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.

460 Comments

Ramble

This is all excellent advice in dealing with a toxic person in your life. But my problem is that toxic person that is not in my life, like the person who says some off-the-cuff remark to make you feel bad. You don’t even realize what they did until you have walked away, and then it eats at you all day. How do I handle those people. There seems to be an endless supply of them. The cashier, the secretary at the vet’s office, the service personnel at department stores. I must have a sign on my forehead that says “say something rude to me”.

An example, I was driving on a road that was not marked “CLOSED FOR REPAIRS” and missed the first sign. By the time I got to the other signs where the road was closed I had to turn around. There was a man and woman walking down the street where I turned around with my car and I rolled down the window to say “I must have missed the sign” to which she replied “Start reading. The signs are way back there.” Before it registered what she said I had rolled up my window and drove off. I was left wondering why she had to say that. I always approach situations like that as if people are good and cordial. Then I get whacked against the head with their comments and for 30 minutes I’m stressed out. But I tell myself they are stressed out 24-7 and that is why they behave that way. Am I right? What can I say in reply next time?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You don’t need to say anything. I know it’s hard, but you’ll feel a lot more empowered if you can avoid taking comments like this personally. It’s a reflection on their dysfunction, not yours. Keep driving and know that they aren’t worth your energy.

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Pippa

I don’t think it is you, except in solar as you have such a positive and optimistic view of other people which is not reciprocated by many who seem to take pleasure in the short sharp response, assuming the worst of any and everyone. The roads are the worst place in my experience – everyone assumeds that you know exactly where you are going and don’t stop to consider that you may be driving there for the first time, are lost, are in need of help etc etc. I would urge you to send such people your blessings and love and peace and let their animosity and negativity wash over you or around you whilst you hold onto your inner peace and stillness. Otherwise the storms of life over which you have little or no control will create endless turmoil for the little boat you are bravely sailing across the wide seas.

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Ramble

Thank you for this sentence in your reply:

“Otherwise the storms of life over which you have little or no control will create endless turmoil for the little boat you are bravely sailing across the wide seas.”

That one sentence has given me so much courage and comfort.

I appreciate your reply so much! The overwhelming advice here has been to not say or do anything and to just keep your inner peace. Good advice here. Such a great blog. Bless you!

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Annie Marie

Just the other day, I was verbally attacked. I put that young adult, in her place & walked out the door. She was showing prejudice & insulted my advocacies. When, I got done with her, she admitted she was to opinionated. Choosing your battles is good advice. Not taking someone else’s flack. Is a good thing. I was wondering, if her butt was jealous of all the BS coming out of her mouth. If you act like a victim, you will be a victim. Toxic people are everywhere. Tell them, not today & wish them well & move on!! This article was well written. I enjoyed reading it immensely. I’m a writer myself, so coming from me, consider yourself complimented. One thing that makes me feel gratitude is someone who still knows how to be human!!

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Amy

Love your post. I have two sisters and mother who are toxic and I have finally gone no contact with all of them. Initially I thought it was just my mother who caused all the drama or “stirred the pot” as we used to call it. I was the one in the family that came to everyone’s rescue, so much in fact that I caused pain to my own family. Of course none of it was ever reciprocated and I have become the “worst person in the world” because I finally stood up for myself. It’s been 10 years since I have spoken to my oldest sister, two years for my mother and 5 months with my “closest” sister. Ironically, my mother stopped talking to me and after trying to re-establish contact with her for six months, I finally realized how much better my life was without her in it. I rescued my “closet sister” after she lost her job because of her mental illness ( she has been diagnosed with schizoaffective affective disorder). We were very close for many years but I only saw her once a year so even though I saw toxic behaviors I could put up with them more. I have learned a very important lesson and at age 58 I realize that I have to take responsibility for allowing them to act that way towards me for years. I am the so called scapegoat and because of how I was raised I was very codependent, especially towards my sisters. So that is something I am working on. I do have one question. What do people do when they run into family that they have been no contact with? I live in a very rural area and my sister lives on our property in a rental home so I’m sure to run into her at some point. My mother is 84 and not in the best shape health wise and her horrible husband is worse so I am expecting a call telling me one of them has passed. We all live within 15 miles of each other. I have been very sick with tick borne illnesses and have been pretty much house bound for the last year. So I haven’t had to deal with them at all so I’m unsure how to handle it when it happens. BTW, my doctors have felt that the stress put on me by my sister and mother caused my tick borne illnesses to manifest again. So dealing with toxic people can truly damage your emotional and physical health.

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Ramble

Bless you! You are better off now. I know exactly what you mean. I had to cut several people out of my life for the same reasons. It’s always regrettable, but it frees up your mind and your soul.

