I was asked to present a theme on how to deal with toxic people including any tips or reminders I could offer when peace is most needed. By the time you finish reading this, your yoga toolbox will be filled with what it needs to stay calm and non-reactive.
First of all, we have all heard the response to a relationship ending (maybe not personally but you have heard it!), "It's not you, it's me"? We say that to alleviate feelings of guilt or blame the other person may have. Toxic people do not mind leaving you with these feelings so it is extremely important to remember that, when dealing with toxic people, it is them, not you! I don't think most toxic people know that they fall in this category and, almost for that very reason, you cannot take their toxic behavior personally.
"There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally."— Don Miguel Ruiz
This leads me to a sanskrit word found in the Yoga Sutras, aparigraha. It means non-hoarding. To not have greed. It is based in the faith that everything we need will come to us if we let go of the attachment to worrying about having what we need.
“By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple as possible and trains his mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the proper time.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
When we think of non-hoarding or, its opposite, greed, our minds typically jump to things. But this concept is as much about your thoughts and habits as it is objects. If toxic Person A crosses my path, depletes me of my energy and leaves me feeling mad and upset, I am the one responsible for what I do next. If I rehash this in my head all day, I maintain my anger as well as the pit in my stomach. I am literally hoarding my feelings by hanging on to them. Person A doesn't even know I am upset! Person A has long since moved on to spreading toxicity to other people. You are the one who needs to let go of Person A and work on aparigraha, non-attachment. If I stand still and listen to Person A's tirade and then carry it with me all day, I am suffering and creating an unhealthy imbalance in my own energy. If I stand there and listen to Person A's tirade as though I have a shield up around me and I watch every word bounce off as I move away, I am unattached and therefore, in a sense, emotion-less or free from emotion.
Our breath is a perfect example of aparigraha. We don't purposely breathe harder or quicker because we are afraid there won't be enough air for our next breath. We have faith that the air will be there at the end of our exhale...and it is.
Forbes.com, in an article about successful people dealing with toxic people, gives this great example: "...if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction."
How many times have you voiced you don't have time to meditate or work out...why do we allow our time to be used up by complainers and energy vampires? Think about it! We don't want to be "rude". So somehow that makes it okay to allow ourselves to suffer? That doesn't make sense.
I liked this from the Forbes article: "Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational... Which begs the question, why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? ...Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project." I don't remember ever being emotionally attached to the outcome of a science project and that is a perfect tool in staying drama free.
Link to article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/10/21/how-successful-people-handle-toxic-people/
Your yoga toolbox now contains the following tools:
· Awareness/staying present
· Breath- deppen breath and/or count the breath in your head
· Aparigraha- letting go of toxic people and the emotions they create inside
· Boundaries/Putting up Energy Shields
· Affirmations: "I choose to be around pleasant people today."
· Intentions: "I intend to have a calm peaceful day."
· Gratitude: "Thank you for letting me have a fabulous peaceful day." (Say this at the start of your day)
· Mantra: Soham/hamsa: Inhale "so", exhale "ham". It is the sound of the breath and it means I am that.
· Cord cutting- we did this in class. Email me for more information if you would like to.