The 80/20 rule is used to explain a ton of different phenomenon. Today, I will be writing out that 20% of people who cause 80% of drama in our lives: the toxic people.
You know them: somehow everyone they meet is "crazy" or "just can't understand them". Maybe you've been that person at a certain point in your life for some reason. You may even deny this person is toxic to your other friends ("___ is really a lot of fun! She doesn't mean...") and defend them to create less controversy.
On the other hand, when you read toxic people, 1-2 people came to mind, right? Despite the tons of amazing people and strangers in our lives who deserve our attention, these negative people can occupy so much energy and time. I am not saying I have it all figured out, but these are some things that have helped me. If it can help another person, it will have been worth it.
1. Identify it this person is really a toxic force in your life.
Think about all your interactions with this person, and what you have felt like after. Has their behavior changed recently or is it has been negative from the start?
A toxic person isn't necessarily someone who isn't always your unconditional cheerleader. From personal experience, I have only come to appreciate some "hard truths" from friends in retrospect. True friendship, at least for me, is more about helping your friend be the best-which may not always be a happy go lucky pep talk.
Toxic also doesn't mean someone who is being negative. Negative people are not the most fun people to be around, but try to see if this is an overall pattern or just temporary. Give people slack if there has been an issue in their lives causing them stress; cutting these people out of your life will only make your former friend more upset.
2. Determine your ideal relationship and strategy with this person.
Despite the tempting idea to just say "my ideal relationship is no relationship" with this person, it's usually not that easy.
If this person is someone who you can't cut out of your life (a boss, a friend's spouse, or a neighbor), think about what kind of relationship you want to have and the reality of the situation. Do you want to maintain a civil relationship when you see each other in person? Do you want to be able to exchange gifts without causing a fight? Do you just want to be able to be in the same room without an insane amount tension? Smaller, more realistic goals are better than expecting to be BFFs!
This goal-setting will help you keep your emotions in check. If you feel baited by this person into drama, you can just think of how your non-response is working towards your goal. Responding to that bait would be working against your personal goals.
I also try to brainstorm a few ways to reduce the impact of this person on my life. How can I make myself easier to get along with? Also, exercising or calling a friend > stewing over it by myself.
3. Avoid toxic people in the future and meet more positive people.
This is something I am really working to figure out myself, but I have noticed that "drama" seems to follow certain people more than others. In college, I knew of someone who had major fights with three separate groups of people on campus. Hmm... I am not saying to believe everything you hear, but to keep alert. Keep track of what you trust to who, and see who proves trustworthy.
On the positive side, you can seek out positive, "non-toxic" (crayon-style!) people in your life. Introduce yourself to that guy who's doing fantastic volunteer work on weekends, or the amazing woman you keep hearing about (in a positive way!). These people may not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction to the life you want.
Anyway, I hope this helps! Good luck!