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Episode 34: Toxic People

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You are listening to the Confidence Catalyst Podcast with LDS Life Coach, Hannah Coles Episode 34: Toxic People.

There’s a lot of advice out there that will tell you to RUN from “toxic people”. There’s a belief that they are poisonous and you’d better get away before they infect you and bring you down. But what happens when you run away only to find yourself face to face with yet another toxic person? Do you just keep running your whole life? There’s another way, a better way and today I’m going to teach you all about it. Tune in to learn all about toxic people and what you can do about them.

Welcome back, my friends. I hope you’re having an amazing day. I just got back from the most amazing trip to Lake Tahoe with my family. It’s absolutely beautiful there. Our place is right on the shore and we got a little bit of everything. The first half was sunny and warm and the lake was crystal clear and so still and serene. It was lovely. Then a small storm blew in and we woke up to snow and everything covered in a brilliant white glistening layer of snow. It was so fun. I’m already ready to go back. This year was a little different for us, we’re usually gone the entire week of Thanksgiving but this year we decided to go the week before and I’m so glad because now we get to spend time with our extended family and have cousin time. It’s going to be great!

This month in the Catalyst Membership we’ve talked all about Family Relationships and those dynamics and how to feel confident when maybe the relationship feels strained. These connections can be challenging and create a lot of drama and suffering for you in your life because even though you’re related to some personalities and people are just in stark contrast to one another. So before you head into the holidays and family time or friend time – even if it’s not the holidays I want to teach you how to not just survive or how to deal with difficult people, whether that’s family or not and how to feel confident when you’re interacting with them. 

I know you’ve experienced this before. There’s this sense of dread and anxiety when you think about them – not just interacting with them but just thinking about them. For a lot of us we just want to run and do everything we can to avoid them, to not have to talk to them, be around them, or have them in our lives. In fact, there’s a lot of articles and advice out there that will tell you to avoid difficult or toxic people. Eliminate them from your life, walk away, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life and I’ll be honest, I. Cringe when I hear or read this advice because if you’re familiar with the model and if you’re not go back and listen to episode 6: set her free and get to know the model – it’s life-changing. In the model, think about where you’d put difficult or toxic people. Well, first we have to drop the term and label it difficult.

In the model other people go in the C line – they’re a circumstance and they’re entirely neutral meaning, they can’t be difficult or toxic – stay with me, I know you’re thinking, “no, they really are toxic or difficult, trust me” and that right there goes in the T line, our thought line. 

It’d look like this, The circumstance is that particular person and then you have a thought, “they’re difficult, they’re toxic” and really that’s all it is, a thought about a person. There really is no such thing as a toxic or difficult person. There are just people and our interpretation of those people and that’s really great news because if it’s a thought, that’s under your control. You don’t need to wait for them to change or be less difficult because you make them difficult or toxic. It’s not them, it’s your thoughts about them. 

Now, stay with me. I know, I’ve experienced this myself and coached enough of you to know that you truly, with all your heart believe that they are difficult. Some of my clients would want to argue with me and tell me examples of things they did or said because in their minds they really believed that they’re toxic. These people of themselves aren’t toxic. There’s no such thing as a toxic or difficult person. There isn’t a blood test or diagnosis that will write up someone as toxic. Everyone in the world wouldn’t agree. It couldn’t be proven in a court of law. There are just people. Just humans. 

Now what I want to help you with today and what I want to walk you through is your thoughts about them. In your world and in your mind these people become toxic and difficult and this we can work with. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can still live among these people and thrive in their midst because what they do and say can’t hurt you emotionally. 

Think about the definition of toxic and difficult. If you google it, the definition just says poisonous, venomous, dangerous, harmful. When we label people as toxic think about what’s going on in our subconscious mind. We’re treating them as if we could just by association be poisoned or have this poisonous energy that can somehow be transmitted through the air and into you harming you and how scary is that?  It’s no wonder that so many people want to run, avoid, disassociate, and cut off all interactions with these people. 

