Updated: Apr 18
During these last couple of days while talking about various subjects with a couple of friends from different social circles, I noticed that all the issues discussed ended up converging into the same matter: poisonous people. Those interactions inspired me to write about this topic. Having to deal with toxic people can affect many of us when it comes to our spiritual well being. I hope my words can be of some use to you...
I know! Sometimes having to deal with toxic people can make us feel like a wave has just hit us from behind when we least expected. But there's no need to panic! Turns out, there is a chance we can learn how to do a better job when it comes to handling such circumstances.
Yes, I was laughing! After all, there was nothing I could do at that point to stop the wave from hitting me and dragging me to the ground. I might have gotten some scrapes from the sand, but I got up and I was able to walk away from it. That's what matters the most!
Of course, I learned my lesson and I didn't go back to the water that day.
With toxic people shouldn't be any different.
Growing up, every time I got upset, after expressing my frustration to my parents I would storm out of their sight and head towards my bedroom, shutting the door behind me. There, I would sit and wait for my progenitors to come to talk to me; to listen to whatever I had to say and maybe, even, to help me deal with the way I was feeling. I do not recall any of them showing up anytime I was angered. Back then, I guess I was too young to understand the fact that the way I was behaving was, actually, pushing them away instead. As a result, I never learned how to deal with stressful situations.
Although, my dad was noble when it came to times I was feeling sad. I never forgot one specific Sunday Morning. It was the first day of May, 1994. While I was watching TV, I accidentally ended up seeing Formula One Driver Ayrton Senna steer of the Imola circuit, crashing against the barriers. As the camera covering the race closed up, I could see his head tipping to the side towards his shoulder, signaling no consciousness at all. Later on to find out he had died as a consequence of the accident. Just as many Brazilians, I was a big admirer, not only because of the way he represented Brazil, but for the simple fact that he was known for being a very kind and caring human being.
Unsure of how to react, I sadly laid on my bed. After my father saw me, he started to talk to me about it. He helped me to understand what I was feeling and how to deal with it. A couple of years later, a Brazilian band I was a huge fan of vanished after an airplane crash. Once again, he was there for me. As a result, dealing with sadness over the years ended up not being a very challenging thing for me, since thanks to him, I had learned to cope with it and move on, always taking his advices to heart.
On the other hand, not surprisingly, no one showed any desire or interest in dealing with me when I was upset. So, every time, I chose to stay alone (and mad) for long hours, thinking. The more I would think, the more upset I would get; mostly because instead of focusing on me and the way I was handling the situation, I was more concerned about how others were treating me unfairly. As a consequence, I acquired the custom of waisting many hours of my day distressed and as a result, practically training my brain to follow the same pattern over and over again for many years. Nevertheless, this mental configuration was able to be cracked when I was already in my early adulthood with the help of my husband. During the first year of our marriage, he kindly shared some of this thoughts with me, teaching me a very valuable lesson that helped me to completely reverse that cycle:
"You need to understand and accept that we do not have control over others. We only have control over ourselves!"
While sitting on the couch, I allowed myself a moment to reflect on his words, realizing that meanwhile I was troubled by the way an unknown individual had behaved, on the other hand I was oblivious to the fact that I could have had a completely different approach to the occurrence. Besides, the amount of time I just had spent on something that there was no fix to, in fact, didn't make any sense. It was a waist of my time! Giving that, I finally grasped the sense that I had to let go of that mindset, seeking to change the world by modifying others, and instead, to accept that I couldn't transform people based solely upon my will, which was key to change myself and the way I dealt with similar issues.
I then, ended up adopting the concept of letting go when it came to random incidents, just as I previously had learned to do with people that were current in my life and didn't contribute to surfacing the best side of me. After all, I was aware of the fact that changing them wasn't something of my concern, since my priority was to live my life embracing and accepting who I was, despite their judgment towards me or their desire to cause me any harm. It‘s my belief that peoples' hurtful actions say more about themselves than about me. In the end, who they chose to be isn't really my problem.
In reality, being indifferent to people who were toxic to me was something I became proficient at early in my life. Looking back, I acknowledged I have lost count of how many people I have once called 'a friend' to later on find out they were nothing but envious or not genuine individuals. Completely frauds; fake people. I actually had better luck when I was a child - possibly because not many kids wanted to be friends with me (https://kleinnanda.wixsite.com/thenandakleinjournal/post/the_second_grade_school_picture) and the few I was able to find were for real; probably early evidence that my father was actually right when he taught me that good friends can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I must say, however, my teenage years were a bucket full of lessons to learn when it came to phony and mean teens; once called friends or not. Nonetheless, to this day I am still very grateful for the life lessons my experience with them taught me and for the wisdom they have given me by showing me that they really weren't the kind of people I wanted to be like or related to.
As a matter of fact, things started to become considerably more complicated for me when I had to switch classes during my last year in middle school. Basically, I started to attend school with a bunch of students that already knew each other for years. Luckily enough, I was able to find a couple of very cool kids who were kind and welcoming, making my school year very enjoyable despite other toxic classmates.
Although, one thing life has taught me is that good friends are the people who really matter and should never be forgotten. They should be forever in our hearts and minds as a remembrance that there are great folks out there and they are the ones who really matter; worthy of our time and energy. Just as well as these figures who came into our lives not to grow old with us, but to teach us lessons for life. Lastly, that should be the only role these type of individuals should play in our lifespan: a reminder to not make the same mistakes again. Instead of hatred, we should feel peaceful within ourselves and glad for knowing that we became more developed human beings thanks to the things they have taught us by chance.
