Toxic People: 16 Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal With Them

Toxic People: 16 Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal With Them

Even if toxic people came with a warning tattooed on their skin, they might still be difficult to avoid. We can always decide who we allow close to us but it’s not always that easy to cut out the toxics from other parts of our lives. They might be colleagues, bosses, in-laws, step-someones, family, co-parents … and the list goes on.

We live our lives in groups and unless we’re willing to go it alone – work alone, live alone, be alone (which is sometimes tempting, but comes with its own costs) – we’re going to cross paths with those we would rather cross out.

With any discussion of toxic people, it’s important to understand that you can’t change anybody, so it’s best to stop trying. Save your energy for something easier, like world peace. Or landing on a star. The thing is though, when you do something differently, things can’t help but change for you. If it’s not the people in your radar, it will be their impact on you.

[bctt tweet=”Personal power is everything to do with what you believe – and nothing to do with what they think.”]

Co-existing with toxics means going around them to set your own rules, then accepting that you don’t need them to respect those rules to claim your power. Here are some powerful, practical ways to do that:

  1. Be empowered by your motives.

    Sometimes toxic people will trap you like a hunted thing – you know you don’t have to give in to them but you also know that there will be consequences if you don’t. The secret is to make your decision from a position of power, rather than feeling controlled. In the same way there is something they want from you, there will always be something you want from them (even if it is to avoid more of their toxicity). Decide that you’re doing what you’re doing to control them and their behaviour – not because you’re a victim of their manipulation. Personal power is everything to do with what you believe and nothing to do with what they think.

  2. Understand why they’re seeing what they see in you.

    Toxic people will always see in others what they don’t want to acknowledge about themselves. It’s called projection. You could be the kindest, most generous, hardest working person on the planet and toxic people will turn themselves inside out trying to convince you that you’re a liar, unfair, nasty or a slacker. See it for what it is. You know the truth, even if they never will.

  3. They might get worse before they leave you alone.

    Think of it like this. Take a little human who is throwing a tantrum. When you stand strong and don’t give in, they’ll go harder for a while. We all have a tendency to do that – when something we’re doing stops working, we’ll do it more before we stop. Toxic people are no different. If they’ve found a way to control and manipulate you and it stops working, they’ll do more of whatever used to work before they back off and find themselves another target. Don’t take their escalation as a stop sign. Take it as a sign that what you’re doing is teaching them that they’re old behaviour won’t work anymore. Keep going and give them time to be convinced that you’re not going around on that decision you’ve made to shut them down.

    [irp posts=”1086″ name=”Teaching Kids How To Set & Protect Their Boundaries (And Keep Toxic People Out)”]

  4.  Be clear about your boundaries.

    You can’t please everyone, but toxic people will have you believing that you can’t please anyone – so you try harder, work harder, compromise more. It’s exhausting. Toxic people will have your boundary torn down and buried before you even realise you had one there. By knowing exactly what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t – and why – you can decide how far you’re willing to let someone encroach on your boundaries before it’s just not worth it any more.  Be ready to listen to that voice inside you that lets you know when something isn’t right. It’s powerful and rarely wrong (if ever). Whether someone else thinks it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. What matters is whether it’s right or wrong for you. Let that guide your response and when you can, who’s in and who’s out.

  5. You don’t have to help them through every crisis.

    The reason that toxic people are often in crisis is because they are masterful at creating them. It’s what they do – draw breath and create drama. You’ll be called on at any sign of a crisis for sympathy, attention and support, but you don’t have to run to their side. Teach them that you won’t be a part of the pity party by being unemotional, inattentive, and indifferent to the crisis. Don’t ask questions and don’t offer help. It might feel bad because it’s not your normal way, but remember that you’re not dealing with a normal person.

  6. You don’t need to explain.

    No is a complete sentence and one of the most powerful words in any language. You don’t need to explain, justify or make excuses. ‘No’ is the guardian at your front gate that makes sure the contamination from toxic people doesn’t get through to you. 

  7. Don’t judge.

    Be understanding, compassionate, kind and respectful – but be all of them to yourself first. You can reject behaviour, requests and people without turning yourself into someone you wouldn’t like to be with. Strength and compassion can exist beautifully together at the edge of your boundaries. It will be always easier to feel okay about putting up a boundary if you haven’t hurt someone else in the process.

  8. Own your strengths and your weaknesses.

    We are all a messy, beautiful, brilliant work in progress. Once you are aware of your flaws, nobody can use them against you. Toxic people will work hard to play up your flaws and play down your strengths – it’s how they get their power. If you’re able to own your strengths and weaknesses, what they think won’t matter – because you’ll know that your strengths are more than enough to make your flaws not matter, or at the very least, to make them yesterday’s news.

    [irp posts=”793″ name=”Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them”]


  9. Don’t expect change.

    You can’t reason with toxic people – you just can’t. That’s one of the things that makes them toxic. Decide where you stand, and then stand strong. You don’t need to do any more than that. They will try to make you bend, flex and break at the seams. Because you have an open heart, the thought that someone might misunderstand you, disapprove of you or dislike you might get to you, but remember that you’re not dealing with someone who is motivated by what’s good for you or your relationship. It’s always about them and it always will be. Decide that sometimes you’re going to make it about you. It’s what you deserve.

  10. Choose your battles wisely.

    Dealing with toxic people takes an enormous amount of energy. You don’t have to step up to every battle you’re called to. For many toxic people, conflict is the only way they can connect. It’s the way they feel alive, noticed and important. Save your energy for the people who matter.

  11. Don’t be the victim.

    People can be a pity sometimes, but you’re not one of those. Decide that you won’t be anyone’s victim. Instead, be the one with the boundaries, the strength, the smarts and the power to make the decisions that will help you to thrive. Even if they’re decisions you’d rather not be making, own that it’s a move you’ve made to get what you want, rather than to bend to someone else’s will. You’re amazing, you’re strong and you’re powerful – which is why you’re nobody’s victim. Nobody’s.

  12. Focus on the solution rather than the problem.

    Toxic people will have you bending over backwards and tied with a barbed wire ribbon to keep you there. What will keep you stuck is playing over and over in your head the vastness of their screwed up behaviour. It will keep you angry, sad and disempowered. If you have to make a decision that you’d rather not make, focus on the mess that’s it’s cleaning up, not the person who is making your life hell. Don’t focus on their negative behaviour – there’s just too much there to focus on and it will never make sense to you anyway.

  13. Surround yourself with people who will give as much as you do.

    You might not have as much freedom in certain parts of your life to decide who’s in and who’s out but when it comes to the ones you open your heart to, you absolutely have the choice. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to let them know what they mean to you. 

  14. Forgive – but don’t forget.

    Forgiveness is about letting go of expecting things to be different. You’ll never be able to control the past but you can control how much power it has to impact your future. Forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting the behaviour or approving of it – it means that you’re not going to be controlled by it any more. It’s something done in strength and with an abundance of self-love. Don’t forget the way people treat you – for better or worse – and use that to help you live with clarity and resolve.

    [irp posts=”1021″ name=”The Rules for Being Human”]


  15. Understand the cycle.

    There is a pattern many toxic people follow. First they’re charming. This is when they’ll get you. They’ll be attentive, loving and impressive – but all of it will be to get you into position. Next, when they have your trust you’ll start to see the cracks. There will be mounting demands and a rising pull on your emotional resources. Then there will be the crisis – the test. You’ll feel stuck – whether or not you give them what they want, you’ll feel compromised. Finally, you’ll do what they want – because you don’t want to be ‘unreasonable’ or cause more drama – and then they’re back to charming you and giving you just enough of what you need to make you stay. The problem is that this never lasts for long and always comes at a cost. Be aware of the cycle and use it to build your boundaries on an even more solid foundation. If you can’t get out of the relationship, know that you’re not staying because you’ve allowed yourself to be fooled or blindsided, but because you have your eyes on something bigger that you need.