Also by thinking this, you’re giving up your power and ability to feel confident around them and when you’re thinking of them. You’re believing that they can hurt you or affect you and os naturally your primitive brain is like, run, run far away as fast as you can. But that’s not really feasible when these people are in your family or in the workplace. Maybe they’re at church and you work with them in your calling, or maybe they’re a friend to your friends and so you have frequent interactions with them. 

I want to tell you today that you don’t have to run or avoid anyone, ever if you don’t want to. I want to tell you emphatically that they no matter what they say or do they can’t hurt you emotionally. They can’t. There is nothing that they could say that can hurt you. Stay with me, I know you want to argue with this but look here, 

Your feelings are protected from these circumstances – and they are a circumstance by your thoughts. 

Did you get that? Your F’s (feelings) are protected from your C’s (circumstances) by your T’s (thoughts)

Think about this, if someone were to say just downright mean things to you but in Latin – I’m trying to think of a language that no one speaks anymore and you don’t understand them would you still be hurt?  No, you wouldn’t you might be confused, like what did they say? But because you didn’t understand them you didn’t choose to interpret their words to mean something mean, hurtful, and toxic to you.

You have a thick, unbreakable wall that protects how you feel against them. And just because they can’t hurt you doesn’t mean you want to stay. You might choose to walk away and not be around them but if you do, I want you to be honest with yourself about it. It’s not because THEY are toxic and hurting you. Take ownership, it’s because you are hurting you by believing the words they’re saying. 

The truth is that people cannot hurt your feelings without your permission and even this, isn’t them. It’s you believing them and hurting you and taking their words as truth. You’re hurting you from the inside and then blaming them for how you’re feeling and doing this it’s incredibly disempowering. It’s also teaching your brain that, they are scary, they’re dangerous, if we interact with them we could die so your brain now with this urgent directive is vehemently scanning and searching for evidence to prove this true. 

It’ll start scanning looks that they give, interpreting texts as hostile, and any interaction as negative- before we’ve even had the interaction we create stress and turmoil for ourselves.

You can’t create confidence from this place. It’s difficult to function at all from this space. There are people that might say things to you, that might not like you, that might hate you even – they might come outright and say, “I hate you” or other choice words and I’ve talked about this before and I’m going to again and again because what they say and do isn’t about you. 

It doesn’t feel good when people don’t like us because we then question ourselves and why they don’t like us and then we make it mean something about us, that something is wrong with us, that if only we could fix it in some way then they’d stop hating us and then we could feel better. And I know that sounds attractive to a lot of you out there but you can’t do that. No matter what you change, what you say or do, you don’t change or create their feelings. That’s on them. Just like their words can’t hurt you. 

They don’t have to affect you the way you’re allowing this to. You can create space for them in your life – please don’t misinterpret or misunderstand – making space for them in your life doesn’t mean to invite them dinner and to stay. Making room for them simply means acknowledge that people with this personality exist. There are a variety of people on the planet and resisting this, thinking they should be different is arguing with the reality that these people are also here too. Making space is another way to allow the thought, that people that say these kinds of things exist and they don’t have to affect you or harm you or anything to you if you don’t want them to. 

You’re in charge, you hold all the power over how you feel and the experience you create. There are a few things I want you to engrain in your mind and repeat over and over and over again as much as you need to when you’re around them or when you’re thinking about them.

1.) They can’t hurt me. My f’s are protected from my C’s by my T’s. – They can’t hurt me emotionally. You have to believe the thought for it to hurt you. You’re the gatekeeper. You get to decide what gets in and what stays out.

So remember and repeat, they can’t hurt me

2.) What they do and say has nothing to do with me.

Just like you have your own preferences and things you like and don’t like. They get to have that too. If they don’t like something about you, it’s not about you. It’s about how they’re choosing to perceive you. It’s about their past experiences, their biases, what they grew up thinking and believing. 

