A common piece of advice is “avoid negative people in your life.” It never seems that simple (do I make sure everyone on my list is disinvited to the family reunion?) and perhaps people aren’t negative, they are just being negative that moment.

Nothing seems more toxic to my state of being than having someone speak ill of me or others. Often I am overreacting, so there is a teachable moment more times than I would care to admit. But, I do want to find ways to minimize toxic communication in my life.

One way I just remembered is to ask the person: “is this a complaint or a request?” Their ego might violently react to this question, so be ready for a response which defends the subconscious injustice while accepting that their conscious mind is not in control for a bit. If you ask this question, you can then follow up with “I won’t engage with you around complaints. If you have a request we can discuss that and work towards a reasonable solution.”

This conversation now is about responsibility. This conversation is now moving towards a resolution. And, the toxicity is removed.

My challenge with this is having the courage to ask the question and then assert my request. Courage separates me from being a complaint as well or having a shift to a toxic free life, owning my life experience.