  16. You don’t need their approval. You really don’t.

    Don’t look for their approval or their appreciation – you won’t get it unless it comes with conditions, all of which will dampen you. You’ll constantly feel drained because they’ll draw on your open heart, your emotional generosity, your reasonableness, your compassion and your humanity – and they will give absolutely nothing back. Give what you need to, but don’t give any more than that in the hope of getting something back. There will never be any more than minimal, and even that will come with conditions. Whatever you do, know why you’re doing what you’re doing and make sure the reasons are good enough.

The world is full of people whose behaviour is breathtakingly damaging. That doesn’t mean that we have to open ourselves up to the damage. The secret to living well means living deliberately. Knowing the signs of toxic behaviour and responding deliberately and in full clarity to toxic people will reduce their impact and allow you to keep yourself whole and empowered – and you’ll always deserve that.


Jason S.

“With any discussion of toxic people, it’s important to understand that you can’t change anybody, so it’s best to stop trying. Save your energy for something easier, like world peace. Or landing on a star.”

Epic Quote.

Deflated from several toxic people in my life

I agree! Best quote I’ve read so far this year!


I work with a women who is so toxic, lies …all the time, she’s in a lead position. It’s so difficult to deal with her as she does whatever she can to make things difficult even when it comes to patient care. I’ve notified her superiors, they know but the circumstances are such they don’t want to make her too mad as she has threatened legal action against this small company. I’m going to stay in this job, I currently need to be near family for their health reasons (elder parents). My job is very rare there are no open positions in the area. I really liked your article, I need help in “not carrying what she says, tells others and frankly lies about” As you must know due to her manipulation others believe her.

Hey Sigmund

She certainly sounds toxic! I hope you are able to keep seeing her behaviour for what it is. As long as you do, she will not be able to manipulate you or control you. You may have to ‘play the game’ for a little while longer if you work with her, but you will be doing this from a position of great strength and self-respect and with your eyes wide open.


Good information. I am a witness, I met a lady on line and was a bit odd but did her best not to show the dark side she own. After a month or so a horrible event occurred totally created via her manipulation, Example; She, after we were ready to go for Sunday brunch all dressed up, “Would say , I am not going , go by yourself, so after I threaten with not putting up with this behavior , she did a horrible act that afternoon. As time went by she apologized from the mind only, she would find a reason to manipulate in everything she wanted and with constant attacks, at the end I told her off at the nastiest way that she provoked and that was that. Thank God I had tools to recognize a toxic or narcisstic when I dealt with one. Even her daughter told me once , my grandmother was the worse in mistreating her mate and so forth, so imagine my mom trying so hard not to be like grandma…..Horror. I find as I mature the only way not to be conned into toxic people is to be aware of behaviors, observe and listen to even the attackers silence for they are craving attention in a negative way.

Hey Sigmund

Absolutely! You have it completely right – the only way to protect yourself from the damage of a toxic person is to know the warning signs and run at the first sign. It sounds as though you were alive to the warning bells – thankfully! I hope she is no longer causing you trouble.


I had a mother very similar to this, but not near as bad. Then I met a man that was very toxic. I thought I would never get him out of my life. But finally, I managed to get rid of him and I thank God every day that he’s gone.

The point is, you have done an amazing job of creating a stable life for yourself and now for your precious baby. You’ve done something a lot of people find it too hard to do.

You are a wonderful person and deserve the happiness of life without toxic people. It took me a long time to realize that but when I did I cleaned house.


Wow. That is all I can say about this article. Wow. I am trying to re-begin my process of healing from a toxic person and this article brought tears to my eyes. And when I say “re-begin” it’s because I have done it before. My mother is the toxic person in my life. She is bi-polar and depressed and has been unstable my entire life. Growing up was like walking on eggshells, I never knew what would set her off and your guess would be as good as mine to guess what kind of mood she would be in. She could change at the flip of a switch, sweet and laughing one minute and a screaming maniac the next. There are so many stories to tell about her instability, but anyone who has dealt with toxic people knows the stories all too well. I found a path to self-discovery and self-love at about age 22 (I am 27 now) and it made all the difference in my life. I know now I have always been a good and hard-working person, but it took me 22 years to find that out because of the main person in my life telling me otherwise.
I met my now-husband in the spring of 2013. I had high standards for the man I would marry and I knew from the very beginning he was it. He was as hard of a worker as me and the positive things I could list about him go on and on. We became pregnant in the summer of 2014 and we were so excited. We were not engaged or married at the time (which honestly did not matter to either of us) and when I told my mother, she said to me “How embarrassing, I now have 2 daughters pregnant out of wed-lock. How do you think I should explain this to your grandma?” (note: my sister was also about to have a baby and was not married). She also went on to tell me I should just go stand in the welfare line because I was nothing but trailer trash, among other nasty and hurtful comments. Mind you, my husband and I live in a pretty much brand new home that he bought and remodeled for 3.5 years (paid cash for everything), both have great salaries, both have great credit and were 26/27 years old (not teenagers). Yet that is how she chose to react. Not in a happy and loving way but in a mean, sadistic way. And this is when I cut her off. She told me I needed to apologize to her and I told her absolutely not, that I would never speak to her again unless she apologized to me for the comments she made. I was through with the baiting and bashing and the instability she still chose to show. I had built myself up for over 4 years at this point and I would not let her do this to me again. She denied to my brothers and sister that she ever said such things EVEN THOUGH I HAD THE TEXT MESSAGES AND SHOWED THEM TO HER FACE, SHE STILL DENIED THEM. That is how toxic she is. She finally somewhat apologized (the first time ever in her life) to me and has been in my life for about a year now after I gave her an ultimatum that something like that would never happen again, this was her last chance. Just yesterday, she lashed out at me for things she completely made up in her head. I thought she had changed, but when I saw her lash out yesterday, I see Point #9 above. Toxic people will never take lasting responsibility for their behaviors and that’s also why they will never change. I have to begin my re-building process again and I know I can because I have to do it for my daughter and our second baby on the way. I never want my kids to grow up the way I grew up. I want them to know that I am HERE, I am their ROCK for anything they may ever need. Our home will be their safe haven, not a place to escape from. Each point above helped me with my healing and I know I will save this article and read it over and over again when I need help. Thank you so much for your beautiful words.

Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome Sara. Yes, keep the article and take strength from it when you need it. We all need an anchor. You are so insightful because of your own experience with your toxic mother. It sounds as though you have watched and listened to everything she has ever done and said and you have used all of it to give you the clarity and courage to NEVER be like her – and you won’t be. You won’t be anything like her at all. You sound like a beautifully loving, warm mother. Your children are in wonderful hands.


How do you come to the conclusion of who is toxic when the child constantly blames you for all the ills in thier life making you feel like the toxic one? I am sitting right now trying to decide to cut my son out of my life until he gets his stuff together or more so his respect in check. We pay his rent, his bills, his food (21). He goes to school, dose drugs, has a pending DUI and constantly calls to blame us for everything wrong in his life and threaten suicide. It has all the markings of the toxic relationship, but who is toxic? Thats sad isint it? I just today decided to call him up and tell him that he can no longer berate us and spend hours torturing us over everything that is wrong in his life on a bi monthly basis. It throws me into a deep deprssion for days effecting everything in my life. Any decision, any choice, any discussion is done incorrectly in his eyes. He has called his mother the c word on the way to burry her father, and called me an a hole and passive aggressive f* whenever we confront him on his behavior. Its an emotional nightmare and blackmale. He will constantly say if you want me in you life, this is what you need to do. Boarderline psychotic, diagnosed personality disorder, and downright mean and evil at times. Im sure he would say the same about me. I constantly worry anout the person he is becomeing and am saddened about the family we will never be. Advice is easily dispensed but hard to act upon. Hope can sometimes be a prisonl


I’m sorry Sara, but through this article, and then your message I have found comfort in knowing I’m not alone. My situation is similar to yours in MANY ways. I wish I had been able to really see clearly before my children were grown, but I’m starting this journey into a new world of less-toxicity, I have no idea what to expect.


