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How to Break the Power of Toxic People in Your Life

Is Your Life Plagued by Toxic People?

Curled into a fetal position, sucking your thumb as you watch The Devil Wears Prada.  “This is so my life!”  you think in despair.

Or does your life sometimes feel like a weird Twilight Zone episode featuring the Mean Girls?

Toxic People–We all know the type: Nasty. Passive aggressive. Confrontational. Physically aggressive.

No matter how they present in your life, chances are you would like to find a way to kick them to the curb (or if not, at least to minimize the impact they have on you).

You may have heard the maxim that “hurting people, hurt people.”  Let’s start there. In order to ameliorate the influence that toxic people have in your life, you have to begin to separate the behavior from your judgment of the person–as difficult as it may be.

If you want to change the impact of toxic people on your life, you’re going to have to do the work to heal the things their dysfunction brings up for you.  So let’s take a look at how this works in a practical way.

Toxic People Behave Sickly

Judging someone negatively because they are unhealthy, hurting or scared doesn’t serve you.  Sick people act sick. This is especially important to recognize if you are in close relationship with the person (such as family or close friend).

Venting your frustration at their behavior patterns by continuously judging them negatively will support your ego’s need to feel “better than” but it won’t serve your healing or your desire to grow.

Releasing the expectations you hold for the person behaving badly in your life won’t be easy because you truly want them to be different than they are.  Trying to change another person through manipulation or coercion is a fool’s errand. If you will understand this truth, it will save you a world of hurt.

1. It’s not personal! 
They are sick (or fearful, or hurt, etc), so they are behaving as a sick person would.  It doesn’t give them an excuse to victimize you; however, it does give you the freedom to release your expectations of them.  That’s big, if you can absorb it.  Sit with that one for a bit, if you need to.

2. You do not have to take anything personally.
You have the power to liberate your soul from the burden (and pain) of taking the disappointment of those unmet expectations personally.

There are no toxic people, only toxic behavior.  
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Stick with me here and I’ll show you how this is true.

Your negative judgment of another person is an indictment of yourself–always.

Because we cannot fully love and accept ourselves, we judge others (tweet it). We want to judge each other because we have criticized and condemned ourselves so harshly, first.

When the ego needs to prove its worthiness, then everything and everyone must be judged.  (How else would it know its worth?) The need to judge someone else evaporates when there is no need to set myself up as “better than…”

No separation exists between us. If you loath a quality or characteristic in another person, you must have first recognized it in yourself.  Otherwise, you would  not be triggered emotionally by another person’s actions.

The ego seeks to project the dysfunction outwards onto someone else (i.e., “he/she is toxic”).  It is easier than facing the truth.

What is the truth?

When you are whole and healthy, the pathology–or bad behavior patterns–of another stimulates compassion in you, not judgement.

When you feel judgement rising within you, it is a sure sign that your own pathology has awakened. There is pain or an unhealed wound within me which surfaces, stimulated by someone’s unhealthy behavior.

The Inadvertent Gift of the Toxic Person

Preparing for the expected Police Raid at Occupy L.A.I am not saying that you are responsible or to blame for the bad behavior of those around you. You are only responsible for your reaction to it.

Think about the last time you saw a child throwing a fit in the store.  You probably shook your head or rolled your eyes. Maybe you just walked away.  You noticed it, but it didn’t trigger a response within you.

Why?  Because it wasn’t your child!

It is the same in your life. Someone else’s tantrum (bad or unhealthy behavior) won’t cause an emotional reaction within you when it’s not your “child”.

When you recognize that you are emotionally triggered, use the opportunity to lean into awareness. This isn’t a bad thing!  It’s a gift. Embrace it.  Stop and observe.  What do you feel in your body?

The feeling of emotional charge that urges you to react is a signal that there is some fear, pain or wound within you that remains unhealed.  When you recognize it, you can choose to heal it. This is the gift that the toxic behavior of those in your life brings to you.

Release the need to judge–even your own feelings.  You are not your feelings.  You are the one observing them.  Allow them to flow in and through you.

So the first step to alleviating the pain of toxic behavior in your life is to begin to separate the judgement of behavior from the person. Next, it is to recognize that the judgement of someone else always begins at the doorstep of our own sense of failure.  Learn to ask: Where is it in me?

When you bring it out, you can work it out.
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The people you believe to be a toxic influence in your life actually offer you a great gift–the gift of awareness.  They invite you to awaken to your own pain and hurt in order to heal it.  They can be your greatest teachers if you will let them. It’s up to you.

What About You?

How do you cope with the toxic behavior of people in your life?  Have you been able to heal these relationships? Please join the conversation in the comments.

In the next post in this series, I’m going to discuss these relationships and how we can strive to move them from dysfunctional to healthy.

NOTE: Be sure to check out the rest of the series.
Part Two: How to Set Boundaries for the Junkyard Dogs in Your Life
Part Three: The Truth No One Ever Told You (but should have) About Ending Toxic Relationships

Image Credit: greg lilly 

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Answering the Question – How?

Last week, I asked you What do you want from life?  This week I’m following up with a video on your biggest fear. It may not be what you imagine it to be.

Think about that thing–whatever it is–that you want to obtain.  An ideal relationship? A perfect job? A more healthy body?

Once you get really clear about what it is you want, you’ll probably notice that your mind goes into panic mode.  In fact you might feel like the lone player in a dodge ball* match with your own brain.

Your brain wants to know how you will find the right person. How will you connect to the right people? How will you find the time? You’re mired and sinking rapidly in the quicksand of “how?”

Volley after volley hurls toward you.  How? How? How?

This week’s video talks about the first step to freeing yourself from this barrage.

duration: 2 min 8 secs

What about you? What do you fear when it comes to answering “how”?

