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Do you ever feel like you are juggling fireballs while dealing with toxic people? We’ve all been there. Whether they’re constantly raining on your parade or spreading negativity, toxic people are challenging and frustrating. Sadly, we all have at least one toxic person in our lives. It could be a coworker, your neighbor, your mother-in-law, your sibling, or even your spouse! I want to share 13 effective ways to deal with that negative Nancy/Ned so you can maintain your composure, not lose your marbles, and have inner peace. 

Recognize Toxic Behavior

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The first step in dealing with toxic people is to recognize their behavior. Understand the signs of toxicity, such as manipulation, negativity, and constant drama, so you can identify it when it arises and are better equipped to deal with it. Many people chalk up negative behavior to having a bad day, but that’s not always the case. Some people are just negative all the time, and whether they had a good or bad day has nothing to do with it. It’s important to differentiate this. 

Set Boundaries

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Establish clear and firm boundaries to protect yourself from toxic behavior. If they cross the line, remind them that they are trespassing in your personal space. Communicate your limits and be consistent in enforcing them. Be clear, direct, and honest about your feelings and boundaries without being aggressive. Your well-being matters! They may not like this, but your job isn’t to please people. It’s to make sure you’re happy and around well-meaning people. 

Stay calm and composed

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When faced with toxicity, take a deep breath and remind yourself that their negativity doesn’t define your mood. Pretend their negativity is a foreign language you’ve never heard before. Toxic people may try to provoke you. Avoid getting drawn into arguments or escalating conflicts. Stay calm and composed. It’s ok to use your voice and tell them you’d rather not get sucked into their toxicity. If they don’t change their tone, walk away. Your inner peace is most important. 

Practice Active Listening

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Be an empathetic ear, even when they’re spouting negativity. Sometimes, people need someone to listen, and your understanding might surprise them. When they’re being negative, listen like you’re absorbing all their negativity with your empathy. However, the key is to set limits to avoid all that negativity that impacts your happiness. Remember, empathy doesn’t mean you’re their emotional punching bag.

Understand where they’re coming from

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Try understanding their perspective – it doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Sometimes, knowing why they’re negative can help you navigate the situation better. While it’s important to protect yourself, try to understand the root causes of the toxic person’s behavior with empathy that can help you detach emotionally and respond more compassionately. If they ask for help, suggest resources they can look into to help with their issues. 

Respond, Don’t React

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Reacting impulsively is like letting them control your emotional remote. Responding thoughtfully takes their power away and keeps you in the driver’s seat. Keep calm and think before you speak. Remember that arguing never gets you anywhere and will make the toxic person even more irritable and angrier. Listen carefully to what they have to say, and then after you respond calmly, you can choose to either walk away or continue the conversation, provided it settles down. 

Focus on Solutions, Not Drama

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When they bring problems, shift the focus from blame to solutions. Redirecting the conversation can turn negativity into a brainstorming session on resolving problems. Most times, people lash out because they are afraid and have no answers to their issues. When you focus on solutions, it helps calm them down, refocus, and gives them hope. 

Practice Self-Care and Mindfulness

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If you’ve had a recent altercation with a toxic person, chances are you’re replaying that conversation in your head over and over again to see where you went wrong and what you could have done differently. All this worry and anxiety will get you nowhere. Instead, practice self-care and replace your own negative thoughts with more positive, loving ones. Engage in activities that recharge you, whether it’s a bubble bath, reading, coloring, or a Netflix binge. Stay present in the moment and let go of thoughts about past negativity or future encounters to reduce stress and help maintain your well-being.

Use “I” Statements

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When addressing their behavior, use “I” statements instead of accusatory language. This shifts the focus from blame to your feelings, making it less confrontational. You can’t control their actions, but you can control how you respond. If you clearly state how you feel in the moment, they may recognize that their behavior is hurtful and damaging and shift their tone. 

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

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If the toxicity takes a toll on your mental well-being, don’t hesitate to seek help professional help. Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your experiences with the toxic person you are dealing with. Sharing your feelings and getting feedback can provide valuable perspective and emotional support. Your mental health is of the utmost importance, and if the toxic person in your life is harming it, it’s time to take more serious action. 

Stay Rational, Not Emotional

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Emotions are like waves—they come and go. When dealing with toxic people, stick to rational thinking and remain calm. It helps you maintain control and clarity. Whenever they twist facts to fit their narrative, focus on facts and not on emotions. Once emotions come into play, fireworks go off, and nothing will get resolved. You can’t fight fire with fire. When you show a calm and rational side, it will calm the toxic/angry person down as well. 

focus on the positive

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Remember that the toxic person’s behavior is a reflection of their issues, not your worth. Remember, hurt people hurt people. Keep a healthy sense of self-worth and don’t internalize their negativity. Toxic individuals thrive on negativity, so focusing on the positive aspects of your life can reduce their impact. Surround yourself with positive people who uplift you. Their positivity will act as a shield against the toxicity and remind you of the brighter side of life.

Know When to Walk Away

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Sometimes, physical distance is your best ally. When their negativity becomes unbearable, if possible, reduce your interactions with the toxic person, as it can be an effective way to minimize their influence on your life. When all else fails, the best course of action is to cut ties with this person completely. If a relationship consistently harms your well-being, prioritize your own mental and emotional health and walk away.

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Iva is the founder of Women Blazing Trails. She created this site back in 2019 to help other women over 50 start over again, find self-confidence and regain control of their lives and happiness. When she's not writing, she's driving around on her scooter in her tiny town of Panajachel, Guatemala feeding street dogs and helping the poor people here.

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