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6 Ways to Handle Toxic Neighbors

Updated on September 20, 2013

Cold as Ice!

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Handling certain people in life is like managing a business.

Some people you are better off without. Some people you are better off with.

Finding a middle ground with people who stir strife and cause drama when all you want to do is live in peace can be a hard road to follow.

It's easy to get sucked in to the whirlwind of things when you are going along in life. Thinking everything is ok, having a great time, and wham! Out of nowhere, you find yourself trapped between reality and disbelief as people in your neighborhood look through their curtains at you in shame. Talking behind your back, pointing their finger at your from frozen goods at the local supermarket, and excluding you from the neighborhood yard sale year after year.

What do these people want? Why do these people laugh at your demise in the popularity charts of society?

1. Make peace with yourself first.

Scan the brain and think if there was anything you could have possibly done to warrant this parasitic behavior of the few busy bodies in your neighborhood.

Did you, could you, or even would you have stooped so low as to upset any of their axles on the wheel of earth?

If so, it's ok to forgive yourself. Maybe bring a freshly baked lemon meringue over to the pioneer who started the rumor mongering and apologize.

But if you truly have nothing, and can't figure out what is upsetting everyone so madly, then don't give it another thought.

These people want to absorb your energy and effort. Instead of focusing on your own self and life, they want you to "think" there is something wrong with you or you have done something to cause catastrophic upset amongst the elders of the planet.

Be yourself. Know you did nothing wrong. Ignore them. When they get tired of you, they'll move on to their next victim. Let's hope that person is as smart as you are and doesn't give them an ounce of their attention to play with.

“Anarchy is the only way of reaching higher inner peace.”, Francisco A. Salinas

The original works of Francisco A. Salinas (Panchito Dionysus Rock Oil on Canvas)
The original works of Francisco A. Salinas (Panchito Dionysus Rock Oil on Canvas) | Source

2. Go on about your day.

As hard as this will be for some who become obsessed with the idea that someone could possibly not like them, believe me it will become easier as your days go on.

Obsessing about this will only give them what they want.

They want to control you, bring you down, make you stoop to their level.

Most people I've encountered that make a ritual out of bringing others down are miserable themselves. Maybe they never had a flower garden and yours is blooming out of control. Perhaps they could never eat ice cream, and they see you in a cute polka-dot dress happily strolling over to the truck every day to eat to your heart's content.

Who knows!

Whatever the reason, there is no cause for you to give it another blink of an eye.

It's their problem. Let it stay with them.

3. Do your best every day!

No one can ask a thing of you. You are your own person.

If you work for an employer, you are an employee and therefore must comply with office rules.

But in real life, when you are in your car, in your home, in a coffee shop awaiting that pumpkin flavored latte with hot steamy cream (the way you like it), no one has the right to tell you it's not right until it's their way.

As you go through your life, you will gain confidence and begin to trust in yourself that your decisions are the best ones you can make because they are yours to begin with. No one can take this away from you: choice.

Therefore, you can choose to do your best every day.

If it's not good enough for someone else or it's not their way, who cares! All that really matters is that it's good enough for you!

4. The best revenge is living well.

You don't need a Hummer to ride down the road and tell everyone what you think of them, although one in silver would be a really great first one for me.

Living well doesn't mean you don't get the occasional cold and have to call out of work sick, or you are behind one month on the electric bill and need to make a payment plan. It also doesn't mean that you are not living up to anyone's expectations because your car broke down so you walked to work.

Living well means you are happy with who you are. It doesn't matter what anyone else says about you. You, yourself, defines your happiness. And that my friends, cannot be taken away, ever!

5. Avoid them like the plague!

Avoiding someone doesn't mean you need to be rude or shun someone at the family park on Friday night during the weekly high school football game.

But what it does mean is that you do not have to search that person out to figure out why they don't like you!

If there is a person who truly doesn't like you, why on earth would you want to try to be their pal anyway?

Many people have a hard time understanding this concept. Why? Because people love to be accepted by others. It's hard emotionally on those that are rejected.

Take it from someone who knows this on a much more deeper and personal level. When you are rejected from your mother at birth, one can't possibly be much more rejected in life after that!

So, don't make a habit of trying to suck up to everyone that has rejected you or treats you like you should be ashamed of yourself. No way! Don't ever back down to being who you are. You are unique because you are you! Once you understand that, you won't need the other person so much or at all.

