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.

499 Comments

Jude

Thanks for posting this
I actually have an extra toxic uncle who would do everything in his power to make sure other people see u as a bad person

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Rachel

Hi, thank you for this. I really needed this in my life and thank you for taking the time to read this comment.
I grew up with Catholic narcissism parents who controlled eveyaspect of me and showed me failure was not an option. Molded me into always being perfect. I realized as I became an adult that I have freedom. I can choose to be me. Find myself. Something I’ve always struggled with. My heart is vulnerable and generous. My first relationship was a teenager kind. Was young, naive, and didn’t know that I could hurt or be taken advantage of. So I ended the relationship because that person cheated on me. Found out with through an app he was calling a girl cute. Ect. So it was hard enough to leave the relationship because it was almost 4 years together. I ended the relationship gave myself 4 months to try and find myself focus on me. Then I had a friend in college who I knew would go to him and vent my issues from my ex relationship. He always was their to listen and comfort me. Here me out. I told him I was single. He waited. We dated. After 6 months we were engaged. We had great fun times. He made me feel like I could be free and do whatever. However sometimes we had huge arguments over little things like jealousy issues. Both of us. Our communication at the time when I wasn’t aware. Looking back Was not mature or let’s just say we always argued about who had better points we both were smart but we couldn’t just listen to each other when we argued. We would walk away in silence. He would come and try to talk things through we forgave. We were married.
At the time I had no freedom to have any relationship or sexual things with anyone since my parents were strict. They believed in virginity. I sneaked around doing things with him. My parents didn’t approve when we married or were engaged. My father screamed at him. Ignored him. My mother always silenced in her marriage. Doesn’t disagree with my father. He was an alcoholic and abused my siblings. I ran away and moved in with my in laws. My mother in law at the time was super nice to me. Treated me well. I lived their after being married we had not very much money to live on our own at the time. She helped pay for our wedding and my husband at the time paid some..I felt guilty and had to deal with my parents and our drama. So I stayed their thinking everything would go well. We married. All this to say now that I am a mother. I’m working on setting my boundaries with my in laws. I’m afraid of my in law sometimes because I can see she shows aggressive, narcissistic and manipulative behavior. She is judgmental. I don’t know if she is aware because her mother would treat her like that. She always comments or scolds me or my daughter. To her eyes it may seem funny or cute but I don’t see that nice. My mother in law changed when I stood up to my boundaries around her. She doesn’t acknowledge me. When I’m around it’s always about her son or her kids. Took some time away from her. Her grandchild is now all grown. She shows that she misses her but every time we have a nice moment. She says one comment that rubs of rudely or judgmental. I am super stressed because I try and go to my husband and talk things through to try and have him support my views. He sees it like his parents are nice they aren’t wrong. They love the grandchild. However, I don’t like how she is treated around my mother in law. She doesn’t even seem interested in asking me what I would like for respect for the grandchild. I practice Montessori, I’m always practicing gratitude and mindfulness. She is almost the opposite. I get a gut feeling I don’t trust her because of the way she coddled me and scolded me once I became more aware of her actions and how she was manipulating me to get her way in things. I felt guilty for everything she helped me with so I would things for her to make her feel happy. I never valued myself or set boundaries for me. I’ve been controlled all my life. I feel like she took advantage of my innocence at the time. I don’t trust her because of the way she is aggressive with her tone of voice she gets angry quickly. I don’t want that kind of behavior around my child. She is to kind and sweet. I’m happy she says no know. She sets her boundary. My mother in law called my legs fat when I was pregnant. She always criticizes people for conversations. I have struggled explaining this to my husband because he sides with them. He tells me that I have issues with everyone. I’m always finding something to fix or like if I’m on the look out to attack back. I’m only trying to defend my rights and be a better human. I want respect as well. I deserve that. I feel belittle around his family all the time. I see that they are overly critical and they always think their way is the best. It’s scary. I didn’t see this going into this family. I married my husband not his family. I didn’t get to choose the family. I have felt like taking my own life because I don’t feel worthy. I feel like a mistake. The only reason why I am alive is because I’m aware that I’m valued by my daughter. I feel enormous love from her. She needs me as her mother. It would be selfish if I take my life and she doesn’t have a support or mother in her life. Something I didn’t have growing up. I want better for her. I would do anything for her. I don’t know if my husband will ever see my heart. My mind.

