Toxic Influences . . . Bosses, acquaintances, relationships, society and our environment, sometimes we just need to stop, turn and leave it all in our rearview.

Being exposed to toxic influences, either directly or indirectly, can truly make or break you mentally and physically. Having the self-control to overcome being subjected to these types of people or situations is a full-time job for much of society. The first step in dealing with this is identifying what your toxic influence is or should we say exposure.

Do you have a micro-managing boss that never seems to be happy until they have completely put you down in every possible way to essentially rule with an iron fist? Or do you have co-workers that seem to fill their day with gossip, whispers and snickering that makes you never want to walk out of your office for fear of running into them or overhearing negative conversations? Maybe you are in a relationship that seems to always bring you down no matter how hard you try to pick yourself up and gain self-esteem. Sometimes even people we do not know, like society, tells us that we are not worthy of greatness or that we will fail because we do not seem like the type of person that has what it takes to succeed. All to often these situations force a lot of us into a depression state that sometimes seems nearly impossible to overcome. These are all toxic, toxic to the inner voice of reason in your head and your inner critic that always needs nurturing and positive reinforcement.

So how do we combat these people and situations? First of all, we remove their power to influence us. Sometimes it may be easier said than done, but it can be done with time and focus. With bosses, you set boundaries and yes, sometimes those boundaries may be one-sided, but setting them and following through with them will reduce at least some of the mental impact those bosses may have. No one ever wants to be demeaned by a boss, so you start asserting yourself, in a positive way, to no longer be the meek push-over they gained control over previously. Not reacting initially when a situation is fresh and stepping back for a bit and thinking through your anger or hurt can sometimes also give them time to think about how they handled the situation. It may also give you time to think through your response to put a positive spin and take the high road in your professional situation. By not responding immediately, sometimes, people realize that they crossed the line. In other cases, it’s a test to see how much you will take before you have to completely walk away from the job all together. I have been in this situation and it physically made me ill at which time I ended up leaving the job to find a better work environment. People in business should always exude professionalism, but that is not always the case. Let’s face it, we spend most of our lives at our jobs and we must be somewhat happy for what makes up the majority of our weeks.

But how about the office gossip girls that continually make you think twice when you walk by and wonder as you walk past, I wonder what they are going to say once I’m out of ear shot. This has been an issue at nearly every single job I have ever had that was in an office environment. How do you deal with these types of people? This situation is probably one of the hardest social situations to deal with. Do you completely cut them off and stop giving them power? Are these people within your circle of friends or do you have to tolerate it because you work with them? Maybe these people do not directly affect you, but affect co-workers and you feel party to it because you are their friend, which makes you seem guilty by association and MORE STRESS . . . Confronting people who are the source of toxic environments and telling them how you feel, sometimes, may do the trick. Will it make them change? Probably not, but at least you are no longer harboring or internalizing the toxic feelings they projected on you. Maybe you figure out that those friends that were making others feel so horrible were never really friends in the first place and in most cases all the people that they are gossiping to or with are gossiping about them.

What about the toxic friends that can never seem to be happy for you and always seem to be in some unbeknownst to you competition with you. Maybe you are following through in your life with all the things that they may have wanted to do in their life but have not been able to get there or put the effort towards. These are the people you can be 100% yourself with and give them honest feedback about how you are feeling or how they may be making others feel, but they never seem to get it. They ask you for advice and then do not take it and slip into further negative behavior. Sad cases, but if they are not willing to see the negative then you must move on. Walking away, initially, may seem like the hardest thing you have ever had to do.

How about those toxic relationships, yeah, the over-bearing jealous boyfriend/girlfriend that just cannot seem to be happy for you for being happy or accomplishing something. Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships where it seems that the ones we love just cannot seem to muster an ounce of happiness when we make accomplishments where we feel empowered, but instead shoot us down with snarky or mental cuts. To this I say, you must let those go. Easier said than done, ABSOLUTELY, but you cannot live your intimate life with someone who never wants to see you grow. We must all find our way and that way will be bumpy at times, and we need companions that will be there for us to help pick us back up when we falter and help share the joy when we succeed.

You must control your responses to never allow the dynamic to swing and make you continue with the behavior that is ultimately bringing you down. Ending relationships or situations is, by far, the hardest thing to do. No one ever said life was easy nor the hard choices you have to make along the way. Your emotional health impacts your physical health much more than you realize. Have you ever gone on a vacation and felt euphoric and amazing and then realized it was the day before work or getting back to reality and you suddenly have an overwhelming sense of dread? Well, my friend, you most likely are being subjected to a toxic environment and should not stand for one more minute of living that way. So is it time for you to stop, turn and leave it all in your rearview? Look around and assess your environment then move forward on your journey of living and loving yourself without negative toxic influences. Evaluate, and make sure you are not the one delivering a toxic environment to others. I promise you, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel and you should always remember, people only have power when you allow them to.