Finding peace in a no-win situation
Start a journal.
Make a list of what attributes you like in each of your neighborly friends.
If someone has added you to their blocked list of life, avoid them.
When you hit it off with someone down the street, make it known that you appreciate them.
Overcome rumors with truth. Don't fear people because of the latest lie told about you at the corner market.
Be true to who you are and stand your ground against unwarranted complaints.
Find it in yourself to shut the door, close the curtains, turn off the phone and just live your life!

A few words for the weary.

After coming home from a long day at work, grocery shopping, babysitting, mowing lawns, or whatever it is that you have accomplished, don't give in to the insults and brainwashing techniques your neighbors have instilled in you.

So what if they are using walkie talkies reporting your every move to each other through the intercom system. Who cares if they are typing on Facebook to all of their followers that you are the world's worst person because you forgot to recycle your last milk carton!

  • Unlock your door and step inside
  • Lock your door
  • Shut your curtains
  • Turn out the lights, to really spook them
  • Pour yourself a beverage, hot chocolate, cup of tea, hot steamy cappuccino, or whatever you like to have after a hard day of excitement
  • Turn off your phone
  • Sit down
  • Turn on your favorite music to drown out the noise from outside
  • Think about what you are going to do tomorrow

I don't care if there is an endless wave of gossipers standing on your front porch threatening to burn down your Easter bunny lawn ornament in the middle of July!

Remember, they will get bored. No response is necessary!

Do you have a toxic person in your neighborhood who tries to stir the pot against you with other neighbors?

See results

The energy thief.

The energy thief is a person who will swipe you of all your energy and zap you again just to make sure your brain account is closed.

They want what you have. They want your secrets for living so well.

That's right! It isn't a mistake they are after something that you have. Often times they conspire to themselves just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on you next time you meet in the crowded aisle of produce at the supermarket.

Why? Because they have something to say to you out loud so everyone will hear it.

They want to make sure everyone there knows the real person they think you are (which is never on the complimentary spectrum), and they take immense pleasure in watching everyone scurry out of the aisle away from you.

It brings them most enjoyment in life to screw up yours.

How to overcome this situation!

When all else fails and you have had it to the point of giving in, running out of your home screaming at who ever will listen, which makes you feel better for only a millisecond before you realize they got to you, here are some encouraging words from my favorite song artist Mandisa:

You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under

Stand up for yourself! Shake off those ruffled feathers.

Mother swan
Mother swan | Source

6. Don't look, breathe, or react their way.

Finally, after all else, the battle will truly not be won without you at the wheel of your own ship!

  • Don't look at them
  • Don't breathe in their direction
  • Do not react to anything they say or do

I haven't a clue why some people pick a person off the street and use them as the latest bait for a fish fry on Walnut Street of life.

The only guess to this day is that people are unhappy with themselves.

There is something to be said about blissful ignorance!

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    • profile image

      Ikoro Iyineleda 3 months ago

      Your advice sounds great, but it's really difficult to just ignore abusive neighbours. In the United States and some other Western countries, a wife in an abusive relationship can get a divorce merely for that reason. Because the law knows it'll be difficult for her to stay in the relationship and try to ignore the abuse. Having abusive comments flung at you anytime you're in the vicinity can take a great toll on your mental health, if you do nothing about it.

    • profile image

      Jen 5 months ago

      Keep too yourself smile enjoy your day go on vacation they dislike the thought u can do without them, I have an old lady whom is very nosey misery loves company and I love a good day something she never has and will never enjoy.

    • profile image

      veteran 7 months ago

      Been harassed and "tracked" by toxic neighbors for the last 3 yrs. Everything from fish stolen from my pond to baby trees cut down, and being followed. Still happening. FYI

    • brighter-light profile image

      Ellie Joy 20 months ago

      I have a toxic neighbor - doing karaoke for 7 days saying they have birthdays (they say I can look at their birth certificate)...their dogs left out saying those don't bite while several times I have reported to the district police that it attacked me...even if the town police keeps telling them, they still let the dog out...the dog they claim is not theirs, but of the neighbor behind them...but the neighbor built a gate at the right of way preventing the dog of the far end neighbor from coming back...so at night when we come home it attacks us...frustrating how the district police would react to us saying that we are just fighting over a dog, and the police argues that whenever they come to check, the dog is already inside the gate...come on, of course, we already shouted at the neighbor to bring the dog inside...the neighbor at the gate, that old man, pointed fingers at me as if going to punch me...I told this to another police station higher than the district what happened but they said the district police has only jurisdiction over the case...I said can I file a blotter report about the harassment/bullying of the man?...They said no,,,Frustrating that even the law cannot really give protection...I might as well find a way on my own how to repel the dogs and annoy the neighbors...Justice is not always served even with laws...Sounds like justice should be in my own hands!

