Good deeds control of worldly desires

Ways to Deal with Toxic People

Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress. Toxic people drive you crazy because their behaviour is so irrational. Allah says:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

“The servants of The Compassionate are those who walk upon the earth in humility. When the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace.” (Surah Al Furqan, 25:63)

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, toxic people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs. Allah says:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.” (Surah Al-An’am 6:162)

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most. It is your choice to do something about a toxic relationship or to do nothing at all.

Here are some reasons to avoid or minimize contact with toxic people:

  1. The stress that they cause can affect your physical health
  2. Their negativity slows you down in achieving your goals
  3. They interrogate people with hostile questioning.
  4. They regularly use strong, intense language
  5. They complain endlessly about their lives
  6. Tell them how you expect to be treated
  7. Assess how you feel around people
  8. Watch for constantly angry people
  9. Reflect on tactics for specific situations
  10. Practice responding assertively in your life
  11. They never are satisfied with how you act toward them
  12. Try to figure out where you could use some improvement
  13. They fail to contribute anything positive to the relationship
  14. They feel distrust and unnecessary negativity towards other
  15. They drain you of energy and add stress and anxiety to your life

Even if someone is toxic, that doesn’t mean you’ll always be right and they’ll always be wrong. Own any mistakes you make and apologize when you feel it’s appropriate. Even if they don’t accept your apology or rarely apologize, at least you will know you’ve done your best to be a good friend or partner.

إِن نَّشَأْ نُنَزِّلْ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ آيَةً فَظَلَّتْ أَعْنَاقُهُمْ لَهَا خَاضِعِينَ

“If We will, We can send down to them from the sky a Sign so would bend their necks to it (in) humility.” (Surah Ash-Shu`ara` 26:4)

General Ideas to Deal with Toxic People:

  1. Know your boundaries and stick to them. Be firm, since toxic people want their way at any cost
  2. Keep a record of what is decided. You can follow up a discussion with an email confirmation
  3. Inviting correction if anything is wrong, will help to prevent or expose lying later on
  4. Start to let them go. Do what you feel is the best way to let them go, avoid them
  5. You may want to talk to them about your problem with them
  6. Be polite and honest and try to adhere to the values of Islam
  7. Surround yourself with friends who support and uplift you
  8. Consult with trustworthy people about your situation
  9. Remember to stay calm when dealing with toxic people
  10. Toxic people require a special kind of care to navigate
  11. Learn from your experiences with toxic people so that you can grow and improve your life
  12. Pretend that there is an invisible shield surrounding you and separating you from their negativity
  13. They may try all kinds of emotionally manipulating tactics to get what they want, be prepared and be firm
  14. Don’t pick up their calls. You can apologize for being distant but you don’t need to explain why or defend your actions
  15. Pay attention to the signs of Allah’s help, such as important information that comes and helps you to make a better decision

وَيَخِرُّونَ لِلْأَذْقَانِ يَبْكُونَ وَيَزِيدُهُمْ خُشُوعًا

“And they fall on their faces weeping, and it increases them (in) humility.” (Surah Al-Isra` 17:109)

Boundaries are important in general, but they become especially important when you’re dealing with toxic people. Toxic people often take advantage of people with poorly defined boundaries and low self-assertiveness. Here are some steps to help you maintain better boundaries.

The toxic friend, like the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows, does more harm than good.  The list below can help us better identify whether or not someone you know is a toxic friend:

  • They are extremely disrespectful and always seem to get their way
  • They are needy and make strong demands on your attention
  • They disguise cruel comments about you as harmless jokes
  • They are extremely critical of themselves and other people
  • They always seem to be caught up in some sort of drama
  • They never compliment you or your accomplishments
  • They are quick to shoot down your opinions or ideas
  • They try to manipulate and control you
  • They are self-centred and selfish
  • They are constantly complaining
  • They criticize your clothes or personal style
  • They are unwilling to seek help or try to change
  • They avoid talking about deep or spiritual issues
  • They create and are surrounded by interpersonal issues
  • They are unreliable and never there when you need them
  • They neither try to change the subject nor leave the discussion altogether
  • They always have an opinion about your relationships and/or choices in life
  • They enjoy gossip and don’t think twice when sharing private information about others
  • They talk down to you when you are alone and act like your best friend in front of others

This is just a partial list of some of the attributes a toxic friend may possess.  If you know someone that has any of the qualities above it’s time to re-evaluate whether or not you want to continue the relationship. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Surah Al Baqarah, 2:153)

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has researched with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress to remain calm and in control.

One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep toxic people at bay.

Here are other common characteristics of toxic family members:

  1. Unlikely to understand how other people feel, or to even care
  2. Their behaviours are severely affecting your life and health
  3. Learn that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person
  4. Avoid neglecting yourself in favour of others
  5. TKnow your boundaries and stick to them
  6. Stay calm when dealing with toxic people
  7. Know your boundaries and stick to them
  8. Self-centred and emotionally dependent
  9. Pay attention to what you feel and need
  10. Let your instincts have the final word
  11. Extremely negative and critical
  12. Many become worse with age
  13. Set and maintain boundaries
  14. Permit yourself to be firm
  15. Tune into and act on your feelings
  16. Make you feel like you are going crazy 
  17. Pay attention to the signs of Allah’s help
  18. Surround yourself with friends who support
  19. Avoid getting swept up in the emotional turmoil
  20. Be polite and try to adhere to the values of Islam
  21. Adept at sensing your weaknesses and will use them against you
  22. Cause stress, anxiety, anger, confusion, exhaustion, and self-doubt in others

Toxic people cause stress in others through their behaviours. They often apologize but later do the same things. This stress causes physical health problems for people who are in the presence of toxic people. Body aches, stomach problems, anxiety, eating and sleeping problems and other illnesses are direct byproducts of stress created by toxic people. Allah says:

وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً وَدُونَ الْجَهْرِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ وَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ الْغَافِلِينَ

“And remember your Lord in yourself humbly and (in) fear and without the loudness of [the] words, in the mornings and (in) the evenings. And (do) not be among the heedless.” (Surah Al-A`raf 7:205)

Successful people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right. Allah says:

وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلًا

“And be patient over what they say, and avoid them, and avoidance gracious.” (Surah Al-Muzzammil, 73:10)

Toxic people are a part of life. Remember to take care of yourself and to believe that you are worthy of having healthy relationships. Allah does not benefit from your suffering. Seek out support from people you trust, and of course, pray and be patient.

وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا

“And lower to them (the) wing (of) humility (out) of [the] mercy and say, “My Lord! Have mercy on both of them as they brought me up (when I was) small.” (Surah Al-Isra` 17:24)

Learn to know when enough is enough and you need help. Contact a close friend or family member you trust to be there for you. If you want to maintain relationships with toxic people, be sure to make use of your support network. Keep self-care a priority. Giving too much of yourself is not the best way to be there for other people.