How to Get Rid of Toxic People – Become a Hermit


You have them in your life. Those people that you work with, live with, or are related to. You know they are toxic because you feel like you are either being smothered, controlled, judged, or you are walking on egg shells. You try to think positively, and think that maybe the next conversation or interaction will be different, but you end up shrivelling back in dread, shaking your head in disbelief, and wondering why this is affecting you so much.

Perhaps you have taken a step back and honestly examined your own life, saying: “What is it about me? Am I doing something to attract this kind of person?” And yet you come up empty. You often make one of two choices: either you keep being hopeful and put that brave front on convincing yourself that the person might change, or you pull back and retreat into your own head space, choosing to remain silent as their noxious antics numb you. Either way you are paralyzed and the cycle tends to continue. Days, weeks, years pass and you become a shadow of your former self.

This is a terrible place to be. It can feel hopeless. You feel alone and helpless, and the pull to succumb to utter defeat weighs pretty heavy.

There is an answer though - become a hermit. I am serious! What is needed is to withdraw physically, for a time, and use your head space to critically examine, not what you are doing wrong, but rather what thoughts are trapping you in the noxious fog. The reality is that these people will always exist in one form or another, and sometimes it is completely impossible to remove yourself from their presence. So, you need to take a walk along the boardwalk and connect your thoughts!

So what are you thinking?

When it comes to relating to people, we look through our own lens of how we think other people should behave. Our standards become the standards we have for other people. So if all people thought like us, we would probably be quite happy. I mean think of it…for one day…but that is impossible. That is the complexity of the human psyche.

So what is the lens you are looking through? What are the expectations that you place on yourself, and on those around you? "I want people to like me." "I want them to think I am smart, beautiful, competent, funny, creative….." "I want them to be proud of me." "I want them to appreciate _____ about me." You are searching and searching for that approval and acknowledgement that you are something, because without that validation, you often feel like nothing. The toxic person in your life likely does not give this to you, no matter how hard you try. That sense of defeat weighs you down, but you keep going back. Ever hopeful. Often disappointed.

So choose. A hermit determines to live a simple life, not burdened with the material or social elements of this world. The hermit is content with his/her surroundings and does not require the input of others to validate their existence. Instead they are inward focused, meditating on what is important for existence. If you are constantly searching outwardly for validation, you are likely to be disappointed. If you look inward, and realize your own strengths, skills, and abilities, the world takes on a whole new view. You do have some amazing attributes even though it feels like you can’t think of any because you've been poisoned by others venomous words and actions towards you. Think about how far you have come and the challenges you thought you would never get through and yet, here you are searching for hope! The fog can begin to lift!

Having that renewed inner confidence allows you to go back into that workplace, relationship, or your own family with a new lens. You measure yourself with your own standards and realize that others will let you down. You look at them and see that they are likely oblivious or feel entitled to their opinions about you, but that’s all they are – opinions. When you give other people the power to determine your happiness, it is a slippery slope that ends in the pile of egg shells. Your sabbatical as a temporary hermit has told you that you alone know what makes you tick, and they cannot tell you differently. In fact, your new attitude may stun the toxic people in your life enough to leave you alone and divert their attention to easier outward-looking prey.

Dare to alone with your thoughts like the hermit. “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (A. A. Milne)

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© 2016 Head Space: Charlene Mahon