    • profile image

      Namratha 2 years ago

      My next door neighbors 'from hell' arrived, 3years ago and its hell since. I never made contact with them but they have a small daughter and she loves to talk to me, we live on the same floor and everytime I open my door the lady sends the daughter out, they can see me as I have to pass their door to get to my apartment. The couple are very nasty and disrespectful and they pass nasty comments about me being a spinster. According to them its bad not to be married(India)

      Now and then they offer food and have made it a point to send their kid to my place in the evenings. And I love children (mistake #1 - my weakness) slowly they started to tell me their opinion of how i should live and this got very toxic right from the start. I was not assertive enough to tell them to go to hell - because I loved the child. Now things have gotten worse as they expected me to water their garden over long weekends, not considering my plans. If I was out of town too, then they would stop talking to me (Passive Aggression) and since we are neighbors this was horrible for me!

      They started spinning rumors about me and even threw garbage and diapers in my balcony. They started blocking the passage way so that I cant take my cycle out. I am going through hell - I have to move.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great tips Crafty on how to deal with toxic neighbors. I'm fortunate that I don't have any at my new place or at my old apartment. Voted up!

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      carol 2 years ago

      Crafty I believe you. My neighbour has been blessed to inherit a huge plot of land from her father in law. Yet makes my life miserable trying to steal my small plot which I and my husband have purchased out of our hard earned money.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i wish the people in the world would read this hub and learn a thing or two. If we don't throw rubbish here and there, there would be clean environment and peace

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Glenn! Thanks for your comment. Yes, that's true. Ignoring them does work. After a while, they get bored and move on.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      This can apply to any social setting, not just with neighbors. Your advice is good. In these situations, it's best to ignore it and not let it bother you. There will always be people who only think of themselves and not of others. And there will be people who have no life and need to dwell into the lives of others with their opinions. Best to ignore both of these.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi Moneyfairy! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too once had a neighbor that dumped dirty water on my back patio. She would mop her floors and clean her toilets, and then dump the water off of her back down on to my patio. After I left, I ran in to the next tenant that took over my place. She said that she had her mother's outdoor patio furniture outside, and the crazy neighbor dumped dirty bleach water all over it. I don't understand what is wrong with some people.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • moneyfairy profile image

      moneyfairy 4 years ago

      I had a psycho neighbor right above me at my last apt. I was in over 4 yrs. ago and they dumped dirty water on my porch and played loud music so much so that i heard it in the parking lot and I called the police but they came and did nothing and the management did nothing. It was as if they didn't really care . It really irrateded me so I moved when my lease was up and that same complex tried to charge me $1500 for a small stain on the back rm. carpet. I think they were trying to piss me off by not responding to any of my complaints so that I would lv. so they could charge me for their renovations. Needless to say they never got a cent from me. The place i am in now is on the 4th floor and very peaceful thankfully. But rents keep going higher andn higher so I need to move yet again this Nov. for cheaper rent.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Me too!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      That's a wonderful story and thank you so much for sharing it here Relationshipc. I know the feeling all too well. I still have mixed feelings for some of my neighbors who used to do the same. It's hard to wave hello when you really just want to avoid all together. I'm so glad it has worked out for you.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I have had to deal with a neighbor that we are convinced is a physcopath for years. She has done everything she can to make our lives miserable, and I have tried the nice card and the angry card, but the only one that worked was, like you said, avoiding her like the plague.

      Without engaging with her she seems to have lost her desire to make our lives miserable and has moved onto other people in the neighborhood.

