Removing toxic people from our lives is critical for true joy.
Have you ever thought, (insert name here) is such a good person most of the time, but sometimes he/she hurts me? Then as time continues on, the moments of pain start to increase and the times of love decrease. The good person becomes less and less good. For some reason, we often believe that those closest to us, have free reign to hurt us and treat us poorly. They do not! Often times religions will refer to our body as a temple. I love that! Our body indeed is a temple, that houses you and God, because you are inseparable from God. We, therefore, must treat it as hallowed ground.
In the New Testament it recounts a time when Jesus showed serious anger, something not normally associated with his personality. In this case, however, he was throwing out the people who were in the temple and using it for their evil ways. Most people would agree that this act of anger does not diminish Jesus as a spiritual leader. In fact, it may strengthen that belief. The temple was sacred ground and Jesus could not stand idle and let it be defiled. That didn’t diminish his love for the people, he just couldn’t allow them to behave in that manner in that sacred space.
Your life is holy, sacred territory and it is okay to do just what Jesus did, removing toxic people that bring negativity to it. They are often someone close to you which makes it all the more difficult. It may be a husband that demeans you, a parent that emotionally abuses you, a friend that takes advantage of you. It can be virtually any relationship.
The challenge is that you love this person and you see the good in them and keep hoping the good will overcome the bad in them. On top of that, the prevailing culture is that you should forgive them, after all, “they are family.” Forgiveness may come eventually, but forgiveness doesn’t mean granting access to your life. Let me say it another way, forgiveness can still come even though removing toxic people from your life.
Simply, if a person doesn’t bring joy to your life but rather brings negativity, you have every right removing toxic people from it.
I have found that often times the most destructive person that comes into our lives is a narcissist. The problem with narcissists is that they are usually intelligent and remarkably capable manipulators. They can present themselves charismatically with you and others in a way that makes them appear to be amazing individuals. This can be maintained for quite some time which leads to long-term relationships with them that seem “perfect.” Then the façade starts to wane and you get glimpses of who they really are. Arguments become more prevalent and you somehow are manipulated to think everything is your fault. Control sets in slowly and in no time you are checking in to see if your activities are okay with him. You see your friends less, you are involved in less activities, and life becomes more and more anxiety prone. Perhaps the greatest loss that happens is the loss of who you are.
Let’s dive into narcissism a bit. First, understand that there are different types of narcissism. They can be arrogant jerks or present themselves with almost a humble exterior. There are some fairly clear tendencies though. These different types can be:
- Grandiose narcissism
This is probably what most of us think of when we contemplate narcissism. It is an unrealistic sense of one’s superiority over others. They overestimate their abilities and assert dominance over others and generally have an inflated self-esteem. Their qualities include relentless braggadocio and self-obsession, and they do so openly and often at the expense of others. They can be charming but show the inability to empathize with others. You might notice that in conversations they don’t seem to relate to others but seem to want to compete or one-up them. They crave attention and enjoy seeing others hurt or confused, or both.
- Vulnerable narcissism
Vulnerable narcissism, also called covert narcissism, is not as often identified because it can lack the grandiose elements usually associated with narcissism. It, however, is no less hurtful to those who are around them. These people tend to be shy and even self-effacing. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, the “covert subtype is inhibited, manifestly distressed, hypersensitive to the evaluations of others while chronically envious.” They crave people’s attention and frequently get very defensive when others criticize them.
A friend of mine who is in a relationship with a covert narcissist, described her boyfriend as a “miserable human being.” These people are usually miserable and see their suffering as worse than anyone else’s. Unfortunately, they often prey on empathetic people who are inclined to rescue or save them. Doing so will just ensnare that person in an unrelenting attack that demeans and controls. Empathic souls watch out!
- Malignant narcissism
These are the most severe and hurtful group of narcissists. They are manipulative and malicious and show signs of sadism and aggression. Simply, they like to see others writhe in pain and discomfort. For those of us who believe in kindness and loving those around us, the malignant narcissist almost feels too bad to believe. If you are around them, the best thing to do is to just cut off ties. Trying to outsmart them will be unsuccessful and exhausting. These people have spent their lives perfecting the craft of manipulation and becoming better narcissists. Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit.
- Sexual narcissism
These individuals truly believe they are amazing sexually. They have an inflated, egotistical admiration of their own sexual prowess. In fact, they can become consumed and obsessed with their sexual performance. They need sexual admiration of others. Sexual narcissists are often serial cheaters and use sex to manipulate others, they may even behave violently during sex.
- Somatic narcissism
The somatic narcissist derives their self-worth from their bodies. They feel more beautiful, stronger, or fitter than others. They have an unhealthy obsession over their weight and physical appearance and criticize or demean others based on appearance. Keep in mind, that like other narcissists, they prioritize their needs over others and feed off drama so will loop you into a cycle of never-ending emotional responses.
- Cerebral narcissism
Similar to somatic narcissist, except cerebral narcissists derive their worth by feeling smarter, more clever, and intelligent than others. In their attempt to feed their ego, they try, and often succeed, in making others feel unintelligent. You are never going to win an argument with these guys. They will never admit you are right.
- Spiritual narcissism
Who would have thought that a narcissist would use spirituality as their tool of intimidation? These people need to project an idealized version of themselves to escape their broken and insecure selves. They use seemingly sensitive and spiritual actions as a way to elevate themselves above others. They can be quite captivating and have a dynamic influence on others, and prey on those who have gone through a significant upheaval in their life.
As you assess the value of your relationships it is important to recognize that narcissism is on a spectrum. Not everyone that shows narcissistic tendencies needs to be eliminated from your life. If you choose to keep them around though, you need to set strong boundaries and make certain you don’t get sucked into their drama. They are masters of manipulation and have a lifetime of skill getting what they want, and it is almost always at the expense of those around them.
The best response is to minimize or eliminate altogether your contact with them. If you are in a relationship with them, then the best move is most often to get the hell out and find a strong support system to help you. By the time you leave, you often suffer from low self-esteem and have been manipulated and controlled to such an extent that you believe most of the problems are your fault. You need strong support and often professional counseling to get the correct perspective on the damage the narcissist has had on you.
One last thing. Guilt is the tool the narcissist will use on you most. Let me be clear with you on this. You should feel no guilt for walking away from such a person. Toxic people ruin lives. Period. You may need to completely disentangle or blow up your life to get free of them. Do it! You and those around you also effected (i.e. children) will ultimately be better off. Always remember, whether it is a toxic family member, toxic friend, or any other toxic relationship, you have the right removing toxic people from your life.
Other article you might enjoy: Holy Relationships by Wayne Dyer or The Parasite of Fear by Jack Ryser.