“I hate drama,” you always say, and then somehow, the dang Drama Llama finds you and prances its maniacally majestic way into your life with its feathered boa dipped in the sweat of your anxiety. More like boa constrictor.
I always kick myself for continuing to endure the behavior of toxic people. You don’t always realize the depth of the pond scum until you’re saving those precious last minutes of your breath and sanity in the face of their latest circus act. Chanting to yourself “Not my circus, and not my monkeys” only gets you so far in the face of the persistent toxicity.
You’ve ignored it. You’ve talked about it with them until you got blue in the face — then red in the face. You offered empathy and tried to understand their perspective. You took time away. You practiced mindfulness, but extreme circumstances call for extreme acts of self-care — and that requires you to cull this from the root and burn it all down. Here are the best ways to cut ties with the toxic people in your life.
Poison Is Poison, And Poison Spreads
Things can only go on for so long until the toxicity level becomes unbearable for the body and mind. Poison is poison, and poison spreads.
You put too much stress on yourself trying to work this situation out in your brain and develop strategies for coping. Stop coping. Start culling.
Poison spreads. That’s the nature of it. Take as many preventive measures as you like, but you can’t change the nature of the substance. Once you feel that knowledge deep in your bones, it’s easier to forgive yourself for enabling the behavior or waiting too long to let this person go.
Always Trust Your Gut
It’s easy to give into your second nature of forgiveness and the benefit of the doubt. Modern society emphasizes rational thought over gut instinct, but those feelings are real bodily signs that you feel threatened. When constantly stuck between fight and flight, you can’t focus on anything else in your life, and your sleeping and eating suffers. Other areas of your life suffer. If that’s the case, this person needs to go.
Trust your gut the moment you feel something is off. It’s OK to walk out of the coffee shop or the bar. Ending the call is OK. It’s OK to tell someone their behavior is too much, even if you worry that it’s not socially acceptable to say something.
Trust your gut. Your gut is your compass, and your mind will always spin in an indecisive circle when you pursue too many threads of thought. Make it easier on yourself.
Say It And Mean It
Some people don’t understand or refuse to accept body or verbal language that expresses the fact that you’ve had enough. You’ve likely made several attempts to speak with this person and show them how their behavior and words affect your life with little to no progress.
So, speak your mind one final time with a firm voice. You don’t have to be mean, but if you’ve moved through a spectrum of approaches, it’s time to express yourself as firmly as you can.
Say it and mean it. “I don’t want a relationship or any form of contact with you. Do not contact me or my loved ones.” If you need to, share one or two specific details of your discomfort or times you felt unsafe in front of witnesses. This is not a conversation.
Be clear and concise, and use a firm tone.
Get Comfortable With Ghosting
I’ve never been an advocate for ghosting, but there are extreme cases of toxic relationships that require it. How many times should you outline your boundaries before someone hears and respects you? More importantly, do they put that into action around you? Reciprocal relationships are healthy ones, and when you’re constantly disrespected and mistreated, it’s time to consider ghosting where talking fails.
Don’t feel guilty. You’ve previously told or shown this person that their behavior is jeopardizing your relationship, and there’s nothing to feel bad about if you decide to ghost. Start with the slow fade — answer less and less. Change up your routine. Don’t say you’re busy or make excuses — just reduce your presence. Give them no reason to excuse your absence.
Be Real With Others
Be real about the situation with others in your life. It doesn’t mean you’re gossiping. It doesn’t mean you’re causing drama. To protect your space and sanity, sometimes you need others to step in and help enforce your boundaries. If something further occurs, at least others know about the situation.
Get Legal If You Have To
These behaviors may continue to the point that you feel unsafe. If you fear you’re being stalked, contact the police and a lawyer. Start a journal of your interactions and take photos.
Don’t Isolate Yourself, Spread the Love
In times like these, most of the actions that friends, psychologists and other officials suggest you to take surround avoidance — move as far away as possible from the toxic, and potentially dangerous, person in your life. It’s not fair to uproot your life because someone can’t see their own issues and be accountable. Sometimes, avoidance isn’t possible. It’s not at all fair, and that makes you feel all kinds of emotions: sadness, fear, anger, frustration and guilt, among others. You feel a loss of power. You become uncentered.
Take this time to spread the love. The world is a big place in need of love. Volunteer and give back to others to increase the positive energy in your life. Help young ones attend school, and fill bellies with food. While you enact these steps where you can, don’t isolate yourself completely from the world. Find other ways to connect with your passions. Look for the awkward positives, such as spending more one-on-one time with your loved ones, instead of relying on social media for perceived connection.
Most of all, love yourself. Be the source of unconditional love — no one can take care of you like you can. You may not know how to put into words what you need right now, but deep down, you know what that is.
If it’s ice cream, get your ice cream. If it’s a day trip, get out of dodge. If you need to take legal action, do it. If loving yourself means shifting your focus to your bucket list, then kick it after kicking this toxic person to the curb.