How to deal with people who try to take joy out of your life

Self esteem
If you care about what other people think about you, you will always be their prisoner.

As people were busy loading their bags into the van ready for the office organized road-trip, I noticed Nelly being very chatty with Kate, but did not make much of it. Nelly is in her mid-forties, single, and lives with her mother. She has been with the organization for long. Kate on the other hand is in her late-twenties, married and has one child. She has been with the organization for six months.

Ten minutes into the drive, Nelly suddenly made a remark that I thought was not only out of proportion, but was belittling. She told Kate that the dress she was wearing was outdated, ill fitting, and made her look like grandma. “If I were you, I would change into modern clothes when we get to the next stop,” Nelly said with an audible voice, as she made a witch laugh. Loud enough for everyone in the van to hear.

My first reaction was to gaze at the faces of the 18 people seated in the van, just to see their reaction. Some of them were obviously shocked and just shook their heads, others just sneered, while the rest acted like it was none of their business. I wanted to say something to Nelly, but when I saw the expression on Kate’s face, I knew that she was in total control. She looked cool, calm and collected—as though nothing had happened, and even continued chatting away with Nelly.

When we got to the first stop for people to use the bathroom and to buy snacks, I approached Kate and told her that Nelly’s earlier remark was wrong. In response, she said that in life, there will always be people who try to take joy out of your life. People like Nelly. “I came to have fun, and nothing will take away my joy,” Kate said with a big smile on her face.

People who try to take joy out of your life in most cases ‘dislike you because you remind them of what they do not have’. This could be the confidence you carry yourself with, your family status, your social skills, you name it. The best way to deal with these kind of people is:

Step 1: When someone tries to take joy out of your life.

Do not engage toxic people in their mind-game schemes. Be comfortable with who you are. This way, nothing negative said to you will affect your self-esteem. Remember, what toxic people say to you has nothing to do with you—but everything to do with who they are, and what is going on in their lives.

Step 2: When someone treats you badly repeatedly.

Draw the line. At this point you need to assert yourself. Remember, toxic people rarely stop their attacks when they start. They just keep going on and on, for as long as they know that they can get away with it. At this point, you need to explain to them what is acceptable behavior, and what is not. Do this the moment they attack you, whether it is in private or in a public place. Toxic people hate to be exposed, and the more times you confront them, the more they will begin to realize that it is time to find another victim.

Step 3: Moving forward

After having a bad experience with toxic people, sometime it becomes difficult to continue having a meaningful relationship with them—especially if they are your family members, colleagues, or peers. Should this be the case, you need to apply the tactic of separating issues from people. This means that if you have common things that you do together, focus on what needs to be done, for the benefit of everyone. But along the way, should you sense that the person is trying to get into his/her old ways of trying to take joy out of your life, apply step 2 mentioned above.