When I feel bad about my decision (because I really don’t want to disavow anyone) then I tell myself: “Yes, I feel bad about disowning this person. But I would feel far, far worse if I hadn’t because I would still be dealing with their toxic behavior.”

Keep the peace.

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Pippa

Reading everyone’s comments makes me realise that, sadly, we probably all have, or will meet, a toxic person in our lives. It helps me both to know that other people share that experience, and also to have some really clear guidance as to what is going on (it seems impossible to explain to anyone who doesn’t know, as if you are making a mountain out of a molehill, or even something out of nothing) – and what to do about it so as to hold onto your own integrity and sanity.
thank you for such clarity of thinking and expression

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Yes absolutely – toxic people are everywhere. It’s why it’s so important to choose wisely the people we let close to us. There are so many situations where we don’t really get to choose the people we have around us – colleagues, parents, siblings, in-laws. It’s why when we do have a choice about who to let close, it’s so important to choose people who deserve us.

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tami

i have been married for 35 yrsand from the get go we never got along. i was 20 he was 33. i thought i was going to have a healthy happy life. well it has been a nightmare ever since. we had 3 children and we even separated twice but he always seemed sincere and that he was going to change and be better. the last year has been the most horrible of my life, he lies, he belittles me he embarasses me in front of others,he doesnt care who you are or where we are he will start a fight and say nasty things about me. he calls me names and makes fun of me he makes gestures with his hands as though he wants to hit me but yet says i would never actually hit you. he refuses to get help,he argues like hes 5 and im not allowed to talk because nothing i have to say is worth anything. our dog was treated better. he referred to her as honey. he purposely comes into the bedroom to just look at me,he sleeps on the couch and has for many years. he slams doors and has no consideration of anyone else whether youre sleeping or not. he tells me everything ive done wrong,points out all the negatives of the food i just cooked. but yet he wants me to make phone calls for him,and do favors. he wants me to be his friend and act as though nothing has happened and when i dont he gets meaner. im convinced he is mentally ill or toxic or evil or a bully or something. he accuses people of stealing his things when he cant find them. he makes fun of others when theyre not around and then says dont tell them i said that. he denies his actions and wont take responsibility. i feel like im in between a rock and a hard place and dont know where to go or what to do,i have an 11 yr old autistic child and a limited income. help!!!!!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Tami this sounds like an awful situation for you and your son. It sounds as though you might need outside support to help you through this with practical advice about the resources available. I’m not sure which country you’re in, but here is a list of resources. Hopefully you will be in one of these countries. If you call a general support line, even if they aren’t able to help you, they will be able to direct you to someone who can. You deserve to feel safe and you deserve happiness. I understand how difficult it is to leave a damaging relationship when you have limited resources, but there are people out there who are able to help with this. I wish you all the best.

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Cindy F

I had a husband like that, i could take it anymore . !!! I got RID of him. 10 years now. I still deal with one son thats in jail. He is the same way . I can not divorse him though. I try to be as kind as i can. So toxic .????

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Sassy

Sounds like I could have written this!!
My husband does all this too 🙁
20 years we’ve been together, 10 of those with kids. He won’t agree to a divorce…says it’s because he doesn’t want to leave the kids but I think it’s because he has no savings and no credit and relies on me since I pay the rent and a good chunk of the bills. He trash talks me to anyone who will listen, verbally abusive to me and the kids, hyper critical, ranting and complaining about everything. It’s like walking on egg shells. I feel sick every day. Trying to stay positive but when he tells our kids (10 and 4 y.o.) that I manipulate them, calls me the b word, tells them I’m a liar, etc it is so hurtful and I fear that my kids will believe him or turn into him.
He says I’m lazy, curses me out, says I don’t do anything even though I work full time, i cook breakfast, pack lunches, cook dinner 3-4 x a week. I take the kids to the park or outside daily, to birthday parties, playdates, the pool, I’m the one who taught them to read, to ride bikes, to play ball, i take care of all their doctor and dentist visits, pay his medical bills, provide us with insurance, and still it is not good enough. Never once thanked me for pulling $$ thousands out of my 401k, 3 separate times he either lost a job, left a job or got sick, just so we could survive.

Cursed me out in a hospital while I was pregnant with our 2nd child in front of everyone all because they asked him to call his insurance company about some paper work and he thought i should have gotten a backbone and said something to the staff. Screamed at me and called me bi@#$ in front of dozns of people after my sons soccer match when i asked him to be quiet and not be so loud when he was putting my sons soccer team down while they and their families were walking behind us.
I wish I had the $$ to hire a lawyer and be done with him. Wish he would just leave. Told him we could work out shared custody.Shoot, I’d even give him $$ just to leave me alone, but I think that is too rational for him This is hell on earth.

