The Mailman's Survival Guide
the Mailman's Blog
This week, I decided to try something a bit different. So, instead of writing a blog, I have decided to put up the transcript for episode 32. This is a test of sorts to decide if posting transcripts will be helpful in reaching more people. I hope you enjoy the transcript, and leave a reply in the comments section .
Whether its a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker, We've all had people in our lives that we knew were toxic for us, and sometimes we can unknowingly be the toxic one. So, what are the signs we need to look for to determine if someone is bad for us?
A huge indicator that someone is a toxic person is if they are overly controlling. I'm not talking about someone who likes things neat and clean, but someone who is manipulative. Someone who always seems to be pulling your strings to make you do what they want you too. Whether that's making plans for you and cancelling last minute, or forcing you to do things you don't want by making you feel guilty, its all the same.
Another way to identify a toxic force in your life is by noticing jealousy. These people are jealous of everyone else in your life, whether it be family or friends. Also, they are jealous of your accomplishments, so they will take actions to trivialize them. Its almost a passive aggressive act to bring you down. Have you ever gotten recognized for something and then had someone say, well, everyone gets that....yup, toxic person.
Third, The person frequently lies. It can be big lies or small lies, it doesn't matter. I have a cousin that my parents raised. Growing up, we treated him like, and told everyone, that he was our brother. He was a pathological liar, and a good one. And, over the years, my BS detector became pretty keen, and I can usually tell when I am being lied to. The thing is, just like my cousin, when a toxic person gets caught in a lie, their defense mechanism is to shift the blame to another.
This leads to my next sign, A toxic person always plays the victim. Although these people may be convincing in this role, and you may feel sympathy for them, if someone constantly claims they are the worst affected, and have no culpability for what's occurring in their life, they are not good for you.
Now, another big signal that a person is toxic, is that They Always Come First. These people always feel as though their time is more valuable then yours no matter what. These are people who will ask you for help, but never be willing to return the favor.
The last few signs I am going to lump together because I think one feeds on the other. Toxic people are negative and judgemental, and feel they are always right. Most of the time these people feel as though they are the smartest person in the room, and if something goes wrong they are quick to point a finger and instead of trying to solve the problem, they just complain. Now admittedly, there are times when I am altogether negative in situations, especially if I really didn't want to be in that situation, and thats something that I need to personally work on.
So, what kind of effect can these people have on our lives?
The first one is that we tend to talk about these people incessantly, whether its to our spouse or friends, they dominate the discussion and that gives them power over us. When I worked at the local post office where I live, I had a boss who was incredibly toxic for me. I would complain about her to my wife, and anyone else who would listen, but if I had learned to leave those feelings at work, it would have taken away her control.
The second is, you lose your temper frequently. Years ago, I had a co-worker that I would carpool to work with. From the time I piccked her up until the moment we got to work, all she talked about was the problems at work. By the time we got there, I was so worked up that I was ready to pop, and the least little issue would cause my temper to flare. And...eventually I just told her that we couldn't carpool any more because it wasn't good for my emotional health.
Third, These people can cause your self esteem to diminish. Its like the old saying goes, surround yourself with positive people, and positive things will happen, its the same with toxic people. If they are in your life and dominating your thoughts and conversation, only negative things will come from it.
Now,another negative effect they can have is causing you to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. It could be drugs, alcohol, food, or any other vice that we may over indulge in just to try and forget this person, or break their control for just a moment. I'm more than guilty of this one. Often, I have turned to comfort food. I will eat until I am sick to my stomach at times, and its because its something I can control, and I think its the same for a lot of people.
Lastly, Toxic people can affect your relationships. By causing you to lose your temper, or lash out at your children or spouse because you came home in a bad mood, it has a negative impact, and can tear some relationships apart.
So, the big question is, how do we deal with these people.
Well,one way is to set boundaries, You decide when and where you will deal with a toxic person. Often, people with toxic personalities become predictable in their actions, so you can control and limit your interaction with them. You have to make the conscious decision to set these boundaries and stick to them
Another way is to pick and choose your battles. Often times, these people are just looking to cause chaos and disrupt your life, don't be sucked in to every argument or bit of drama they try to pull you into. Know when to take a stand and when to just shake your head and dismiss them.
