HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND HANDLE THEM
~ *Doreen Virtue* , excerpted from *”Assertiveness for Earth Angels”*
Earth Angels are “nice” people, with big, open hearts, so they can’t see when they’re involved in toxic relationships.
They excuse and minimize other people’s behavior: “He didn’t mean to act that way. He was having a bad day.”
Even more toxic is when Earth Angels blame themselves for someone’s harsh behavior: “If I were nicer [or thinner, smarter, richer, etc.], then he’d treat me better.” This is nonsense! Don’t take responsibility for someone’s cruel treatment.
Earth Angels tolerate harsh and even abusive relationships because they’re afraid of being alone, being in the wrong, or being judged.
They force themselves to rise above mistreatment by disconnecting from their feelings.
Harsh and Toxic Behavior
When you first meet people, they’re on their best behavior. They’ll agree with you, even if they really don’t. It can take up to two years before you see the real person. That’s why it’s important for Earth Angels to take things slowly in their friendships.
In any relationship, there’s a synergy (energy exchange) between both people. Unless you’re being authentic, you don’t know how well you interact. If you’re both pretending when it comes to your feelings and opinions, and being falsely polite and insincere, there’s no real relationship.
Here are the most common types of toxic relationship behaviors for you to recognize, and how to deal with them in honest and assertive ways that are healthful for you and the other person. These examples give you guidance as to how to assertively handle toxic situations.
Most Earth Angels have been beaten up by life and suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. So they often don’t recognize abusive and toxic patterns in their relationships. Earth Angels don’t know any better than to accept hurtful behavior from others.
They deny and excuse such behavior, while secretly suffering in silence.
So this list will help you not feel ashamed or alone in your relationship patterns, and also give you a way out.
By pointing out these harsh relationship patterns, we’re not judging the individuals involved. Many times, Earth Angels are so wary of being judgmental that they overdo acceptance. This isn’t about judging another person; it’s about being aware of the dynamics within the relationship.
Sometimes, style differences between you and the other person cause the harsh energy of the relationship.
For example: You’re quiet and gentle, and he’s loud and rough. You’re spontaneous and go with the flow, but she’s all about planning and organizing. Through awareness and honesty, style differences can be negotiated harmoniously if each person is willing to compromise and have compassion for the other person’s style.
However, where abuse is involved, the relationship needs to end and healing needs to begin.
This list is to open your eyes and help you to be aware of your honest feelings when you’re with other people. It also gives you some suggestions for assertive ways to manage these various scenarios. There’s no implication that you need to leave or abandon anyone; however, you do need to take care of yourself and any children affected by your being in a toxic relationship.
The person who continually interrupts you doesn’t really care what you have to say. Interrupters are people who are anxious to hear the sound of their own voice, and who are convinced that they provide the most interesting and accurate conversation. Very often, the interrupter is someone who’s abusing caffeine or other stimulants, making him or her anxious and hyperactive.
— How this relationship affects you: If you’re in a relationship with an interrupter, you begin to talk really fast to get your words in before they can be interrupted. You start to feel anxious whenever the interrupter initiates conversation with you.
— How to handle this: Assertive Earth Angels will stop someone the first time he or she interrupts them and say “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished talking” in a very calm and peaceful way. If you touch the person’s arm while saying this sentence, the impact is even stronger. Remember that you’re helping the other person become aware of a habit that’s likely blocking him or her in all other relationships, personal and business. You’re teaching how to be a better communicator.
Correcting is similar to interrupting, except worse. People who are prone to this behavior not only interrupt you, but also “correct” what you’ve been saying. They may point out errors in your grammar or pronunciation, like your old English teacher. Or they may tell you much more about the topic you’re discussing.
While it’s great to learn new facts and proper grammar, it’s this person’s continual correcting that becomes tiring. No one likes to feel small or stupid, and that’s how you feel when you’re with this person. You always feel “one-down” from him or her. Some people engage in correcting behavior because that’s how they show that they care about and love you. They believe that by “improving” you, they’re helping you. Other times, correctors conduct this behavior out of an unconscious habit.
— How this relationship affects you: Anxiety around a corrector is a normal response. You walk on eggshells, worried about the next mistake you’ll make. If you live with one, it will affect your self-esteem. You may doubt your own intelligence, and give your power away to the other person, because you believe that you can’t do anything right.
— How to handle this: As an assertive Earth Angel Dreams, you must handle these situations head-on, so you’ll need to tell the corrector how you honestly feel. By giving candid feedback to the corrector, you help him or her develop better relationships. If his or her correcting style annoys you, it annoys everyone else, too. So, the next time this person corrects you, take a deep breath, and say: “Sometimes I feel that you’re more my teacher than my friend. And while I appreciate you adding to my body of knowledge, I’d prefer to have conversations where it’s just us sharing our feelings instead of you trying to teach me.”
People who one-up others have done everything better than you, on a larger scale, and they want to tell you about it! Any story that you relate will be scarcely digested before it is regurgitated in a more grandiose version—starring them. Such people only listen enough to hear the topic of discussion so that they can immediately go to their memory banks and extract their experience of that situation, which was over-the-top amazing.
They’re so insecure and desperate for attention and approval that they step all over other people’s spotlight to grab it back for themselves.
— How this relationship affects you: Your body exhibits signs of tension and resentment. You feel unheard and unappreciated. In this sort of relationship, you feel lonely because it’s a one-sided conversation at all times. You also feel disappointed that the other person won’t share in your excitement or other emotions concerning the experiences you’re relaying.
— How to handle this: Such people have no idea that they’re upsetting, annoying, or pushing others away with their superiority complex. They’re extremely lonely and wonder why people aren’t impressed with their accomplishments. They believe that if people are impressed, they’ll be loved and valued. Once you understand the depth of such a person’s loneliness and desperation to be loved, an assertive Earth Angel can go from there.
The heart of assertiveness is being honest and taking responsibility for your feelings. So never point the finger and claim that the other person is making you angry. It’s his or her behavior that’s triggering you. Let the one-upper know that you value and admire him or her, as long as that’s sincerely how you feel. You don’t offer these compliments unless you really believe them, or else you’re manipulating and trying to control the other person’s reaction to you, which is dysfunctional and dishonest.
Explain that you’d love to share your own experience and enjoy the details, without turning the tables to talk about his or her experience right away. Tell the person that sharing experiences is like enjoying a really good meal, and you want to savor each course one at a time.
Be very clear with other people about your expectations for the relationship ahead of time. Your ego will argue with you, saying you can’t tell others the truth or they won’t like you. The real truth is that unless you speak your truth, you’re nothing but an empty shell to other people. When you treat yourself with self-respect, other people respect you….