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Jason C.

Sassy, you are caught up in a web of manipulation and domination. Nothing you do will ever “be enough” to fix this. He is going to continue to kick you down and use you…is there any reason to believe he has someone on the side? I don’t know…I would find a way to rip myself out of this situation no matter the cost. I escaped a toxic marriage of 7 years…still recovering my self esteem. But getting out was WORTH it…OMG. Best of luck.

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Kimberly

My mother-in-law turns out to be my closest toxic person. She seems kind, nice and lovely to people she met, but when they are not around she talks shit behind them, drag them down with negatives comments and prejudgements. I and my husband is currently living with her, and I cant stop feeling annoyed and frustrated towards her talkin negatively about everybody around her, all day, all night, whenever she has the chances. she even bends the truth, makes things up as long as people finally assume she is good and there are always something bad about others. I dont enjoy having to take all her negative judgements towards other people, i know hardly none of them are true and even if its true, I dont even want to focus on it. Plus, I know when im not around, the same thing happens : she invents things and talk behind me too. besides, she bothers me too much with her always bugging how I dress, why wouldnt I dress like this like that or like Jan did.. which is exactly what i dont want her advices on. Most part of her days she spent callin her “friends” talking negative about everything around them, except for her and the one who is listening. I wonder why people enjoying answering her phone to get all that..

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Gem

Thank you so much for this article and for taking your time to comment all the comments in here!

How do I deal with a toxic (younger) sibling? – I read your article about toxic loved ones.
I cannot run away from her; My parents get upset if I keep my distance to her because they think sisters should be best friends and as emotional as they are as parents they would not understand they way I feel. I realise now after I have read your article how toxic she has been throughout my life and she will never change it seems. She has managed to manipulate my parents and other siblings for a very long time. It has always come down to one thing – she wished to break me down and control me. It did take its toll out of me
For a long time as I did not realise what was going on. When it finally came clear to me I distanced myself for 1-2 years blaming work etc because it came to a point where she would not understand her own behaviour. It has always been about her.

I have just gone through a hard time at work where I was subjected to gross bullying. I am now slowly getting back on track and working on my self-esteem. My sister knows this and I have forgotten her behaviour as she has appeared to be understanding, loving and supporting during my rehabilitation. Only yesterday suddenly from no where she lashed out on me. In a manipulative way she blames me for not praising her and not mentioning how proud I am of her when she is proud of me among other things causing so much drama. This upset me so much, I have had enough already. I am trying so hard not to let her words and actions get to me but I am failing- she reminds me of the bullies at my work.
How do I deal with her, how do I set my boundaries? How do I know my boundaries? How do I deal with her and keep her toxicity out of my life without feeling guilt and having the feeling of “letting my parents down”?
Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

Gem here is an article that will be able to help you. It is about setting boundaries between you and people you love who hurt you with their toxic behaviour https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/. The most important part is believing you have the right to set boundaries. You absolutely have the right to decide which behaviours are acceptable and which aren’t. It doesn’t matter whether those boundaries are with family, friends, colleagues, sisters, parents – none of us are under any obligation to accept hurtful behaviour from people, just because they are related to us. Your parents may be disappointed, but that is okay. That isn’t something you can control. Realise that the disappointment isn’t about you, but about their family not having the relationships they want them to have. It is understandable that they might take that personally, and that might come out as disappointment to you – but it is NOT your responsibility. It is about letting them be disappointed, without owning it.

