Here are some simple strategies to help minimize or eliminate toxic people from your life:
1. IDENTIFY THE EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES IN YOUR LIFE. Scan your life and notice what friends, family, colleagues, co-workers or romantic partners sap your energy, clog your life and bring you down.
2. TELL TALL SIGNS SOMEONE IS SUCKING YOUR BLOOD:
- you begin feeling tired and depleted
- your eyes are droopy
- your posture starts to collapse (rounded back, hunched shoulders, collapsed middle)
- you notice yourself getting irritable, anxious, antsy
- you feel insecure, unsure of yourself, off-kilter and are not sure why
- you crave carbohydrates, sugary or ‘comfort food’
- you can’t get a word in edge-wise
3. BASIC SPECIES OF VAMPIRE TO AVOID:
- NARCISSIST: You can’t get a word in edge-wise, everything is about them, even if you tell a story – they spin it back to themselves in relation to their experience, you have been hanging out with this person for hours and they haven’t asked you one question about yourself.
- VICTIM: Negative Nelly. All blame and “woe-is-’me’”. Down on their luck, nothing is their fault (conspiracy theorists, anyone?!?). You wind up feeling depressed and equally negative. Making those around them feel guilty.
- CONTROL FREAK: Always dominating, righteous, thinking they know best and trying to fix your problems, inundating, pushy.
4. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES:
- CLEARLY DEFINE A TIME LIMIT FROM THE BEGINNING. If you must be in contact with a vampire (family or co-worker) – immediately state the time limit that you have. i.e. “I’m running into a meeting in 10 minutes, so our conversation has to be brief.” or “I am on a deadline and have to get back to work…is there a quick question I can help you with?”
- 3-4 hr. TIME LIMIT WITH FAMILY. If you’re home for a holiday or on an extended trip with a vampire (alcoholic brother-in-law, pushy mother, critical co-worker) limit yourself to no more than 3-4 hours together.
- USE BODY LANGUAGE. Stand a few feet away from them so you’re not ‘caught up in their space’, cross your arms, wear a hat to seal your energy in, wear shiny objects (jewelry, gem stones, metal) to deflect their energy, lean away from them.
- KNOW YOUR EXIT STRATEGY. Make up an errand you have to run or a phone call you must take (outside!), go to the store, for a run, do a brief meditation, call a friend or therapist for support. Have a friend call you at a certain time to interrupt. Do whatever you need to do to return to center. Return only when your head and energy field is clear and strong.
Please leave a comment below and share the specific strategies that help you deal with toxic relationships and create healthy boundaries.
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Ashley is a top L.A. yoga teacher and body-mind psychotherapist. Visit her facebook page here.