Toxic. That brings to mind poisonous, right? Time to call poison control? I went on the internet and did a little search for how to deal with poison or toxin. As we talk about toxic family members, I think that there's some overlap here that might be helpful. 3 different strategies or approaches.

So, let's just say that you've been exposed to something toxic. Sometimes, when we're out hiking we might brush up against some stinging nettle or some poison ivy. Those are toxic plants and they cause a sting. At this first level of intervention, let's talk about how to rinse, cleanse and dilute or diffuse. This is what you would want to do if you run across some stinging nettle. For example, you want to rinse it off or somehow cleanse the exposed area to minimize the initial effects of the toxic exposure. In a relationship setting, the initial sting can sometimes be diffused or diluted a little bit through self-care. Taking care of yourself in a way that fortifies you against these brushes. For example, getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. All of these elements of self-care help to dilute the initial effect of having a toxic interaction with someone.

Another thing that's been shown through the research in the literature is debriefing. We use this primarily to address traumatic incidents. But it's also true in a toxic interaction with a family member, a co-worker, or someone in your world that stings you. Debrief it with someone, just talk it through. Tell them what happened, chat with someone about it. That helps to dilute the sting a little bit, initially.

Finally, on this first level of intervention, I would say, perspective is important. Keep it in perspective. How big of a deal is it really? Now, I know in the moment, it feels huge. But backing up from it, taking a higher perspective, a higher altitude view of it, you will see it start to shrink down. I had an experience where I got to visit the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi Finland. You've seen the, “You are here,” kind of signs? Well, this sign had a picture of the world, the entire globe. And there was a little dotted line around the top of it with an arrow pointing to it and in Finnish, it said, “You are here.” And the perspective just almost blew my mind. Because I was having some personal stress in my life, like we always do at different phases of our life. And seeing that arrow pointing to the top of the world, I realized, “Wow.” Most of the problems and the challenges that are going on in the world are down below me somewhere. Because I'm up here on top of the world, literally, it caused everything to shrink into a perspective I thought, it's important to me but in the grand scheme of things, it's probably not that big of a deal. Keeping that kind of a perspective helps to alleviate some of that initial sting as well.

Now, let's move to the second level of dealing with that toxic or poisonous interaction. This is where it's already been ingested. Maybe it's starting to have some effect, maybe it's more of a longer-term thing that you're dealing with. We want to purge, offer an antidote, counteract or remove the poison from our system. So, as that relates to relationships, we are now getting into what we are trying to do here on this channel. Through positivity training we can condition our mind to see things differently. Or to take something that's already happened way back in the past sometime and rework that in our present thinking to the point where it's not having the same toxic effect. This can be done through therapy, counseling, or coaching. These are all examples of what we can do to deal with that toxic relationship that's already taken hold. That tends to be more long-term. Think of building up, enhancing and enriching positive relationships as an antidote for some of the toxic ones. You'll notice that, who you hang out with matters. In fact, I've heard it so many times in the professional speaking industry. That you become the average of the five people you hang out with the most. We want to create positive, inspiring, uplifting, affirming relationships in our life. Which will help us to counteract or provide an antidote for some of the toxic ones that have shown up in the past.

As I was perusing through the poison control website and looking at some of the resources there, it became obvious that a big part of their focus is this third level of how we deal with toxins or poisons. And that has to do with prevention, protection, or avoidance of future or further contact with that toxic element. Let's apply that to relationships. What can we do to provide some level of protection or precaution that will protect us in the future from experiencing toxicity? I think one of the important things we can do is to set appropriate boundaries and limits. Nobody else is going to do this for you. So, it's important that you identify, what's okay and what is not okay. What will I allow? What will I not allow? What positions am I willing to put myself in versus what positions am I not going to get into?” You get to set these limits.

Setting them appropriately and assertively is a great way to protect yourself from future toxic exposure. In doing this, we get to use assertive communication. Assertive and aggressive are not the same thing. I've worked with so many clients who feel a little resistance to the assertiveness training that I do because they are afraid it might come across as being mean. Don't be mean, be very kind. You are a kind loving, generous, benevolent person. Show up that way and use assertive communication that sends a very clear message to those around you about the boundaries we already talked about.

Now a final thought on the protection end of things. It's okay to opt out, when it makes sense, when it's appropriate. It's okay for you to opt out of an event, an interaction, a conversation if it's not going well for you. If it is in fact toxic, this is a way that you can protect yourself against those effects. It's okay for example to say, “You know what? This conversation is not serving me well right now.” And then opt out. If you're on the phone, you can actually hang up. You got a little button for that. Use that as part of your protection plan. Now, I'm not saying that you should avoid all people. Not at all. In fact, we want to go back to what we already talked about in building and enriching and enhancing those relationships that are healthy and affirming and positive. We want to do that all day long. It is okay for you to opt-out of some of the things that would draw you into that toxic exposure.

I think we can learn a lot from poison control. And maybe that will improve our relationships as well. The same principles apply. Whether we're dealing with poison or toxic interactions. I hope you found this helpful comment down below. Let's have a conversation about what we are learning and how you are applying these in your life. If you need some help to deal with becoming more assertive in a kind way, you can find out what we offer at Live On Purpose through speaking with one of our coaches by going to