Sara, you have done an amazing job in taking care of yourself and setting strong boundaries around yourself and your family.
You say your mother is back in your life and I am sure you will be very mindful of her contact with your children. If she is as toxic as you say she may try and get at you via your children so keep monitoring and trust your instincts. Really listen to your kids! Good luck and well done!


I agree with Sara.

I’ve 67, have lived with the same man for over 20 years, and have just found out what he’s up to. I was very hurt at first, and then angry, but those emotions are dwindling.

I’ve looked at other places online that have advice for me, and have started putting those ideas into practice and it’s starting to work. Yours is the most comprehensive and powerful advice I’ve seen. Thanks!

I’m glad you refer to the problem as toxicity and not narcissism. It leaves the door open for hope that things can get better. From what I’ve experienced, it can get better.

Mind you, we live separately now, and usually only see each other one day a week. That’s the only way we could make it work, but who knows, over time we might find our way back to each other. At least he’s starting to admit he may have some responsibility in the deterioration of our relationship. That’s progress!


Wow! Your so right, best comment, I wish my son would have read this before taking his life Christmas night. His daughter’s mother is trying so much of this on me, and I just let her go. My granddaughter is only five and i am fearful of the affect this kind of mother will have on her.


I truly agree with what u said.I am in the same was tough for me to understand that nothing is wrong with me all this while.The problem is hers.It’s been 20 years and now i’ve chosen to live my dream without giving in to her toxic behaviour. I do apply all the ways stated in the article practically. Sometimes you dont need to find the solution anywhere. when I was pushed to the edge I knew what to do myself .And i’m glad to know i’ve been doing the right thing after i read this post.Thanks.I swear I will never be a toxic mother like mine when i grew up. I will create a peaceful life for my loved ones. . I’m too tired to handle the consequences of such behaviour. I’ve cried a lot because of this.Not anymore.


My husband is toxic and he is getting worse. He gets no reaction from me now because I feel there is no point telling him what he says is insulting. He had bad behaviour with his immediate family. But it’s difficult I don’t know what to do.

Karen Stanley

I have had two toxic people nearly ruin my view of myself. I escaped the first possessive hold of the first narcissistic person but then four years and a few months ago fell in the trap again. At first I believed I had a good friend, lots of compliments and good cheer than a change…lots of put downs and questions about my choices. Personal questions about my food, budget, family relationships, clothing and hair style. When I plainly stated these things were my business and I didn’t want to discuss such things, I was called a ‘Big Baby’. That name calling was the start of worse treatment. Finally, it came down to verbal attacks and bullying. At first I was very hurt and tried to be understanding. That DID NOT help. Then I was apologizing, that was a mistake. Finally I was approached and told I was just plain selfish. I couldn’t believe it. I had tried so hard to please.. All for nothing! Now I know from sites such as this, I was in the company of a toxic, narciss. bully!
Such a one does not have a mental ailment! This is a learned behavior. The person gets ENJOYMENT from tormenting his or her victim. The Bible shows that one must repent and turn around from actions that cause pain to others. The word for those who delight in being mean are called wicked.
Christians are to turn away from association with wicked ones especially if there is no hope of change in the person.
That is why I am saying this: To anyone suffering from such Toxic People: It is OK to leave. Find friends whom you can love and they, in turn, will love you. To any Toxic Person: our answer is NO, and NO MORE, GOODBYE!


I found your article to be very interesting and helpful
I am the oldest of three girls in my family, we are grown adults now in our fifties. For over thirty years now our relationship has had some terrible ups and downs. Our mother passed away at 49 and unfortunately our worlds turned upside down from there. My two sisters chose different paths in life to follow, drugs and alcohol. In and out of rehab, relationships, had children at sixteen, in anusive relationships. Fortunately I kept my head above water and my path was different from theirs. I worked three jobs, went back to school, married a childhood sweetheart, and have three wonderful children. I have spent the last thirty years doing all I could to include them in my life, unfortunately all these years were hell, I never could do enough , being sworn at, being yelled at and ridiculed for whatever reason they saw fit, every holiday every phone call I felt pangs of anxiety not knowing what nonsense they would come up with next. For many years I had counseling to help me through this toxicity with them and I learned to cope better and lessen my time with them. It has taken years for me to feel happier without all of this commotion from them on my life and in my families life. I totally let go last year when my youngest sister showed up on Christmas half lit and could barely speak, I don’t know what she was on. When asked her what was going on she of course got defensive and she told me she didn’t want to be at our house and never wanted to be there. Ok…..I let it all go. No more, no more bending over backwards and being the nice guy.
I severed all contacts with her, took me about six months to breath easy and know I did the right thing, even her own two children cease contact with her over the years. She is narcisstic and thinks the world revolves around her. The other sister is just about the same but needs to be more in control.
I just can’t do it anymore.
I’m happier without all this, I don’t miss what I didn’t have. I wantedTwo sisters who appreciate me and my family. Instead it was the opposite.
And it’s been a while and all was quiet, until a week ago just before Christmas my middle sister who has been kept herself away for years, she would text happy birthdays Merry Christmas, but that’s it. Text me and my youngest sister that she would like to meet with the two of us, that she misses having us in her life. She wants to get to know us as adults. To put the past behind us.
I immediately got a sick feeling, what kind of trap is she setting me up for? What does she want now, or need? I did tell her I would meet. And had major anxiety for two days after, why now? Thirty years of trying to include them on my life and all they did was be mean, nasty, controlling, just awful. Then on the third day I searched deep and realized I really didn’t want to see them, not one desire to see them.
I wanted to protect myself from any more hurt that I endured for the last thirty years to resurface, it took me so long to get to where I am right now. I don’t want to get wrapped up on the mind games they like to play. I’m not strong enough to not let them push my buttons while in front of me, and they know how sensitive I am. I need more time. There was so much hurt. i don’t have any regrets, I’m at peace with this. Maybe in time I will be stronger and want to meet but not right now. I can’t.
I know how toxic they are to me, and I just can’t let that happen again. My family is happy, healthy and my children are growing into adults and well adjusted and they don’t need to have any more exposure to them anymore either. My children are supportive of me and the way I feel, they don’t undertpstand why I put up with them in the first place. My husband is very relieved, in fact we both realized today that this was the first Christmas in all our years married (30) that we didn’t have some kind of drama from one or the both of my sisters and what a wonderful time we all had. I don’t have my cell phone glued to my side like some do and hadn’t gone to my phone for most of the day we had company for dinner and dessert. I saw this morning a text from one of them, that she had text me Merry Christmas and wasn’t sure if I had gotten it, I said, sorry we had a busy day and hadn’t had my phone nearby, she texts me back “no Merry Christmas to me”? I text her back, that day has gone by now lol, Happy New Year in advance. She texts me “lol I am sad you forgot about me on christmas, I really am trying hard to start and repair our relationship but when things like this happen it’s sad but I understand”. I didn’t reply. It’s already starting to become manipulative for me. This week I am going to let her know I am not ready to meet yet.
Family or not toxic people need not be in your life , they SUCK the life out of you, it’s always about what you can do for them.

Hey Sigmund

I love your insight and your wisdom. You know what you need and you have the courage to follow that. It is always sad when family relationships break, but the truth is that they do break and sometimes the only way to stop you and the people you care about being broken along with them is to walk away or to limit contact. You have so much clarity around what you will and won’t tolerate and you are realistic about the relationships with your sisters. Perhaps in time this will change but you are doing the right thing in holding yourself back from further hurt until you see real change that you are able to trust. This is such important modelling for your own children. We have to be kind, brave and act with generous intent but that is all we have to do. We don’t have to open ourselves up to being hurt or to anything else that might weaken our spirit and as you say, suck the life out of us. That’s exactly what toxic people will do and there is nothing we can do to change that. You are doing the right thing.