      She used to be such a drain on my life, and sometimes I still get angry when I think about the things she has done, but ignoring her has worked miracles and allowed me to step outside of her world and back into mine.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Ha! Flourish! Some of them wouldn't know what fun was though. That's like a four letter word to them. hehe

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Crafty - We could have fun with these people -- then we could follow your advice and mind our own business.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi Pamela! I'm so happy to hear that they are helpful.

    • pamelareadz profile image

      Pamela Cornes 4 years ago from Memphis, TN

      very nice...your tips helped me.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Thank you for commenting Sharkye. That's terrible that your mom has to go through that. I just met someone a few weeks ago that is going through a terrible ordeal right now with absentee neighbors who leave for the summers. At least he got a little break.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great advice. I am lucky to live in the country so I have no neighbors. My mom has to deal with some real lunatics in town though. Luckily, none that are actively cruel to her, but they do stuff that indirectly affects everyone. I'll stick to the country where no one complains if my house or yard isn't up to their standards. Good hub, passing it along!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Kathleen, that sounds like an episode of the reality tv show hoarders. Our town wanted to pass a blight ordinance so that people couldn't store stuff like that, or have broken windows, or stuff around their yards. It didn't pass.

      Fortunately, we don't have many people here that do that type of thing. Usually people keep up with their yard messes. What I can't stand is when I take the time to get all of our leaves off the ground and someone with a leaf blower comes by and blows them all back in my yard! That happens a lot. I've blown them back on a few occasions. :D

      I wouldn't be happy with someone using my fence or painting the other side of it. That's unbelievable! LOL

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Five of us live downhill from a family where the husband has recently retired and now uses their backyard to store all the materials and left over junk from all his projects. They don't have to look at their yard from the top of the hill, but the rest of us have a full view, especially in the winter when the leaves are off the trees.

      One neighbor built one section of privacy fence just to block the view. Did the offending neighbors get the subtle hint? No. They painted their side of it and now use it to prop up their left over window frames.

      They tied their dog fence into our fence and their too-big dog for the too-small fence did so much damage last winter my husband spent every weekend replacing all the posts. Fortunately so many neighbors complained to animal control about their constantly barking dog, they were finally forced to give the dog to a better home.

      For two years they stored a junk car in their back yard. Finally someone learned the county required all vehicles be stored on a concrete slab. They were issued a violation and the car was gone.

      These are the kind of folks who are perfectly nice, but don't understand the basic courtesy required to live in a neighborhood. They should live out in the country where they can live however they like without considering any one else. They don't argue with a soul. They just don't think of anybody else.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi DDE! I think it's the part of the world where I live! LOL I hear that from a lot of out-of-state visitors that people here are rude. I try not to be like that. Hopefully one day I can move to where it's more peaceful.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I don't have such kind of neighbors but your suggestions sound helpful and worth trying. It must be difficult to put up with these kind of people I always keep to myself so don't care about the next neighbor it is my best way of keeping a toxic neighbor out of my life

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Susan, I'm definitely going to check that out! I don't think that's one of yours I've read yet.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Oh Moonlake! I can definitely relate to those types of ridiculous people. If I wave to people around here, they think I'm weird. If I don't wave, they think I'm snubbing them. I can't win. I try to be friendly to everyone, and usually I have their backs turned to me! Ha! Oh well.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Flourish! LOL, you would have had a field day with mine then!!! :D

      I had a serious ordeal with stalkers a while back. First, there was a group of wild turkeys in the woods out here. I took my children outside to show them and to capture a few photos. The neighbor came out, reversed their vehicle to see what I was doing, and then sat there watching me from a car until I went back inside. That's just one example.

      Then I had the police come because someone started a facebook rumor that I had a fire set in the backwoods here. It was 10 p.m., the children were in bed, and I had just fallen asleep. My husband had to get up and go to the door to greet 5 officers with weapons. Turned out it was teenagers that had a bon fire going. But the neighbors blocks away called the police on me!

      This is typical around here. You wouldn't believe half of the stuff if I told you!!! LOL :D

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Aw, Thief, I bet you have some seriously strong legs! :D

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wrote a hub called do you have a neighbor from hell. Since writing that hub things have changed so much :)

      Enjoyed your hub Crafty!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I once had some people in our neighborhood that stayed mad at me. They were upset because their daughter-in-law would leave her children with me and not with them. This was not my fault but they blamed me..talked about me all the time said I never waved to them. I'm sure the waving part was true. I have bad eyes and don't always recognize people when driving by I'm busy keeping my eyes on the road. I just let it go if they wanted to think that of me fine. I didn't care. I was young when it happened it taught me not to get close with my neighbors if I can possiblely help it. My husband ask me if we should go down and greet the neighbor next door when we moved here. I said "No." I remebered when my granddaughter was small and would go by on her bike this neighbor would yell at this cute little girl that never bothered anyone. I didn't care to know her. We have lived here 8 years I wouldn't know her if I passed her on the street.

