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How To Consciously Deal With Toxic People

Written by: Abigail Stason, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


They are out there – “those people” who are unconscious, toxic, and downright mean. Educating ourselves is important because we start to debate what constitutes harmful behavior. And who decides? One person’s opinion about harmful behavior may clash with someone else.

Angry boss pointing female employee on exit way.

For this, we can rely on advances in science. Here is what we now know in our modern society thanks to science:

  • The brain knows no difference between physical, emotional, and social harm; therefore, the verbal punches we throw at each other are just as harmful as bodily punches. With this knowledge, we can no longer disregard verbal abuse as not dangerous.

  • In the modern world – humans are traumatized. Science tells us “the defining moment of psychological traumatization is when some experience violates some deeply held belief or worldview.” (The John Hopkins Guide To Psychological First Aid, p32)

  • As of 2013, 90% of people in the US have been exposed to some traumatic event in their lifetime, and human-made and technological disasters are more traumatic than natural disasters.

We are bumping into each other on a planet with 8 billion people. When you trust your process, there are ways to navigate interactions with people whom you consider problematic.

1. Don’t blame, shame, or judge

This is the temptation when someone behaves harmfully: to hop onto The Drama Triangle and start persecuting. Villainizing someone will get you nowhere. Blame is much motion without progress. This leads us to No.2

2. Slow down and focus on presence

Mastery of presence is simple but challenging. It’s all about embodied practice! Human existence is WAY more satisfying when present. There is nothing “Woo-Woo” about presence. Presence begets presence, and drama begets drama. Please don’t take my word for it – check it out yourself. From where would you rather be interacting – presence or drama? Start your strength training today!

3. Watch for the “tough” emotions

Emotional fluency can be challenging when dealing with unconscious people. Anger is your friend when channeled effectively. Anger supports creating healthy boundaries at the most critical and fundamental level.

Toxic humans aren’t harmful because they want to be. They are typically hijacked by fear. When someone is in an unconscious fear response, it’s like talking to a wall or a caged animal. You can’t rationalize the irrational – and they will act irrationally. Fear is the enemy of reason. The individual is not connected to themselves and has been hijacked by instinct. Because fear responses happen automatically and unconsciously, people don’t realize they’ve been hijacked. Fear does not discriminate – we can see irrational behavior from CEOs, PhDs, therapists, top-notch engineers, and presidents of anything. Breathe to keep oxygen flowing and calm your nervous system; otherwise, you will be hijacked.

4. Facilitate conscious interactions

Become a facilitator – don’t try to coach the person. By facilitating, you will stay present and invite the other person into a more conscious conversation. If they aren’t present, be clear in your communication, create tight agreements, and bring accountability to the forefront. A powerful question: “How do we hold ourselves accountable to what we agreed to? Inviting the truth can be challenging when someone is unconscious – stay true to yourself.

5. Exercise compassion

Humans think in an either-or paradigm. Either I am kind and don’t have boundaries, or I am unkind and have boundaries. It’s possible to feel compassion for someone harmful, but you must create firm boundaries not to be a doormat. Under no circumstances are you ever expected to continue to put up with any abuse. It’s imperative to stop and say, “I am not available to be treated this way.”

6. Don’t take anything personally

Another person’s behavior is none of your business, and it’s entirely your business. Similarly, it’s not personal, and it’s ALL personal. How we behave matters and impacts each other. When I say not to take it personally, I mean to maintain a distance from someone’s experience instead of getting hooked and letting it stick. This requires mental discipline, which you cultivate through all of these steps.

7. Focus on what you can control

Become skillful and masterful at lifting your consciousness. This is the easiest way to invite others to do the same. As soon as you focus on how unconscious (or conscious) others are, you are wasting effort on something you cannot control – and you then become unconscious yourself! Whatever you place your focus and attention on will expand and grow. Therefore, if you continue to focus on how others are unconscious, you will see these behaviors continue and expand right before your eyes.

8. Be satisfied with how you showed up

Keep your goal simple: to be satisfied with how you showed up and contributed to the situation. Think of it this way: if someone witnessed your interchange, what would you want them to say about your behavior? The crucial point is that the outcome may not be what you want, but you walk away from interactions aligned with whom you are and your mission statement, knowing you did all you could to invite a conscious conversation. With this goal in mind, others will witness someone relating skillfully instead of 2 people in drama.

9. Don’t hang out with toxic people

Finally, you may need to move away from unconscious people. However, we don’t always have that option in leadership and the workforce, which is why the skill is crucial. In your personal life, surround yourself with people who commit to conscious behavior. This is how we can support each other in this high-stress complex world.

Like everything I teach, this is simply said, but not easy. In our modern world, it’s time to focus on our arrested development and how we behave together. There is a handbook of skills: Evolution Revolution. Visit my website for more info. And I insist, don’t take my word for it – check it out yourself!

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Abigail Stason, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

More Master Teacher than coach, Abigail “Abby” Stason is a social activist and skill builder with 20+ years of professional experience as a leader, organizational consultant, and group facilitator. As a disrupter, Abby is committed to a new social awareness in favor of exposing outdated structures that are no longer of service, giving way to the experience of peace, freedom, and truth in the world. She is a catalyst for societal evolution. In short, she helps human beings, leaders, teams, and organizations wake up by equipping them with behavioral skills for a modern world. Abby created a conscious leadership curriculum, a series of practices that are easily accessible to everyone.



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