Narcissists & Co.: 10 Tips to Set Boundaries for Toxic PeopleHow to protect yourself from toxic people
Setting boundaries for toxic people
What to do when toxic people cross boundaries? Here are suggestions you can use to set clear boundaries for such contemporaries.
It is usually not easy to set boundaries with toxic people, but it is all the more necessary. Boundaries are part of taking care of ourselves. When we set clear boundaries early on, we are less likely to be angry and resentful because our needs are taken care of. Boundaries make our expectations clear, so others know what to expect from us and how we want to be treated. Boundaries are one of the foundations of functioning relationships – professional and personal.
Ideally, people respect our boundaries if we communicate them enough. However, some people resist our efforts to set boundaries; they argue, blame, ignore, manipulate, threaten, or hurt us emotionally or physically. And while we can’t stop people from acting this way, we can learn to set clear boundaries and take care of ourselves.
Setting boundaries consists of three steps.
1st step 1
Identify your boundaries. Be clear about what you require before you go about communicating or enforcing the boundary.
Communicate your boundaries or expectations, calmly, and consistently. Stick to the facts without over-explaining, blaming, or getting defensive.
If your boundaries are not respected, review your options and take consistent action.
This post focuses on the third step; what we can do when our boundaries are not respected.
Toxic people are people who are destructive and make us feel worse when we are around them. Gut feelings usually indicate pretty quickly if someone is toxic and it is better to keep your distance.
Common among toxic people is that they …
- regularly lie and manipulate to get what they want. Intriguing, starting rumors, gossiping; toxic people will use any means to
- achieve their own goals, push through opinions, and gain an advantage.
- exploit their kindness
- not respecting your boundaries
- belittle you and other people
- do not encourage you to pursue your goals
- poison the environment
- have no regard for other people’s feelings or needs
- are often angry or aggressive
- rarely apologize
- blame others and do not take responsibility for their actions
- use up their energy
- have a lot of problems but do not want to change
- think that rules do not apply to them
- talk a lot but do not listen
- are not interested in solutions in the sense of win-win.
Setting boundaries is an ongoing process and there is no quick fix for dealing with people who cross boundaries. We can hardly force someone to respect our boundaries, but we can decide how to respond.
The following ideas can help you choose the best approach for dealing with chronic boundary violators.
Address the behavior to provide an opportunity for clarification. Make it clear what you are concerned about. This has a limited effect on toxic people, but sometimes we are wrong about people ourselves.
Make clear announcements. Say which behavior has which consequences. Only state what you are prepared to do and stick consistently to your announcements.
3. Condition management
As hard as it may be, don’t take the behavior too personally. Toxic people live out their deficits. They are unable and unwilling to align themselves with proven interpersonal standards.
If you pay attention to your state management, it will not only be more pleasant but also more helpful. Then you will make better decisions more confidently. Those who are out of sorts are easier to manipulate and weaker.
Decide if a boundary is negotiable. Some boundaries are more important than others. Figuring out what you are willing to accept and what you consider unacceptable or non-negotiable will help you decide if you are willing to compromise. Compromise can be a good thing if both people adjust. True compromise does not mean giving up your needs to please someone else or accepting treatment that you consider non-negotiable.
Practice benevolent demarcation. Delimitation is an alternative to trying to control people and situations. When you are in a state of anxiety, it is understandable that you want to control things to protect yourself. But trying to control other people does not work. When we break free of it, we stop trying to change others and force the outcome we want. You can detach from a narcissistic or toxic person by…
- leaving physically dangerous or unpleasant situations.
- responding differently than before. For example, instead of taking something personally or yelling, we can meet a rude comment with humor. This changes the dynamic of the interaction.
- decline invitations to spend time with such contemporaries.
- let them make their own decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions.
- maintain restraint and do not give unsolicited advice.
- consciously avoid participating in the same old arguments or staying out of an unproductive conversation or argument.
- take care of yourself. Setting yourself apart doesn’t mean you don’t care about the person, but rather that you take care of yourself and realistically assess what you can do in a given situation.
- limit or stop contact. Consider limiting contact or having no contact at all. Sometimes the only way to protect yourself is to stop interacting with toxic people who don’t respect you.
- limiting or completely cutting off contact is not meant to punish or manipulate others, it is a form of self-care. If someone hurts you physically or emotionally, you owe it to yourself to put enough distance between you and that person. Despite what others may say, you don’t have to have a relationship with people who make you feel bad. Family and friends should lift you and support you, not leave you depressed, anxious, angry, or confused.
9. You have a choice
One of the great things about being an adult is that you can make your own decisions. You don’t have to continue to be friends with someone who takes advantage of your kindness or work for someone who criticizes and belittles you nonstop or stay in a relationship with someone who is not good for you.
We have choices. Sometimes we don’t particularly like an option, but it’s important to know that we have them. We are not trapped or powerless.
The decision to end relationships is often painful. Even in abusive relationships, it is not always easy. For practical reasons, it is very often delayed too long. Whether it’s a personal or business relationship, workplace, or any other context; don’t let it go. Life is too short and precious for some time.
Although deep inside it has already arrived that it is unhealthy to continue a contact as before, the necessary step is not taken. If this is the case, you can …
Identify your options, such as distancing yourself physically and emotionally, limiting contact, avoiding meeting a toxic person directly, and practicing self-care.
Choose the best option, even if none of them is ideal. Be careful to respect yourself and your values. Trust your instincts.
Unfortunately, there is usually no easy answer. At times, other people will be unhappy and even angry or offended by your choices. Still, it’s better to set the framework. This may mean not tolerating toxic people in your life any longer. Boundaries are a way to protect yourself from harm and preserve your autonomy and individuality. You deserve to allow yourself to do that.
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