Think of all the relationships you’ve developed with people in your life. Your relationship with your family, friends, significant other, boss/co-workers, clients, barista, barber, and dog walker- just to name a few. There is a reason that each of these people holds a position in your life; some out of necessity, some obligation and some out of desire. If you don’t vibe with your personal trainer, then you can quickly and easily find a new one to replace them.

But what do you do when you aren’t on the same page with people that you can’t just replace? When you’re constantly dealing with difficult or toxic people you’re bound to feel a higher level of stress in your life. 

Most of the time, toxic people remain in our life because they are related by blood, they possess the mysterious cosmic hold over us of obligation or they play a role in us being able to pay our bills. This could be a friend that you’ve known since the third grade that was there for you during a difficult time when no one else was and now you feel obligated to that friendship even though it turned toxic a while ago. Or maybe the people in your work environment are not the easiest to get along with and you aren’t in a position to quit your job at Negative Nancy Headquarters.

This can cause your mentality to quickly shift to “it’s not me, it’s them.”

The most common and enduring difficult relationships involves family. People who have known you your entire life, can have a bias that they know what’s best for you and in some situations, this can be very frustrating. It’s important that you take the time to evaluate every relationship you’re investing your time, energy and soul into.

Are these relationships uplifting you or depleting you?After you spend time with someone or a group of people ask yourself if you feel energized, inspired, happy, optimistic or do you feel exhausted, depressed, annoyed, anxious. This is a clear sign about the type of transaction behind the relationship.

If you find yourself in a situation with difficult or toxic people that you must endure, keep these tips in mind:

Be Proactive & Have a Plan

Go in with a plan. Strategically set your meeting, dinner or hang-out in between other appointments. Make it very clear that you only have 30 minutes or 60 minutes. Mentally prepare yourself beforehand about the direction for the conversation. Establish as many parameters as you feel necessary. Prepare yourself for how you will handle certain conversations. Have the proof, research or documents ready to support whatever you’re asking for.

Be Strategic About What You Want

Most difficult people you’re dealing with operate like clockwork. If you already know how they’re going think, respond or act then be strategic with your objective for the encounter. If there is something specific you’re trying to get the other person on the same page with, then first think of something that would be even greater than what you want- even if you know there’s no way it’ll happen. That is what you ask for with full confidence. Then your “compromise” is what you wanted all along. Pick your battles wisely and know what’s worth fighting for and what’s not worth your energy or peace.

Hold Yourself Accountable

You can’t control how others think, speak or act, but you can control how you react. Make sure that you are coming from a place of peace or love and not out of hate, jealousy or trying to be “right.” When you are genuine with your words and actions you will leave these types of interactions with a much greater sense of inner peace. Focus your attention on what you can learn from this interaction. You can learn something from every person you encounter- even if you can’t stand them. You will either learn something positive you want to emulate or something negative that you will avoid in your life. Hold yourself accountable during these interactions, it’s far too easy to blame the other person. What can you do better to improve this relationship or situation?

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” -Wayne Dyer

Every person views the world from a different vantage point. You never know what others have been through or what has shaped the way they see things. It’s okay to see the world differently on an intellectual, spiritual, financial, etc. level. Your experiences are your own and their experiences are theirs. Focus your energy on meeting as much in the middle as possible instead of expecting others to view the world from your eyes.

You didn’t have a choice on your family, but you have the opportunity to choose every other person in your life. That is a great power no one can take from you. Choose wisely.

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  • Erica Ferguson

    Helping others become better versions of themselves. It's that simple.

    The Erica Ferguson

    Erica Ferguson is a Facilitator, Master Coach & Conversation Catalyst. Erica helps people perform at a higher level and live higher quality lives. Erica teaches individuals and organizations simplistic ways on how to prioritize themselves through self-care and personal growth practices. She is a fitness fanatic that loves to explore, witty remarks, helping others live their greatest lives in their own authentic style