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MOTM Dec 2012
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So I recently bought the book How to Hug a Porcupine and I've been reading about how toxic people tend to blame others for everything and either don't know how to change or refuse to change, and that only thing you can do is to change your own reaction to their behavior.

I've witnessed this porcupinal behavior most acutely with my parents. My dad is an ESTJ who is macho to the core and refuses to admit any type of weakness. My mom is an ISTJ who is stubborn and always insists that she's right. I keep telling them if they want to live in peace without tearing each other apart is to listen to each other instead of accusing and blaming and doing all that conversation stopping shit.

I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible for them to change at this point in their lives (they're old), as they don't give a shit about what I think and how counseling could help them. Like I said, my dad thinks counseling and therapy is for losers, whiners and mentally insane people. My mom wants counseling, but she's afraid of my dad's reaction as he has threatened to kill her on several occasions if she told anyone about their troubled marriage (I'm surprised it's lasted this long).

Questions for reflection:
1. How do you deal with the Porcupines in your life?
2. Do you see yourself as toxic?
3. Any other comment would be welcome as well...
 

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I am not toxic, and generally when dealing with porcupines I try to coax them onto their backs so I can tickle their bellies. After a while with any one toxic person, it becomes too much and I have too leave. Always try and think of them in a positive light afterwards, though.
 

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Questions for reflection:
1. How do you deal with the Porcupines in your life?
Simple and effective method is reduce contact to the minimum. Zero being the sweet spot hahaha
Um I don't think I have a method other than i'm cold and quicker to anger perhaps. Just not responsive in a way that's engaging to keep conversation going or what ever very chop chop tell me what you want me to know stfu and go.
It's hard for me to tolerate other people's chaos if it's too explosive and I either help solve their issue or leave the situation because it stresses me out.

2. Do you see yourself as toxic?
Sure do. Mostly to myself as I become a prisoner to my own thoughts, stuck in my head.
I don't really lash out at people, I might get a bit snarky but nothing in comparison to how other people react, being of course a very toned down and reserved guy. But i'm not pleasant company when i'm down and out. But my impact on other people's lives is minimal so it's not something that really spreads and harms others.

3. Any other comment would be welcome as well...
I think we'd like unconditional love which is somewhat expected from good parents, ya know we love you know matter how big of a fuck up you end up sort of thing because you're our son. But I don't think there is such a thing as unconditional love, there's plenty of conditions and so this is why you can drop people out of your lives. If family are a bunch of cunts well boom don't want to interact with them, life isn't ideal and many people are definitely better off not dealing with certain individuals regardless of their ties to those people.
So I don't personally take on suffering for some ideal of being a family person. The reason I would do things for my parents is because they've been good people to me and because of that i'm willing to try and reciprocate. It's a give and take, if you're giving too much you're gonna be sucked dry.
Good friends are people who kind of recharge you, they're pleasant to be around you don't feel stressed most of the time. Such people are a treasure to invest in and not to be taken for granted.
 

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Questions for reflection:
1. How do you deal with the Porcupines in your life?
2. Do you see yourself as toxic?
3. Any other comment would be welcome as well...
1. I think that what you are onto is good. If you can't change something then it's a waste of energy to get worked up over it. Realizing that they are going to be how they are is very helpful.

It depends on the porcupine. Like with one person, I know he will get angry about certain topics and he would like for me to also get angry about them--so I just ignore him when he's talking about them because I don't want to spend my energy that way. Or if I see he's looking for an emotional response I just accept that and don't give it.

For me, the challenge is to really remove toxic people from my environment--to not give in to the ease of returning to old patterns of interacting with them. To blaze a new trail of behavior that will free myself of their influence. It's easy for me to fall into the trap of "oh, he wants to talk to me, well it won't bother me much to just sit there and listen." But really, it does take up my time and it's a drain on energy to block out and ignore him when he starts talking about the same old things and trying to get the same old responses I used to give him.

So, my life is passing me by while I am participating in an exchange that I don't really want to be in.

2. No. But I'm sure I am to some people, or I would be. Certainly, I can insight an allergic reaction in some. Like--in the above example I am also being toxic just because I am not being healthy for myself (so how would I be healthy for someone else?)

3. :)
 

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1) 80% I no longer socialise with or emotionally distance myself from by being careful not to offer 'ammunition' from personal or emotional life; that or refusing to play peoples social game of 'victim' and 'indigent party'.

2) Toxic in my experience is never so straightforward as unhealthy person or emotionally demanding; so often social life is determined by social-emotional maturity, susceptibility to obsessive dependent types or coping mechanisms when feeling overwhelmed (I have seen others exacerbate negative issues, ostracising people until they become toxic).
 

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1.Not very well,my "family" is full of porcupines I'm not even sure how to deal with them.I usually just hide out retreat into my shell.When I feel attacked I usually get upset,cry and run far away.Although still if they need me i'm there.That's my problem no matter how toxic someone is to me,when I care I really care and will always be there for them.

