Toxic people are all around us. They meet us in the form of friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors. They may not consider themselves to be toxic; they can meet you most warmly and even can be good friends.
They focus on themselves; they are obsessed with their own pains and pleasures and are always on a look out for a person who falls an easy prey to their ambitions.
Some of them are highly toxic; they spit their venom all the time while others are endurable. But difference in their degree doesn’t make them any pleasant.
While I write this, two persons come to my mind.
One was so good and fun loving that I was surprised to see her negativity when I met her after a gap of ten years. She was a very dear friend who was also my classmate. I knew her well; we had spent six years of our life together. What had changed her so much?
When I tried to analyze, I could understand that it was the toxic atmosphere of her home and the attitude of the person whom she had married, which had metamorphosed her into a toxic person.
I tried to help her see the positive aspects of her disappointments but couldn’t do much as she had fallen into the deadly abysses of pessimism.
The second one met me as a colleague, who claimed to be my friend but was the fiercest rival. She would shift all the blame, criticize every sane looking person, take even a casual remark personally, think that nobody could do any job better than her and manipulate each and every person and situation.
Have you met such people? Can you recognize their traits?
“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding and a negative, judgmental attitude.” – Joyce Meyer
If they happen to be in our families, it becomes very difficult to maintain distance from them.
They may not just wallow in self-pity and talk negative; they want our attention; they expect sympathy and try to influence us.
“We would do ourselves a tremendous favor by letting go of the people who poison our spirit.” –Dr. Steve Maraboli
How to detach?
Wherever you happen to see them, the best option is to avoid them. If they don’t get your signal, don’t respond to their overtures of establishing any contact with you. If they become overbearing, there is no harm to tell them candidly that you don’t want to hear any gossip or negative talk. They might feel hurt but there is no need to feel guilty because this is the only way to close your door and convey that they need to mend their ways.
Never argue with them:
As Mark Twain said, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level”, similarly If you try to point out to toxic people that they are being unreasonable, you would be wasting your breath. Toxic people move in a straight line, their own line of make-believe. They never deviate from that path as it is always against their self-esteem. They don’t believe in respecting the opinion of others. If you try to challenge their beliefs, they can harm you inconceivably.
Keep your distance:
It is better to maintain some distance if they happen to be your colleagues, more so if he/she is your boss. Be cautious because they would try to provoke you, take advantage of you or assign you their own work too. They may even try to belittle you if you don’t respond to their unreasonable demands. Don’t get intimidated by their behavior. Face it and send the message that you are not going to take it.
Don’t feel guilty:
I have eliminated all the toxic people out of my life. It took many years to reconcile to the fact that they were toxic, it caused immeasurable pain to let go, the guilt lingered on for many days but it brought greater freedom and peace. It also brought the realization that when we cling on to certain people who are not adding any value to our life, who keep on pushing us down and shifting the blame of all their failures on us, who keep feeding on our goodness, we lose a part of our personality. We start doubting our selves.
Wish them well:
When you detach, stop thinking about them, have positive wishes for them in your mind, which would surely reach them. If they are the family members, they might consume a large chunk of your time and energy. Don’t let them gnaw at your emotions. Just accept the fact that they are not worthy of your love and concern.
Do you know such people? How do you deal with them?
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It is quite natural to get attached to homes if we have invested our hearts into them. Even the walls of such homes become receptive.
Recently I happened to read an article, which stirred my emotions intensely and took me down the memory lane.
My dear friend Lisa Thomson says, “A house has no feelings or attachments. It doesn’t love us back. Walls really don’t talk, and that’s probably a good thing.”
We convert a house into a home when we get emotionally attached to it.
HOME THAT NURTURED ME:
The home in which I grew up is still very much a part of my ardent memories as this was the place that nurtured me from the age that was most impressionable.
The excitement of an eight-year-old child is still very fresh in my mind. I can smell the fragrance of new paint and wood even now. Whenever I go down the memory lane, I can experience the friendship of all the nooks and crannies that I explored the very first day I stepped into this house our father got designed for us.
This house cherished my dreams, cushioned my lonely moments, provided solace to my disappointments, gave shape to my adventures and inspired me to aspire high.
Every wall was a supporting shelter, how much I could share my thoughts with them, silently!
The walls of my room empathized with me when I didn’t sleep well due to examination fever. They rejoiced with me when I turned up the volume of my radio, to celebrate my little moments of joy. They resounded with my giggles in the afternoons.
As I grew up, every brick seemed so precious, every tree of the little garden I loved seemed to cherish my thoughts and provide solace to my distressing hours.
Then came the time to leave my treasured surroundings, my home.
I can still feel the tears of poignant parting on my cheeks.
I hate this age-old tradition of some countries – to leave your maternal home after marriage. The one who created this tradition must be a man for according to this orthodox convention, he doesn’t leave his home; he has the choice to continue living in it or sell it.
I thought I would keep coming back to my home whenever I wanted and I did during the initial years of setting up my new home.
It remains the epicenter of my dreams even now. All family get-togethers are hosted in this home even now… but in dreams.
I can no longer visit it in real life because it was sold…and that is another story!
HOME THAT DEFINED ME:
Despite all those attachments I had with that home, which remains the backdrop of all my dreams, I was pleased to find a new one that anchored me and promised myself to make it more loving than the one that had raised me.