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vic

Thank you very much for your articles. Thank you for your post.. I can relate to this. I have an older sister whom has been toxic for years. Just recently my mother had passed away. I decided to keep my older sister out of my life. While I was growing up I thought it was just me.. I couldn’t understand why she was acting this way or would even say things that she did. I had realized that she was projecting onto me at an early age. She had even went as far as projecting onto my daughter. Which my daughter realized at the age 5. She had asked me if her aunt liked her. She had said that she had always made her feel like something was wrong with her. Right then and there I knew this person was not going to be a positive person in my life. When my mother had passed away. I was forced to deal with her again. She had also manipulated my other sister and continues to also do the same with other family members. This had also bothered my mother that we were not on talking terms. I had let my mother just what they were doing but, never told her that my sister had blamed her for her life. I didnt want to hurt my mother this way. My mother was confined to a nursing which my older had to put her into as well. Which she did need to go to. My older sister had blamed my mother for her life. After my mother’s passing we had a falling out again after not talking for many years. My sister with held the truth of my mother’s condition. She had cancer which she did not disclose to us and then acted like I was withholding something from her. I also had a falling out with my younger sister which she now blames me for her life as well as my older sister. I was trying to figure out where this was coming from. It also had bothered my mother that they did not visit her. We are all in other states but, it had been 10 years of her life in the nursing home. Neither one of the sisters did not participate in her service nor did they even pay for anything for her service. Now my older sister is saying that I am evil and that I have been a problem for her her whole life. This is insane behavior. During my mother’s passing my older sister was not able to attend my mother’s service due the fact that she had to have her appendictics. She had to have surgery. The day that I have arrived to see my mother. My mother had wanted to my call my Aunt. All that I heard from my aunt was how my older sister could of died. Then I get a call my younger sister telling me about older sister it just seemed that they wanted more of a reaction of me more than anything else. She is doing fine and also has the support of her own family. Meanwhile I was busy planning my mother’s service. I have decided to keep them out but now my mother has some things that are theirs mostly pictures which my older sister would like me to pay to have them shipped to her but, I am not working right now. Now she is ready to deal with my mother’s passing and would like her things. Thank you for this website and people who post. Makes me know that we are not alone.. We do have the ability to change it but letting go we must to protect ourselves. When people use family as such a loose term to control other family members this on lines of abuse now.

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Vic

Thank you very much. I think due to the circumstances it had made me 2nd guess myself. I had just realized how much I was being projected onto as well. My sister was also projecting onto my daughter at a young age. I don’t know if they realize it or not but, I can’t have that for my daughter. Thank you once again for your posting. People shouldn’t have to struggle with this. Thank you everyone for you post.

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Vic

Thank you for your post. I have been going through some things with certain family members. My mother had recently passed away and the family has been separated for some time. I have an older sister had just been judgemental of my life and even my daughter. I had just realized that she had been baiting for years and also projecting onto for years. She had also had told me that I had been a problem for her for her whole life. When it had come time for mother’s service her and another sister had said they would pay for services never did and my mother’s body sat there for like a week waiting for them to help make decision. Neither one of them made a decision at all. Yet everything will is my fault. My mother was also abused women and my father was toxic as well. This articile had made me feel good about getting them out of my life. So thank you .

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Hey Sigmund

Vic it sounds as though you have had a difficult time of things lately. You sound strong and clear though in relation to your decision. Keep using that strength to propel you forward.

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S.

Thank you very much for this article… I’m currently in a fight with a very toxic person, and everything written in here describes the situation I’m in, especially issue 15)…. I’m already slipped into a heavy depression, and this person is doing me more harm than any other one I met in the last 20 years. I only feel hurted and violated, and so vulnerable that I’m ashamed of myself.

My problem is, that I’m emotionally simply not made to deal with such people, never was, and I can’t see a wait out. I’m so full of anger and hate, i feel miss used, and (please excuse this description) emotional raped. I’m to weak to get out, was never able to deal with bad people (already big mobbing issues in the youth). I can’t understand why she isn’t even seeing how wrong she is acting, and what she is doing to me. It seems like she has absolutly no self reflection, and no capability to emotional understand what she is actually doing, complete lack of emotional intelligence.

I’m baffled, how a person can act in such a way, so totally different from my point of morals and my way to treat other people… And a few months back, we were very good friends, at least from my understanding. As I said, like issue 15, it fits perfect.

She tried to change me, and because she put “so much effort in me”, and I often tried to tell her “i can’t much more, stop, it’s enough”. She just increased the pressure, month over month.
She tried to change me in any way, and she failed because I simply refused to follow any more (how could I, she robbed me of all my energy).

And since I didn’t wanted her way of life (excessive sports, eating, my clothing style changed and whatever) she cancelled the friendship (which hurted me incredible, i cannot overcome this feeling of betrayal, because I trusted her so much, that’s my main problem in this situation.. How could she ? I always ask this to myself), and she is now harassing me, and even worse, turns everything around because in her opinion I’m the one who is acting wrong, because “I’m playing the victim role” which she seems to find funny… But I’m hurt so much (and ashamed the same time, why can’t i overcome this ?)

I pick my friends because of character and their emotional beings… She now told me, friendship means to her “having the same interests”… suddenly she seems only cold to me. I never misjudged a person that badly in my live, she was so kind to me in the beginning, trying to help me get a more social life

I’m completly out of power already, this is now going on for 8 months, i fleed into the last corner and sitting alone in a dark room (literally speaking, I fleed into home office and live completly alone and isolated, and not even this place is now safe from her.) I can’t express in full extend what is currently going on in me, and I’m ashamed because of my weakness. My entire life I tried to be nice to people, without ever looking for my own benefit. And I’m stunned about the current situation, how a person could change in such a way, a complete 180 degree turn.