2.I have to be honest I think I can be,i'm working on it.It's just I really have a hard time expressing my negative emotions and letting people really in andseeing my vulnerability.It's not fair to anyone that really cares for and becomes close to me because they'll never see me as much as I see them.It takes just a tremendous leap and so much time for me to show my deeper vulnerabilities.If someone could see that accept that and give me time,then I wouldn't be as toxic to them,but so far most people that were in my life couldn't handle it.
 

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Dealing with toxic people - Hesitantly, silently and begrudgingly. I have a hard time buying into the whole "the world is against me! everyone is horrible!" mentality because it just ain't true. Yeah people can have hard luck and yeah sometimes life just sucks, but I really don't think it's YOU. It's not because you are just this unlucky, sad person who "the world" thinks needs to suffer and you have no control over it. It's all about interpretation anyway. If you interpret everyone's actions to be against you, then you are digging yourself into a hole. If you see other people as having their owns lives and problems to deal with and they may or may not effect you, then you realize that it's not all about YOU.

I had this friend who thinks he is just the unluckiest guy around and that everything happens against him because he is cursed. So this sets him up for interpreting things to mean this. It's not a good way to set your mind. You can't see past your own problems to see how other people might be feeling. He is always asking, "Why me?" Something bad happens and he goes, "why me?" Like his uncle died and had the funeral the same time he had been planning a party at his house. His reaction was, "Why does this happen TO ME?" He thinks it's the universe trying to keep him down so he can't have any fun. This is a pretty self-centered way to think. To assume someone's date of death is all just meant as an inconvenience to you is ridiculous. The world is much larger than you. You just gotta ride the waves and deal with shit when it happens. There is usually no rhyme or reason to anything. Shit happens and then you can decide how to react.

With this said, yeah, I can be a toxic person. I can get sucked into my own little world and interpret everything as being against me. I can blame my problems on other people easily. I come home and the house is a mess? It's my husband's fault, not mine. It's my son's fault, not mine. Yet realistically, take a look at every room I have ever inhabited - it has ALWAYS been a mess. it's just as much my fault as it is theirs. And probably even more my fault because I am there more than anyone else. But when I get into a brooding mood, it's always someone else's fault. This is not a healthy way to think. When I get like this, it's like I can feel the negative energy building up in my head, going every which way, making it hard for me to think clearly. The cloud of black smoke in my head billowing out of my mouth through words and my ears, blocking the truth from entering. But when it starts to fade, I realize it's me with the problem and that I'm making people around me feel like they're walking on eggshells. That's when I break down and feel like shit. I never want people to feel like that around me. That's my guilt. That's something I grapple with and try to overcome. I think I'm getting better at it.

I think getting older, you start to realize that you can change things in your life to make them how YOU want them. And screw everyone else and their expectations of you. Once you feel like you are in control of your own destiny, you can stop being a toxic person and just ride out the waves with a smirk on your face. That's life.
 

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I had this friend who thinks he is just the unluckiest guy around and that everything happens against him because he is cursed. So this sets him up for interpreting things to mean this. It's not a good way to set your mind. You can't see past your own problems to see how other people might be feeling. He is always asking, "Why me?" Something bad happens and he goes, "why me?" Like his uncle died and had the funeral the same time he had been planning a party at his house. His reaction was, "Why does this happen TO ME?" He thinks it's the universe trying to keep him down so he can't have any fun. This is a pretty self-centered way to think. To assume someone's date of death is all just meant as an inconvenience to you is ridiculous. The world is much larger than you. You just gotta ride the waves and deal with shit when it happens. There is usually no rhyme or reason to anything. Shit happens and then you can decide how to react.

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Very insightful post. On the funeral the day of the party: I have seen similiar situations and the proper thing , I believe, is to call up the invitees and say, I have to reschedule, there's a death in the family. I appreciate your understanding and I will let you know a new date when I am able to get to it.

Any friend worth having will understand. And the thought, Why am i inconvenienced? should neer arise. Life happens, Roll with it or get rolled over.
 

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So I recently bought the book How to Hug a Porcupine and I've been reading about how toxic people tend to blame others for everything and either don't know how to change or refuse to change, and that only thing you can do is to change your own reaction to their behavior.

I've witnessed this porcupinal behavior most acutely with my parents. My dad is an ESTJ who is macho to the core and refuses to admit any type of weakness. My mom is an ISTJ who is stubborn and always insists that she's right. I keep telling them if they want to live in peace without tearing each other apart is to listen to each other instead of accusing and blaming and doing all that conversation stopping shit.

I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible for them to change at this point in their lives (they're old), as they don't give a shit about what I think and how counseling could help them. Like I said, my dad thinks counseling and therapy is for losers, whiners and mentally insane people. My mom wants counseling, but she's afraid of my dad's reaction as he has threatened to kill her on several occasions if she told anyone about their troubled marriage (I'm surprised it's lasted this long).

Questions for reflection:
1. How do you deal with the Porcupines in your life?
2. Do you see yourself as toxic?
3. Any other comment would be welcome as well...
That is a difficult situation in your parent's marriage. Not uncommon. When the imperative is to stay together regardless, and "regardless" include death threats - Oh, my!