I enjoyed reading your article! This might be a little strange considering that I’m more than likely the type of person this article is about. Although I agree with what’s written, I’m curious as to whether or not there is any “gray area” in this realm or if there can be help for someone who is considered “toxic”?

I can tell you this, my mother is a VERY TOXIC person. I am adopted and grew up with a toxic (but loving) mother and a loving (but passive) father. Somehow, I managed to gravitate towards my mother and learned how to “keep up” with her at a very young age. I never liked how she made me feel (and still don’t. . .I’m almost 40 and she’s STILL doing “her thing”) Unfortunately, having learned this “skill” so well, I’ve pretty much become exactly like her. Especially when it comes to my outward projection towards other people. It’s VERY difficult to explain, but my heart feels one way, yet my brain tells me to act, do, and say things that don’t necessarily follow my heart. Somehow, the lines of logic have been blurred to the extent that my brain feeds off of my heart and uses my emotions to justify the things that it “decides” to do. My heart then feels satisfied that I’m showing those around me how much I care for and love them. . when it reality, those people hear quite the opposite. They hear words that have a negative undertone that results in them feeling exactly the opposite of what I had intended to convey.

The most difficult aspect of this mentality is being essentially blind to it. The woman I love the most in this world (and have two beautiful children with) was finally the one that gave me the “wake up call” that I desperately needed. I have begun counseling and have even been taking anti-depressants to help set me straight. Unfortunately, having been separated for 3 months now, I think she is almost convinced that I’m just a terrible person that will forever be terrible. I believe that I’ve made great strides towards following my heart and paying less attention to my old and very bad brain habits. However, reading articles like this make me question (and I’m sure her as well) whether or not I’m truly a “lost cause,” or if what my hearts feels really IS real and I am a good person who really IS capable of breaking free of my “old ways.”

What advice and/or guidance could you offer to me? What advice and/or guidance could you offer to her? We truly loved one another once upon a time and I genuinely believe that our love is there to be had again. Am I lost in a daydream with the idea of saving our 12+ year relationship? Or does our family truly stand a chance at being whole and loving again?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!


Hey Sigmund

Absolutely people with toxic qualities can change, but the change has to come from them not from others who want them to be different. We all do some of these things some of the time, so there is a lot of grey, but the difference between people who are toxic and the rest of us is that toxic people do what they do consistently, without remorse and they don’t care about their impact on others. It sounds like you are very different to your mother in your level of awareness of what you do, and your openness to your impact on people. I know you say you are blind to it, but you’re not – you’re talking about it now. You might be blind to it in the moment, but it sounds as though you have some level of awareness when you are out of it and that in itself sounds like growth given the patterns you have been in and the ways you have been taught.

Dave you need to hear this – YOUR ARE NOT A LOST CAUSE. You aren’t even close to being a lost cause! You have awareness, you have insight, and you have the will. Your heart is good and strong and it has so much love for the people you care about. You can move forward and be great for the people around you, especially the woman you love. Listen to what she needs from you and receive it calmly and with love in your heart, clarify that with her to make sure you have heard correctly, discuss with her if there are things she can do differently or if there are things you both do which scrape against each other. For any relationship to work, it takes two people being emotionally responsible, not just one making all the effort. Let her know you have heard her by acknowledging what you have done that may have hurt her, and how you intend to do things differently. Nurture her, love her and be kind to yourself. You’re a good person – loving, insightful, aware. Open up to that and own it and act as though the world is geared for you, not against you. I wish you all the very best and I hope your relationship is able to find its way to being strong and close and loving again. You sound like someone who deserves that.


This is quite scary to read. You are describing my ex fiancé spot on. I left him a couple of months ago, and I’m 6,5 months pregnant with his baby boy. I’m really struggling to get back to being myself again. I feel he has so much power over me, and I keep falling over and over again. I will really try your advices. Do you suggest I contact a therapist? Best wishes. Astrid

Hey Sigmund

Astrid this sounds like a difficult situation for you. If this describes your fiancé, keep in mind the reasons you left. I understand how difficult it is to leave a relationships but if this man is toxic, it’s important to protect yourself and your little boy. A breakup is like withdrawing from a drug addiction. Here is an article that explains that Your pull towards this man will pass, but only when you put some space between you and him. A therapist will be able to help you find clarity and help you explore the reasons you keep wanting to go back to him, so it might be worth thinking about. You have an exciting time coming with the birth of your little man, and you will need all of your strength and emotional resources for that. You can do this – the strength and courage you need is in you. I wish you and your little boy all the very best.


I am in the process of trying to leave an extremely toxic and volatile relationship of 10 years. Thank you for this article. It cleared up some things for me. Bless you. x


Thank you very much indeed. There is more helpful stuff in this article than there is in many long books on the subject.


Peace. To make an exhaustive testimony short, I had been on love with a man I was unable to be with for the last 16 years. Having never kissed, held hands, or even spoke at length, I believe I created a fairytale, or at the least a fictional character from what memories I had of him and those intense emotions I felt. In order to escape my husband at the time, and that very chaotic marriage. Years after my divorce and a stint upstate later, I’m fairly we ll adjusted. Living intentionally, with the knowledge of my true identity. In love with my own truth, and in an overall great and safe place physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially….literally! I meet the, STILL, love of my life 16 years later at a gas station 2 blks from my house. 2 1/2 years, and 1 all piviotal, all important, all critical conversation later. I have been dragged, and at times, willing followed this man into an abusive, extremely violent, cold hearted, emotionally manipulative, powder keg of what I call a “situation-ship” I was left by this man, after giving my all. Facing the most devastatingly painful and brutal heartbreak with his abandoning me and our family, I sought out those things that had brought me to such clarity and personal acceptance years prior. Enter heysigmund…I know you read and hear it often, how grateful people are for being exposed to this life changing information and perspective. A few months ago, I tried to leave the only life I’ve known. I am a mothet. A daughter. A sister. Friend. Colleague. Advocate. Yet wanted all those jobs left undone, all those lives affected, all because of one toxic man in my life, having convinced me of a thing. That I was worth nothing. To no one. Most of all, a man I prayed to be reconnected with, and willingly sacrificed my better mind for. Who I am today, really in truth, has not changed. My ego, Rae, is such a vast departure from what I was. At my seemingly best, I was some one helpful to others. Lately I haven’t been able to even face going outside, but searching for a friend late at night. Someone who knew what I’d just been through. Looking for answers to my shyt, and no longer needing to fix my man or cry about the “whys”…I FOUND YOU. Thank you friend. I am ok today. I am not what he said I was. I am not what I think
I am, ok!

Delia Oosthuizen

Thank you so much for this article. I have a so called ‘friend’ who is a very toxic person. She drains all my energy. I try to avoid her as much as possible, but sometimes have to see her and work with her. This article is just what I needed to regain my confidence when dealing with her.

" class="url" rel="ugc external nofollow">Sergeant Sickness

Thank you for sharing your insight & knowledge it is so on point & describes the typical toxic relationship whether it’s romantic or not makes no difference. The unhealthy dynamic is still there & can cause trauma that can linger for longer than one might think. Being good to yourself isn’t always easy and even more difficult to make sure others are good to us as well. Again I appreciate your sharing this.


