I get it, you’re stuck in a toxic environment and everyone is telling you to get out as fast as you can–but you know that, like with all good things, it takes time. Because I understand that all too well, I want to offer up to you a few ways to maintain your sanity when you’re surrounded by negative people, be they family, “friends,” (in)significant others, or co-workers. Let them spit their poison at you, because you’ve already grown impervious–nay, immune–to it, and it’s only falling on their very own feet. You know you’ll be freeing yourself from them someday–and it’s going to be a good, good day.
But until then, here are some tips on how to not let their toxicity get to you.
8 – Tell yourself the opposite of what they say
Positive affirmations are the only shield against negative affirmations constantly thrown at you by people who are CARING TOO LOUDLY. When you’re being told you’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re useless, no one’s going to want you, you’re a failure, and more, put on that facade of, “Oh, yeah, no I’m totally listening to you,” cue on the appropriately timed nodding, and then tell yourself in your mind the exact opposite to negate their negativity. Tell yourself, “I’m good enough. I’m pretty enough. I’m helpful. Somebody’s going to want me. I’m a success. I love me.” You got to keep your sanity in check when everyone’s trying to make you go crazy!
7 – Get out of there–for now
Since this is all about not being able to escape whatever situation you may be in for the time being, I can’t suggest you just run off right then and there. However, getting out is important once in a while, especially if there’s no other way for you to get some privacy to recuperate (I mean, you’ve already been in the bathroom for 30 minutes–they’re going to get a firefighter to put an ax to the door, and how embarrassing is that, especially if that firefighter’s hot and yes, you did take a dump). Since the other person is not likely going to listen to your request that they get the hell out of there, it’s really up to you to grab your keys and head out for some fresh air, precious alone time (or rant time with friends, whatever floats your boat), and that important distance from all the toxic fumes you’re bound to breathe in otherwise.
6 – Smile to yourself, for yourself
No, don’t smile at them. Don’t smile while they are trying to tear you down with their nonsense! But smile to yourself later, or when you are alone and feeling stressed, even though toxicity might not be right in front of you. Don’t smirk. Don’t scoff. Feel the corners of your mouth lift up into a reassured, easy smile. A loving smile directed at yourself. Feel your mood lift. Feel the muscles in your face relax. Feel your heart pacing itself, your breaths slowing and deepening naturally. It will feel like everything is going to be okay when you are smiling like it’s already all okay.
5 – Prepare music playlists in advance
Sometimes, though, when that smile just won’t appear on your face, you got to let yourself wallow. It’s important to embrace whatever emotional rut you are in at that very moment and dive in fully so you can come out on the other side of the bank refreshed, quenched. For these very scenarios, you’re going to need some epic background music like your life is a movie. I advise you to make a few playlists in advance. Pile up all your sad and mellow songs into one playlist so they can encourage your tears to freely fall. Crying is a powerful catharsis. Group your angry, fierce songs into another if you feel like kicking all your troubles away. Put uplifting, powerful, motivational songs into one and your calming, meditative tracks into yet another.
4 – Go to your happy place
If wherever you are right now, whether it’s at home or at work, is not pleasing or satisfactory to you, there’s one thing left to do–leave it… in your mind. Since you can’t quite leave a toxic environment physically, unless you want to become homeless or get fired, you will have to do the next best thing: let your mind wander. Find a place in your head that makes you feel safe, or a place you eagerly want to go to that can be a real-life goal or destination. For example, my happy place is an apartment that I have all to myself. I’m an introvert and can’t get enough “me time.” I’ve decorated it for myself, making it as cozy as possible. Someday, I hope to make it a reality, and so to reach that destination, I cultivate resilience. When I retreat into it, I am happier. Create a space like that for yourself.
3 – Express yourself
It’s hard to express yourself or get yourself heard in a toxic environment since people are often trying to put you down. Since that’s the way it is, you have to get all those pent up thoughts and emotions out some other way–now find that other way. It can be anything: journaling, blogging, drawing, writing, dancing, singing, etc. There are so many different outlets. You can participate in spoken word or attend a poetry reading at the nearby cafe. Go to a kickboxing class every week to destroy a sandbag! It’s imperative that you get these feelings out there. You don’t need to express to an audience, but you need to express. Don’t swallow and hold in all the toxicity that’s festering inside you, wearing you down from the inside. Especially do not misdirect it at somebody else. Let it go! (And do not sing Frozen to me…)
2 – Surround yourself with positivity
Whenever you can, leave the toxic environment to surround yourself with positivity. Don’t watch depressing Dateline. Don’t have a rant sesh with friends every single time you guys hang out. Instead, surround yourself with positive environments and people! Make friends with those who are always optimistic, smiling, inspirational, and uplifting. Go to a dog park (with a friend who has a dog so you don’t look like a creep, by the way) so you can pet ALL THE FURRY ANIMALS. Dogs are always positive and inclined to make you feel instantly better. Watch funny videos of silly pets, people with infectious laughs, and even celebrities who are bright and cheery all the time. You can choose a lot of your surroundings, even though you may be stuck in one toxic environment, so put that power of choice to good use!
1 – Practice gratitude
It’s easy to feel stuck or miserable wherever you are in life, but the important thing is to be grateful no matter what. Gratitude is hard to practice, especially when depression hits, but staying sharply focused on it is very important in any toxic environment. Looking for the good in everything is what surprisingly lets you hold onto your sanity, because you’ll see less of the darkness around you.
This will also stop you from feeling victimized–even though you probably are. Why is this important? Because once you stop feeling like the victim, you will be getting back control and power–over yourself, your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions, your life. You can’t control your surroundings, only your reaction to them.
Like I suggested in my New Year’s resolution post, try to write at least five things a day in a gratitude journal to start seeing less of the toxic environment around you. Then you won’t feel like you’re drowning in acid. Don’t let others’ negativity get to you!
Remember to stay strong and love yourself! I understand how hard it is, I really do. We all go through this. Remember that we are all in this together (but do not sing High School Musical to me…). I sincerely hope that these tips will help you feel better in stressful situations and toxic environments. I want you to smile and to be as happy as you can be, no matter where you are in life.