- The behavior of people in your life, and your reaction to it, has a significant impact on your resiliency.
- Being conscious of that impact and moderating your behavior in response can improve your mental health.
- Taking a break from certain people who drain your energy, even if you can't disconnect from them entirely, can be a helpful strategy.
Each of us has people in our lives who are difficult. It’s unavoidable. There is usually a friend who drains our energy, family members who complicate our lives, or a significant other who impacts our self-confidence.
If you’ve ever felt like the people around you are contributing to your stress, mood, and productivity, you’re not alone. Toxic people can affect our resiliency because constant negativity can drain us and make us feel worn down. This blog encourages you to think about how you can modify your behavior and control how you respond to other people to minimize the effect of their toxicity and maximize your resilience. To the extent possible, you want to create a close-knit circle of people you trust and who are going to build you up, not burn you out.
First, you must assess how people are affecting you emotionally. We don’t have control over the people we work with—or often even in our personal lives—but noticing how we feel when we are around them can help us begin to protect ourselves from the negativity they may bring to the conversation.
Start to notice how others affect you by asking yourself how you feel when your interaction with them is over. If you’re smiling, or you feel encouraged, that’s a good sign. Maybe they made you laugh or gave you a compliment—or maybe they are just easy to be around. On the contrary, if you leave your interactions with certain individuals feeling discouraged, sad, or frustrated, notice whether it’s something they said or did that made you feel this way.
As we begin to observe patterns in our interactions, we can think about making changes. Noticing that we feel discouraged or exhausted after interactions with certain individuals allows us to think about what kind of change we can make. It may be the coworker who always complains, or the friend who always needs our counsel. If the relationship is long-lasting and there is mutual trust, we may be able to address this interaction directly. However, if it’s someone that we don’t know as well or we haven’t known as long, it may mean that we have to keep the conversations shorter, not be constantly available to the person, or, in some cases, end the relationship.
If it’s a relationship that you don’t get to choose to end, such as one with a coworker, think about how their behavior affects you and how you can protect yourself. Negativity can be contagious, so someone who complains, says hurtful things, or generally has a negative attitude can become toxic if you have to interact with them regularly. Sometimes, positive self-talk goes a long way after a hard conversation. In addition, you may have to offset these conversations by intentionally making time for people who are a positive source of encouragement.
Resiliency, or the ability to bounce back and stay positive, can be affected by the quality of our relationships, as well as what individuals bring to us from their own perspectives. Therefore, don’t be hard on yourself if you feel the need to take a break from certain people, or if you need to limit your contact with them. Your mental health is worth being thoughtful about the people that you allow in your life.