I had this neighbor who at first we didn’t get along. Then we became good friends. After we moved to another complex, we still kept in touch. Her daughter would play with mine. Which was all good. But last summer, I watched her daughter all summer while she worked for a little bit of pay. And this summer, I started watching her again with a little bit of pay. It got to the point this summer that her daughter was starting to misbehave when I was watching her. She was talking back, being very rude, not listening at all. And on top of that, I feel my friend and her children were using me. She would pick up her daughter from my place and bring her back very, very late. Her whole family would walk right into my place without knocking, the family would go through my food and eat what they wanted without asking, come over and take forty five minute showers whenever they felt like it. I finally had to tell them that they were not welcome anymore after I had my event. I’m a community facilitator and host monthly events for our apartment community. The whole family came over, which they don’t live here keep in mind, ate a whole bunch of food for the apartment complex, her teenage son laid in the grass with a hoody and shades in smoking pot. Her other teenage daughter was stoned in my apartment eating my food without permission. And it was a pool party, so I had the mom telling me what to do at my own event, which wasn’t her place to tell me anything about the event I hosted. And then they all left and her young daughter stayed without my permission. And her young daughter every time I told her something her response was I don’t want to be here, I’m calling my mom and ended up telling my daughter that she hated her. I finally had to tell them that they were not welcome at my place and block her number. I feel bad but I had enough and felt like I was being used.


Your article has so many good points. However the one thing missing is that in some situations, no matter how close you’ve been to someone or how much you love them, the healthy thing to do is to let go, walk away. Recently I’ve done that with my half-sister, who is 20 yrs younger than me. She has bi-polar disorder I, and swings dramatically from depression to extreme mania. She refuses to get help or take meds, or to even do healthy things such as nutrition and exercise to help herself. However she plays the victim, blames everyone else for her poor choices and self destructive behaviors, and tries to manipulate in the ways described in this article. After 4 yrs of trying to support and help her, to no avail, I am depleted financially and emotionally. She is homeless and destitute, because of her own actions, not that people haven’t offered help. I’ve had to walk away despite the fact I love her very much. She wants what she wants when she wants, won’t listen, and yet wants family to give her money and listen to her ranting and raving or poor me’s. It may be hurtful to her that I’m no longer willing to prop her up, but my own sanity, health and relationships have to be my first priority. I’m trying to overcome a lot of guilt and pain related to letting go, but I’m not responsible for her life, even though I allowed myself to feel that way for a long time. Knowing oneself and having the wisdom to discern when things aren’t going to change and the toxic person will only drag you down to the bottom with them…’s a personal choice.

Hey Sigmund

Yes you are absolutely right. The healthiest thing when a relationship is toxic and damaging is to walk away. That’s not always possible though, at least in the short term and this article is more for those situations. It sounds as though you have done best thing you could do. It takes a lot of strength to walk away, and whatever the relationship is like, it’s never easy, but when the relationship continues to drain you it can be the only thing to do. Thank you for sharing your story. You’ll never know who could be taking strength from your experience and using it to walk away from a relationship that continues to be hurtful.


Thank you for this amazing article on toxic people. I have been dealing with such a person(s) for the last four years. I had never encountered such a pool this personality type in one place and it has left me exhausted and drained from constantly thinking about their behaviour. There is one main perpetrator and he has led the others on a merry dance, who are only too willing to favour him, rather than to be interested a in a mature thinking person (me). I wish I had known more about this sociopathic behaviour before. I would have stayed well clear. About a year ago, I made a very strong stand that I would not have anything to do with this person and the repercussions have been huge in that my family and I are ostracised. I have been ok with this because I don’t wish to be part of this toxic social network. My reputation has been dragged through the mud, but I withstood it because I thought that in time that the truth and cracks will appear. Which it now has. Point Number 15 is very interesting to me as I can see that this person has decided to restart his predatory and intimidatory behaviour towards me again. Having created drama and havoc with his other friends,, stringing them along, he has now turned gone full circle and come back to square one. I’m not getting sucked in this time. It is not a hell I wish to revisit. This article will help me emormously. I will need to read it several times help me validate what I know so I can be better armed dealing with this awful person. Cheers

Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased this article can give you the armour you need. Yes – keep it handy and let it be an anchor for you when you need one. You have a beautiful strength and clarity in you. Hold on to that and feel validated by your own wisdom – it’s serving you well.

Hey Sigmund

I understand how difficult it is dealing with a toxic boss, because you have to be so careful with the relationship. If you have to continue working with your boss, you are limited with your options. You can’t change what your boss does, but you can work towards protecting yourself from the toxic behaviour damage you. Try the measures in the post that you’re able to try without compromising your job.


i ran into this article and it is so helpful
i am married for almost 8 months now but i found out that she is a toxic person which i confirmed after reading this article
she is not able to recognise when she does something that hurts me. she is not able to take responsibility, feel remorse, and commit to doing better
she is hard to deal with because she lacks rational, logical thinking. You will end up in arguments where if she “feel” that 2+2=7, she feels that she always correct, and hardly takes advises
i really love her and i wish i can do anything to change how she thinks as to keep our marriage going cuz am already thinking to leave her and move on
please advise

Hey Sigmund

This is really difficult. I can hear through your comment how much you love your wife. It’s not possible to change other people, or to change the way they think – all you can do is change the way you do things, or the way you respond and sometimes that means other people will change in response, but not always. We all have sides to ourselves that aren’t that easy to love, and the decision is whether or not the things you love about your wife outweigh the things that feel bad to you. Have you thought about counselling? If your wife is open to it, counselling would really help to see each other’s side and to explore what needs to happen in your relationships for it to work. Otherwise, seeing a counsellor on your own might help you to set up boundaries around the behaviour that is hurting you, or support you in exploring what you might be able to do to improve your experience in your relationship. I wish you all the very best.


This is the second article I read from you about toxic p eople and I must say this is very interesting to read. I often saw comments about family/husband and I happen to have experienced this with a friend. of course I knew there was somethign wrong, bu 15 years into our friendship i just though it was just how she was. Ho long until the tantrum stops ? It’s been over a year and a half and our last message was basically her threatening and insulting me. She stilll sends her own sister to the same nail salon for her sister to get some infos about me. I’m emotionally drained. I’m over it, or thought I was, i seeked professionnal help, i’m fine with all this, i just want her to leave me alone instead of spendnig her time stalking my every movment to criticise it to anyone who is willing to hear it. Her next pray ? For having a next pray you need to be intelligent enough not to show her “toxic traits” and clearly it isn’t the case so NOBODY will ever risk being the next pray. When will I be left in peace to live my life ? 🙁

Hey Sigmund

It’s impossible to know how long it will take for someone else to move on, and I understand how awful this must be for you. You were clearly very important to your friend if she is still so invested in the relationship. What’s important now is that you are able to keep your boundaries and not get pulled back into the toxic relationship. Keep letting your friend see that there is just nothing in it for her if she keeps herself invested in your life, and hopefully she will soon get tired of trying. The main thing is that you keep your own power and not surrender it to her. I hope she is able to soon move on from her friendship with you and that you are able to find the peace you deserve.