3.) There’s no such thing as a toxic person. There are only my thoughts and interpretations about people. Remember, we’re masterful storytellers. We shape and create our experiences by words, by our interpretations, by our thoughts. Everything you see is a perception of what is. There are kind, inspirational people out there simply because you believe there are. Just like there are toxic people out there simply because you’re believing there are.

But why would you want to think that? What upside is there to believing they’re toxic? Is there an upside to believing that they can hurt you? That they’re poisonous?

I’m going to say no. When you believe that you also believe they have power over you, that they can hurt you and when you believe these things you create fear, worry, anxiety, doubt, insecurity, misery for you. These feelings will never give you the results you want in your life. They block and inhibit you from being and creating what and who you want to be.

Now, the gem in all of this is that it provides you with an opportunity to work on yourself. Since that is the only thing we can control and have power over we can use these people and these circumstances as an opportunity to learn something more about yourself. If there are no toxic people, then it’s a made-up thought in your mind and an invitation to dig deeper, to understand yourself and why you’re labeling them as toxic. 

Understand your triggers – why are you allowing what they’re doing or saying to trigger you in this way? Why are you allowing thoughts to stay that create stress and anxiety for you? Why are you choosing to believe that they’re toxic? Notice how you feel when you think of these things. Notice what your actions are.

A lot of the time we mirror the very behavior that we detest. One of my clients had a brother that she labeled toxic. He said and did things that she didn’t agree with. In her words, he was rude, narcissistic, mean, and always looking for ways to manipulate her – in her words. 

She felt threatened by him. She never knew what was going to set him off or what he’d say. This created a lot of anxiety and stress for her. Her actions would vary depending on the day and what was going on. She’d sometimes yell back and argue and retort with the meanest things she could think of to say to him and other times she’d just cower down and think the meanest things about herself – that maybe she was the scum of the earth and deserved this treatment.

She mirrored the very behavior that was unacceptable to her. She was mean and rude and thinking of herself. Or she was mean and rude to herself by thinking and saying mean things to herself on the inside. Either way, she was showing up very differently and displaying the things she despised most about him.

Then because she never acted that way around anyone else, she blamed him for her actions and feelings. He’s the toxic one. I don’t like him. I don’t want to be around him.

So she built this case around him and looked for evidence to prove this all true.

But again, it’s important to see that he really wasn’t the cause of any of her turmoil. She created all of that. She allowed thoughts to linger and stay. She labeled him as toxic and found proof in everything he said and did as dangerous and poisonous. She blamed him for her actions and experience and as a result, she wanted to run far away from him.

This is an option, you guys. You can always walk away. But notice it’s walking away and not feeling like you have run, escape, flee for your life. It’s a choice and one I want you to make very intentionally and deliberately. You don’t have to go anywhere. You also don’t have to stay anywhere, even if that person is family or a co-worker or in a calling or wherever this person is. You always have the right to leave but I just want you to think about it first.

I want you to realize that they aren’t hurting you. That you hold all the power and as such you can honor your preferences and leave or you can stay and do your own thought work to take care of you. Doing this allows you to see how much power you have and how little power they have over you.

Its only when you buy into their story and create your own drama about it that you hurt your own feelings. You never have to remove them from your life if you don’t want to because,

They are a circumstance. Your F’s are protected from the C’s by your superpower – by your thoughts, by your story about them.

Now, here’s another important thing I want to drive home – you don’t ever have to tolerate or put up with things you don’t agree with – ever. This is where boundaries come into play. I have a whole podcast coming out next week on boundaries for you to teach you how to set healthy, unbreakable boundaries – but for today I’ll just say that boundaries are there for your protection. 

They clearly tell others what you will allow and what you won’t allow. They’re not an escape route. They’re not made in desperation or fear. Boundaries aren’t about the other person either. It’s not to stop them from what they want to do. It’s a way for you to protect you when they use their agency in that manner.

