Updated: Jun 6, 2020
The way happiness and sorrow is a part and parcel of our life, similarly meeting cheerful and toxic people is also an unavoidable event in our lives. Now it's pretty obvious that we don’t enjoy an experience with toxic people because we get affected by their negativity. It is absolutely not necessary that a stranger can only be a toxic person, he/she can be your family member or relative also, dealing with can be difficult and result in bitter relationships. And often, to prove ourselves right, we tend to end up in an argument with such people. They may try to hurt our self-respect, throw crap on us, produce hurdles on our way and ultimately waste our time. Now there are two methods to deal with such people but believe me, only one of them is going to help you win over them.
First let’s discuss the way which is very commonly applied by us but creates more trouble than it solves. I would like to describe this thing narrating a personal experience. Two years ago in my high school, I had a batchmate whom I considered super-toxic because we had huge opinion differences. I used to consider her an opportunistic, crafty, egoist and very manipulative girl who was completely obsessed only about herself. In view of our previous arguments and because of these assumptions, I usually avoided interactions with her. Interestingly we had common goals of fetching admission into prestigious universities, so we had to work collectively in a group to complete the application procedures. As you all are already aware, university application procedures require a lot of thought process and pondering on a variety of essays and other stuff. So, it was very obvious to have healthy conversations with all others in the group to brainstorm and reach better conclusions. We used to exchange our views and planning regarding our future, discuss various opportunities together and how we could enhance our co-curricular achievements. She was the odd one out in this whole picture because when it comes to listening ideas she was the first person to copy others’ perceptions, strategies, plans and very secretly grabbed every opportunity; showing no concern and sidelining all others who cared for her in the same group. We considered our group as a small family of aspirational youths and wanted our collective benefits but she always used to be very insecure about her plans (which were not even her original ideas) and prudently secured a place everywhere. I really disliked this habit of hers, but kept quiet because she didn’t show her craftiness to me, but one day I was discussing my dream university essay topic with my school counselor so that I can write a really appealing and out of the box essay for that topic. Without any intention she was standing there listening to our discussions to which we also didn’t give much attention. My world came crashing down when the very next day I came to know that she presented the same essay to my counselor; that too written on that same topic, in the manner as I discussed with my counselor and was about to write. Without even participating in that discussion she plagiarized my idea. I know it was not that big of an issue, but for a process as serious as an essay for one’s dream university, every creative idea matters and can make a big difference. I couldn’t be more patient and reacted and all hell broke loose. I was showing all my frustration and she was absolutely silent playing defensive involving my counselor also into it. I was yelling impatiently at her but she was giving me no importance, as if I was not there in that hall and didn’t matter to her. Her silence heightened my temper and I said that also what I shouldn’t have.
Finally my counselor asked me to shut up and scolded her for her mistake and eventually refused to accept her essay. But then something happened which astonished me when my counselor turned to me and said, “This was really unexpected from you! I didn’t know the student whom I considered so composed and mature could behave so impulsively. You didn’t even wait for me to respond to your problem and took the initiative to handle the situation on your own, saying left and right to her. When you knew that I would have ultimately cancelled her essay then why did you show such a reaction.” I was shocked and this experience left a mark in my mind.
I lost despite being right and she won despite being wrong. Her silence marked maturity, ignorance and a veiled response that cried out loud that I didn’t bother her. And that won everyone present at the scene. Sardonically, I was the toxic person in the whole scene who failed to handle things properly and eventually created an image of a very impulsive person in front of everyone.
This led to a realization, that you cannot win over negativity with more negativity. In one of the interviews of Poet Vinod Kumar Sharma, the pragmatic Hindi Poet, when he was how he dealt with unconstructive criticism or toxic mockery with a wrong intention regarding his work, he said that he never replies, not because he doesn’t have an answer but because replying is not a creative act. He said that ‘Ignorance is an Art’ and he knows to apply it well. In just this small statement, Poet Vinod stated the very essence of realism and a monumental approach to overcome toxic people who stand as blocks in our journey. Here comes into picture the second and the only way to win with a toxic person- Don’t Play! There is no benefit in arguing with such people and wasting your energy. When I actually realized the benefits of not reacting impulsively, I gained more clarity in my thoughts. After removing this clutter, I could see more deep into my own self, gaining those perspectives which were within me but I was not aware of. I am still in the middle of this journey to rise above such people not only by my ability to ignore them but also in some cases by knowing why a person is showing a particular behavior.
For instance, after this whole incident with that girl was over, gradually I came to know that she feels insecure and has become like this because of facing certain family problems which were a continuous emotional disturbance for her. There was some serious misunderstanding between her parents which posed an emotional tension for her and she was helpless. When I got to know this, I realized her state of mind also and tried to clear the misunderstandings between us. Later on, our rapport became much better and our friendship till now is an evidence of this. After introspecting much, I realized that this chapter of my life came with lot of golden lessons, one of which being;
"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them!"