Thank you for this great website and all the advice you give to help people. I’m 58 years old and a Mom of two, and have been married to a passive aggressive husband for 37 years.
Honestly, I don’t remember asking to be born into the family I was born into. Both parents victims of World War II. I really don’t remember asking for a cold depressed mean mother, or a wounded crazy accoholic Father. So craziness and fear was part of my everyday life from infancy to adulthood. There’s a family picture that is my favorite, I’m around 3 years old with a big smile and the only one barefoot in the picture. But somehow i see a funny little girl, so happy, and i wonder what the hell happened to her. Coldness from Mom and big fear from Dad. When i became pregnant with my daughter i did the best i could, which of course wasn’t enough. Now my daughter is in in her 30’s and is pregnant with my 2nd grandchild. For 3 years I have watched my first granddaughter every Sunday afternoon and all day Mondays (and more), because those are my days off from my full time job. My house is a mess and my daughter critisizes me about it. I’m at the point where i don’t want to work and provide daycare, day in an day out. I’m getting tired.
Because of this, my daughter says i’m a paranoid narcissist and i’m only thinking of myself. I’m willing to babysit Mondays, no Sundays or overnight. I take my 78 year old Mom to church and lunch on Sundays. My daughter is now analizing me and saying how selfish i am. I know i have problems, but some of them seem so engrained, and i feel its taking me my whole life to heal from some things, and I’m also surrounded with people with problems. She talks bad about me to other people and with her Dad. I feel like they are so against me, and i dream of divorce everyday. This article on toxic people is where i see parts of myself and parts of my daughter, and parts of all of us. I read so many posts where the Mom is blamed for problems people have. Well you know that Mom was once an innocent happy little girl, and she never asked for what she was born into or how she was raised. When she had her children she (not knowingly) repeated some of the same things her parents did, and most likely she brought her kids up alone, in a marriage. My daughter lives in a house we own and my husband makes the payment every month, when there is conversation about them making the house payment, they throw a fit. There is never a thank you from her husband or her. They both have a scary sense of entiltlment. So here i am being analyzed by a daughter who is toxic and controlling. What a mess, some days i just want to fly away, and sadly i think ,that would ma ke them so happy. So hooray for all those little girls that became Moms, lets keep blaming them, it sure does take the responsibility off us! Maybe we can give a little grace, a little prayer with all the analizing, after all none of asked to be the people we are, somehow it all happens. Here we all are, trying to protect ourselves, while searching for healing, and finding our way back home.
Thanks for listening.

Hey Sigmund

None of us are perfect, and none of us deserve to have people close to us constantly reminding us of that. I wish the people who are close to you could love you the way you want to be loved and in the way you deserve. That happy little girl is still there in you and I imagine you still have a way of lighting up the world and the people around you when you aren’t weighed down with the criticism and the judgements of others. I hope you are always able to find comfort here.

little sister

My English is not that we’ll., so I hope you understand.
I found this great and clear article on pinterest.
I was shocked because I recognizer my eldest sister.
As long as I remember I was always great to her. And often she got very very angry at me for nothing. Once I asked her what time it was and she got angry and cursed on me.
Often I hear from her about great, friendly, understanding, helpful new friends she found but always she loses them and she tells they’re nothing, liers etc etc.
When she git divorced I helped her to decorate and the removal to her new home. Always she could call me when she was in sorrow or in trouble.
Even all though I have a lot of worry because of sickness of my own 3 kids.
About 1.5 year ago I asked her very friendly if it was possible to call our parents once and a while. They are old and sick and not able to travel.
Our mother told me she was missing her oldest daughter; perhaps is she angry about something she asked me.
My sister went very angry. Cursed on everyone of our familie arends since then I am in he’ll.
A long story. But she ignores me since then . I think from nature I used some of you’re tips. I made borders , she has to keep a certain distance from me and it feels good (sometimes at family visits we se eachother).
I am not a serous victim anemone.
I have another sister who had still contact with her. With tat other sister I have a very good and warm bound.
My oldest sister try to separate us (won’t succeed;))
She is very very friendly to my dear sister.
But last week there was a silly misunderstanding between these to; now my other sister lives also in he’ll.
She feels also full about it and sleeps bad because of it.
I will give her this article to read and she will understand better.
Thank you very much!
Now I understand why I do not have to think bad about myself anymore . Because I nowi always did the best for her.

Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased you found this article. It’s so difficult when the toxic person is someone in your family. You sound as though you have a beautiful strength inside you. You and the sister you have a close connection with are very lucky to have each other. Those are the relationships that really matter.


This seems to be a description of the type of relationship between a rational xNTx (Intuitive Thinker), and an ESFJ (Extroverted Sensing Feeling Judger). I’ve noticed personally, that the SJ types tend to be hard to deal with because they lack rational, logical thinking. You will end up in arguments where if they “feel” that 2+2=7, then no amount of laying out apples and oranges to count will do any good at all. They get so hardheaded about their values, and feel that they are always correct, but they are often hypocrites who have either exhibited the same bad behavior they eschew, or are currently engaging in it. They also seem to lack an internal moral compass and rely on external sources for guidance. They often admire people for their position in society instead of the actual person, so they tend to follow and look up to authority figures blindly, and without critical thought. This can cause problems when the person grows up with bad moral guidance. It can create a really warmhearted, caring person, or it can create the most evil personality types imaginable. Ones who will do whatever they choose and feel absolutely justified in doing so. So, I believe that ESFJ’s are the toxic ones. Just my 2 cents. The personality type references are from the Meyers Briggs MBTI. I enjoyed the article.

Hey Sigmund

Your comment is really thoughtful. Each of the Meyers Briggs personality types are on a spectrum and all have their strengths and weaknesses. ESFJs tend to be warm and thoughtful ‘people’ people who like to make sure others are okay and happy. Like any of the personality types, they also have their weakness and can inflexible, but not always. Certainly an ESFJ can be as you described but they don’t have to be. Toxic people can come from other personality types too. Your comment about the influence of bad moral guidance is an insightful one and you’re absolutely right – a person under the wrong guidance can certainly move towards being toxic, but again not always. There’s so much damage that can be done by the environment someone grows up in.


Hi, this arrival is very refreshing to read, but what if I am a toxic person?
My boyfriend finished with me a few mouths ago and I’m finding it really hard to deal with.
I’m not sure if he is toxic or if my expectations are too high,
I can’t really remember the reasons why we argued. He used me make me cry allot and I can’t remember what he did to do this, he would never comfort me when I got upset eather.
At the beginning he was very charming and promised me the world, it didn’t work out that why, I got more and more upset I’m not sure if this was because of his toxic behaver or just me being prothetic.
He did a lot of selfish things but also did some nice things for me (no too often) he wouldn’t be grateful and I felt every used. I’m still not sure why he finished with me I tried me best.
But now he is sending me very horrid messages that are very degrading and hurtful, and says he has moved on, the issue is I still want him back :/ even though he may be toxic? Also what makes a toxic person toxic?

Hey Sigmund

Here is an article that might help you understand what makes a toxic person toxic . It’s important to remember that we are all a work in progress and nobody is perfect. From time to time, we can all blame, be self-centred, maybe do something manipulative. What’s different is that non-toxic people are able to recognise when they do something that hurts other people. They are able to take responsibility, feel remorse, and commit to doing better. Toxic people don’t do this. They manipulate, control, blame, lie, cheat, intimidate and it will all be someone else’s fault, according to them. It might be that neither you nor your boyfriend are toxic, but that you just aren’t right for each other. Sometimes people can bring out the worst in each other, but that doesn’t necessarily make them toxic. It also doesn’t mean that your relationship wasn’t important or great to be in at some point. What it means is that it may have run its course and given both of you everything it was able to. Learn what you can: What was it about this person you were drawn to? How did the relationship or the other person change you? How did you have to change yourself to be in the relationship? Was this change for better or for worse? Is there anything you can learn about yourself? This is your time to reflect and learn what you need to so you can attract a relationship that is healthy and that brings out the best in you. I love that you can see the nice things he did for you, even if there weren’t many, and that you are willing to explore your own behaviour. Toxic people don’t do that. I hope that you are able to keep moving forward, and open yourself to receiving something wonderful when it finds you – which it will. What’s important is that you don’t rush back to something that isn’t right because you’re worried that something more right won’t find you. It will. But for now, take the time you need to take to heal from your relationship, and know that there’s no hurry.


Thank you for your advice! I have been thinking about the relationship over the last few days and he did all the things you said over toxic people do and also this mum and him gay friend got very jeolous and poisoned the relationship even more than just his toxic behaver that probably stemed from the up bringing of his mum, we got on so well when we were away from all that. I I’m correctly looking into self respect and reconising what is respectful behaver and what is not, have you got any article on self respect and receiving respect?

