motivation in the Face of Toxic People image courtesy of Pixabay (Exercise step like the one I mention in the article – only mine is pink and purple.)

The Backstory Behind this Post About Maintaining Motivation and Not Letting Toxic People Get to You

I want to share the story of a recent trip I made to the local Goodwill store as an example of what I mean.

A random encounter with a totally toxic crone is the inspiration for these tips;

(I know, I shouldn’t call her a crone, but she wasn’t Cinderella, and if the shoe fits…) 

First, I have been exercising daily for 63 days now. I alternate resistance training with cardio, and I’m doing it for my health, and I have been looking for something to work my glutes and thighs, but I’m a budget shopper so I was at Goodwill.

My entire goal in exercising is to get stronger and be able to enjoy some active things, like hiking and riding a bicycle this summer – if I lose any weight – that will just be a happy bonus.

Whether I lose weight or not is completely irrelevant to me – I just want to be able to enjoy life and do active things without getting out of breath and wondering if my heart is going to give out.

Sure, if I do lose some weight, I’ll be happy about it, but it’s not my goal.

So, anyway, I found an exercise step at Goodwill for $4.50, and I thought, “Hey, that would be a great addition to my exercise gear!”  and I stuck it in my cart.

This short, chubby, older woman came up, looked in my cart, and asked what it was.

(What kind of idiot snoops through stranger’s carts at Goodwill anyway? That’s not normal!)

I explained it’s a step to use for exercising at home.

(Exercising… NOT losing weight – there’s a difference! Diffferent goals, different motivation.)

She replied that she had tried many times to lose weight, and her daughter had lost 80 pounds a few years ago, and they both gained it all back – and she went on to say that NO ONE EVER loses weight and keeps it off.

(Bold statement to assign her own failure and her daughter’s failure to every living person on the whole planet given there are 7.5 billion people living here, but… okay…) 

Finally, before she left, she looked me up and down to assure herself that I was, in fact, fat, then she wished me luck… and told me not to feel bad when it doesn’t work.

(At no point in the conversation had I said a SINGLE WORD about weight loss – that was this random stranger’s BAGGAGE, not mine.)

I smiled and nodded, all the while imagining myself smacking her with said exercise step – I didn’t though – I prayed for her black, ugly soul to gain some insight, for her to evolve into a decent human being that doesn’t need to crush others for no reason, for her daughter to escape her insanity, and for the toxic woman’s rotund, stubby body to gain at least 80 more pounds.

(I know, not the world’s nicest prayer, but I truly meant the nice parts, and at least I didn’t hit her with an exercise step…)

The encounter got me thinking about how many toxic people we come into contact with, and how deeply they can affect us when the only thing they are really doing is trying to reduce the pain and disappointment they feel in regards to their own pathetic lives.

If my only goal in exercising had been weight loss, though, this encounter might have sent me home crying with a  chocolate cake and left me giving up my efforts permanently.

The toxic woman would have likely defeated me if she had managed to correctly guess my goal in exercising, so I guess I was lucky that her baggage about not losing weight was different than my own.

Ways to Keep Toxic People From Wrecking Your Motivation

I’ve already hinted at the first two ways I want to suggest for preserving your own resolve in the face of abuse toxic people.

  • Pray for them, or send out good vibes if you’re not a praying person. Put your own anger aside long enough to truly wish the other person well. You can do that by praying for them or by simply sending some good vibes their way. It doesn’t matter if that person knows you wish them well, in fact, I think it’s better for YOU if they don’t. It’s for your sake. It helps you let it go of the hurt, offended feelings so you can move on.
  • Don’t own someone else’s emotional baggage. Realize that no matter how wrong they are, they just reflecting their own pain onto your situation. It has NOTHING to do with you. Sure, it’s still aggravating, but don’t pick up someone else’s baggage, let them carry their own burden.
  • Trust your own goals and motivation. Focus on your goals, and your reasons. If you don’t have a strong goal or a strong reason, think of one. Life is an ongoing process, and if you let one toxic person wreck your path, then they’ve won. You deserve to forge your own way, for your own reasons.
  • Vent and let off steam if you have to. Find a way to get it off your chest and just let it go. I’ll admit, that’s what I’m doing with this blog post, and if blogging about it would help you, feel free to snatch the idea.
  • Use what you’re feeling to help someone else. Nothing refocuses you quicker than reaching out a hand to help someone else. Use your words to share how it felt, teach your kids to eat healthier, or do whatever you feel right about to help someone else live a better, healthier, more positive life.