*dodge ball is a common children’s game where a large rubber ball is thrown across a center line between two teams…the object is to dodge the ball and be the last person “out” on the team.

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What Do You Want from Life?

What kind of career do you want? What do you want your primary relationship to look like?  What type of body do you want (and are you willing to work to maintain)?

You’ve probably asked yourself these questions. You may have even gotten some great answers.  But the hard part comes with actually implementing the actions that will give you the results you say you want.

And I think I’ve found a simple shift in how this question is asked which can make a big difference in the answers you come up with, and consequently, the results you produce.

Are You Asking the Wrong Question?

(duration 1 min 57 sec)

In this short video, I share the question I believe you should be asking and some thoughts about taking the next step which will move you beyond what seems to be setting you back.

Will You Do Me a Favor?

In the previous post, I created a short, inspirational video for you. This video is more of a “teaching” video. These were the top two types of videos you said you wanted to see from me (on Facebook).

Would you give these vids a “thumbs” up on YouTube and share your comments? I’d love to improve them each time I go in front of the camera. Let me know what ideas connected with you.

  • What would you like more of?
  • What worked well in the videos?
  • What would make them even more powerful/impactful?

Share your comments below or shoot me an e-mail at steve (at) truespiritualawakening.com and let me know what you think.

Of course, I would be honored if you’d share them with your friends and networks on Facebook/Twitter as well.

Now it’s over to you!

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Inspirational VIDEO – You Are Enough

I’ve been wanting to do video for some time.  This is my first real attempt at it.  You all said (on Facebook) you wanted inspirational videos and instructional videos.  This falls into the first category.

Would you do me a favor and “like” it and leave a positive comment on YouTube if you enjoyed this video?

Sorry this isn’t captioned.  Here is the larger poem this piece is taken from.

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My Friend’s Mom Is Dying…

…Right Now.

“Nothing more we can do,” they say.  An ER nurse for years, the tables turn. They now discharge her to hospice care.

I grieve.  I hurt.

For my friend.  For his family. For the sense of powerlessness that I feel, confronted in his mother’s imminent death by my own sense of mortality.

Hopeless.  Such a devastating and powerful word–this illusion called hopelessness.

You see, it’s not true.  She has deep faith–the kind that’s rooted in the earth of her soul and spreads it’s branches high toward heaven.

redwood topsShe is not hopeless.  In these last hours, she rests against the breast of God, and I imagine she can nearly see God’s face.

Death is not a loss of life, but an expansion of it–true ETERNAL life.
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We grieve for what we are losing. But for her, death is passing through a door.  It’s finally arriving home after a long double-shift in life’s ER and slipping out of her old, cancer-torn scrubs.

I’m Jealous

Of her courage in life.  Of what she can see from there that I can’t.  Of what she now knows that I have yet to learn.

I pray that I find the same courage and grace to live.  

Fearless. Now. Today.

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How to Land Your Dream Job with Confidence…Even If the Interview Process Terrifies You

You Deserve to Land Your “Dream Job”

Everyone wants to land their “dream job.”  If you’ve done so already, congratulations!  That is no small feat.

If you are like I was and are floundering a bit wishing things were different, but not quite sure how to make that happen, take heart.  You can succeed.  It will take some clarity, focus, and a little bit of old-fashioned persistence (i.e., stubbornness); but you can find–and land–your ideal job.

And why not?  You deserve it.  This is your life, after all.  You might as well live it according to the highest vision you have for yourself.

Last week, I shared why many of us fail to identify our ideal job.  This article, however,  is about helping you land the job you love by increasing your confidence by creating a story that will position you to obtain that job once you get the interview.

[Read more...]

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Are You Making This Mistake When It Comes to Uncovering Your Ideal Job?

What Is Your Dream Job?

Do you feel like you’re at a dead end road in your search for your “dream job”? It can be really frustrating.  I know from personal experience as this is an obstacle I’ve faced a couple of times over the past 20 years.

Most of us start off all wrong when we set out to do work that matters to us.  In the online space today, there are a lot of people on the internet who will encourage you to start your own business or do your “own thing”.  And that’s fine…for some people.  But not everyone is an entrepreneur, and honestly, most people probably shouldn’t become one.  It’s terrifying and risky, but can also be exhilarating and rewarding.

The truth is that you don’t have to start your own business to be happy doing work that you love.  You can find happiness working under someone else’s roof.  But the first step is to identify the work that “makes you sparkle,” as a friend of mine says. [Read more...]

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It’s Independence Day!

Freedom–The Most Powerful Human Idea?

Broken Chain Link Here in the United States we are celebrating Independence Day.  With that celebration, we hear words like “liberty” and “freedom” bantered around.  But what do they truly mean for you and me?

Obviously, within the context of politics and national identity, these concepts have radically different meanings for each person.  I don’t really want to get distracted by those ideas and concepts because I believe that one of the–perhaps the most important idea of human development lies cradled within the hands of liberty. [Read more...]

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026: AWAKE! Podcast – Personal Freedom and the Space Between Stimulus and Response

The Space of Freedom

Awake Podcast Logo

The power of our potential lies in the space between what happens in our lives (stimulus) and what we think, feel and do about it (response).

This episode explores the the idea of personal freedom and how to expand this space between stimulus and response to enhance self-control and personal empowerment.

I also share the difference between reaction and response and how a subtle shift can make a huge difference in the outcomes you create.

Duration: 14:09

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Ask a Better Question, Get a Better Answer

Asking the Right QuestionQuestion Mark

Personal performance expert Tony Robbins is known around the world for his ability to help people create motion  in their lives.

One of the most powerful insights I learned from him is expressed in this quote.

“Quality questions create a quality life.
Successful people ask better questions,
and as a result, they get better answers.”

[Read more...]