Unfortunately, I can’t yet move her out of my live (she is a work colleague), I have to deal with her 6 more months. After that, my new life will start, but if it continues this way, my new start will fail because of my emotional situation, and I’m very very in fear that will happen, it will ruin everything I have worked for.

Anyway, enough from my pity… Thanks for that great article, I will read it more often and try to take the suggestions to my heart.

Best regards from germany.
S.

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Rioswim

To “S” in Germany: I read your post shaking my head because I am having the exact same push and pull with a friend. His toxicity suddenly reared its ugly head after he got sick and had to stop working for a year. His mentality changed. His sense of humour changed. All of this changed towards me! He will talk to other people I know and act fine. He will share things with them if asked about it — with me he will not share items . He shuts right down. Mind you, we have been friends for well over 10 years. My feeling is that since we both work for the same company, he will not share much info as to protect us both.but that’s no excuse for why he cannot come over and visit. I got extremely sick a few months ago. I’ve seen him twice since I got sick. He never has the time to come over. He will text and ask a question ,or share something funny.. But that’s very random. It’s sad, and I have tried texting him saying how confused I am but he never responds .just ignores me. I’m heart broken and don’t know why I won’t just cast him off..I guess I want my moment when I tell him how much he has hurt me.but is it worth it? Ill probably never know.

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Science

I am glad that found this article as I was about to suicide because I have been bullying and insulting by toxic people. I am a soft and timid person who have clear boundaries but I am not strong and determined enough to them know all I need is respect. I even started to believe that it was wrong to be kind. Your article has saved my life, this is the answer that I have been searching for. You are a life saver!!!!

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Hey Sigmund

If I could reach through the screen and put my arms around you I would. I want you to know that you are not alone, and the people who are hurting you aren’t the way most people in the world are. There are so many people like you – with kind, loving, beautifully open hearts. I want you to know that. Your kindness is your power. It really is. You and your kindness are not the problem. The problem is the people who are bullying you.

I really understand how toxic people can make it feel as though things won’t ever get better, or as though there are more awful people in the world than those with generous spirits. You need to know that things will definitely get better. The kindness and character of people like you, will always be bigger and will carry more weight in the world than the tiny hearts and tiny minds that would see you broken. You are brave and strong – don’t believe that you aren’t. It is easy to put people down – this is why toxic people are cowards at heart. What takes strength is to refuse to be broken by them. And you have done exactly that. You don’t have to say anything to them and you don’t have to be any different to who you are. Your strength is in you. It is in your kindness and your courage and your fight to keep living. So stay. Please stay. Keep fighting for you, and when you get tired of the fight, come back here and let me and everyone else who has shared their story here help you find the strength. There will come a time – I promise – when you will look at those people who hurt you, and they will mean nothing. Much love and strength to you.

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Pauline

Amazing…I just happened to stumble across this site today, and reading these stories is incredible. It’s just like reading my own. I have grown up with a narcissistic mother, and it seems that no matter where I work, I always seem to draw these toxic people to me. I’m sucked in by their ‘friendship’ and then spat out, and manipulated and I could never understand what I had done to deserve this treatment. Other people that I talk to about it, just tell me they are jealous of me. Jealous of what? I fail to understand this. I currently work in a job share position with a very toxic person. Truth is, I never actually have to see her as we work 7 days on, and then have 7 off. But it is so ridiculous how frustrating it is to work with her. If I put anything in place in our job in my week on, she just changes it. She will not follow up on any work that I leave, but leaves me a huge list to do. She leaves notes on my paperwork about things I have supposedly done wrong, and that she ‘fixed’ but the original is not there to check if it was wrong or not. And she now puts her initials on every bit of paper that she touches and points out to our manager that she has been doing all the work. She has started adding my name to paperwork that ‘guess what’ has mistakes. It is driving me insane, and from reading your article it is never going to change. I can’t discuss anything with her, and the one and only time I sent her an email telling her not to change what I had done on my week on, she went straight to HR, and I got a ‘please explain’ call. Everyone knows what she is like, but nobody will speak to her or take any action. She even complained about my team leader and my manager, and both were called to HR, and she comes up ‘smelling like roses’ Uggggg! The sad part is she is one of the flying monkeys, but she has learnt really well. The most toxic person is on maternity leave, and the other monkey has gone to another department. Thank God for small mercies. Thank you for insight, I will re-read this article again and again, know that I am not alone, and do my best to rise above the scum. Thank you.

