In my last article, I introduced the concept of Porcupines – “Toxic People.”
Click here to read that article.
In this Blog, I’m going to list a few signs that may indicate you’re being affected by one, and offer a few thoughts for your consideration moving forward.
What to Do When You’ve Been Affected By A Toxic Person
The Person Is Toxic if:
- You dread being around them.
- You may even fear being around them.
- You’re emotionally – even physically affected when you think about them (or at the thought of being around them). For example, you feel angry, exhausted, irritated, or ashamed.
- In spite of you’re your feelings, you still feel obligated to help them or fix/rescue them and feel guilty if you don’t.
- You feel like you’re always walking on a razor’s edge when you’re with them – anything may anger them.
- You can’t be “you” around them. You are guarded and don’t trust them.
- You don’t feel seen, regarded or valued by them.
- You ignore your own needs, values and boundaries because you fear their outbursts.
- You feel like you’re being manipulated/controlled.
- Your intuition is screaming to get away from them.
Now, while it’s important to recognize the affects of Porcupines on you, it’s also important to explore your own involvement (and reactions) to this kind of person.
Questions To Explore
- How are you allowing yourself to be dismissed, used, even violated?
- Do you have clear boundaries?
- If so, how could you better and more clearly express them?
- If not, this could be a great opportunity for you to examine what those boundaries could be.
- How are you at having difficult conversations (discussing sensitive issues or confronting difficult topics)?
- How do you behave after an interaction with this person? How do you react once you’ve left this person? Do you take out your frustrations on yourself, or to those closest to you?
- What are you doing to get support for this situation?
- What can you learn about yourself and how can you grow through this?
- There will always be Porcupines because there will always be people.
- Take a deep breath before responding.
- Don’t take the path of least resistance. Do your best not to react to their behavior. Stretch outside of old patterns. If you think differently, you’ll respond differently.
- You will be tempted – even very tempted to address the gossip, defend the lies, and prove their egregious actions against you, but do your best not to. Stay above it. Do not engage. People will eventually see them as they are, just like you did.
- Remember, how this person behaves is how this person LIVES (“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NKJV). If venom oozes out so easily out of them, then there is an overflowing tank of this inside of them. Imagine…this is their life, day in and day out! How ghastly! Instead of being hateful back, have compassion for them and pray for them.
- If we are in error, go to them with the heart to apologize with wisdom and discernment. Be sensitive to timing – when to address the issue. If things don’t get resolved, then leave your peace there and know you did your best.
- You may need to get professional help.
Here are 2 articles that may also be helpful.
One is from Travis Bradberry, Ph.D (award winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of Talentsmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, seving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies).
The other one is from Jennifer LeClaire, senior editor of Charisma, director of Awakening House of Prayer, cofounder of awakeningtv.com, is on the leadership team of the New Breed Revival Network and author of several books.
A few final thoughts:
Maybe these Porcupines are in our lives as a mirror to show us our own woundings and vulnerabilities – places in us that can be refined. Maybe we can learn to be softer and not so pointed. Maybe we can learn to be more courageous in addressing situations and people who intimidate us. And/or, maybe we can learn to just let things go. Sometimes, the wisest and healthiest thing we can do is to stay silent – to say nothing. After all, why would you throw pearls before swine? (Matthew 7:6). That’s not to say a Porcupine is a pig also :), but the message here is if someone isn’t going to appreciate precious pearls of wisdom, correction, friendship or love, then why keep offering it them?
Pray and ask Holy Spirit to do His work in both yours and the Porcupine’s life.
In the meantime, say “no” to offense or the critical spirit. Say “yes” to observation and discernment. Say “no” to blame and attack. Say “yes” to self responsibility and accountability. Say “no” to judgment and condemnation. Say “yes’ to win/win discussions that bring awareness, honesty, clarity, restoration and wholeness.
The Bible asks us to
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10)
No, it’s not easy to be around difficult people, but it’s important we learn how to maneuver in situations with them because they’re not going away. Keep our eyes looking up. Think higher thoughts, take the higher road, and when necessary, get the support you need. It’s not easy, but it’s another powerful tool in your toolbox of life that will be worth the investment to learn how to use.
In joyful loving service,
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