Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Toxic People or Toxic You

     I've been thinking about the effects of toxic people for over six months!  Going through many experiences in my personal and professional life, I've observed the power of influence and how other people can truly affect us negatively or positively.  We all have to deal with people who drain us instead of enrich us.  Polluting relationships (personal or professional) are truly toxic and if you're not careful, without notice you can become a different person.  An unhappy, depressed, complacent, apathetic person.  I've been thinking about ways to better deal with toxic people without being a complete hermit.  I have contemplated cutting off all sources of social life before to achieve self preservation, but that isn't the right answer or a healthy answer.  We need other people to be happy.

     How do we go about only allowing happy, inspiring, wonderful people influence us?  I've come up with a few things to think about; a way to be aware of toxic people and how to steer clear of them.

1.  Be aware.  To be aware of toxic people you first have define what is toxic to you.  Everyone is affected by people differently; what may be toxic to me may not bother another.  I've defined toxic characteristics as mean, complaining, bad attitude, negative speaking, manipulating, gossip, etc...  Not all of these characteristics have to be present at once and not all of these characteristics mean a person is toxic.  Make a simple guideline or definition of what is toxic to you, and become aware of what to keep an eye out for.  I follow my gut mostly. 

2.  Avoid toxic people.  Once you've defined what is toxic, avoid these kinds of people or environments.  I include environment because I have been in places that seem to suck creativity or inspiration right out of me.  I don't know if it's the type of people a specific establishment attracts or if it's just how I'm feeling that day.  Either way, avoid a toxic situation.  It's hard to get out of an established relationship, so if you see a few signs of what you've defined to be toxic, hold off and give yourself time to observe and be sure you're dealing with a toxic person rather than someone whose just having a bad day.

3.  Get over the guilt.  Not everyone you meet has to become your BFF.  Toxic people can be very manipulative and make you feel guilty when you try to put space between you and them.  They can even hang on tighter and make you feel guilty for wanting space.  Get over the guilt. 

     These are just a few tips on how to be aware and avoid toxic people.  When I started thinking about avoiding toxic people, I thought to myself, "what if I'm the one who is toxic?"  It's easy to blame others for how we're feeling, especially when we're feeling bad.  I came up with questions to ask myself to help me determine if I'm being toxic:
1.  Am I looking for people who will listen to my troubles only?
2.  Am I looking for people who are troubled just like me?
3.  Am I looking to feel inspired or am I looking for confirmation of my bad feelings and thoughts?
4.  What type of vocabulary do I have right now?  Am I using toxic words like:  annoying (I use this one a lot), bored (my kids use this one a lot), anxious, bugged, depressed, I don't care, etc. . .
5.  What kind of people am I surrounding myself with?  Where am I hanging out? 
Once I've taken a long hard look at myself and defined what I see as toxic I can make changes in my life and let the happiness, inspiration, creativity, and motivation begin!

     Change doesn't just happen, you have to make a plan and then carry out that plan.  I started thinking about small and simple changes I can make to ensure I don't become toxic:
1.  Search out new experiences.  Learning and experiencing new things, people, and places is inspiring.
2.  Keep an open mind.  I can't change if I'm not open to it.
3.  Find comfort in solitude.  I'm not saying cut everyone out of your life, but I feel it's important to find comfort in solitude, meditation, or working on projects alone.
4.  Share your experiences.  Start a blog or share your experiences on Facebook.  Write a friend or call someone.  I find sharing my experiences connects me to like minded people. 
5.  Align your actions with what inspires you; this can only help you find more inspiration and motivation.
6.  Teach someone something new.
7.  Disconnect for awhile, start writing a journal.
8.  Write a bucket list.
9.  Create a vision board.
10.Keep role models in mind.
11.Read an autobiography of someone you admire.
12.Write your own autobiography, you are inspiring too!
13.Let go of what you can't change!

     I feel if I'm aware of my own actions and continually try to be non-toxic, I can avoid toxic people and situations.  When I lost my leg I felt the most hopeless I'd ever felt in my life.  I knew I had to surround my self with positivity and genuine people to survive.  Anytime we're going through hard times, big or small take a look around you and your environment and make the necessary changes to help yourself.

     I hope this blog doesn't come across as preachy.  I've learned a lot through my life experiences and I want to share what I've learned with the people I care about most!  I want to learn form the people I care about most too!

     My husband is a non-toxic person!  I find his talent, knowledge, and ability to have great conversation inspiring.  I admire him and when I'm around him I feel happy, motivated, and enjoy life. 

Take time to detox your life!