Are you divorced or recovering from a heartbreak and working to rebuild your self-esteem? When you’re working to get your confidence back and build boundaries, there is one “hiding in plain sight” barrier that will keep you from reaching your goals.
And that’s surrounding yourself with toxic people.
You know *exactly* who they are…
- The pushy one with unsolicited advice that makes you doubt your decisions
- The rude one throwing shade with snide comments and back-handed compliments
- The one who blames you and makes themselves the victim when you call them out on their BS.
Sound like anyone you know?
Is this a sister or brother? Your father or mother? Your adult child? That “friend” who says they’re “only trying to help you?”
Literally every person deals with these folks on the daily. And his/her comments are so hurtful because they know which button of yours to push. They’ve known you for a long time, and know your sore spots, triggers, and vulnerabilities. They’ve had decades to perfect them.
That’s why one of their comments can leave you devastated for days.
The secret about toxic people in your life…
100 percent of that criticism has nothing to do with you. They are projecting their own insecurities onto you and not taking responsibility for their own crap.
Remember the time your sibling said, “those jeans look a little snug on you, don’t you think?” although they knew you were hitting the gym again?
They guaranteed can’t fit into their own jeans anymore, or just saw a picture of their slimmer selves in college.
Remember that time you got that promotion at work and instead of congratulating you, your mom or dad said, “Oh, so I guess that means you’ll be spending even less time with your kids.”
So, what do you want to do about them?
Option 1: Continue to let them walk all over you, saying “that’s just who they are. They won’t change. This option is risky because you put yourself at risk of continued frustration and hurt feelings.
Option 2: Stand up for yourself. This doesn’t have to look like a Jerry Springer fight. But it takes courage, especially if this type of person has treated you a certain disrespectful way for years or decades.
- “Hey (insert person’s name), it really hurts my feelings when you do/say (insert harmful action here). I would ask that you keep those comments to yourself.
- “Hey (insert person’s name). I notice that you’re always commenting or giving me unsolicited advice on my divorce/looks/weight/recovery/insert whatever they’re always commenting on. I would ask that you don’t do that anymore, at least until I specifically ask for your advice.”
So, a quick heads-up when you stand up for yourself against toxic people. If the person has any amount of emotional intelligence, they may take a step back and say, “Oh, wow … Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad,” or something along the lines of that.
Or they may get defensive and turn it on you. They may say, “I’m only trying to help you. If you don’t want my honest opinion, then fine.” And then they might stomp away or hang up the phone or stonewall you or some other 5-year-old-at-the-playground silliness.
If that reaction occurs, that is a HUGE RED FLAG that maybe this relationship is unhealthy. This ain’t the end of the world–it’s just an opportunity to set up healthy boundaries.
Oh, and I get you may not just be able to walk away from that person so easily. They might be a relative or close friend you have known for years.
But remember–being related to someone DOES NOT give them carte blanche to disrespect you.
It takes a herculean effort to be confident enough to speak up and stand your ground when they push back. But until then, remember:
- Be aware that some of the most toxic people may be the ones closest to you
- Their hurtful words have nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own insecurities
- You have the power to speak up for yourself…even if you’re older and haven’t done much of it.
- Family members and close friends *do not* get to be disrespectful just because they’re in your life and have done so for decades.
So, how about you? Do you close friends and family who put you down?
What two steps will you take the next time it happens?
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