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Life is precious. Yet all too often, we may find that much of our time is spent around negative, toxic people, draining the life right out of us. Sometimes they’re co-workers, friends, or sadly, even family members.
God never intends for us to spin our wheels, waste our days, trying to make others happy who can never be happy. Because in reality, it doesn’t depend on us. It’s not up to you. They may want you to think it does, as if you possess the power to improve the value of their existence, but that’s not a burden meant for you to carry.
God’s greatest desire is to set us free. And sometimes what propels that change is for some brave soul to be willing to say, “Stop, no more.” One who will choose what is better, and learn to set boundaries that will protect and limit the control an unhealthy person might be placing on another’s life.
Sadly, when we look deep into the mirror of our souls, we may realize that we are the ones who have some unhealthy tendencies that God wants to change. Today’s a good day to stop wasting time in toxic patterns of living. For he has better in store for us.
Here are some of the most common types of toxic people we may rub shoulders with every day, or a few we may find in our own lives:
The Controller - This person is a master manipulator and constant controller. They want to be in charge, not just of their lives, but of yours and everyone else’s too. They watch you like a hawk, ready to pounce on your every flaw. They micro-manage down to the last detail. They have trouble letting go, so they don’t, they hold on, too tightly, until it about chokes out all those around them, suffocating others with their drive to be superior.
The Abuser – This person is desperately needy inside, and takes it out on you and the world around them. Through their own experiences of internalized past hurt, they have become angry, vicious, and cruel to those they say they care the most about. These people need help from counseling and outside sources. They need healing from God. If you find yourself in the home of an abuser, get help, now. Don’t stay in a potentially dangerous situation with your false hope that you can somehow change their old patterns of abuse. It is not up to you. Protect your life and the lives of those in your care.
The Too Easily Angered – This person is the one you always feel like you have to tiptoe around. Like you never know what will set them off and fly into a fit of rage. These people become easily irate at even the smallest thing, which is a sure sign, there’s a deep rooted problem inside. They’ve been known to throw things, hit things in their way, or spout off angry words they can never get back. They yell, they scream, they curse. You may see them on the ball fields, the golf course, the stressful office meetings, or even on the highway. Fits of rage not easily soothed, out of control temper tantrums that more closely resemble the patterns of a 2 yr. old.
The Bully - This person can be subtle or outright offensive in their attempts to bully, but either way, their desire is to dominate and make themselves look powerful. They have a strong need to feel better and look better than those around them, so they choose to bully anyone in their path. They use words, they use fists, they use lies, they use fear – but all in all, they want to push others down and exalt themselves and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.
The Addict – This person is addicted to a substance or to a negative pattern or behavior that has severely affected their well-being as a person. They need help. They need professional help and they need spiritual help. They need people who will be brave to speak truth into their lives and not those who will feed their habit, enable their actions, or ignore dangerous signs of addiction. Recognize that this toxic pattern is bigger than just you. You are not to blame for the problem. But you can be the one who God uses to get them help.
The Negative – This person is the one who rarely has anything positive to say, because they see everything with a negative slant and have no problem telling you why. The sun may be shining, but in their mind, “It’s probably about to rain.” Life is viewed through shaded, cloudy lenses. They tend to be complainers, worriers, and whiners. These people often don’t even realize what they’re doing because it’s become such a natural part of the way they talk. They tend to zap the energy and suck life right out of you if you’re around them too much. They walk in defeat and choose to believe the worst about most things – even you.
The Blamer – This person is never to blame for it is always “your fault.” They will blame everything on others close to them. If they’re having a bad day, it’s your fault. If they’re running late, it’s your fault. If they lose something, it’s your fault. If they fail at something, it’s your fault. You will never “win” around the blamer, because they’re aim is to bring you down through their constant blame game.
The Gossiper – This person is always talking, and usually about someone else. They have an overriding need to be “in the know,” and to pass on the next juicy morsel to an open, listening ear. They can be vicious with their words, and cruel in their hearts towards another’s feelings. They have no regard for the reputation of another. They feed on lies, exaggerations, mere hearsay, and half-truths. They tend to feel better while talking about others so they can somehow feel better about themselves.
The Arrogant – This person is proud, self-serving, and always, always “right.” They never want to made the fool, but have no problem labeling others as foolish. They prey on the weak to make themselves appear better. They are quick to judge, quick to offer their opinions, and are rude to others in more subservient positions. Their goal in life is to be superior to all those around them.
The Victim – Not to be confused with one who really has been victimized in life and who is seeking God’s peace and healing, this person is one who tends to feel they are constantly the victim. In every situation. All throughout life. They are always feeling taken advantage of, always needy, always telling you what another has done to hurt them, or how no one cares. They see themselves constantly as the victim and before long, if you keep lending an ear; you may be the next one they feel victimized by.
What To Do?
1. Recognize the toxicity in others – or even in yourself.
We all have hope to change through the grace and goodness of God. And the first step there is to fully understand that there’s a need. If the problem is with you, admit that you need help. If the issue stems from within a family member or close friend, try talking with them in humility and with honesty, letting them know how these patterns over time have made you feel.
2. Set boundaries with tough love.
Tough love is able to say “enough.” Tough love says, “I care about you, but I care about me too, and I will not allow you to hurt me or those I love.” No other person has the right to trample you down, make you feel inferior, abuse, or bully you. Set limits to protect yourself. If you find yourself in a dangerous, abusive or addictive relationship, get out, and get help – NOW. It is not up to you to change the other person’s behavior. It is up to you to protect your life and the lives of those in your care. You may need to adjust how much time you spend with certain people; you may need to spend time forming new, healthier friendships. Seek out counsel. Find a good support group of those who will encourage you and provide a safe place for you to share and pray.
3. Keep moving forward in your trust in God.
He can accomplish great things through your prayers. He can move mountains. He can change hearts. Anything is possible through his great power. Understand that though it is never up to you to make someone different, he’s set you in their lives for a purpose, for a reason. And maybe the biggest purpose is to be light to them in their darkness, to extend gracious love and forgiveness no matter what, and to show your strength in a mighty God by setting clear boundaries and allowing them to answer to him, for the way they treat you or others.
4. Believe that God is for you.
He loves you, he cares for you, and he has good in store for your future.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Debbie McDaniel is a pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids and a few too many pets, dramatist and writer. She has a heart to communicate God's hope though the everyday moments of life - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ones that take your breath away. A lover of every sunrise, forever needy of His grace, this Texas girl finds joy in the simple gift of each new day. Debbie invites you to join her at www.freshdayahead.com, and Facebook and Twitter.
Publication date: February 24, 2015