      Voted up on your hub and shared.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Don't tell anyone (haha) but I have been known to take one mean neighbor's name, phone number and address and sign them up for LOADS of junk mail and telemarketing. I made a hobby out of it and giggled each time I filled it out. Not nice but neither was their hateful treatment. Otherwise, I quietly left them along and went on my way like you suggest.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      LOL, Crafty. The elevators here aren't worth a penny. I've been living here 4-5 years and they break up all the time. And yes, going up 19 floors with groceries and whatnot is not very nice ;-)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      You are so right wetnose! That's the way I see it too. I haven't been happier since I put up curtains, even on my basement windows! I put on soothing music and let outside stay there.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Great hub, Crafty.

      Long ago, I quit letting people who didn't like me bother me. I can't be anyone but me.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi Moon Daisy! Yes, this certainly can be applied to many different situations.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Benjamin, I've lived here my entire life in the same neighborhood. What's sad is that this land has been in my family for more than 100 years. It started out as potato fields that my great-grandparents farmed and one day dreamed of building a home of their own here. It gave my grandfather great pleasure to see me move to this spot when I was older. So, it's very sad that so many people around here are very unfriendly.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

      Great hub CraftytotherCore! I love all of it! This is good advice on how to deal with difficult/negative people, regardless of whether they are neighbours or not.

      We're really lucky with our neighbours and live in a very friendly place, but there are other people in our lives who act like this, and zap all our energy away. I will be taking your advice. x

    • profile image

      Benjamin Chege 4 years ago

      You're welcome. If you own the place it would not be advisable to leave, as you cannot leave everything you have worked for because somebody somewhere is bothering you. Just confront the problem head on, as you never know if the neighborhood you move into will be better. You could be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. However, if you have leased the place it would be okay to find peace elsewhere, but only if it does not inconvenience you.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi Benjamin! Thank you for commenting. I've stopped trying to figure out why it is that no one around here is friendly. I feel I need to find a new place to live at times. One where people can smile at each other, wave, and not think there is an alterior motive! LOL

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi Billy! I eventually gave up. If they are happy being toxic, then I'll just avoid them and hopefully they won't rub off! LOL

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Hi Thief! Wow, I commend you for living so high up. I used to live on a 3rd floor apartment and thought it was a challenge getting groceries up the steps. There was no elevator in that building though. Hopefully you have one. Thanks for stopping by!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Brave! LOL I want to live where you live! At one time, I knew every single person on this street. This is where I grew up, rode my bike, walked to school, played with the neighbor's kids, etc. Today it's changed. I only know a handful of people that live here. No one says hello. You wave at someone and they think you are weird.

      I visited my sister in Texas and was greeting by smiling, happy people who were genuinely happy to say hello. Someone from out of state told me people here are standoffish.

    • profile image

      Benjamin Chege 4 years ago

      Hi Crafty, avoiding such neighbors works for me. You know when everyone minds their business, you and the toxic neighbor don't have a chance to fight. There can never be war between two people if one of them is unwilling and even if there is, it ends faster than you can imagine. Nice weekend

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My goodness, that is some toxic neighborhood. We happen to live in a wonderful neighborhood with none of these problems. How would I handle it? I do not have much patience with rude behavior and I would be in their face. Not necessarily the best way to handle it but I know myself well enough to know that's what I would do. :)

      Have a great weekend!

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I think I've been lucky as hell. I live in a 19th Floor, and fortunately, all my neighbors have been great. I've heard it's not the same for people that live in other floors, but all of my neighbors have been either very friendly and/or very quiet.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Crafty, fortunately I don't have anyone like that in my neighborhood. There are only a handful of houses on my street and we all get along. I can't imagine living in a community where I was mistreated or misunderstood as you describe above. I hope this hub is not a reflection of how your neighbors treat you!