Irene Denton

Thank you for your article. I live with a toxic personality and have done so for a long time. He got worse during his mothers illness and his mothers death. He was charming when i met him and is charming to everyone else. I do understand that he is trying to control me. It took me a long period of time to divorce myself from his actions but I do now. He starts to rant and I leave the room. Most of the time it is about nothing. When I do not answer him he says I am not listening, I have chosen not to answer he because he is baiting me for a fight. I now choose my battles carefully. We are together, but the more toxic he is the less I do for him. He is not winning, and rants that I do what I want anyway. I choose not to wait for him to be ready to move on, if he wishes to immerse himself in self pity i cannot help him, he needs to help himself. I am planning holidays and functions that he can choose to be involved in or not. His Choice. I am not going to chase his love or approval. I understand in his way he does love me and feels very deeply.

I am in control

Hey Sigmund

Irene, you have so much strength and wisdom. Sometimes people can love you as much as they can love anyone, but it doesn’t mean it’s enough. Sometimes it’s not even close. Living with a toxic personality is so hard and it’s easy to lose yourself in that, but you have found a way to protect yourself. That takes incredible courage and self-respect. Thank you for sharing your story. This is such an important conversation to have and you could never know who you will be inspiring.


Thank you so much for writing your comment. I myself have lived with my toxic husband for over 20 years. It has not gotten better, and now I find myself looking for answers on how to deal with this. You have given me hope that divorce isn’t the only answer; I also feel that my husband loves me, he just has a reeaallly messed up way of showing it sometimes. Thank you again for the hope!

Sue F

Thanks for this great article. My mother used shame and other controlling techniques when I was growing up. My sister was a quick learner and she learnt that by using similar methods she could have control and power. I was the eldest of 5 siblings and had great expectations placed upon me: be a good girl, be nice to everybody, don’t rock the boat, peace at all costs. I always felt that this sort of treatment was not quite right but felt powerless to do anything about it. Even if I said “no” it felt like a war zone. It wasn’t until there was a huge drama a couple of years ago and I was finally able to extricate myself that I started to heal. I started to read as much as I could on these issues and arm myself with tools to survive. Basically I started to stand up for myself. I started to set boundaries, to do things for myself and be surrounded by people I could trust and who liked me for who I was. In other words I reclaimed my power and my life.

Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased this article was helpful for you. It’s not easy breaking away fro any toxic relationship, but when it’s family it can be all the more difficult. It takes amazing strength and courage to pull away from a toxic relationship and I hope you can own that for yourself. You’re a survivor and you’re wise. I hope your healing continues and you find yourself with people who can give you the love and respect you deserve.


this is so eye opening for me. I had a friend and this describes her to the t. now her children are acting like her and are toxic to others. Mine included. I don’t want mine children getting hurt the way I did and I’m having a hard time teaching them that’s how some people are. How do you explain to little one?

Hey Sigmund

It’s great that you have the wisdom and insight and can use this to help your kids to protect themselves from behaviour that might damage them. Here are a couple of articles that will help you explain toxic behaviour to kids and help them to build their boundaries around it:
Toxic People Can Affect Kids Too: Know The Signs and How to Explore a Little Deeper:
Teaching Kids How to Set and Protect Their Boundaries and Keep Toxic People Out:
Hope these help.


I can’t thank you enough for posting this! I’ve recently started learning about cluster B personalities and narcissism… All I can say is you summed it up wonderfully!
I am still getting a divorce from a malignant narcissist who left me in my second pregnancy while I was 7 months pregnant! I was alone and he came to threaten me that if I don’t do as he wanted he would divorce me and we would never hear from him again! all this after 3 years of what I believed to be compassion and love and looking out for our family- what I was told later is that everything he showed me to be love was a need for his own personal image and projection and how others see him! I was used abused and today two years after the divorce proceedings have started I sometimes still that same pain in my chest- the pain of betrayal, fear and hurt. Deep hurt that makes you feel like your world is falling apart! One night prior to disappearing to ‘set things right’ with his narcissistic mother (who kept sending messages that she will never forgive him and how important a mothers forgiveness is to the success of a child and how she will disown him)… I guess I’m not entirely blaming that monster of a mother because I guess she brought out in him something I probably wouldn’t have discovered till it was too late and I had given too much or had more kids! The path to recovery from such a relationship makes you hate every single ‘high’ you had from all the love bombing and exaggerated compliments! Sometimes I hate myself for having been so vulnerable and innocent that I fell for that! I’m usually a skeptic and I guess maybe a part of me wanted to believe there was such a thing as love and someone who sees what others don’t in you and accepts you for who you are — only in this case they were seeing themselves shine through your humbleness, shyness and innocence! I believe such people exist for a reason and have moved towards that path of acceptance after spending more than 2 years trying to understand the why’s ifs and how’s! Sometimes I feel chocked however, especially since he keeps switching lawyers and starts twisting stories and new concerns and opening old issues from the past! I mean here I am trying to figure out raising two young toddlers and on the other side the burden of this guy claiming ‘I took his clothes before I left the house’! And that he clearly didn’t abandon us, and that I left because I went to visit family (clearly after just giving birth and having no one I needed that!)… After two years leading to me having sole custody he still wants to tie the rope of control around my neck by putting restraints on where I can travel because we have children together! The thing that hurts the most, and maybe that’s just because I’m a fixer and I like to fix people, is that they don’t change! Something that stabbed me deep in my chest that I invested this much in someone who appeared broken and alone only to find that I was fooled and invested in a black hole! A black hole that seems to follow me because we share kids!

Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased you found this article and that it was able to help you. Narcissists are masterful at choosing people with open, generous, beautiful hearts, so it’s no accident that your ex husband chose you. They are also really clever at giving you exactly what you need to hook you, so it’s not always easy to see them for who they are. Sometimes it can take a while to see their behaviour for what it is – all about them – because by nature, you look for the best in people and will work hard to make your relationships work and be the best you can be for the people you love. No experience is a wasted one though, and you have clearly gained a lot of wisdom from your time together, and of course you have your children. You can never fix a true narcissist because their behaviour works too well for them. They don’t see anything wrong with it because part of being a narcissist is blaming everyone else for everything that’s wrong with them and their world. He will interfere and work hard to control you, but see it for what it is and most importantly, don’t take it personally – your kids will need you to be as strong and as clear as you can be to help them deal with him moving forward. They are so lucky to have you. When you lose a narcissist from the intimate part of your life (even if he’s still there at the edges, which he will be for a while) you will find a happiness that you didn’t realise you’d been missing and a version of you that’s brave, wise, insightful and strong – so strong. You deserve that.


Hello. I am 58 years old
you discribe my sister and one of my brothers who is near her.

In french we say “souffre-douleur”, I don’t know how to say it n english.
Since I was a little girl, my sister and this brother take me as a punching-ball (!)

All what you say help me so much! And all is clear for me now. I can understand how and why she is like that.But above all, you tell how change in our head and in our heart to be stronger.
Thank you so much and sorry for my english.

Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. I’m pleased this article has helped you. You clearly have a heart that is strong, open and generous and you deserve to be treated well. Thank you very much for your kind words.


I am really surprised after reading this article to see that my husband fits what’s described a toxic person. I went into reading this article expecting to identify it with his sister, but it truly fits him too! That pretty insightful, and helpful, I think to help me move on from our divorce.

Hey Sigmund

It’s interesting how we can be drawn to people with similar patterns to the people we grew up around – for better or worse. It’s great that you have the insight to recognise the toxic parts of his nature and use it to propel you forward!


thank you for this brilliantly written article, full of practical and useful advice on how to deal with all the toxic hateful people, who do seem to be only growing in numbers every single day upon this hot dark and sad planet!

Hey Sigmund

Thank you. I’m pleased you enjoyed the article. There does seem to be a lot of toxic people around, or maybe we’re getting better at spotting them and seeing their behaviour for what it is. I’ll always believe that they will be outnumbered by the people with good hearts and generous intentions though – and there are plenty of those.