Middle School Graduation.
A couple of months after I had started attending my new class, a very popular girl from my grade, who was also one of the wealthiest, threw a birthday party and didn't invite me to it, which was completely fine; nothing but her right, except for the fact that, interestingly enough, she made sure to make very clear to me, in front of all our classmates I was the only one in the classroom she didn't send an invite to.
"Okay, then. Thanks for letting me know!" I thought to myself, turning my upper body back towards my desk as she finished making her announcement.
As I got back to my papers, I couldn't help but wonder what could possibly cross a person's mind to behave in such manner, just for the pleasure of trying to make someone feel unliked or any less of themselves?! It wasn't hard to come to the conclusion that, clearly, she was nothing but a lonely and sad person who, materialistically speaking, had everything she could possibly want, but didn't possess half of the self-respect I had for myself. That, most likely, bothered her. Besides, meanwhile she hid behind the superficiality of being affluent, knowing that resources could buy fake friends interested in materialistic things, deep inside, she knew she was a solitary person, regardless of the impression others had of her.
Ironically, the months following came to prove my findings. But, how could I have been so right on point? First, simply because I’ve learned that the people that have the need to be accepted surround themselves with social peers to not have to deal with the fact that they can't bear their own company. Secondly, they try to put people down because they are just so unhappy with their lives, so making others feel the same way becomes a necessity; a desperate attempt to try to feel better about themselves. The same applies when it comes to gossipers who spend most of their time talking about others, simply because looking within and dealing with their own issues is just something too painful to handle. Instead, they project their own problems on others since it's easier than fixing their own dilemmas.
As time passed, she realized she had absolutely no power over me, as a result, she tried to become closer, eventually even inviting me over to her house to discuss a class project that, somehow, we ended up having to do together. On the occasion, during a conversation, she opened up to me and shared that, actually, she didn't get along with her parents and overall felt pretty lonely. I was surprised, both by the fact that from the beginning my thoughts were right in regards to her and also because she entrusted me with me such personal information. We never became close friends, but I certainly appreciated her effort.
One of the reasons we never became anything other than colleagues was due to her conduct towards me in the past. I am a firm believer that people's actions speak louder than whatever they might say: to me, it wasn't a matter of forgiveness, but a question of trust. At that point in my life I had already encountered a handful of pretend friends who went around talking behind my back. Not that I cared much about what others thought of me, but I honestly preferred to avoid unnecessary drama, including having to deal with individuals who lacked personality and believed whatever they were told.
As it certainly happened a couple of years later when I was already in high school. Only seven students from my entire class spoke to me, since the majority chose to believe the tales of a former 'friend'. Thankfully, time was able to tell who was the real villain in the story, at least to some of them who got to know me a little better. Which is why I believe there's no need to waste any time trying to warn others about certain people: it's only a matter of time until true colors start to emerge.
As a matter of fact, in the near future I plan to write a series talking about 'phriends' which basically consists in phony friends. The idea is to share a little bit about the characters that have crossed my path and what I was able to learn from those experiences. Failed friendships that unfortunately weren't able to stop me from making the same mistakes again. Although, that's part of what life is: a continuous learning voyage... My dad used to say that when we stop learning, one way or another we are no longer alive.
But when it comes to having to handle virulent people's presence, the hardest part is, indeed, having to deal with the bad energy transmitted to us, creating a very negative environment. That is one thing I am still trying to figure out how to handle more properly. Currently, my best bet is to every time I sense a negative energy towards me, I immediately pray to God that whichever harm was wished upon me will be deflected. What matters the most is that at the end of the day I do know God is with me and He will always protect me. He has proven it so many times in the past and part of it is by the amazing friends he has placed in my life along my way.
As far as the other ones, all I can say is when people are vicious, envious, or phony... whichever adjective suits more properly whomever does not have their hearts in the right place, life takes care of them itself.
So here is my conclusion on how I have learned to deal with toxic people:
1. Most of the time we tend to focus more on others actions instead of ourselves. We expect that they are the ones who should change their characteristics that are bothersome to us, when the truth is we can't do so. Instead, we should learn to accept the reality, making better use of our time, taking advantage of it to look within; to evaluate ourselves, how we are handling the situation and so forth. To use the experience to grow.
2. To understand and accept that I cannot change people: I need to not worry about others because wherever I do, feel or think, at the end of the day won’t make a difference in their lives, but in my own, without adding any endowment to mine. If people want to be toxic and choose to disseminate negativity, that’s on their own. Just as it is our responsibility to not allow ourselves to be affected by their actions.
3. I‘ve made the decision to not allow myself to waste my time or energy on things or people that do not deserve it: if something doesn't add any value to my life or it is not going to help me to become a better person, it's just not worth it.
4. Whenever I feel a bad vibe coming towards me, I pray for protection. In fact, I pray for that daily. That extra prayer works as a backup. Just in case, you know?!
Nature is something that not only brings me peace, but it also makes me feel closer to God.
Last but not least, I always try to keep in mind that the best I can do to fight against the ones who don't wish me well is to live my life to the fullest; plentifully. Do my own thing, focus on myself and on whatever makes me happy. The rest is unimportant!