I wanted to turn what I was feeling after this encounter around and turn it into something positive that would have a chance of helping someone else. So, I tried to put a little humor in it.

Thanks for reading, and while I hope you don’t ever encounter anyone toxic who makes you feel small and worthless like that toxic, nasty woman tried to make me feel, if you do, keep these things in mind and give them a try.

 

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How to Protect Yourself Emotionally From Toxic People

We all know someone who is as toxic (psychologically) as a poison mushroom, and sometimes it’s easy to just avoid that person. What do you do, though, when it’s a person  in your life – or worse – multiple toxic people – who you have to interact with on a regular basis – like your mom or a spouse? What do you do, when your family delivers a heaping, daily dose of soul-crushing toxicity to your life?

How to Protect Yourself From Toxic People
How to Protect Yourself From Toxic People image courtesy of Pixabay

What Is a Toxic Person?

Before jumping ahead with this, it feels important to give a bit of a definition of a toxic person.

A toxic person is one who exhibits behavior that inflicts emotional pain on others, using tactics like manipulation, constant criticism, and even jealousy. The surprising detail, is that, according to PsychCentral, these toxic people are coming at you from a place where they were deeply wounded in their own lives.

The problems with toxic people arise from the fact that rather than take responsibility for their own feelings and needs, toxic people inflict pain on those around them by playing the role of victim, martyr, bully, or perfectionist that they fell into at some earlier point in life.

So… They’re Being Jerks Because They’re Hurting???

Understanding that the toxic person is coming at you from a point of pain can help you distance yourself from the situation and open the door for you to forgive the behavior that injured you, but it can’t take away that knot in your stomach, and it won’t necessarily take away any rage you feel from being victimized by the toxic person.

How to Protect Yourself Emotionally From a Toxic Person

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from the unhealthy behavior of a toxic person, but one of the most important is to love yourself enough to be good to yourself.

Record Your Feelings

Keep a journal of how you feel after interactions with the toxic people in your life, go into as much detail as you comfortably can, and if you are concerned that the toxic person might find your journal, put your thoughts in a password protected document or blog so no one else can access them.

Re-read your journal entries and look for patterns, and as you begin to recognize that you get sick every time ‘Aunt Bertha’ is coming over or that you find yourself in the bathroom throwing up and checking the scale every time your ‘hubby says you’re chubby’, then you can start looking for healthy ways to process the stress caused by the toxic person in your life.

Try Some Deep Breathing and Meditation

When you are in the heat of an exchange with this person, recognize that you don’t have to engage them. Toxic people ‘feed’ off of your responses like parasites feed on hosts. If you don’t respond, and they get even more demanding, and more vocal, then you have even more confirmation of their toxicity. You might have to respond to keep the toxic person from resorting to physical violence, but try to take a few deep breaths and speak from an earnest place rather than delivering the emotional response that your toxic person is craving.

Should You Run?

If you are too deeply entrenched in the anger and nastiness that’s being thrown your way from the toxic person in your life, the time may come when you have to separate yourself physically and emotionally from them if you ever want to be ‘okay’ – but only you can decide that – and only you can do the work of allowing yourself to grow stronger, and allowing yourself to see your own worth.

What About Love?

Separating yourself from this person doesn’t mean you don’t love them (talking family members here for this part – not so much co-workers). In fact, it’s pretty obvious that if you are tolerating someone’s toxic behavior, then you must love them or you would have already bailed on the toxic relationship.

Psychology Today suggests a number of ways to know when you are the victim of a toxic person, and two big ways to know are when you dread being around the person and when thinking about the person is taking a lot of your energy and crushing your self esteem.

Chances are pretty good that if you have been the victim of a toxic person, now is the perfect time to put some self-analysis into it, and be real with yourself about recognizing and breaking unhealthy patterns in how you interact with the toxic people in your life.

By Laure Justice

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