Four weeks ago I started attending a weekly course designed to support caregivers that have become overwhelmed by their circumstances. Caregiving in itself can be stressful, but when you add additional "stressers"
like grief and loss, life can seem nearly impossible to navigate.
At our class last week our mentor used the word "caustic"
to describe people that wear us down. A caustic person is someone that demeans, discounts, dominates, and causes you to be generally unhappy
. And that can be exhausting.
Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle.
~ Seth Godin
Over the last year or so I have used the word "toxic"
to describe those kind of people in my life. You know who I'm talking about - the people that go round and round the same vicious cycle that gets them nowhere and only wears you down. They are the same people who perfectly define the word insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
This season in my life has given me to the opportunity to examine many things, including my relationships - with people, in ministry, at work and in my family. And I have become very aware of the relationships that matter and those that don't.
I can't afford to have caustic people in my life - people that are harsh, critical
and are marked by incisive sarcasm
. People that use comments or language that is cutting, biting, mordant, sharp, bitter, scathing, derisive, sardonic, ironic, scornful, trenchant, acerbic, abrasive, vitriolic, or acidulous.
If you're like me you may have to explore some of those words, while you examine the relationships you have been keeping in your life that just might have to be severed - relationships that suck the life out of you with constant negativity, complaints, gossip, selfishness, or extreme dependency.
Joe Barton has 3 steps to get rid of the toxic people who are poisoning your life.
#1: Establish Boundaries and Don't Apologize for Them
Boundaries are instrumental in maintaining your sanity and health. If people don’t respect your boundaries, they aren’t respecting you. Make a list of your own personal boundaries, and don’t be afraid to tell other if they cross them.
Step #2: Know that Toxic People Won't Leave Easily
In any ecosystem, toxins must be met with powerful forces to eradicate them. Toxic people will not just “go away.” They may push back and become irrational, angry, or act like victims. Don’t beat around the bush or defend yourself; tell toxic people the truth and be consistent and firm in your decision.
Step #3: Recognize Signs of Toxicity in People
You have to learn to recognize the signs that a person is toxic, or it won’t be long before the seeds of toxicity develop stubborn roots. You must learn to protect yourself from toxic people in the same way you protect yourself from catching a cold by washing your hands and avoiding contact with infected people. Watch out for people who negatively affect your other relationships, invade your space, and take up a lot of your time. If a person makes you feel uncomfortable or unproductive, he’s probably toxic.