There’s always a lot of talk about how toxic people bring us down.
A truly toxic person can shatter your confidence, thwart your efforts to move forward in life, and leech from you every natural resource, from emotional to spiritual energy, until you have nothing left.
But toxic people also, quite literally, decrease your brain’s ability to perform effectively.
And, worst of all, their actions have a negative effect on some of the most important processes and abilities you need to live your best life.
Toxic people adhere as concrete blocks to your ankles, then push you to swim in poisoned waters.
– John Mark Green
There are four primary ways that toxic people decrease your brain’s performance:
1. Toxicity drains your mental energy and leaves you with nothing in the tank
One of the most significant ways that toxic people decrease your ability to perform at your best is through the sheer exhaustion brought on by verbal and emotional abuse.
I’ve experienced both before and I know what it’s like to go to bed at night so exhausted you don’t even remember falling asleep. It feels as though all life has been sucked right out from you and you’re left running on fumes.
The best thing you can do is to not engage with this toxic behavior, however, depending on your situation that might be easier said than done. If that’s the case, you need to fight toxicity with positivity.
2. Toxicity saps your creativity
Many of us depend on our creativity each day, even if we don’t identify ourselves as artists.
Creativity is the CEO of your brain’s problem-solving department, so if it’s out on sick leave your ability to navigate life’s challenges is severely inhibited.
Creativity requires a clear “pathway” so to speak: minimal friction, stress, and anxiety if it hopes to function fully. Toxic people cause all of these things to spike frequently, killing your creativity and affecting all areas of your life.
Creative energy is generally easy to fill back up, but it’s going to be more effective just to relieve the stress and anxiety by balancing out their presence (if you can’t get away from them at the time) with other more positive people or simply solitary relaxation time.
3. Their constant headaches sever your concentration
Concentration is one of our superpowers. Most aren’t aware of just how incredibly potent concentration is towards our ability to perform virtually any task in existence.
However, the constant friction that fills our brain like the scribble talk from Charlie Brown’s grade school teacher makes it very hard to enter a deep, highly concentrated state of mind — the place where we do our best work.
Exercises such as meditation help this, but nothing replaces changing your environment. So, if you can get them out of your life, do whatever it takes.
4. They reinforce and create new negative self-talk
The final way that toxic people decrease your brain’s performance is by reinforcing previously existent, as well as new, negative self-talk.
There are few things more poisonous for your mental performance than self-doubt and even strong people can crack after receiving enough verbal and emotional beatdowns. Once you’ve been told you’re stupid, ugly, or not good enough for the ten-thousandth time, you begin to believe it, even if only subconsciously.
However, in addition to this, most of us already had previously existent self-talk. So, what is more common is them seeking out these insecurities and prodding them like a steak knife on an open cut. It’s an easier target, after all.
Fortunately, these things take time to develop and worsen, so if you can catch it quickly you can kick them to the curb and come away unscathed, ready to move on with your life.