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How many times have you needed self-esteem self-defense?
How many times has someone been abusive and you couldn’t think of a way to communicate how they made you feel until AFTER it was over? How many times has a toxic person’s words affected you long after the words have left their lips? How much of your own self-esteem was lessened by these people?
These situations are never easy to navigate, but there are steps we can take to help safeguard our hearts.
1. Become a toxic-evading ninja.
You can’t even begin to find your footing while you’re under attack. So if it’s in person, walk away. By phone, hang up. Text or email, don’t respond. It doesn’t feel like it in the heat of battle but this is the MOST powerful thing you can do. You can always gather your thoughts and thoughtfully respond later when you’re calm. If it doesn’t actually require a response, don’t.
They want you to respond, they may even conjure up the most ridiculous lies just so you’ll stay engaged to defend, “That’s not true!” Then they’ll say you’re guilty for trying to defend yourself.
Know this: you cannot win. If they don’t WANT to hear or believe you, you won’t be able to convince them otherwise.
Your words don’t mean the same thing their words mean. They feel empty inside and want you to help them feel relevant. Like a child, even negative attention is still attention that they crave. They will do anything to make you stay engaged. But if you can walk away from the false accusations, you can take control of your own body and mind.
Not responding takes far more strength than whipping back a response.
Trust me. I’ve held my cool and lost it and I’m much prouder of myself when I don’t stoop to their level.
Take the energy from a negative attack and translate it into the momentum to push you away from their anger.
2. Don’t be afraid to block a punch.
Boundaries are hard to set but often necessary. A simple stop sign with your hand followed by a statement will suffice. “Stop it.” You can personalize it or leave it at that. We teach kids that it’s ok to say, “You’re being mean, I don’t have to play with you.”
As adults we often forget that we don’t HAVE to play with the people who hurt us. And that its ok to call them on their behavior.
It doesn’t have to be nasty. It can be a simple “stop” followed by walking away.
3. Team up with fellow self-esteem self-defense ninjas.
Go to your People. Your spouse. Your best friends. The ones you know are on your team. If the toxic person’s words get under your skin and make you question yourself, go to your team.
Get a reality check about who you are and the blessings you bring to the world. Take these thoughts and repeat them.
The thoughts of loved ones mean so much more than the accusations of someone that’s in so much pain they’re lashing out.
Above all, if it feels toxic it probably is. Whether or not you can put your finger on how or why. Taking some space to process it is well within your rights. You can choose not to let them define you. It’s not easy, (LORD is it NOT EASY) but it’s worth trying again and again.