It’s Not You… It’s Them

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Protecting yourself against people who drain you isn’t easy. You know who I’m talking about, right? They can be fun at times, but when you get home after hanging out with them, you’re tired – exhausted even. Sometimes you feel bad about yourself, or question your own thoughts. If you’ve encountered someone like this, chances are you’ve also noticed that they have …

  • Poor boundaries – They are constantly doing things to invade your space or make you uncomfortable.

  • A certain way of seeing things – They have a different perspective that you just don’t see, which often causes arguments.

  • Difficulty being honest – They either exaggerate the truth or flat out lie.

  • Difficulty seeing the good in anyone or anything – They have a draining negativity that sucks the life out of you.

  • Difficulty accepting responsibility – This remarkable ability to play the blame game on everyone around them but him/herself.

So now that you’ve identified these characteristics, and you have some people (or person) in mind, what’s next? Should you continue to let them make you feel crummy? Absolutely not!

So now what? How do you protect yourself?

  • Create better boundaries. It’s okay to say “no”. It’s okay to not answer the phone. It’s also okay to limit your time with them.

  • Don’t get sucked into the argument. If you know you can’t win, why play? Drop that tug of war rope! You know in your mind it’s okay for you to disagree, but they don’t know that. Or at least they won’t accept that. So decline the argument.

  • Let it go. If they’re not being 100% honest, and you know they aren’t being honest, chances are that everyone else knows they aren’t being honest. So let them dig their hole. No need for you to look like the bad person by pointing it out in front of everyone. If you need to get it out, vent to a friend in private.

  • Ever heard of that Polish Proverb, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys”?  It means it’s not your problem. If you can see the good, and they can’t, who’s problem is that? Theirs – not yours. Don’t entertain it.

  • If it’s too much for you to handle when they’re blaming you, walk away. It’s okay to tell them that something came up, or you flat out don’t like the way they are talking to you. If you’re okay letting it go, and you can move on to a different topic without feeling upset or resentful, then change the topic.

Time is precious. Don’t waste it on those who make you feel bad about yourself or drain you. It’s all about creating a space that is more comfortable for yourself so that you can keep your energy and good mood. If you don’t feel like you can keep this person in your life, then stop talking to them. If you have to for whatever reason, or you want to, try using these techniques to protect yourself. You’re not a punching bag, and you deserve to be happy. You take care of you, and hopefully they’ll learn how to take better care of themselves.

About Alison Silvius LMFT

I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I enjoy supporting people in finding solutions to everyday problems. I work with people of all ages that struggle with social skills, are affected by addiction, and have suffered trauma/loss, among other things. My areas of interest include cognitive behavioral therapy, self esteem building, improved communication in relationships, grief/loss, and more.