How do you handle toxic people? Comply, confront or cut off?

I gained two kilograms in the past week, thanks to the cold weather. I wasn’t allowed to venture out to exercise as Bangalore climate has never been kind to me. As I spent hours sulking this morning, I remembered the exact reason why I pushed myself to lose weight in the first place. It was a day when my mother-in-law told me how one of her friends asked her if I am pregnant. “You should eat less and lose weight”,- she told me with an uncomfortable grin.

Well, to be honest, I have never been very proud of my lifestyle and making positive changes towards it has always been on my agenda. However, I have never thought of losing weight as a goal. I would love to talk about this but may be, some other day. Today I want to discuss something else. I want to discuss the aunt (I call her aunt, not a derogatory remark) who taunted on my body and all such people.

If you are a 80s or 90s kid like me, you know the value our parents have assigned to the dear society. I am an introvert and though it’s an accepted trait nowadays, my childhood was spent listening to my father yelling at me with the nickname “asocial” or sometimes “antisocial” and even “unsanskari”. However, I always believe that the love story between the parents and the society has always been one-sided and toxic. I mean my father always cared about the society but they never came to help us when we were in financial pressure or were worried about our safety.

Now you would say, in one of my latest blog posts, I was talking about understanding our parents’ bias for the society’s opinions and here I am- ranting about them. But, probably I am just trying to figure out the root cause of the problem here. When did it all start? And how does one break-up from it? And I would like to come clean. I don’t have a conclusion on this topic. This blog post would be an open for discussion call for anyone who’s reading it.

To thicken the plot, I have another memory to share. A year and half ago, during my sister’s wedding, I had to visit my village. My village has always been the annual holiday home for us and I was looking forward to it. But to my horror, the women in my family were horrified the moment I stepped out of the car. It was 47 degrees outside and all I cared for, in that moment was a fan but I was stopped and every one was busy commenting- why I was not wearing sindoor and mangalsutra? Why I was not wearing any ornament? Why I gained so much weight? Why I didn’t conceive yet? From my physical health to my wealth to my personal space- every territory was breached within a couple of minutes. I saw my parents trying to explain earnestly and controlled the explosion inside me. I just sighed and chose to ignore.

However, this didn’t stop at that. The personal attacks from those I happened to love, increased. I tried my best not to be disrespectful of people who have taken out some time to be a part of our celebrations. However, my parents took the responsibility to control the damage. They tried to control my food and talk me into decking up. It wasn’t a big ask though I felt sad watching my parents acting like helpless puppets in front of their relatives. They were spending their savings to appease these people who didn’t stop at anything. They made my parents spend more and more with the promise of return in the form of fame in the village. My pleas were falling on deaf ears and that’s when I had to decide it’s enough. I couldn’t save my parents’ money but I could at least show my parents how to say NO!

Next time, my aunts asked me to wear a “Bichiya” (toe-ring), I told them politely- I believe in equal rights and responsibilities between a man and a woman. I don’t want to change my surname or wear sindoor to prove my love. My husband wears our engagement ring every day and I do the same by choice. I thought my opinion was enough to shut them up but they continued arguing telling me that it’s scientifically proven that wearing bichiya is good for health. I smiled innocently and said- “very well then, pack two of these for my husband as well.” Before the shocked lady could say anything, I left.

“She has forgotten our values”- they said on my back. I kept walking till I was out of the house.

I attended all the rituals but half of the time was spent in the hotel room, crying. Was it only my body weight that felt so heavy? I don’t think so.

Every time I have said no to meeting toxic and mean relatives and friends, my parents have always called me “asocial” and how this would make me lonely. And I have always been alone but never lonely. I have a set of close friends who might disagree with me but do not enforce their thoughts on me. I might be alone in a party but I sit in a corner and WhatsApp my best friend and that’s not very bad. I prefer having long conversations on ideas than having small talks about people.

However, that’s my choice. Some of us really want to meet people and make friends. Even I feel the urge, though rarely. And there’s nothing bad about it. But, several times, we make friends only to realize later that they have a toxic effect on our mind. What do we do before they take over our thought process? I can think of three ways-

  1. Confrontation: Which I did. It was a very rare outburst but when we know we can’t break up with some people, it makes sense to let them know.
  2. Compliance: Which my parents did. It’s peaceful though the only thing burning is one’s soul.
  3. Cutting off: This is what I do the best. I cut off from people when I realize they have an adverse effect on my mind. I have even walked away from very good friends in the past because I wanted to respect their opinions but at the same time I valued my inner peace more.

I think being in social relationship is the biggest gift that humankind has. We meet people and get influenced. That way, our mind is like a fertile soil and people we meet are like seeds. When we form bonding, the seeds are sown in form of thoughts, ideas and ideologies. Every one who knows agriculture understands the value of useful seeds and healthy farming methods. Would we want to expose our lands to weed and useless crops? The moment this realization hit me, I started valuing my time and my affections more. Now, I decide who’s worth my attention and my ears.

What do you think? In the above mentioned situation, how would you react? Would you confront, comply or cut off?

And always remember,

6 thoughts on “How do you handle toxic people? Comply, confront or cut off?

    1. I am sure we all face such situations on a daily basis and it’s frustrating. But it’s also tricky. When to hold on to and when to leave. Thanks a lot for taking out some time and reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great insight and question. I am still figuring this one out myself. It’s hard to simply ignore, but also hard to correct respectfully. For now, I find cutting off works well until I feel I can deal with said person. I’m so sorry you were made to feel like a culmination of errors instead of a beautiful gracious person. People need to worry about their own bodies and lives than go around judging other people to feel falsely superior. Much love to you. Do not let them bring you down. There is only 1 you and God makes no mistakes so love yourself and only change in any way if you want to.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I felt much better the moment I left the place. Some people or rather situations make you feel worse. And although I have loved these people since childhood and I know they only want to teach me what they were taught, I would have loved it if they could understand my point of view. I would still wait for that day but until then, I am not going to set foot in my own house. Thanks a lot for taking some time out and read my post. It’s a pleasure to connect with like-minded people in times like these.

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