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Our lives are highly dependent on the people around us, driven by the relationships that we create and cultivate with friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, managers and more. However, not all people are created equally. While some will act with compassion and sensitivity, other people you encounter in life will be far more negative.

While we will all be blessed enough to come across some amazing, positive, and loving people in our lives, the people who will help to build us up during life’s challenges, supporting and encouraging us every step of the way, the opposite is also true. There are some people that you are going to meet that will be negative, judgmental, controlling, inconsiderate and highly manipulative. The best way to protect yourself is to first identify these toxic individuals in your life, and then to adjust your own way of thinking.

Here are 11 signs that you are dealing with a highly toxic person:

#1 – Highly Controlling

There is only one person whose happiness, well-being, and success matter to a toxic person, and that is themselves. They believe that they should have control over every situation they encounter so that they can assure that, when all is said and done, they always get exactly what they want. When a situation arises that they can’t control they will become highly agitated and moody. They need to feel like they have the power.

#2 – Masters of Drama

Take a look at their life – regardless of where they are and who they are around, the drama appears to follow them around everywhere they go. There is always something wrong in their world, they are always the victim, and they are more than willing to share it with you. Don’t waste your time trying to offer them solutions, they aren’t looking for one. They actually feed off the drama.

#3 – Forced Relationships

Toxic people don’t form relationships in order to connect and bond with one another. Instead, the only relationships that matter in their world are those that will directly benefit them and propel them forward in life. If you don’t serve a tangible purpose as a tool in their life, don’t expect to even get a second glance your way. If, however, they see you as valuable to reach their goals they will go to great lengths to force the relationship. They can’t pass up that opportunity!

#4 – Holding Grudges

We’ve all been hurt by the people in our lives at one time or another. Unfortunately, the human species is flawed. For this reason, no one is perfect. This difference between an emotionally and mentally healthy individual and a toxic person is that the healthy one can recognize this and let it go, moving forward with their life. Toxic people, however, hold onto grudges for days, weeks, months, even years.

#5 – Talk More Than They Listen

As we previously discussed, these individuals care only about themselves. For this reason, they have no interest in listening to you share your thoughts, feelings or emotions on a topic. To be blunt, they don’t care how you feel. If they are listening, it’s for the break in your conversation so that they can insert their own opinions. They will often cut you off or talk over you, inserting themselves into conversations that really have nothing to do with them at all. You can rest assured; however, you will always know their opinion.

#6 – Gossip and Criticism

If there is one topic that toxic individuals love to engage in, it’s the judgment and criticism of those around them. They are the Gossip queen/king in your area, seemingly knowing everything that there is to know about everyone at all times. Take what they have to say with a grain of salt, however. If they don’t know the details, they would rather fabricate them then admit it.

#7 – Never Wrong

These individuals truly believe that they know everything that there is to know about everything. This would then imply that they are obviously NEVER wrong. Even if they are staring directly at facts and data that prove otherwise, they aren’t ready to back down. In an effort to maintain this truth that they have come to believe in, they will lash out at anyone that even remotely suggests otherwise.

#8 – Refuse to Apologize

Remember, as we previously established, in their world, they are never wrong. Therefore, they believe that there is never a situation that they should consider apologizing for. After all, they certainly aren’t going to apologize if they haven’t done anything to warrant it! If you’re waiting for an apology, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

#9 – Highly Exaggerate Everything

In order to ensure that you truly understand the gravity of their situation and the information that they are trying to convey, toxic people will exaggerate everything in their lives. If you said something that they could have possibly taken the wrong way, they will tell others you lashed out at them. They love phrases like ‘never’ and ‘always’ as it helps to dramatize their point.

#10 – Often Tell Lies

Toxic people will go to great lengths to ensure that everything is going, and will continue to go, their way in any and every situation. If reality fails to hinder their efforts, rest assured they aren’t going to settle for it. Even reality isn’t going to hold them back from their goals! Instead, they will lie and manipulate the truth, creating their own reality as necessary. This ensures that they are always the victim and the hero in every story – the one that everyone should bow down to.

#11 – Tactless

This is another trait that can be traced back to their lack of regard for those around them. These individuals have no compassion or empathy for others, which means that they certainly aren’t going to factor the feelings of those around them into their decisions. This can come across as blunt, harsh or tactless. However, even if someone takes the time to point out how they are hurting others they aren’t going to change their ways as they don’t see a problem with their decisions.

What can you do? This is what the Zen masters have to say about the situation:

These toxic individuals can have an incredibly negative impact on your emotional and mental well-being, however, you don’t have to step back and accept this influence in your life. There are many things that you can do to help combat the negativity. The most important thing that Zen masters will stress in this situation is to focus on your inner peace and balance. You don’t get to decide how those around you feel and act, you can’t control their heart, but you can control your own! Confidence and self-awareness come from finding inner strength.

Consciously separate the decisions of others from your own worth and value. Their toxic actions are a reflection of their own inner demons, not of you. At the same time, however, understand that a toxic person is a hurting person. If they are lashing out and bring pain to others, this is their own inner pain and past hurts coming to the surface. While you need to take steps to protect yourself from this toxic energy, be careful not to stoop down to their level. Judging, criticizing or lashing out at these people will only introduce toxic and negative energy into your own heart and soul.

Image via the Way of Meditation