You are a positive person and have a positive approach to life. But despite this fact, you seem to attract toxic people in your life. They surround you with negativity, take advantage of you and make you feel bad or manipulated. Why does this happen?
Marc Chernoff, Marck&Angel Hack Life, has an answer for us.
Image source: QThomas Bower
1. You are a great listener.
Let’s face it. With technological distractions stealing our attention all the time, great listeners are often hard to find. When you find one, it’s hard not to take advantage of the rare opportunity to be heard.
Toxic people, however, take things to the next level. They’ll talk to you for hours when they can get away with it. They’ll ignore every body language and verbal cue you throw at them. They’ll share unsolicited, negative details about their life every time they see you. And they’re certainly not interested in what you have to say — because they’re only interested in seeing and hearing things their way.
If you’re great at active or empathetic listening, you may find yourself unwittingly becoming the target of a conversational bully or narcissist.
When entering into a conversation, decide how much time you can, or wish to, spend with the other person. Limit your conversations with toxic people to no more than a few minutes.
Think ahead of time about some exit lines you can use when the time is up or when a lull in the conversation develops. Here are a few examples: “It was great catching up with you…” or, “I’ll talk to you again soon, but right now I must…” or, “I’ve got to get back to work.”
The key to deploying this strategy well is to not send mixed messages. Let your body language and your words match. Of course, this will feel harsh and awkward sometimes, but it’s a necessity for your own well being.
2. You are incredibly generous with your time.
Most people would agree that being generous is a desirable character trait. But beware; toxic people can be drawn to overly generous people.
They will cling to you if you’re willing to drop everything for them, answer all their calls, reply promptly to their emails, and fulfill their requests and demands every minute of the day.
As they consolidate their power by demanding more and more of your precious time, you may find yourself becoming increasingly resentful.
Generosity without boundaries is a recipe for toxic relationships. To establish healthy and reasonable boundaries, start by becoming aware of your feelings and needs. Note the times and circumstances when you’re resentful of fulfilling someone else’s needs. Gradually build boundaries by saying no to gratuitous requests that are likely to cause resentfulness in you.
Again, this will be hard at first because it will feel selfish. But if you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know that flight attendants instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before tending to others, even their own children. Why? Because you cannot help others if you’re incapacitated.
In the long-term, establishing and enforcing boundaries will be one of the most charitable things you can do for yourself and those you care about. They will preserve the best of you so you can share yourself with many wonderful people – not just the toxic ones who try to keep you tied up.
3. You’re open, honest and trusting with your dreams.
Sadly, many people opt to settle in life. So if you’re striving for big dreams and goals, you’re bound to attract the attention of a toxic person or two.
If you freely share your dreams and goals with them, they may view you as aggressive, greedy, unrealistic, or selfish. Driven by the fear that you might actually succeed, they’ll be ready with a word of discouragement. They’ll try to plant seeds of fear and doubt. And as you begin to make progress, they’ll double down on their strategy.
Never share your deepest dreams and goals with people who have proven themselves to be toxic or close-minded, even if they ask you about them repetitively. Be especially wary of people who have lots of opinions but never challenge their own views, educate themselves, offer positive alternatives, or take action.
To counteract their negativity, surround yourself with people who are pursuing similar dreams and goals and have a track record of success. Engage with those who lift you higher. (Marc and Angel discuss this process in detail in the “Relationships” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
Read more: Marc & Angel Hack Life