How to Deal with Toxic People

Part of the stress we have in life comes from the people we encounter and must deal with on a daily basis. When we think about those individuals, we may try to create scenarios in our heads for how we may or may not converse with them. We send ourselves into a tailspin of anxiety because we feel unequipped, and we fear the unknown. This, in turn, brings up a good point: reacting vs. responding. What’s the difference and which one helps us? Simply put, reacting means we’ve lost control of the situation and have given up our freedom to choose, but when we respond, we have control of our boundaries. 

Neuroscience shows us that if you give yourself a chance to identify what you’re feeling in these situations, especially with a toxic person, we can make a difference if we can name our emotion. The labeling of a feeling brings brain functioning to a much higher level and engages other parts of yourself vs. your “reactive” brain, which will usually get you into trouble at such moments. But stopping, looking inward, observing yourself, and labeling what you are feeling will slow down the reaction and give you another avenue for choosing how to respond.

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