My dad was a Mama's boy who never grew up. He was also a coward and a bully. About every three or four months he would tangentally accuse my mom of adultry. She would try to divert him and he would make more accusiations. It ended up with a full blown screaming fit on her part, end with tears on his, Don't know why I do that. . .and it would come again right on schedule, always in front of the kids. She attempted suicide three times, and once had a loaded gun to her head. He took it, unloaded it, and said, I knew there was something -all the time laughing.
Why did they stay together? For him it was a ready -made victim and he did not care what the kids (almost always an audience - begging them to stop resulted with a hard slap in the face from him with a "You hush!" For her it was fear of her father. At 50 years old, fear of her autocratic 80 year old father.
Hell, they both were crazy. Toxic? Isn't there a much stronger word?
 

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“ On a cold winter’s day a group of porcupines huddled together to stay warm and keep from freezing. But soon they felt one another’s quills and moved apart. When the need for warmth brought them closer together again their quills again forced them apart. They were driven back and forth at the mercy of their discomforts until they found the distance from one another that provided both a maximum of warmth and a minimum of pain. In human beings the emptiness and monotony of the isolated self produces a need for society. This brings people together but their many offensive qualities and intolerable faults drive them apart again. The optimum distance that they finally find that permits them to coexist is embodied in politeness and good manners. Because of this distance between us we can only partially satisfy our need for warmth but at the same time we are spared the stab of one another’s quills.”​
- Arthur Schopenhauer

(we are fucked...)
 

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Sadly I just let the porcupines prick me and inject me with their toxin until I can't take it anymore THEN I finally move away from them and try to detoxify myself.
I'm starting to learn to let that cute little pricklepig go as early as possible. The pain for that is temporary, compared to having to spend all that time trying to gain permission into my own little pack after having chased them away with my badly influenced self, it's way more worth it.
 

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1. How do you deal with the Porcupines in your life?
2. Do you see yourself as toxic?
3. Any other comment would be welcome as well...
I'm sorry you're going through all that...I know it from my remaining parent very well indeed. This post I expect will be quite bitter.

1. Good Bloody Question. Partly, I don't, which is a big contributor to why I'm so miserable now. Toxic is an excellent choice of word to describe people like this. I just try not to talk to her. At all. I still go and make pleasantries because I guess I'm stupid, and I regret it every time. I hate her, and this has created a pretty good mental barrier against her; don't talk, be cold, be unreceptive, be uninterested. The funny thing is she's noticed no difference at all, apparently this suits her fine.

I have had the good fortune not to have other people of this description frequently in my life, although I've occasionally run into them, so my experience is centred around one person.

I've had to realise eventually that it's not my fault that they are hateful, self-righteous and toxic people. That's the way they are, don't blame yourself. I will not get on with them, there is a personality clash I cannot fix and don't want to make the effort to if I could, and far from even not wanting to change they see no problem because they're always right, so I should have no responsibility for them. You just have to try and cut yourself off and create distance. Anger, confusion, etc will dissipate with time and distance. If you've been following my rants for the past few months you'll know of my plans to put a great deal of physical distance between me and the toxicity in the future.

Beware, though, of just settling into an easy mode of blaming them for everything. That is, after all, how they've got where they are. Don't blame yourself, though. There is no reason to accept all that hate. I'm still letting the mental scars heal from doing that. There are lots of scars, with a new one most days. Even if you create mental distance, if you're still in earshot of them they'll find some way to bring you down. So, yeah, distance.

2. To myself, yes. I guess maybe some of it's rubbed off on me, some of it is my own circumstances and some of it is just me. I hope it's not my fault. I know it probably is.
To others? No, I don't think so. I try to be a good person every day, or at least indifferently quiet when I don't have the will to be good. Some of my internal toxicity shows, I can be cynical and snarky and depressing sometimes (I usually hide that very well), but I like to think I am a passable human being when I'm around others. I refuse to let my own wounds affect others.

3. *hug*
Any time you want to talk about it, buddy. Any time.
 

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I'm kind of a porcupine and my older brother is as well. He was raised pretty violently, beat by my uncles, had no affection from my dad and wound up in maximum security prison when he was 19 for gang violence/drug dealing and got out when he was 23, and changed a lot considering how he was raised, and I was in turn raised by him as my dad was too busy going to social events etc. I've come to the point where I feel like only I can solve my problems but then I feel like oh shit theres no hope for me to be a happy person and revert back into seeing the world and everyone in it as one giant antagonist who'll rip your throat out if you make yourself the least bit vulnerable. I think when you see yourself deeply as a really bad thing it can be hard to describe but its not easy to just let go of those feelings, some people kill themselves rather then let go.

I'm not toxic at the moment I guess but, I feel for people who are, because I've been in full on rage mode burning bridges left and right, and the only reason people act that way is because they deeply deeply hate themselves even if they don't know it. I've had people who more or less stuck by me, but I imagine if I knew someone who was acting the way I was they may well distance themselves from me, and I might do the same to someone though I know ultimately its not really the right thing to do.

Also it might not be in practical view but I think everyone without exception can change even if it's on their deathbed, hopefully it doesn't take us all that long though.
 
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