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Jeffrey

As soon as i read this article i related to everything, my wife is exactly like this, she brings up arguements from six months ago and uses it against me, she is very insecure, she thinks i have cheated on her and thinks that i have been with all my female friends sexually, which is totally false i have proven to her time and time again that i am not cheating i have never and will never be with my friends,we are married and i love her and only her, she uses every insult she can find when we argue even attacking the fact that im unemployed atm. I have treated her respectfully physicly and emotionally i was there for her when her mother passed and i have been supporting her ever since but no matter what she will find something to argue even if its as simple as not seeing a post on facebook she wrote. I believe she is a very toxic person she wont compromise anything and i am considering divorce because of this, im sick and tired of waking up to her being angry at me for no reason it ruins my whole day and i dread the time i have to speak with her again, i truly love this woman and the way she is acting is making me loose my love for her. Thanks for this article and i will be using these pointers to save my marrige

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Georgie

Your articles on toxic relationships are really thought provoking and interesting.
I have had what I consider to be a toxic friend for over 40 years and I just don’t know how to extricate myself. There are good times (but less and less) and bad times and she thinks I’m at fault. I’ve questioned it so much and know that it can’t be all one-sided.
Over and over in my head I have the conversation with her where I tell her I can’t do this anymore but every time we speak or see each other I chicken out. I don’t want to hurt her or end up having an exhausting fight. She has no children of her own but adores mine. What is someone’s motivation for being the ‘toxic friend’ and how do I know it’s not me?

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Hey Sigmund

Georgie it’s so difficult when you realise that a long-term friendship is bad for you. I really understand that. Toxic behaviour usually comes from the need for control. As for whether or not the problem is with you, the clue will lie in your other relationships and your friend’s other relationships. Are there other problems with other people? Or is it just with you? You may have already read this article, but just in case, this one explains where toxic behaviour comes from and ways to let go without guilt https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/. Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but you deserve to be free] from hurt and confusion .

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Andra

I am coming out of a 2 years relationship…10 years older than me, 3 kids…and me…no kids just with the will, the hope and all the love in this world to build a wonderful family and a grate life with him…My God…I am so happy that I discovered that”toxic people” it’s a known term! I even went to see someone fore therapy, thinking I am loosing it….that it’s only me…but thank God I am awake now!!!!

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DepthTested

Great list.

I have a child with a woman who used pregnancy entrapment to force her way into my life when I decided to leave her behind. The list above has played out over and over throughout my son’s life. Sadly, the drama played out through him because I figured out a long time ago what she was about. It’s difficult to enforce boundaries when doing so deprives a child of the love and attention he deserves, but that’s what I was forced to do time and again. That is, until he himself began working as her active proxy. At that point, on the advice of a psychologist, and to protect my wife (I got married with somebody else) and our son from the toxicity that my other son and his mother brought into our lives, I had had to make the hardest decision of my life and move on.

I did my best to explain to my son (and his therapist…after all, toxic people hurt children too) why I needed to say goodbye until he’s old enough to think for himself. In a few years I hope I can explain more fully the reality behind our relationship, but who knows how much damage his mother has done.

Thanks for such a thorough list. At the very least, it helps bring some clarity to what has been a very sad and confusing experience.

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Hey Sigmund

Sadly, the breakage that toxic parents can cause is profound. Many children find clarity when they get older, particularly when they see for themselves the damage that has come from the toxic parent’s behaviour, both to themselves and to their relationships. I understand how difficult and painful this decision would have been for you. Your reasons were important ones.

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DepthTested

Yes, while the decision is difficult, I know it is the right one. I’m finally dealing with the toxic mix of anger and guilt that has poisoned my life for far too long. I have re-focused on the son I have with my wife, and I am bonding with him in ways I didn’t know were lacking. I’m a much better dad and husband to the family I chose. I also know that I’ll be in a better frame of mind when (if) my other son and I re-establish a relationship.

Thanks again for the list. It’s clear and very usable.

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Mimi

It’s difficult enough as an adult to deal with toxic people but how do I help my teenage son cope with his evil/toxic stepmother? His stepmother is the greatest of all evils. You name it we’ve lived it …assault, child services, restraining order, harassment, manipulation, all at the hands of this insecure person.

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Hey Sigmund

This is so difficult. Keep letting your son know how much you support him and how much he doesn’t deserve to be at the end of anything cruel. This will help him strengthen his boundaries and protect him from taking any toxic behaviour personally, as challenging as that might be. It’s okay to let him know that even with adults, some people have a lot of growing to do. Let him talk about it and download to you as much as he needs to or wants to. Speaking about what he is feeling is important because the very process of talking and using words helps to soothe and make sense of big emotions. Here is an article that might help https://www.heysigmund.com/teaching-kids-how-to-set-boundaries-and-keep-toxic-people-out/. Your son will be okay as long as he has you supporting him, loving him, helping him to make sense of things and pushing back against any toxic negative messages.