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Fatima A

I have an extremely toxic MIL. We have moved out of my in laws house due to husband job transfer and now she is extremely angry. And she blames me for everything. Now we have to visit them and they will come with us to our new place. Em extremely afraid of her and it knocks me out by thinking how i would handle her. please some advice for dealing her.

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Myinlaw

I have a sister in law who is conniving she does very hurtful things then gaslights and turns it on me when I’ve done nothing but to have emotions on her actions toward me it is a cycle if it isn’t me it someone else in our family or hers. I’ve now lost my brother due to her lying deceit and manipulations. It is just so sad to me that someone can be this insecure and evil and not care how badly they hurt someone. I don’t feel empowered but I know I had to shut the door if she didn’t own up to what she has done. I am just over it forever it just feels like a horrible grief in me but I’m afraid of her and what she’ll do to me next. Now she’ll hurt someone else but I just can’t take it anymore.

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Melanie O

At 60 years old, and after being abused mentally, emotionally, and yes, physically by mother I’ve decided to let her go. My own mom. She has spent her entire almost 90 years beating up on first my father, who died young I believe because of her, me, and my younger sister who let our entire family go a few years ago. She has set my twin sister and younger brother on pedestals that I cannot reach, no matter how hard I’ve tried. They are both toxic as well. I have spent hundreds of dollars and hours in therapy. 60 years of heartbreak is more than enough!

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roms

I cannot believe that i’m still living with my toxic mother. She enjoys the drama and she always pin points only what’s wrong and negative. She gets usually irritated and mad most especially if you don’t give her money or at least something for that matter. She would always constantly nag about the past and predicts future without evidence. All i wanted is to live a life of positivity. Her negativity pushes me down at times. I wanted to flee from home but i have my younger niece living with us and i feel pity sometimes when she would get a taste of some of my mom’s tantrums 🙁

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angel c

thank you so much for writing this article, your kindness is really appreciated, thank you. ❤
i’m only 15 and in this complicated world i am just trying to be myself. and it is hard.
but i feel good because i know that at least i am trying. i am not giving in.
i am proud with who i am and i love myself, so so much and i’m not going to let some toxic people that haven’t started healing to take those golden, pure, and beautiful pieces of myself away.

they don’t deserve that.

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Bernadette Y

In our common routine of every day, we met different types of people. Some of that people are toxic and also we face difficulty to face such toxic people. All the ways that you describe in this post are outstanding and by following these ways, we surely deal best with toxic people.

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Gargi B

Thanks. It explained many things which I was trying to figure out. I had and have toxic person in life. With long time misbehavior & mistreatment from that person off lately I feel much less caring towards him and to all my surprise that fellow has starting praising me in all the way. I was trying to figure out why he is doing so ? Now i understood it is just a trap to make me fall in the same situation. Thanks for enlightening. Feeling much better. I will no more lift the boundaries I have set and let myself feel miserable again. Thanks from India.

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francine

What about when the person is your adult child? How do you cut off your child? I feel like I must try until my dying breath to show love and acceptance to my child even though that 40ish-year-old child constantly blames me for ruining the adult child’s life by the life decisions I have made. I stayed married to the child’s father, my only marriage. Child thinks father is worthless and father has given up on any relationship with the child, which disappoints me greatly. We provided more than the basic food, clothing, and shelter. We gave our children lots of enriching activities, sports, clubs, music lessons, plenty of everything. This child’s main complaint is that we moved too much and that his parents are of 2 cultures, which resulted in an identity crisis for the child. I get yelling, blaming, criticism, constant conflict. This adult child has cut me off numerous times for months and more than a year at a time. Without antidepressants, I cannot function. This child gets along with nobody on either side of the family, cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, nobody, but blames everything on everyone else. I am at my wit’s end. I vowed to never give up on this child, but it is draining the life out of me. The child hints at suicide every once in a while. I am terrified. I know my child is in pain but I am also in pain and I can’t fix the child and I can’t stand the verbal attacks. This has been going on for years and years and years.

