“What you believe is very powerful. If you have toxic emotions of fear, guilt and depression, it is because you have wrong thinking, and you have wrong thinking because of wrong believing.” - Joseph Prince
Just because you work or live with someone who is irrational or negative, doesn’t mean you have to engage their emotional chaos. Learn the art of Emotional Jujitsu. It starts with being aware of someone who manipulates and just generally poisons the energy around them. After that, you can start to disengage -- you’ll see the patterns, establish boundaries and learn how to be proactive instead of reactive to toxic people.
Here are five of the most common types to watch for in your life:
The Narcissist - Did you have a bad day? Well, guess what? Theirs was SO much worse and they’re about to dominate the conversation telling you all about it. This person relates to everything you say, not with probing questions or interesting tie ins, but only with anecdotes about their experiences. You’re not getting anything positive from this person, but they adore you. Why wouldn’t they? You’re the perfect sounding board and you really understand them.
The Know it All - Half their advice is sound, but all of it seems to get the same credence. This person KNOWS what needs to happen before you even share anything or ask anything. Heck they’ll interrupt the story with the solution before you even make your point. Aside from being annoying, this sort of insecure person is wearing blinders to what life is about -- the search, the questions, the curiosity and the common humanity that brings us together. They’ve made themselves demigods of fixing and answering. They’re seriously missing the point.
The Manipulator - These folks will win you over and then work you over. They know what you like, what makes you happy, and what you think is funny, but instead of using that information to build a friendship, they use it to forward their own agenda. Do you have time to throw this PowerPoint together for them? There’s a bottle of wine and eternal gratitude in it for you. . . Again. Think twice.
The Negativity Addicts -- This one hates the way the waitress smiles, is gossiping about everything wrong with Yoga class and can’t wait to tell you the shit their partner pulled last night. Problem is, they’re actually hilarious in their witty sarcastic banter. But you leave the encounter feeling a little dirty and worse for wear. That’s because they are just pouring piles of negativity down your gullet in the form of critical charm. A very little of this person goes a long way.
The Victim - It’s strange really. This person, sometimes very kindhearted, is always the center of a tragic shit storm. How did this happen to them again? Before you cue the violin music, listen a bit closer to their language. Is everything always happening “to” them? Have they placed every bit of control outside of themselves? Are they waiting around for things to “clear out,” “come in,” and “get better,” without any follow up thoughts on how those phenomena occur? Feel free to lend an ear, but know that lending a hand isn’t going to do much good.
We know these people may be important parts of your daily life - bosses, relatives and even partners. No need to cut them off or lay it on the line. Just knowing what you’re dealing with and acting accordingly, is going to go a long way in keeping your priorities, values and sanity top of mind.