How to Deal with Manipulative and Toxic People and Reduce Stress

This article is Part 2, Part 1 is The Truth You Should Know about Manipulative People. Now let’s discuss how to deal with manipulative and toxic people and reduce the stress you get during such interactions. Imagine we were given manuals on how to deal with manipulative and toxic people at birth or at least in school? That would have saved so much trouble. But there wasn’t any manual, so here is what I’ve figured out.

How to deal with manipulative and toxic people

Treat manipulative and toxic people as patients

treat manipulative and toxic people not as villains but rather as patients.
Brain of manipulative and toxic people functions differently.

You have all rights to be angry at a manipulative person in your life but will it help improve the situation? No. If you read the first article, the Part 1 I’ve mentioned before, you know that malignant manipulators are different: they are not like you and me – people suffering from their actions. That is because they can’t feel compassion – they have reduced grey matter or lower activity in the part of their brain responsible for empathy.

When you understand that malignant manipulators are not villains but rather patients, it will change the whole thing for you. It should help you stop overthinking, analyzing their behavior.

Don’t try to change manipulative people

First of all, you can’t change any person who doesn’t want to change. Moreover, malignant manipulators and toxic people don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.

Don’t waste your time on trying to teach manipulative toxic people, prove something to them, show them the negative effect their behavior has on other people. They don’t care about it and it’s unlikely they will.

Distance from manipulative people as much as possible

There’s little you can do to deal with manipulative and toxic people and reduce stress and other negative effects their actions have on your emotional state and life in general. As we already know, you can’t change these people unless you’re a very talented psychiatrist. The best thing you can do is to save yourself from the effect of their toxicity and distance from manipulative people as much as possible.

You don’t have to communicate, keep in touch with, and be nice to people who affect your wellbeing in a negative way. One of the perks of adulthood is possibility to choose your surroundings. We can change jobs, move houses, end relationships because we have freedom of choice. So, don’t make yourself stay in a toxic environment that will be ruining your life little by little. You’re a free person and you don’t have to put up with something you don’t like.

You don’t have to communicate, keep in touch with, and be nice to people who affect your wellbeing in a negative way. One of the perks of adulthood is possibility to choose your surroundings. We can change jobs, move houses, end relationships because we have freedom of choice.
You don’t have to maintain relationships that take away your energy. You are free. You can choose. Take care of yourself.

Instead of wasting your energy on everyday interactions with toxic people, trying to fight back in a battle you’ll never win (because fighting a sociopath, psychopath, or a narcissist is like fighting a machine: these people don’t feel compassion, remorse, and guilt, moreover, they never take responsibility for their actions and let’s not forget that people with borderline personality disorder are also extremely manipulative and toxic), stop exposing yourself to disrespectful treatment you don’t deserve. Save your energy and goodness for building the life of your dream. Respect yourself and end any relationship that doesn’t meet your standards.

Don’t agree to do any favors when you don’t feel like doing

You don’t owe anyone anything. I’ve read it somewhere that the only people we owe something to are ourselves and our children. Doesn’t it make perfect sense? You have the right to refuse helping someone if you feel that it will cause you stress or other inconveniences. Make your own wellbeing and wellbeing of people who matter the most to you your priority. If something happens to you because of stress, who will take care of your family? So, don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm especially if those others are manipulative people. 

Learn to set your boundaries

To be able to end a toxic relationship you must know your boundaries beforehand. Ask yourself what behavior you won’t tolerate and what treatment you won’t put up with. Also, you should know what you’ll do in case your boundaries are crossed. For example, if someone starts yelling at me, I leave – this is one of my boundaries.

If you notice that someone is about to cross your boundaries, warn them: clearly state what behavior you don’t tolerate and what will happen in case this person treats you that way. In case your boundaries are crossed, do what you promised to do in such situation. There’s no way back. If you warn a person about the consequences their actions will have and then you don’t apply the measures you’ve promised, it all doesn’t make sense as the person understands that your words shouldn’t be taken seriously. Thus, they will keep behaving the way they want, constantly crossing your boundaries and making your life terrible. When it comes to your boundaries, be strict and make no exception. The only way you can teach manipulative people socially acceptable behavior is applying certain punishment for their actions every single time they cross your boundaries. 

Learn to say NO

Learning to say NO may be a very hard thing to do, however, you must do it for your own good. Care less about whether you’re likable, care less about opinions of other people about you. Some favors we agree to do for other people feel like a burden. Minimize the amount of burden you put on your shoulders. If something is inconvenient, if something makes you feel uncomfortable, if something makes you sacrifice something or causes stress – refuse to do it. What people think about you because of it is not your problem – it’s theirs. You can spend your time, energy, money the way you want. Refusing to do someone a favor doesn’t make you a bad person and if for someone it does, now you know that person only wanted to use you.

Forgive the manipulative people who hurt you

Holding a grudge against someone who hurt you does no bad to that person and no good to you. So, to overcome some painful story, you need to forgive your abuser. Read more about it here How to Stop Being a Victim and Move On From Bullying and Abuse-related Trauma.

As you already know, we should treat people who hurt others on purpose as patients because their brain malfunctions. If they could be different: inherit different genes or grow up in a healthier environment, they probably would. No one chooses to be born to a certain family. You and me and many other people in the world were lucky enough not to inherit or develop any personality disorder, so let’s not be harsh on people who were less lucky.

I’m not asking you to befriend those manipulative and toxic people in your life or try to help them overcome their disorder as it’s almost impossible. I’m asking you to forgive those people, stop analyzing their behavior, stop overthinking and move on with your life.

Sudden and everyday interactions with manipulative and toxic people can be very distressing. Prolonged exposure to their influence and the stress it brings may even ruin your life, so the effect such people have on others should not be underestimated. If you often feel negatively affected by manipulative and toxic people and if you struggle with setting your boundaries or suffering from lack of confidence, check out my other articles on confidence building: How to Be More Confident and Succeed in Life, What’s the Difference Between Confident People and Unconfident People?

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