One day while sitting in the dentist’s chair, I had a mini-meltdown between the injection of novocaine and my dentist saying, “Shall we begin?”
I didn’t have to go into great detail about my troubles. She gleaned enough information to refer me to a therapist.
My first visit with the therapist resulted in her offering me great advice, along with a simple solution.
This is pretty much verbatim what the therapist said to me: “Looka here. There are three kinds of people in this world.
The first are your growth people. They’re the ones you want to hang around. Growth people cheer you on, build you up, make you feel like there’s nothing you can’t do while assuring you that the room is better simply because you’re in it. I’ll say it again—you want to hang out with your growth people.”
She paused. “Then you have your neutral folks. Like someone you briefly met, for example. Or maybe someone who, when you’re out and about, pays you a compliment. ‘Oh, your necklace is so fun.’ Or ‘I love what you’ve done with your eyebrows.’ If you never saw that person ever again in your life, nothing would change because they’re neutral.”
After another pause and a deep breath she said, “Finally, there’s the toxic group. Only one thing to do with these people—limit your interaction with them . . . even when they’re family members, which is sometimes the case, and which can be difficult.”
Navigating around toxic people used to be a big challenge for me. But after years of practice, I’ve finally mastered managing such people and, subsequently, have limited the drama that follows them everywhere they go.
How did I liberate myself?
Instead of greeting a toxic person with side-eye and holding a space for tension, I initiate a hello with a big, warm smile. I then say something nice about their fab shoes, fab hairdo, or their general, overall fabulousness. And while they’re caught up in hearing me singing their praises, I bounce. I bid the Toxic One adieu and make myself scarce.
The pleasantries, the compliment, and the ten seconds of small talk diffuse tensions and are constructive substitutes for the truths I really want to speak.
In cases like this, it’s not suppressing your opinion as much as it is understanding that giving someone a piece of your mind doesn’t guarantee progress.
Directing energy toward pettiness wastes time. It may give you short-term satisfaction. But at what cost? You can’t change anyone, so go ahead and set a good example.
Stay on your mission. And if someone thinks you’re a wimp for choosing kindness over other options, they have no idea how powerful a feeling it is to walk away knowing you ran the show.
Know that kindness gets easier with practice, and that it’s the deliberate push toward kindness that matters.
“If you don’t want to create a situation, don’t create a situation. ” ~ LaurieTALKS