Jay Shetty started the episode by sharing how toxic people are not harmful by nature.
Instead, they have been influenced by the experiences they have gone through. It is essential to understand that negativity and toxicity refer to traits, not people or individuals.
Work colleagues, family members, friends, or people we cross paths with at some point in life can have harmful and toxic traits. These people may not be supportive of your dreams, belittle your goals, or find something wrong in anything that brings you joy. Though they were not born toxic, and have been influenced by life experiences and trauma, it is their choice whether to “become” their trauma and pass it on to others or to “choose to process it and purify it” instead.
We must look at others with this understanding and approach these people with compassion rather than aggression. Realize their negativity doesn’t come from the fact that they don’t like you, it’s because they don’t like themselves. When you start realizing it’s not about you, it stops affecting you, as Jay Shetty explained.
“You recognize it’s part of who they have become. And it is up to them to become something more or less, but it is also your choice to decide whether you want their pain to become yours.”
Jay Shetty shared seven traits of negative people and how to deal with them.
These are the people that are never satisfied with their lives.
Jay Shetty recalls the time when he lived in a monastery, where there was a monk that constantly complained about everything. He was never happy about anything – how he slept, what he ate, etc.
He became such a burden to listen to that Jay Shetty felt the urge to complain about him to other monks. This caused a cycle of negativity to arise and the issue to perpetuate. Complaining is contagious. Studies have shown that negativity can increase aggression toward uninvolved persons. In addition, it generates long-term stress that can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and reasoning1.
At the same time, the body produces cortisol, the stress hormone, which impairs your immune system and has plenty of other harmful effects. Not complaining about complainers is, actually, better for your health. If someone complains to you, they drain you of your energy, and this is why you need to take this burden and dump it on the next person. We must strive to be cycle breakers.
How to deal with the complainer: Don’t tell them to be positive, to cheer up, or to get over it. Instead, listen to what they have to say and ask follow-up questions to make them feel heard. Expressions such as “tell me more about that,” “I’m sorry you had to go through this,” “that sounds tough,” etc., can get you a long way. For the complainer, if you give them the chance to see the positive and dig deeper into their issue, you might be helping them.
These people cannot take a compliment, and they always try to cancel out whatever good things you say about them.
Whatever you say, they will find a way to turn it around and cancel what you just said to them, such as “you look good today” – “oh, I didn’t look good yesterday?” Whatever positive thing you tell them, they will find a way to turn it into something negative. So encouraging them, motivating them, pushing them in the right direction, or guiding them to feel better about themselves is not going to work.
They have a strong opinion about themselves that our words will not manage to change. So no matter what compliment you make, they won’t acknowledge it if they don’t feel the same about themselves.
How to deal with the canceller: What helps with these people is to “remove yourself from the equation” and introduce them to other “voices.” People tend to listen less to those who are close to them than to others less involved.
“There’s some ego that blocks us from learning from people we know,” Jay Shetty pointed out.
However, we shouldn’t listen to that ego all the time – there are plenty of people around us from whom we can learn a lot. By introducing them to others, you also get to see what amazing people surround you, and you may start different conversations with them, which, in return, will improve your life as well.
Jay Shetty urges us to start acknowledging our surroundings: “Look at your immediate circle right now, and I promise you, your life will improve drastically.. . . When you start introducing them to a book or a person, you may think to yourself, ‘Oh, yeah, I can’t believe I’ve never picked their brain. I know that person.”
These are the people who think the whole world is against them.
They feel that whatever other people do is directed to them, one way or another. As a result, they find personal relevance in other people’s actions and feel targeted. Even though this might sometimes be the case, they extrapolate and apply the same thinking to all the other persons. This mindset might ruin a lot of their relationships, and it can “wreck their ability to form deep bonds with other people,” as Jay Shetty explained.
How to deal with the casualty: Your goal is not to make them trust everyone, but to encourage them to spend time with people that see the good in them. Jay Shetty describes the 25/75 principle that he applies to his own life:
“For every negative person in your life, have three uplifting people. I try to surround myself with people who are better than I am in some way, happier, more spiritual, more focused. In life, as in sports, being around better players pushes you to grow like you don’t get good at tennis by playing with someone who’s worse than you.”
Aim to spend at least 75% of your time with inspiring people. Look at this as an exchange – they uplift you, and you also uplift them. Have friends with whom you can grow together. Even if some of your friends fall under the casualty category, you still need to find a way to spend most of your time around people who lift you. The toxic friends might try to “learn by your example.”
These people are always looking for flaws in others.
They negatively comment on other people’s works, actions, and looks. They judge others for their life choices that are different than theirs. Spending time criticizing others only steals away your time for improving yourself. Try to learn from other people’s experiences instead of attacking them.
“If we spent the amount of time we spend obsessing about what’s going on in the news, as we did about our own journey, our lives would change.” Jay Shetty warns us.
How to deal with the critic: When he lived as a monk, Jay Shetty had to do an exercise in observation – for each flaw they found in another person, they had to come up with ten good things about them. The point of this exercise was to see that there is more good than bad in a person. Having it written on paper in front of your eyes helps you see things more clearly.
It also helps to do the same exercise about yourself: “Putting my negative qualities in context helped me recognize the same ratio in myself, that I’m more good than bad,” Jay Shetty admits. When you need to write ten things about someone, it forces you to research and realize how little you may know about that person.
According to Jay Shetty, “we have to make so many judgments and criticisms about people we don’t even know about people we don’t even understand. […] We discuss other people’s decisions or what they say without knowing them.”
Writing ten good things doesn’t mean we are finding a way to excuse the other person’s negative behavior, but to help us realize we all have our flaws and need a little understanding.
These people request a lot of your time.
How to deal with the commander: you give up the people pleaser inside of you and become honest with them about how much time you have.
Jay Shetty’s tip is to set clear boundaries and communicate them honestly and directly. For example, explain the order of your priorities and when you can dedicate time to other things. Don’t force or exhaust yourself by accommodating them against your will. It will only make you feel upset with yourself, which will make you upset with them.
Don’t ignore or avoid them. Don’t tell these people you don’t want to meet with them. Instead, tell them that you want to meet with yourself. Simple clarification can get you a long way. They might be mad in the short term, but in the long run, they might understand. Setting boundaries is crucial. Otherwise, it can become draining for you.
They always try to one-up you.
They bring competition into your life, even when you aren’t even trying to compete. Jay Shetty distanced himself from such people because he wasn’t looking for competition with anyone in his circle of close friends. He strives to celebrate his friends’ successes without entering a contest with them. Share your accomplishments, not in relation to anyone else, but with your goals.
“The way you communicate about other people’s success has a big, big impact on how they perceive you, and what your goal is, as well,” Jay Shetty explained.
How to deal with the competitor: distance yourself and surround yourself with people who can be genuinely happy for your success.
This person only wants you to do as they say.
In Jay Shetty’s view, it is one of the most problematic toxic traits to handle. This person controls how the people close to them spend their time and with whom. It becomes a power struggle in which we give up our ego to accommodate theirs, even if we think they are not agreeable. We do as they ask us to because we try to be nice to them, although we don’t feel they are friendly people.
One way to deal with this is by doing what you want. It doesn’t mean to do things to spite them but to follow your judgment and will.
Invite More Positivity into Your Life
People are different and not everyone is like you, and also, not everyone adds meaning to your life. Seek out your own people and tribe and surround yourself with the persons that make you feel comfortable.
Try to identify the seven types of toxic people in your life and implement the strategies that Jay Shetty shared. As you implement these, we hope your life changes for the better.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “7 Types of Negative & Toxic People and 5 Steps to Deal With Them” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.