This describes the mother of someone I know to a t and I’ve forwarded this piece to them. Any advice for people who were parented by toxic people?

Hey Sigmund

One thing to do is to break down the ‘shoulds’. We all have our list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ – these are the ‘rules’ we have for ourselves that have been taken as part of growing up and through our different experiences. They become automatic and drive behaviour without us even realising. They’re messages that influence the way you respond to the world (‘the world will always hurt me’/ ‘the world will give back what I give to it’), to people (‘people are generally good’/ ‘people are generally out to get me’), expectations of relationships (e.g. ‘I should always get what I want/ I should give everything I have’) etc. As you can see, the ‘shoulds’ we take on really define the type of person we are and the type of relationships we end up in.

Being parented by toxic people means that there will be a bundle of messages that will have come through that will now be a part of the way the person sees the world, people and the way the way they respond – many about what they’re worth, how good they are (or more likely how good they’re not), the way to treat people, what to expect from people, how to get what they need or want from a relationship etc. The problem with shoulds is that they feel like a truth, like there’s no alternative way to be, but that’s just not the way it is. With commitment and the right support, they can be idenfied, challenged and reworked to drive behaviour that is healthier and more in line with a happier life and happier relationships. One of the ways to find them is to look for the patterns that keep causing pain – the shoulds will be in there. Counselling can help to unpack the shoulds and rework the messages to ones that are healthier. I hope this helps. It’s a great idea for a post, so I’ll work on that. Your friend is lucky to have you.


This is my mother and my ex husband. I divorced one and have been working to repair the damage with the other but I can’t please her.In fact I have always heardnegative things about myself from her.not loving at all.She says the only thing keeping her by me is an amount of money she says I owe her.Shecan’t prove the amount and no matter how much I pay herthe amount only increases.It’s unreal.
Ps.My dad died when I was 8and most of the time when my mom wants to fight she says I’m just like my dad who of course to her, was a no good guy.You can imagine how much she loves me. :/


You need to ration your time with your mum. Have a break from seeing her for a month or two. Toxic people are a lot nicer to you when you make it clear that you can take or leave the relationship. If they complain about it you need to ignore it. Tough love. You need to take care of yourself.


This has been so helpful! MIT describes my boyfriends Mother, my sister, my ex husband. I’ve been having a terrible time lately with my bf’s Mom.


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The need to feel connected to, and seen by our people is instinctive. 

THE FIX: Add in micro-connections to let them feel you seeing them, loving them, connecting with them, enjoying them:

‘I love being your mum.’
‘I love being your dad.’
‘I missed you today.’
‘I can’t wait to hang out with you at bedtime 
and read a story together.’

Or smiling at them, playing with them, 
sharing something funny, noticing something about them, ‘remembering when...’ with them.

And our adult loves need the same, as we need the same from them.♥️
Our kids need the same thing we do: to feel safe and loved through all feelings not just the convenient ones.

Gosh it’s hard though. I’ve never lost my (thinking) mind as much at anyone as I have with the people I love most in this world.

We’re human, not bricks, and even though we’re parents we still feel it big sometimes. Sometimes these feelings make it hard for us to be the people we want to be for our loves.

That’s the truth of it, and that’s the duality of being a parent. We love and we fury. We want to connect and we want to pull away. We hold it all together and sometimes we can’t.

None of this is about perfection. It’s about being human, and the best humans feel, argue, fight, reconnect, own our ‘stuff’. We keep working on growing and being more of our everythingness, just in kinder ways.

If we get it wrong, which we will, that’s okay. What’s important is the repair - as soon as we can and not selling it as their fault. Our reaction is our responsibility, not theirs. This might sound like, ‘I’m really sorry I yelled. You didn’t deserve that. I really want to hear what you have to say. Can we try again?’

Of course, none of this means ‘no boundaries’. What it means is adding warmth to the boundary. One without the other will feel unsafe - for them, us, and others.

This means making sure that we’ve claimed responsibility- the ability to respond to what’s happening. It doesn’t mean blame. It means recognising that when a young person is feeling big, they don’t have the resources to lead out of the turmoil, so we have to lead them out - not push them out.

Rather than focusing on what we want them to do, shift the focus to what we can do to bring felt safety and calm back into the space.

THEN when they’re calm talk about what’s happened, the repair, and what to do next time.

Discipline means ‘to teach’, not to punish. They will learn best when they are connected to you. Maybe there is a need for consequences, but these must be about repair and restoration. Punishment is pointless, harmful, and outdated.

Hold the boundary, add warmth. Don’t ask them to do WHEN they can’t do. Wait until they can hear you and work on what’s needed. There’s no hurry.♥️
Recently I chatted with @rebeccasparrow72 , host of ABC Listen’s brilliant podcast, ‘Parental as Anything: Teens’. I loved this chat. Bec asked all the questions that let us crack the topic right open. Our conversation was in response to a listener’s question, that I expect will be familiar to many parents in many homes. Have a listen here:
School refusal is escalating. Something that’s troubling me is the use of the word ‘school can’t’ when talking about kids.

Stay with me.

First, let’s be clear: school refusal isn’t about won’t. It’s about can’t. Not truly can’t but felt can’t. It’s about anxiety making school feel so unsafe for a child, avoidance feels like the only option.

Here’s the problem. Language is powerful, and when we put ‘can’t’ onto a child, it tells a deficiency story about the child.

But school refusal isn’t about the child.
It’s about the environment not feeling safe enough right now, or separation from a parent not feeling safe enough right now. The ‘can’t’ isn’t about the child. It’s about an environment that can’t support the need for felt safety - yet.

This can happen in even the most loving, supportive schools. All schools are full of anxiety triggers. They need to be because anything new, hard, brave, growthful will always come with potential threats - maybe failure, judgement, shame. Even if these are so unlikely, the brain won’t care. All it will read is ‘danger’.

Of course sometimes school actually isn’t safe. Maybe peer relationships are tricky. Maybe teachers are shouty and still using outdated ways to manage behaviour. Maybe sensory needs aren’t met.

Most of the time though it’s not actual threat but ’felt threat’.

The deficiency isn’t with the child. It’s with the environment. The question isn’t how do we get rid of their anxiety. It’s how do we make the environment feel safe enough so they can feel supported enough to handle the discomfort of their anxiety.

We can throw all the resources we want at the child, but:

- if the parent doesn’t believe the child is safe enough, cared for enough, capable enough; or

- if school can’t provide enough felt safety for the child (sensory accommodations, safe peer relationships, at least one predictable adult the child feels safe with and cared for by),

that child will not feel safe enough.

To help kids feel safe and happy at school, we have to recognise that it’s the environment that needs changing, not the child. This doesn’t mean the environment is wrong. It’s about making it feel more right for this child.♥️
Such a beautiful 60 second wrap of my night with parents and carers in Hastings, New Zealand talking about building courage and resilience in young people. Because that’s how courage happens - it builds, little bit by little bit, and never feeling like ‘brave’ but as anxiety. Thank you @healhealthandwellbeing for bringing us together happen.♥️


Original post by @healhealthandwellbeing:
🌟 Thank You for Your Support! 🌟

A huge thank you to everyone who joined us for the "Building Courage and Resilience" talk with the amazing  Karen Young - Hey Sigmund. Your support for Heal, our new charity focused on community health and wellbeing, means the world to us!

It was incredible to see so many of you come together while at the same time being able to support this cause and help us build a stronger, more resilient community.

A special shoutout to Anna Catley from Anna Cudby Videography for creating some fantastic footage Your work has captured the essence of this event perfectly ! To the team Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre thank you for always making things so easy ❤️ 

Follow @healhealthandwellbeing for updates and news of events. Much more to come!

#Heal #CommunityHealth #CourageAndResilience #KarenYoung #ThankYou

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