Hello! Seiiti Arata. What to do when you live with toxic people, who are always complaining, gossiping, lying, people who are unhappy and overly criticize everything you do?
You must not tolerate abuse, because the more time you spend in a toxic relationship, the more you risk getting used to it and accepting treatment worse than what you deserve.
And in some cases, your own happiness may fade, slowly suffocating you. This happens when deep down you like that toxic person and feel ashamed to have a better life than theirs, to have more happiness than them.
Before we look specifically at what to do with toxic people, we need to understand how attachment is an enemy of your happiness.
The difficulty of moving forward has to do with our attachment to the past.
There are different reasons for attachment. For example, if you are no longer with a loved one, you may believe that it is not right for you to feel happiness right now. That is why some people are criticized when, at the end of a romantic relationship, they are soon in a new romantic relationship. It is socially expected that, after a breakup or loss, there will be a moment of retreat and recomposition.
The problem is when that moment is longer than it would be healthy. This is where attachment comes in. Attachment to the past makes it very difficult for many people to move on with life.
Many prefer to live in unhappiness than to displease society. If that is your case, if you feel guilty about feeling happy, it may have to do with the stories you tell yourself in your head.
You may be unhappy with the feeling of guilt. Guilt makes you think you are not worthy of happiness.
There is an irrational limiting belief that makes us feel enormous guilt and shame for being happy. This belief states that it is wrong to be happy while other people are suffering. And a toxic person often condemns you for being happy while they are suffering.
Whether due to an internal limiting belief or a condemnation from a toxic person, we believe that we do not deserve happiness. We feel an inexplicable guilt.
When we notice differences between our level of happiness and that of other people, we can interpret that difference as if it were an injustice. If this difference makes us uncomfortable, we basically have two choices to resolve this imbalance.
We can try to improve the lives of others. Or we can make our own life worse.
We will explain each of these choices.
What is trying to improve the lives of others? We can do our best to contribute to improving the lives of others, doing a good job, contributing to social causes and using compassion, empathy, patience, communication, action and solidarity.
This is doing our part, within the reasonable limit, seeking to elevate the lives of others.
Now… What is making our lives worse? It is me dealing with this dissonance, with the discomfort of perceiving the difference between the level of happiness in my life and the life of someone else… and then sabotaging my own life, stifling my happiness.
So, without happiness, now I approach the pain of others, beating myself up. However, my suffering and my unhappiness do not improve the lives of others. Sacrifice alone is worthless, it is self-mutilation. This is an irrational choice that lowers us by reducing our happiness.
The other person doesn’t care if you sacrificed your happiness. It does not improve her life. If it is someone who wishes you well, that person probably wants you to be happy.
But things are not always so simple, because if you are dealing with toxic people, they will feel a certain pleasure seeing that now you are also suffering and are showing you’re less happy.
Being around toxic people decreases our happiness.
Imagine that you are going through a difficult time and you are sad. Now, think of someone you love, and that person has noticed your sadness… and they start feeling sad out of compassion, too.
How would you feel? This is probably not what you want. If you love that person, you want them to be happy.
It is already unpleasant to be sad. It is even worse to know that other people are saddened by our sadness. We usually don’t wish unhappiness for others, much less for people we love.
However, there are toxic people who will wish you unhappiness. The toxic person will be jealous and hateful of your happiness and that is why they want to pull you down. They do not always do this on purpose, sometimes their negative influence happens unintentionally, without planning it. In some cases it is just a strange feeling of having company, of the person not wanting to be alone in that sadness.
So, we need to be very careful not to let these people’s unhappiness contaminate our happiness levels.
Our compassion should motivate us. There is a virtue in delivering the best possible contribution to raising the quality of life of those around us. But we need to be careful not to make the mistake of thinking that it is our duty to make our life worse in order to make the other person happy.
You can have compassion without having to sacrifice your happiness.
If the other person is getting happy with our pain, it will be a bad sign. It is necessary to be clear about the type of relationship we have and what sacrifices we are making.
You can learn to feel happiness even if the people around you are not happy.
Those who cannot be happy alone may be suffering from codependency, they may be more focused on others than on themselves.
If you really want to have a positive impact on the lives of others, think: if a person is sad, are you better able to help that person by being happy or by being sad, too?