A home cannot be built in a day…it encompasses in itself the dreams and the aspirations we hold close to our heart, the hopes that we gather with each passing day, the goals that we achieve together.
A home lounges on the care and affection we shower on each other, the time we offer to understand the needs and desires of a family, to live through the difficult times together and to support each other despite minor differences.
This home I acquired became my treasure house, a nest, which was filled with the babble of my little children and the love of my hubby. It accumulated and absorbed all the memories, all the celebrations and the moments of intense joy, of raising my kids and exult at their little achievements.
I have no doubt that even the walls around me shared my elation.
Time just whizzed by and before I could realize its pace, my kids grew up into fine individuals, ready to soar!
Now I could grasp the truth of this statement and what my friend Lisa has articulated: “Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” – Robin Hobb
Though my work kept me very busy and the walls of my home as welcoming as ever but time stood still.
A part of me seemed to have walked away with my grown up children.
Now I just clung to my home and the loving memories that were attached to them. I tried to make it warmer with more pictures of my family.
I have been trying to understand the ironies of this life, which provides natural attachments.
I have been trying to detach from all those people and homes, which hold us to ransom, extracting all our emotions.
I have moved once again from my home, into which I had put my heart and soul to be near my children.
Now I have double memories and none of my dearest homes – one got sold and the second lies locked with all those treasures I had amassed!
Do you have any such memories and attachments? Do they haunt you?
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Those moments of attachment or these moments of detachment…which are real?
Do both belong to us?
I often wonder… why is attachment so natural…why is detachment so difficult?
As a child, I was always fascinated by pebbles and sea- shells. Gathering pebbles was such a joyful moment! We would always run after each other to collect them and then display them, like trophies. The one who could gather more was hounded, cajoled and asked to share!
Pebbles, which had no value for people around us, seemed so precious. Attachments start so early! They are so inexplicable, so spontaneous yet so illusionary!
When I look back, I wonder how those emotions develop; nobody introduces us to them…or was it just a child like charm?
Moments of Attachment:
Those were the days of innocent pleasure but they introduced us to attachment. Many more images of such emotions must have flashed across your mind too.
“I feel the emotion that life conjures up and the songs I write get me closer to my feelings and realizing who I am. It’s a natural process.”-Taylor Swift
I am sure you too have such moments of life, which you want to revisit, which seem to have lost on the sand of time, which could revive those precious memories.
Those moments spent in the loving company of our friends, those unforgettable memories… of clicking pictures, those moments of completing a project or a book, of meeting your soul mate, of hugging your child…of his glorious achievements…
Those endless moments of pride!
All those moments which just flew away, before you could actually feel their ecstasy.
As we grow older, the association with those emotions, which were hardly ever felt at that time, becomes more prominent, more precious. There comes a moment when we just want to soak in them.
Emotions are so obdurate. They overwhelm, they tie you down and they don’t let go. How to keep them within limits? I too encounter this question, often.
One answer, which instantaneously looks me in the eye, is: Detach!
“The greatest asset to the human experience is the ability to navigate one’s emotions. By practicing the skill of detachment, one can successfully step back from the potentially destructive and tune into the purely positive”—Gary Hopkins
Struggle for Detachment:
Is detachment so simple? While it is easy to detach from money, power and people, emotional attachments control us. They cloud our judgment, they refuse to let go, they are like a lump in the throat, which can only be felt.
Various ways to detach:
- Gather those moments in the mind’s eye
- Spend some time in reflecting
- Tell yourself that they are your past
- Convince yourself to learn to live without them
- Reduce expectations
- Stop undue care and attention
- Change your focus
- Keep yourself busy
- Share your concerns, with friends.
Have you noted that they all revolve around YOU!
I have tried all these ways. Yet detachment is so distressing, so paralyzing, its thought just numbs the mind.
One time tested way of detachment is to gather all the pictures of those moments and persons; whose memories and thoughts refuse to quit your mind and make a collage.
Paste that collage at such a place from where you can see it everyday. Let the memories crowd your mind all the time.
Whenever you are free, sit near that collage; sip a cup of tea or coffee in its company. A day will come when it will start talking to you.
I have always wondered what if pictures could talk! It may seem incredible but they do talk if you keep looking at them, day after day!
Strangely, you realize that you are no longer a part of those pictures; you feel cut off, floating away in time.
Meditation is another very effective way of calming your mind and emotions. Try to meditate in the company of that collage. If you keep looking at it while meditating, you will realize that it will cease to exist.
Detachment descends slowly but surely. When it actually hits, you feel lighter. A strange light guides you out of all those gloomy thoughts and you are hit by a pleasant blizzard!
Moments of Re-attachment!
These moments of eternal bliss start with the entry of the first grand child and all that talk of detachment vanishes into the thin air…you feel in the seventh heaven as her smiles demand all your attention, her sweet shrieks fill the air around you with strange joy and her little feet struggle to take the first step! Suddenly you feel full of life again…you feel attached!
Aren’t the questions of life so enigmatic?
Do you feel the need for detachment? Is detachment challenging for you? Are there any moments, which were as precious as those pebbles or sea-shells? You can share your valuable thoughts here.
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