That leads to my next solution. Rise above them. its often easy to get drawn into an abyss with these people, but don't be willing to play their game. Its often more difficult to take the high road, but... in the end, you will be better for it.
Now, another way to eliminate a toxic person's effect is to focus on solutions, not problems. When toxic people come to you and try to bring you down by only discussing problems, ask them what the solution is to their issues. It will either cause them to quiet down and go somewhere else or focus on coming up with solutions, which inherently turns the conversation into something more positive.
Lastly, if all else fails, sometimes the only solution is to cut them completely out of our lives. Its a harsh choice, and one I would never make lightly. If its someone you love, it can be even more difficult, but sometimes we have to say, I still love you, but I have to love you from a distance until you can change your ways.
Welcome back dear readers, it has been an interesting past couple of weeks for ol' Big D. I want to touch on a couple of things that have occurred recently, and discuss the importance of family and friends in our lives.
As most of my readers and listeners of the podcast know, I am a lifelong sufferer of chronic depression. It is a battle that I fight through medication, therapy, and education. However, everyday is a new battle, and a few weeks ago I almost lost that battle.
A perfect storm of events occurred which spiraled me into a state of depression and absolute hopelessness, and created a longing desire for my lifetime of struggle to come to an end. Fortunately, my family and friends, who make up my support network, were there for me. For you see, no man is an island, and having a supportive network of family and friends can get you through even the toughest of battles.
Having said this, I want to discuss the importance of building and keeping a support network. I know that most of us have either a best friend or spouse who we lean on in tough times, but its important to have more than one person in your network. If you rely too heavily on a single person, you may end up crushing them under the weight of your problems and their own.
So how do we go about creating this circle of support? An important first step is deciding who should be in that network. Don't just go out and make as many friends as possible and think they will all be there for you. This is real life, not Facebook. Choose a handful of family members and close friends who are trustworthy, and will be there for you when times are tough.
Secondly, nurture those relationships. Really get to know the people in your network. If its a family member, don't just assume that you know everything about them. Often times, we may not know that person as well as we think, and if you spend time talking to them, you can build a deep and rewarding relationship.
Third, don't always talk about your problems with those in your network. If you only talk to these people when times are hard, they may start to feel used. Imagine if you had a friend or family member who only wanted to talk to you when they had problems.
Fourth, be willing to listen. Building a support network is a two way street. If these people are willing to be there for you, do the same for them. Also, really listen to them. I know that may seem like an unusual statement, but in this time of cell phones, internet and a million other distractions, its easy to tune out when someone is telling you what's going on in their life. The more apt we are to be there for them, the more likely they are to reciprocate.
Fifth, don't be so quick to burn bridges. In this world of political and socioeconomic divisiveness, I've witnessed relationships destroyed by differing views and opinions. Don't let a difference in ideology destroy your support network. My father, my brother, and I rarely agree on politics or economics. We have been in some arguments that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Sometimes we walk away shaking our heads and wondering what the other is thinking, but we never let it shake our relationship. It's ok for you to have strong opinions. It's ok to stand up for what you believe is right, but be willing to understand that everyone has opinions, and they don't always have to align with our own.
The last thing I want to discuss is the wonderful time I had with my son this last week. While I get to see him every other weekend, having him stay for nine days really did my soul good and it strengthened our bond. As he is 5 years old, he is constantly changing and growing. What he may like today, may not interest him tomorrow and having him here for an extended stay let me enjoy watching these changes.
Another thing I love about having him here is that he often says something unexpected that often makes me laugh. I am so thankful he inherited the "goofy" gene from my side of the family, although I'm sure it drives his mother crazy. Having said this, the other day I saw a different side to him. It was one that astonished me, and let me know that he thinks deeply, and while he can only use the knowledge of a 5 year old, the point he made was pretty wise.
The conversation went like this:
Son: Daddy, what if I had been born a girl?
Me: Well, I would still love you just as much, but I was wishing for a boy.
Son: When I was in my mommy's belly I wished I was a boy, and then I made it happen.
Me: Oh yeah?
Son: Daddy, wishes don't just come true. You have to make them happen.
So, anytime I doubt myself, or what I am trying to achieve, I will hearken back to the wise words that came from a most unlikely source, and maybe you should too.
Big D is a writer and host of The Mailman's Survival Guide Podcast. His goal is to raise awareness for the mental health community through writing, pod casting, and public speaking.