Before you try to help others, you need to take care of yourself. If you are in a weakened emotional state, it will be more difficult to contribute to the lives of others.
To deal with a toxic person, know the limit that separates you from the other person.
Also understand that even if you do your best, the other person may still be unhappy. When you have done everything, it is necessary to understand that you will never be able to save the other person, to change them.
The emotions of someone are the responsibility of that someone. Understand this boundary between who you are and who the other person is. This is not selfishness, but the main key to getting rid of codependency with negative people.
If you blur the boundary between you and the other person, you may feel that you need to be sad when the other is sad. You think you need to feel hate when the other is feeling hate. Nothing could be more wrong than that. You are one person. The other person is another person.
Learn to be happy alone first. This will help not only you but everyone around you. First, take care of your personal development. Be a healthy individual. Once you are a healthy individual, you are more likely to have healthy relationships.
We have many negative beliefs about happiness.
We have just explained the problems of believing that you do not deserve happiness or of believing that you must stifle your own happiness to help others. These are just a few examples of limiting beliefs that make living with toxic people even worse.
If you associate happiness with something unwanted, it is very likely that you will find it difficult to be happy. I will give two more common examples of negative beliefs about happiness.
Some people believe that it is important to remain dissatisfied in order to have the motivation to seek improvements in life. These people think that being happy can make a person lazy, without motivation, because if they are already happy, it is not necessary to work hard to achieve anything.
This is a misinterpretation of Steve Jobs’ famous message that we must stay hungry, that is, not be satisfied quickly.
Happiness does not make us lazy. On the contrary, happiness makes us more productive and more successful. We are more likely to be creative when we are happy.
Another negative belief is the one that associates happiness to a silly person, alienated from what happens in the world, who is smiling at everything and everyone.
The fact that you are happy does not alienate you from the suffering of others, the problems of the world. Instead. When you’re happy, you’re much more likely to help than when you’re feeling sad, angry, or out of control.
You can refuse to be contaminated by the toxic person. Do not accept provocations.
You cannot control the toxic person’s behavior, but you can control your response to the provocations of the toxic person. It is essential to learn to observe when your ego is hampering your decision making.
For example, imagine a toxic person who lives with you and is unhappy at work. She asks you for advice on how to get a better job. You encourage that person to distribute resumes and attend networking events. And then, they say that your idea is silly, that they hate participating in networking events and that they find it disgusting to have to keep forcing themself to meet people with the interest of finding a new job.
Notice in this example the feeling of anger arising. This anger comes from the ego, which was offended. The ego tells you that you have to prove that your idea is good, because you yourself always use networking to improve your professional results.
Your ego feels criticized and needs to prove that you are right and the other person is wrong.
You can just watch all those emotions come up in you and realize that the toxic person just has a different opinion than you do. This allows you to stay calm and maybe change the subject or get away.
Let’s continue with the example. Imagine that after a few days, the toxic person excitedly tells you that she went to a congress in their area, and met representatives of another company there and was interviewed. And they are super happy because it was her friend William who suggested going to the congress.
At that time, again the ego gets irritated, you feel angry and want to rub it in their face that before William gave them the genius idea of going to the congress, you yourself had already suggested networking at events and was criticized. The ego feels rejected, as if the ideas coming from you are worthless.
By just watching your ego voices wishing for a confrontation, you can decide with greater tranquility and awareness.
Do you really want to have a conflict? Even if you want to remind the person of the conversation in which you first suggested it, you will still have the ability to express yourself much more calmly.
Thus, learning to observe yourself is an essential key to refusing to become contaminated in your relationships.
Our decision-making is often based on limiting beliefs. If you start to believe that you need to stifle your own happiness out of compassion, there are several wrong premises that need to be corrected. Some of these limiting beliefs have their origins in toxic people who want to put you down. Perhaps they are not even aware that they are affecting your well being.
In the Happiness course we have a series of practical exercises to reframe the way you live with other people and, mainly, with yourself. Visit this link to start your classes now in a quick and practical training.
An important part of the dynamic of living with toxic people is to know the limits between who you are and who the other person is. You can receive all kinds of provocation. Just don’t accept them. Keep your ego in check so you don’t take offense easily. One way to do this is to increase your level of awareness and mindfulness, and we will do this together in the Happiness course.