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Mimi

Thank you and yes I will continue to do so. As for myself, I feel anxiety knowing that I have to speak and see her. It’s so draining and stressful that I have to prepare myself to communicate a simple message because I know she will blow it up times a million. I say her because she is the one that communicates through his phone. Nothing is ever easy with them and she always must have the last word. This is not effective parenting. My ex is afraid of her and won’t defend our son. I feel hopeless and desperate at times and wish for a miracle. How do I not let her control the way I feel?

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Marcella

What can you do when the toxic person is your mother, its just me and my mom there’s no other family. I’ve been so stressed out by every little thing to the point ive been getting sick, ive tired to explain things to her but its like talking to a wall, she has trapped me to the point I dont know what to do with myself, ive been told maytime to just leave but im not in financially stable to do that, i’m kinda getting to the point where i just feel hopeless.

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Hey Sigmund

Marcella I completely understand how difficult this is for you. Toxic relationships are hard enough but when they are with people who are meant to love you they are so deeply painful. Do what you can to work towards your independence. It will make a profound different to you and your life to be out of the toxic environment. In the meantime, here is an article that might be helpful for you https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/.

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Judy Johnson

There is always 2 sides of the story….I believe all of this “Toxic” people and “Drama” talk is harmful,especially when it comes to relationships between parents and their children,more so with adult children.My two sons,has abandoned me years ago,and believe it or not,I don’t know why…I’m 65 now and no family left,now,besides them,my husband passed 3 yrs. ago……and it’s this new thinking like this that has many families suffering.Even on t.v.and social media,etc.show that family is to be just written off as toxic~!

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Lynn

….. two participants sure AND sometimes there’s one sweetheart and one asshole. The sweetheart just has to walk away and find other true sweethearts.

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Esme

I have a sister in law who likes to cause drama and has literally torn the family apart. She was somehow able to throw the fault on me. She has been like this from day one and after finally realizing it,due to an act that involved my daughter, I spoke up and have now been alienated by her, her spouse and daughter. If they could only see her for what she really is. I had to do this to save our marriage as she was a constant weight. My husband would tolerate her behavior just to keep the peace but we would argue because I could not close my eyes to it any longer. Since then, 2years ago-I no longer have her in my life and I am thankful for that, however she used this as an excuse to stay out of my husbands life as well. I know it’s an act of manipulation so that we bend and give in, which I will not do. I had often thought that I had done wrong but after reading this article-I totally get it! She is toxic- I have a name for her now. I could never fully describe her until now and I totally appreciate you giving me some insight as to how to deal with her and my feelings.

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Hey Sigmund

Esme I wish things could have been different for you. Toxic people will always look for someone else to blame. You have done the right thing by stepping back and letting go. It’s never easy, but sometimes it’s the only way to protect yourself and the people you love.

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Nicole

I have the exact same kind of sister in law. She is the reason I was reading this article, though the point is moot, because after she wrote my husband & I a scathing letter and he asked me not to respond (he aid she was just trying to manipulate and control. She wants to be number 1, always considered 1st, etc) she caused so much drama that their mother then uninvited us to her wedding. We have not spoken to them in years. Because she cannot control any aspect of my husband’s life (as she feels entitled to do) she tries to control what others think about me and about my husband/her brother. I appreciate this article, too. I often think I’d like to respond to her nasty letter, but the article says a lot of what my husband told me & knows….it wouldn’t matter what I say. She is toxic & she will only believe what she wants. She has no control and feels entitled to be the center of concern, so she will do what she can to destroy mutual relationships so she can feel superior.

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Suzanne

I feel the need to print this article out and read it first thing every morning before my feet hit the floor and my brain starts repeating what the toxic person in my life has said about me. So many articles are written about toxic mothers (seriously, do dads ever get blamed for anything??!!), but in my case I’m dealing with a narcissistic adult daughter who has called me evil incarnate and the cause of her 20+ year heroin addiction. But in spite of all the damage she insists I did to her, she willingly relinquished custody of her two daughters to me and her dad, although she likes to keep in touch with them (now teenagers) just often enough to let them know what an awful person I am. Under the circumstances I can’t even consider cutting her out of my life, although it’s a nice fantasy. After her most recent stint in rehab I had high hopes a therapist might have broken through, but she’s back to her manipulative ways already. Whew! Guess I needed to get that off my chest! Anyway, thanks for such a well-written article. It really helps to see it in black and white.

