How to Spot Destructive People Before they Impact You
The warning signs are as clear as day. Here’s what to look for
When you are driving, you need to be hyper vigilant at all times.
Not only must you be aware of what you are doing, but you need to be aware of everyone else on the road, and think a few steps ahead. If the truck on the right doesn’t merge soon, they’ll be forced to cut off the guy in front of you, so you better either give some distance or get out of that lane altogether. Don’t be there.
And if you look over and see that the person driving next to you is texting, only putting down their phone long enough to take a swig of beer, you can make a decision that you probably want to get as far away from this person as you can. If you don’t, and they crash into you, you bear the responsibility of not acting.
I look at dealing with people the same way.
So what happens when a train wreck of a person enters your life?
For the purpose of this writing, I define a “train wreck” as:
A person who refuses to take responsibility for themselves, through self deception and/or lack of self awareness. Given the opportunity, their self destructive behavior will impact everyone around them as they develop codependent relationships to perpetuate their behavior.
Train wrecks will come into your life if you let them, and will destroy everything you hold sacred. But there are almost always warning signs. They’re as clear as day if you know what to look for.
In the definition above, I’ve given you a huge clue of how to identify them. Did you see it?
Read it again. It’s in the first nine words.
A person who refuses to take responsibility for themselves
That’s a giveaway. Ever meet someone who is ALWAYS the victim? A person who claims that every bad thing that happens to them is someone else’s fault? The damage they cause to other people is never their doing? When you see that, you know what’s going on.
Now, I’m not talking about a person who has ever had a lapse of judgment in their life — because that would be all of us, and I’ll put myself first on that list.
I’m referring to people who impact others with their bad choices, and refuse to take responsibility for their decisions. And they keep making the exact same bad choices every single time. They just can’t get out of their own way.
When they come into our lives, they’re like a bull in a china shop, and because they don’t take responsibility, we have the added burden of making sure they don’t break anything.
I’ve found there are very few surprises when it comes to people. People who get into abusive relationships will continue to get into abusive relationships. People who choose the path of least resistance tend to always choose the path of least resistance. People who fall for the latest fad diet are usually the ones who approach you with a “fabulous multilevel marketing opportunity”. Former drug addicts join religious cults, etc.
This is not to say that these people are forever hopeless — it might be possible for a person to overcome, but they have to want to, it involves a LOT of work and growth, and believe me, you’ll know.
But also know that too many are playing out dramas that you are powerless to break them out of. It’s best just to stay away, lest they infiltrate your circle and rob you and your friends of precious resources — time, money and energy. Watch for the signs.
And once you identify them, keep them from impacting you!
Always remember the wise words of the great philosopher Mr. Nariyoshi Miyagi:
“Best way to avoid punch — No be there.”