6 Ways to Confront Toxic People

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"How do I become a safe person and what do I do about these toxic relationships?" (Charisma archives)

It only took a matter of days for me to devour the book.

Once finished, I went through it once more because I knew two things to be true:

1. I was a toxic person

2. My life was filled with toxic people

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The question now arose: "How do I become a safe person and what do I do about these toxic relationships?" I will address the first question on Wednesday, but today I want to look at what we should do with the toxic people in our lives.

Do we try to salvage the relationship, or should we put them behind us and move on?

My knee-jerk reaction was to put them all behind me and move on. All of them. But I knew this wasn't a healthy way to deal with every relationship. Certainly, there are times when this approach is necessary for our health and well-being, but there are times when that approach isn't at all appropriate.

Let us not forget that God has given us abundant grace, not to consume upon ourselves but to give liberally to those around us.

Grace needs to flow from every decision—whether we let a relationship go or whether we attempt to salvage it.

How do we determine which approach needs to be taken?

1. List all the toxic people in your life and where they fit in your circles of friendship. Are they family members, school friends, neighbors, church family? Ask yourself, is the circle they are currently in appropriate for the relationship they have to you? If not, perhaps just moving them to the outermost circle is the right move.

This doesn't require a conversation or confrontation about appropriate boundaries, unless they are actually infringing on your boundaries. If they have simply shown a disinterest in your life, let them be a casual acquaintance to you.

2. List the kind of behavior that is toxic in this person. Certain behaviors are more tolerable than others as long as they remain in the outer or outermost circles. Other behaviors are not at all tolerable and should be confronted.

3. Ask yourself, "Does this behavior warrant confrontation?" If it does, then ask yourself, "Have I confronted this person already about this behavior? Were they open to my confrontation?" If the person was not open to confrontation, ask yourself whether it was your approach or their lack of desire to be approached at all.

These three steps will help you determine what approach needs to be taken with the toxic relationships in your life.

You should now have three categories:

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