The Ancients didn't have cars or planes or skyscrappers, but they did have some very clever ideas that can help us out today.
While toxic people certainly existed in the ancient world, the wisdom that I am going to be talking about today wasn't originally thought of as a way to navigate toxicity. That little innovation is one that I have really solidified through my own journey navigating toxic people.
So far, I've had to navigate 5 different toxic people in my own life. All the while, I was working my way toward my Ph.D. in Philosophy (which I recently completed). In philosophy, we study a lot of ancient wisdom. And I discovered that a lot of that wisdom was incredibly powerful in the personal situations I was facing with these toxic folks.
Now you don't need a Ph.D. in philosophy to leverage this ancient wisdom. In fact, I've done a lot of the hard work for you. Here is the very simple insight from the ancient world:
If you can master your own reasoning skills, you will not be swayed by the BS coming out of toxic people's mouths.
That's right, your ability to reason is one of THE MOST powerful tools you have to protect yourself against toxic people. Toxic people love to play little mind games and work to control each of us by getting us to accept the BS. You can get ahead of all of those games with the help of your reasoning ability.
Now you might be thinking, hey I already know how to reason. I did math in school, I make decisions about my finances, and even with all that toxic people are still getting to me.
That's totally fair. I am sure that you already have pretty good reasoning skills. The fact that you are turning to the internet to help you figure out what to do with toxic folks is a sign that you are already well on the path.
Having said that, its important to continuously train our reasoning skills. This training is ESPECIALLY important for anyone navigating toxic spaces. Some of the skills you need to be working on to really benefit from the protection that your reasoning abilites can provide are:
Identifying key claims and investigating "Is it true?"
Regularly checking in to see if the claims make sense given the toxic person's access to evidence
Reviewing your evidence about the trustworthiness of the toxic person's statements
All of these skills are applications of the very same tool set that philosophers like Aristotle, Marcus Auerilius, Buddha and many more used to develop some of the most important ideas that have helped shape our world.
This skill set is incredibly powerful in protecting folks against toxic people because it prevents the toxic people from successfully getting into our heads. When you are critical and always seek to evaluate the quality of any of the hideous stuff that toxic people say, you are much less likely to accept their BS. You are more likely to recognize it as a bunch of worthless crap, and you are much less likely to internalize these harmful beliefs.
Your reasoning ability is a powerful tool to protect yourself against toxic people.
We can pretty easily understand how these reasoning tools might help us when we are actively dealing with toxic people, but our reasoning skills are also incredibly important to the long-term healing process once we are no longer actively in these toxic spaces.
If you are interested in leveraging your own reasoning skills to help navigate toxic relationships, I can help. I offer 1:1 coaching for folks who are currently navigating toxic relationships or are healing from toxic relationships.
It is important to note that I do not believe that reasoning alone is the solution to dealing with toxic people. While it is a critical component in navigating these spaces, ultimately a lot of what toxic people are about is controlling us on an emotional level. That means that rationality has an important role to play, but it needs to be accompanied by tools that help address the emotional components of the experience as well. That's one of the reasons we kicked off this season with "My Secret Weapon Against Toxic People" If you missed my last video* be sure to check it out because the tool I talk about in that piece is specifically designed to address some of those emotional components.