But boundaries are all about you protecting you. You state clearly what you want them to do or not do and then you tell them what YOU are going to do if they continue. Now, it’s important to note that they can continue. They have their agency. They can do that but you, who also has agency can choose to walk away or whatever you need to do to protect yourself.

Boundaries are information for them. It’s a way of telling them what you’re going to do and if they want to change their actions. It’s not manipulation or an ultimatum. It’s just saying, “Hey, if you continue to yell or speak to me in this manner, I’m going to leave, I’m going to walk away, I’m going to hang up the phone – whatever that is for you. And that’s it. Then they get to decide, knowing all the pieces, do I want to continue? Do I like that outcome? 

And maybe they do so they continue or maybe they don’t and they stop. But either way, the boundary works because you protect you. You take care of you. You can feel confident in that because fears are gone when you know you’re going to be okay.

Think about that, the only reason you’re insecure or doubting or afraid is because you don’t know if you’re going to be okay. You think that they can hurt you and so you walk on eggshells around them or avoid them because it’s scary. But if you can go into knowing that you’ve got your back, you don’t have to fear because anything that they say can’t hurt you –

you’re going to take care of you by setting boundaries and listening to what you need and what you want.

The way to feeling confident around them is by knowing your triggers. Why you’re believing certain things they’re saying or why you’re interpreting their action to mean something about you. Get to know yourself and all those dark crevices. Then own it, embrace it – make sure you’re giving credit to the right person. That you are the only one that can hurt, heal, or affect you.

Then trust that you’re going to take care of you. Whether this is setting boundaries, walking away, deciding that you can do the thought work but maybe you just don’t want to and that’s okay too. You’ve got to uncover the fears so that you can address them so that you can calm the fears down and know that not matter what you’re going to be okay.

There are no toxic people, there are just people. There aren’t hurtful words until you interpret them as hurtful. Remember the three phrases to repeat over and over again:

1.) They can’t hurt me. My f’s are protected from my C’s by my T’s. – They can’t hurt me emotionally. You have to believe the thought for it to hurt you. You’re the gatekeeper.

2.) What they do and say has nothing to do with me.

Don’t try and make it about you. Even if they say it AT you – which again is a thought. No one can do anything AT us, it’s still our interpretation and a thought. And in this case, it has nothing to do with you. 

3.) There’s no such thing as a toxic person. There are just people.

Notice what changes when you take that out.

When I believe there are toxic people out there I feel anxious, stressed, worried, afraid

Then I show up weird, worried, stressed, panicked, avoiding – escaping

And I create a world where toxic people exist and can hurt me. 

But if I just take that word out and say, there are people – that is a person.

Then it’s almost like, and? So what? Or I say, that person said words. It neutralizes it. It takes the scary out of it. It’s just kind of boring. Then in this space, I get to decide what I want to think about them and their words.

I can think, “No thanks” – I actually love thinking this because as a human, you get to do veto things. When they talk to you – can’t say talk down to you – just talk to you and you don’t like it, it’s not your preference. You can say, “no thanks” or from Joe vs the Volcano – the sister says, “I have no response to that” – Because you don’t have to respond. This is your life and you get to decide what you want to do, what you want to think, and who you want to spend time with.

You can choose to walk away just do it knowing that it’s your choice to – they didn’t make you, you chose to and that’s okay. 

Okay, remember the three sentences: There are no toxic people, What they say and do has nothing to do with me, and they can’t hurt me.

You can do this, my friends. Listen registration opens this weekend for the membership. If you hurry and register this week you’ll get the class for this month all about family relationships and how to feel confident in those relationships and you’ll get access to December’s work which is all on dreaming big, setting goals, and taking action. Both of these classes are going to help you immensely and help you to create the kind of life you absolutely love, it’ll help you to create confidence in all walks of life regardless of the circumstances. So go over to members.thecatalytscoaching.com and join the membership. It’s packed full of resources and things to help you up-level your life.

Okay, friends, have a great week!

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