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Hey Sigmund

Suzanne it sounds like you are dealing with some really tough stuff. It’s such a toxic relationship and I completely understand why you can’t walk away. Your granddaughters are so lucky to have you and your husband. I wish your family the love and support you need to keep moving forward.

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Evan

Hey Sigmund,

I really appreciate people like you who take a positive approach to such a dark, evil reality. It’s clear you are a blessing to us all in the way you take time to listen and respond. Thank you. I learned the hard way about the existence of these twisted people.

I am a 49-year-old man. I was devastated by a psychopathic woman I met in 2013. I spoke with her daily, in person, for the first nine months. Then, we (unfortunately) exchanged phone numbers on a whim late that year.

She went to work on me for the next ten months, becoming everything I wanted to see and have in a partner, e.g, non-smoker, frugal saver, no man in her life, giving, trusting, a good mother, etc. It was all an act. She was/is the exact opposite of all these things. I believe she even carried smoke neutralizing spray knowing she’d see me every day.

About two years before meeting her, I had reached a comfortable level of savings that I could now realize a dream of buying a car for a deserving family once I had found the right recipient.

She knew she had her hooks fully in me when she and I realized we had a friend in common. My best friend of the previous 20 years (now a highly respected pharmacist in our community), was her high school chum. The two of them hadn’t spent any time together since they were teens, but, I still took that as an endorsement (a big mistake).

This psychopath even went to a popular annual parade with my own mother to further gain my trust. She attended an NBA playoff game with me, met me at Starbucks, went to eat, etc, and regularly delivered a very plausible “sad story” about her home life each time, (sick kids, can’t meet doctor bills, about to lose job, vehicle, etc.)

She “love-bombed” me constantly. We only went as far as to kiss with a quick peck on the lips (only to keep me “honest” and “fooled”). We texted many times that we love each other. I bought her a $22K car at a dealer which, I found out later, she promptly drove straight home to her eagerly-awaiting husband of 10 years.

She knew exactly what she was doing. Attorneys told me I have no case because it’s not illegal to accept gifts and it’s not illegal to lie.

I have been almost completely numb ever since that fateful day I finally did an internet search in which I noticed, in horror, that she met every bullet point of psychopathy. I’ve popped enough anti-depressants to fill a Mason jar and had only taken so much as an aspirin in the 48 years prior. My life was wonderful until “her”.

They know where I live. I am confident they are BOTH psychopaths and I can’t take the chance they’d not think twice about doing me or my mother serious physical harm if they are exposed.

There has been ZERO contact for the last 18 months since I texted asking for the car back. Of course, she covered all her tracks in our little circle of acquaintances by making the occasional phone call to “check in” and lie as needed.

I am about to move to a new place. I have a strong urge to expose them in the media or similar in order to warn the next victim(s). I have heard this will have the same result as banging my head into a brick wall, however. Any thoughts?

I’ve given it all to God. I have unwavering faith in Him.

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Hey Sigmund

For the sake of your own sanity, it is best if you rule a bold heavy underline and move forward. What this woman did to you was awful – no doubt about it. Whatever you do won’t change the outcome and you won’t change them. As long as you hold on to the wish to expose them, you will have a connection with them and you will be unable to move forward. What’s important is your physical and mental health. You won’t get the money back, but you can get your life back. Let this experience grow you, not defeat you. I know it is a lot of money that you have lost, but nothing is as important as your health. Let the money go, let her go, let your wish to expose her go, and reclaim your health. There will come a point where this will just be an experience, not something that slaps you first thing when you wake up. I wish things could have been different for you. You sound like a warm, wonderful, open-hearted man. Let go of the bad so the good can heal you.

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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.”
-heysigmund.com

Epic Quote.

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Deflated from several toxic people in my life

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

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Sharon

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.

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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.

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Angela

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.

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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.

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Helen

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.

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Sara

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.

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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.

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Chris

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

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K

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.

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Lizzie

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!

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Andrea

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!

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jean

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.

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Vini

I truly agree with what u said.I am in the same shoes.Yes.it 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.

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Samita

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.

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
We're having a sale! For a limited time, books and plushies are 25% off. 

Because sales are the best, and Christmas is the best, and helping kiddos find their brave is the very best of all! So, to celebrate the end of the year (because truly, it's been a year hasn't it), and to help you settle brave hearts for next year, or night times, or separations, or, you know, all the things, we're taking 25% off books and plushies in the Hey Sigmund shop.

There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
* Link in bio.🎄
It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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#heywarrior #parenting #bravekids #anxietyinkids #kidsanxiety #parent #parenthood
Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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