Explore the universe of self-improvement, and some themes recur time and again.
One of the most popular is how to be happy.
We can also learn the value of gratitude because no matter how negative life can appear, appreciating every valuable detail helps us to keep a positive outlook.
Let's not forget having a morning routine similar to successful entrepreneurs makes you invincible for the day ahead.
But there's one theme troubles me and that's how to rid ourselves of toxic people.
Toxic is an ugly word to describe fellow humans who have some hang-ups, yet we're encouraged to treat them like lepers.
For centuries humanity has held some beliefs that have little evidence, yet we can easily get swept along believing they're real.
The Bermuda Triangle — a region of the Atlantic in which it's believed ships and aircraft mysteriously disappear. But why does the same fate not befall every vessel? It's one of the busiest parts of the Atlantic, and oddly, since the advent of satellite communications, incidents only appear on subscription TV documentaries.
Area 51's dead alien — If the American government had access to alien tech, wouldn't they have landed a human on Mars by now? And why are so many UFO sightings always near a military base?
Donald Trump is President — Popular media outlets stated that a minority of American voters put a mad billionaire businessman into the White House because of …oops, that's real, sorry.
Let's move swiftly on.
The point is, get enough people together with shared beliefs and you end up with a reinforced truth.
That's why there's a belief toxic people exist. But what if we saw them as ordinary people who need compassion?
The list of adjectives for the toxic human includes the narcissistic, the negative, manipulative or judgmental. A toxic person stands accused of creating negativity around them.
However, as an advocate for the self-improvement genre, I propose we refrain from writing people off. Compassion and the helping hand should not be limited to those seeking happiness, success and an end to procrastination but given too for those least popular amongst us.
Reframing Toxic People
Reframing is an approach in psychology that encourages you to look at negative thoughts or opinions differently.
Reframing can challenge your mindset and help you to consider alternative possibilities.
What would happen if we reframed toxic people?
Here are some personality types that typically fit the toxic narrative.
Now, I'm not an unreasonable person, so if you know someone who has all these issues, perhaps you shouldn't answer the phone when they call.
The point I want to make is that these people may not be toxic, but are ordinary people in need of someone's help.
1. The Narcissist
The narcissist is someone who has an exaggerated sense of their worth and loves themselves more than others. Narcissism is a recognised personality disorder, but only an expert can make an accurate diagnosis.
But where do self-love end and narcissism begin?
Imagine someone trying to build their self-confidence and wanting to feel good about themselves. That person might be going through a "me, me, me" phase so let them explore that side of confidence. The opposite, having no self-confidence, will hold them back in life much more.
The narcissist needs help to learn self-compassion and recognise their faults.
2. The Bully
Bullies use intimidation to manipulate their peers.
But the bully is usually hiding a deep-rooted sense of inferiority. They're jealous of their victims, secretly long to have what others have and are more than likely to have been bullied themselves.
The bully is a sad person and more deserving of pity because they don't see enough meaning to their life.
The bully needs help to find security and value in their life.
3. The Gossip
There is a well-known phrase that information is power. Unfortunately, some people don't have access to valuable information, so they rely on tit-bits about others.
The gossip has a desire to be wanted, and they erroneously believe sharing tales or half-truths feeds that sense of value.
The gossip feels inferior if they are not getting attention.
The gossip needs help to find some interests to replace the boredom in their life.
4. The Downtrodden
The oppressed is a gloomy person who's down in the mouth about life, work or everything. This person has a grey cloud following them everywhere. Their intensity drains the energy from people around them.
How we think and feel today is the result of our life's experiences. You might never know why someone feels downtrodden. Grief, heartbreak or abuse. Who knows?
The downtrodden need friends to help them lift their heads, discuss what's troubling them, and see the brighter side of life.
5. The Passive-Aggressive
Here we have someone expert at being subtle, the deliberately manipulative person uses indirect means to get what they want. They're intelligent, and we find it hard to prove anything against them.
Of all toxic types, they're the most dangerous. Nobody wakes up one day and decides to be passive-aggressive, so you are dealing with someone who was born or nurtured that way.
Fear of losing becomes their driving force. This fear drives them to put others down discreetly, making it hard to evidence their actions.
The passive-aggressive person needs help to understand their impact on other people. A few social skills wouldn't go amiss either.
6. The Envious
My parents always said that jealousy is an awful thing, and they were right.
The envious or jealous resent their neighbour's house, car, job or circle of friends. Someone's envy could be born out of frustration with life or anger about missed opportunities. "I could have been better if only…"
A life of "if only" means someone is drowning in an alternative experience to the one they already have.
The envious person needs help to learn the value of what they already have.
7. The Over-Sensitive
Friends who are easily offended or hurt may be covering up past pain. They live in fear of more pain and inadvertently make others feel overly cautious around them.
Over-sensitive people also live in the past. They need a sense of loyal friendship for security. You could be that person; the faithful, loving and kind companion.
Over-sensitive people need our help to deflect negative comments and stop taking things personally.
8. The Moody
If everyone who suffered from bad moods were labelled toxic, then we'd all be guilty.
Moods can be a sign of pressure, misunderstanding or challenging mental health. I'm moody occasionally, and sometimes I can't explain why.
Occasionally, it can be a few days before I feel on an equilibrium again.
Moody people are not toxic people; they listen to their noisy minds too much.
Moody people need help to find space for quiet moments to reflect and rest their mind.
9. The Unreliable
Here we have people who are bad timekeepers, or they never show up when needed. Some people can't get it together. They try to get things right but usually end up falling flat on their face.
If you know anyone like that, don't cold-shoulder them, encourage them. If you give such people a little modest praise, you'll begin to see a transformation.
Unreliable people lack confidence, and their nervousness exaggerates their mishaps and forces them to give up.
Unreliable people need help to see the consequences of their inaction and motivation to get things done.
10. The Victim
The victim feels the whole world is against them. Partners leave them; promotion passes over them, and food makes them fatter than everyone else.
The victim type personality creates a snowball effect where they draw tenuous links from one incident to another, and it's everyone else's fault.
But bad things do happen, to us all. What separates the "victim" from the "non-victim" is attitude.
If someone hasn't handled a sad event well, don't label their behaviour toxic, but offer some support in their time of need.
The victim needs support to find opportunities in their life. Then they become a helper instead of a victim.
Forgiveness — The Secret Remedy for Toxic People
I remember someone was asked from the audience if he loved everyone. He said he did, but that doesn't mean he had to like them too.
Everyone has weaknesses, but it shouldn't stop us caring for each other. If some people have difficulties expressing themselves or have been affected by a life-changing event, no matter if it seems trivial to us, then they need our compassion more than our judgement.
Avoid them, sure.
Pray for them if you think it will help.
But don't write off someone as toxic. Labelling someone toxic makes you out to be judge and jury without access to all the facts.
Someone somewhere will love them, though maybe not me because I'm far from perfect too.