A Toxic Person can feel like an impossible problem to solve or to flee. Such people seemingly hijack your emotional software, compelling your mind to run a bull/narcissist/psychopath antivirus program when theyre around-or even in their absence. They become so salient that victims can feel an imperative to do more with the experience than simply escape it.

No matter how badly a person behaves, there is still an opportunity to extract useful, even vital, information from the encounter, when the message is decoupled from the messenger.

If you engage with a toxic person despite warning signs or outright abuse, you might want to ask yourself why youre making that choice. If an individual deliberately incites in you such archaic emotions as jealousy and shame, perhaps examine not just the relationship, but also (gently) your own self-image. If they seek to control you, school yourself in their mind games, both to deflect them now and to protect yourself in the future. Understanding concepts like “gaslighting” and “lovebombing” allows you to operate not with a hunch that something is deeply off, but with the knowledge that someone is using identifiable tactics to mess with you.

“You can control your own mind-the very thing dangerous people seek to manipulate”

Nothing absolves bad actors, but shifting your focus from reactive to proactive and intentional allows you to master your own mind, which is all that you can ever control-and the very thing dangerous people seek to manipulate.

Issac Lidsky(“One Question) learned to do this with his own formidable foe: blindness. It turned out that losing his sight was not his fundamental problem. The true impediment was the terror he felt as blindness bore down on him in his twenties. Indeed, Lidsky has said that going blind is much harder than being blind. Sometimes you have to travel through hell to realize that in fact you had the strength to handle it all along.