How To Deal With Toxic People At Christmas.
I absolutely love Christmas time! But not for the reasons you might think…
I love the time I get off work.
The fact that I get to see family and friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.
I love the “Go on then, as it is Christmas!” excuse that you can use two weeks before and at least one week after Christmas.
I love the food, the chocolates, the puddings and general over indulgence that is accepted by all at this time of year.
And most of all, I love the fact that the world seems to slow down for that one day…
However, for most of the people that I work with, this time of year is a painful reminder of a life that was once lived before, of people that were part of their life; around no more and an extremely lonely time of year.
I know, that went from joyous and happy to dark and depressing…but I am under no illusion that Christmas for some is not a time of year to be excited about. It is a time when that dread overcomes them. Why? Well you know what they say “You can choose you friends…”
Family can be difficult to be around at this time of year. It is a well-known fact that family disputes increase around Christmas and New Year leaving people homeless and domestic abuse incidents reported to the police rise in the UK. Christmas is a time of year when some are forced to be with people they don’t see on a regular basis (for good reason). Or that you find difficult to get along with because they are toxic or impose their toxic behaviours on to you.
But what is toxic behaviour?
Toxic behaviour has a wide and varied range of behaviours. It can be aggressive and direct or passive and indirect. Some behaviours are obvious, and some are discreet and difficult to call out. It can be bullying behaviour i.e. name calling, belittling, undermining or it can be abusive; shouting, shoving, pushing. If you experience physical abuse from someone then please seek help immediately as this behaviour often gets worse!
A description that I think sums up Toxic Behaviour perfectly “Toxic behaviour or toxic people are capable of causing serious harm to a persons health and well-being. There are certain behaviours that do nothing but drag you down, hold you back and cause you to suffer…” (A conscious Rethink 30 Toxic Behaviours That should Have No Place In Your Life www.aconciousrethink.com, 2019)
The obvious thing to say would be “don’t put yourself in the situation in the first place” I know this is easier said than done when it’s family, particularly one you see on a regular basis. But Christmas time can bring the best and the worse out of people. And the reason you’re here to read this blog is because you want to know…
“How do you deal with toxic people or toxic behaviours at Christmas?”
1. Prepare yourself – My number one tip would be to mentally prepare yourself. You know the type of behaviour you’ll be dealing with from the person, so prepare. I don’t mean work yourself up and get upset about it. This will do you no good at all. Equally you can’t just ignore the fact that you end up having to deal with this person at some point. What I mean is visualise yourself with that person and how you would like the interaction with them to go. This includes how you’ll speak to them and the outcome in your favour which would make you feel good. This will get you into a mental head space to be able to manage any altercation
2. Plan regular breaks – If it’s a case that you absolutely must stay at the family members house who is toxic because of finances, ease or because they have insisted and you do not want to offend, plan regular time for yourself where you can easily get away from the toxic behaviour. Plan a trip to a friends houses, going for a walk, going out the way and meditating, reading, listening to music or any activity that takes you away and gives you some time out.
3. Practice assertiveness – This means being able to express yourself in a confident, appropriate and calm manner. If the idea if this makes you uncomfortable then please head across to my Confidence blog and start practising the steps now.
4. Confront them about their toxic behaviour – This is possibly the most difficult one to do because it requires you to be strong and assertive and confront the behaviour of the person. Saying that, it is possibly the most effective of them all because it confronts the behaviour and allows for an adult conversation to take place. If confronted, the toxic people may take one of the following reactions;
Be apologetic – They may not realise that their behaviour has that affect on you and they will cease the behaviour immediately and apologise. This is the ideal outcome of course.
Gaslighting – They may play it down and make out that you’re being overly sensitive or imaging the behaviour. Whether this be true or not, is not really important. What is important is that you asked them to stop. In this case just reiterate how you feel when they carry out that behaviour towards you and firmly ask them to stop it.
Offended – They may try and switch it around and put it back on you. If you have done anything to upset them and they mention it; this is a time to have an open and honest conversation. Acknowledge what they say and talk it through. If genuine, you’ll both be able to state how you feel and be able to move on.
Shrug it off – They may decide to dismiss your feelings or not take you seriously. At this point you have to make a decision of whether you really want and need this person in your life if they are happy with continuing to disrespect you…
Aggressive – They may get very upset and angry with you, with no real reason as to why. This could lead to them deciding not to talk to you and your relationship with this person may cease. This may well be an unwanted outcome. However, ask yourself what this means for you, if this is the way the person acts when you are putting yourself in a space of vulnerability to try and resolve it? They may calm down at a later stage where you’ll then be able to discuss it calmly.
5. Remember, what people think of you is none of your business! This really helped me overcome someone’s behaviour towards me, as it put things into perspective. Everyone is going through some kind of battle in their mind. How they react to you and treat you is often a reflection of how they see and treat themselves. This is not to say you should accept it. But if you only see this person occasionally it will be easier to not get caught up in it. Try saying this to yourself when coming across toxic behaviour towards you… it really helped me.
6. I deserve to be in an environment of respect, peace and harmony – Use this statement and remember that NO-ONE has the right to belittle, undermine, or disrespect you. Even if you have had conflict with this person in the past where you were in the wrong; it still does not give them to right to behave like this towards you. They either need to address it with you as an adult or leave it in the past. Repeat after me;
I DESERVE TO BE IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF RESPECT, PEACE AND HARMONY.
7. Take yourself completely away from the situation – Not much explanation needed here! As I said above you do not deserve this treatment and if that person is aware of how it makes you feel and they continue, then there really is only one option left in my eyes. Cut them off! You don’t need that in your life and if you continue to let it happen, it sends a clear signal to that person that this is ok when of course it is not.
If completely cutting them off is not an option because you live in their house, for example; you need to find ways to be able to limit the effects their behaviour has on you, until your able to detach completely.
I just want to end this blog on this note; most people who exhibit toxic behaviours have in depth healing to do and multiple issues to overcome themselves and are not aware of their own behaviours and the affect they have on others. This does not make it ok! However, calling them out on it may aid their healing or make them address their own behaviours. So if you do this you may in turn be helping them…
Over this Christmas holiday period, I hope that you stay safe in mind and body…
Until next time…
If you liked this blog and want access to members only content then follow the link to subscribe!