Encountering a toxic person can be daunting. There are some strategies for coping with emotional abuse that you will want to implement when dealing with someone like that. These strategies will help you regardless of the relationship you have with the bully, whether a family relation or in a more superficial situation. All these strategies are meant to strengthen your defenses and minimize the impact a toxic person has on your mental and emotional well-being. It is good to remind yourself that these are not intended to improve or build an actual healthy relationship with a toxic person.
First Things First
The first step in coping with a toxic person is accepting the fact that their behavior will not change. The only thing you can change is your attitude and behavior around them in an attempt to defuse the situation. The best you should hope for is managing the relationship.
The basics of dealing with a toxic person is all about making yourself less vulnerable, taking focus away from yourself and not triggering any further attacks. All of that while not compromising yourself and your well-being.
What Not to Do
I always prefer to talk about strategies that you can implement to deal with a trouble person. But there are simply some thing that you really need to avoid. So let’s have a look at those first.
Empathy is usually a good thing when building healthy relationships. It allows you to understand and share the feelings of the other person, which helps you connect. When it comes to toxic people, empathy can actually hurt you. It can leave you vulnerable to catching their feelings through heightened emotional susceptibility (we go into that some more here). You are far better off simply showing sympathy. A far less effective tool in making emotional connections to others, but enough to make the toxic person feel you are taking them serious. Consequently, they will not feel the need to make you pay for your insufficient care for them.
It can be so tempting to hit back when someone hurts you. But, remember, the person you are dealing with is unlikely to comprehend they have made a transgression against you (and even if they do, they will not care). So, any revenge will be counter productive. You revenge will count against you and will leave you in a worse position than you were in before. Getting even can be really tempting though, so I often have to remind myself to let Karma take care of things for me on that score.
Confronting the Toxic Person
Having it out with someone can be a great way to resolve issues, release tension and come to solutions or compromises. That is, if both parties are interested in resolving the conflict. Even if you have fantastic communication skills, a confrontation with a toxic person is pointless. They don’t know or don’t care about the problems they are causing, and are not interested in finding a solution. Confrontation can really only have one outcome: an even more enraged toxic person with an ax to grind.
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact
that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction
from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons.
What Can You Do?
So now that we talked about what not to do, let’s focus on strategies that you can implement to protect yourself from further attacks and minimize the impact the toxic person has on you…