Have you ever found yourself in a toxic situation, trying to keep calm but, telling yourself to walk away…but unable to?

Sometimes we cannot just walk away. Perhaps it is a colleague, a family member, or just someone in whose physical presence we are required to be for a specific reason. How do we keep calm and not get pulled into a hot-headed debate? Or conversely, step back and then later sit with resentment, guilt or an undesirable situation for not having spoken up? Especially when we see them heading towards self-destruction, or worse, when others are getting hurt in the process?

Some people and some situations just get us revved up! And sometimes we have to address it.

Often it is surprisingly simple. Going back to basics, here are 10 ways to deal with those toxic situations, where walking away is not an option…

  1. Stay calm

Duh! Yes, but thing is, hot-headed arguments and fights do not get you anywhere near a resolution (assuming you want one!). Remembering this and even saying it out loud, sometimes helps (but do not tell someone going off their tree to ‘keep calm” – this probably won’t have the desired effect! In which case you might want to say it softly to yourself!)

  1. Train yourself to recognise calming signals

Learn to do to calm you down quickly so you can access these tools in “emergency situations”, whether it is the old “count to 10”, focusing on a particular object, anchoring (where you use a particular cue as a reminder to keep calm), or to breathe deeply. Trick is, you have to “practice” these tools in different states so that your body learns to recognise the subconscious effect of it. A coach or practitioner can work with you to establish these cues.

  1. Become known as someone who keeps their cool

Don’t we all envy people who have that ability? So, become one! Get rid of those limiting beliefs that tell you can’t or that you are not “that type of person”. I am an Aries, a passionate, fiery person and I have trained myself to keep calm. Well, mostly. I still have a lot of work to do, but it is doable. Work with someone to guide you.

  1. Breathe

Deep breathing is an excellent way to get centred and present. View it as a tool to use, a survival mechanism. Practice this mindfully and often when you are in a positive state, or through yoga and meditation, so that you can access it and it comes almost naturally when you might need it the most – in toxic situations.

  1. Always get a lesson

Immediately after the event, or as soon as possible once you are indeed calmer, identify the lesson from it. There is always at least one! See it as an opportunity to strengthen your creativity muscles to find at least a few. The lesson might even be to teach you to step up and speak up for yourself!

Remember, if someone pushes your button, it is because you’ve got a button to push.

  1. Hone your gift to others

You have something that nobody else has. Life puts us in situations for a reason, not just “because”. For example, your gift may be to teach people kindness,  business skills, or to communicate, whatever. This may be your opportunity to shine. (Of course the toxic moment might not be the place and time, but be open to it.)

  1. Understand their thinking

I’m talking about situations where their point of view clearly is not the best way. Sometimes it is that clear-cut. But try and understand why someone is behaving as they are. A presupposition of neuro linguistic programming (NLP) is that people always do the best they can, with the resources available to them. It may be a much deeper issue. And never take it personally; it is hardly ever about you!

  1. Lead by example

This is certainly a case where actions speak louder than words. Enough said.

  1. See the bigger picture

Ask yourself will it matter in a year’s time? In five? If it will, then stick to your guns and tackle the situation. Sometimes the only out of it is through it. If not, well then you know what to do…

  1. Render help

This one is important especially where other people are getting hurt through the actions of inconsiderate or toxic people. There is an epidemic of not wanting to get involved. If we are to make the world “a better place”, we have to sometimes roll up our sleeves and become involved or blow the whistle.

And finally, always ask the question – is it more important to be right, or to be kind?

About the author:

Celeste Du Toit is a transformational Life Coach, NLP practitioner, healer and speaker. She runs individual, professional and online coaching programs, workshops and retreats.

Celeste is passionate about working with people to bring about change, take control, lead a more fulfilled life and overcome limiting beliefs that may prevent them from reaching their full potential.

To learn more about her approach and rates, email  celeste@yesparadigm.co.za  or visit www.yesparadigm.co.za