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Anon

Sounds like codependency. I’ve been there. Sometimes if a person helps too much ..that person u r helping lacks the skills to help herself. I think you need to really ask yourself are you really helping or providing lifetime crutch / excuse to act this way.-You can’t do anything if she is unwilling to accept help. If in her 40s I’m sure she knows what she’s doing. You have your own guilt /issues to deal with and letting her grow up and be accountable is the best thing you can do. Life is messy.
You are not abandoning your child you’re asking your child to grow up. Nothing is perfect. Sorry my opinion and good luck. I could relate.

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Shana

Have you considered going to therapy together, you and your son? It might do a world of good. It might help him understand that no parent is perfect and it might help you understand the source of your son’s pain. If your son has threatened suicide then something is very wrong (and you’re not the one to blame for that)- maybe he has clinical depression or other mental health issue. Even if he won’t go you should go by yourself for support in dealing with what you’re going through. My heart breaks for you.

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Karla

I deeply love my sister how could I not? She’s my blood and I enjoy the times we spend together. But lately she has changed, I don’t know if it has to do with her job, or her boyfriend, or something stressful in her life. But whatever it is, she is taking it on me and our mother. For the past week she will come home and during the whole day she will just yell and complain. To my mother, for misplacing things or not making food for her or demanding her to do things. And also to me, for thinking I touched her stuff or stole something or broke something. I know this is a normal thing to go through when it comes to siblings, however it’s leads to the point where she repetitively does it constantly throughout the day and gets really mad, yelling loud enough that the neighbors can hear. Afterwards she will talk shit on me to my mother, saying hateful words. Saying she wishes I was dead, and that she is happy she is moving out and is never gonna visit me. It used to have an affect me, but it got the the point where she does it everyday and I got annoyed and I didn’t let it get to me anymore. I assumed she was always gonna act this way now and I didn’t wanna be apart of it or deal with it. I plan on keeping my distance away from her. It will be hard to do considering she lives here too and our place is rather small. But I’m tired of her putting me down and making me think everything is always my fault, making me feel like I’m not good enough. I will always love my sister and I wish her the best, but I am done trying to fix my relationship with her.

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Kim

We’re in a similar situation. My sister tried to kill me 2 times with a knife. I know she is depressed somehow. She would just sleep for the entire day, waiting for me to do everything, if there is something she wants she would command me to do so. If I don’t agree she gets angry, like a barabaric woman. She also uses suicide to gain sympathy and agreement but now I don’t want to do it anymore. Life is so good to be thinking of her. If she dies, she dies. I have my life and so she does. My mother would always teach me love and compassion, I am not perfect but it’s time to be selfish.

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Cam

I know this may come across as typical, but I am living with my father as my mother and my uncle live in my grandmother’s house and that house is a very stressful and depressing environment. The environment at my dad’s house is not as bad, but still not far off. My dad isn’t around often, so I basically live with my step mom. My step mom and my mother’s brother (who also lives with my grandmother) are both are very inhospitable. My step mother is always so loving and then she when ever I trust her and talk to her, she only exploits what I said and uses it against me, on top of that she tells everyone that I’m a lier and gives me no privacy. She forces me into conflicts, and I can’t avoid them as she conners me I yells at me for ages. My room has no key, and I’m not allowed to leave the house without saying where I’m going, I also have a strict curfew. I’m 18 and 2021 will be my matric year, but i can’t live at my grandmother’s house because it’s a worse environment and they can’t afford to take me to school. My father is the bread winner and a very level headed person. His job is high stress and so I have never told him of my problems with living with his wife (my stepmother), until recently when she tried to kick me out, I called him. But he thought I was exaggerating. I convinced my stepmother to not kick me out, and I’m still living here. I can’t live like this anymore, the only option I can think of is too go to boarding school, which my school may or may not have a space for me. I hope you can give me some advice.

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Mokgadi

I guess she has her reasons for acting in that manner. Sometimes other family members swallow too much to an extent were when they burst out of angry all things points to her. U might find ur saying she’s putting u down and u find that your also having other issues with her or u lack understanding. Some family members do push others buttons looking for someone to blame at the end. Some people leave together in a small place but still manage to tolerate each other. But where some people sits and discuss one member of the family in his or her absence it normally causes conflicts.. peace of advice if ur letting go make sure its permanent and make sure u will never need anything from ur sister. I believe when u walk out on someone u completely cut ties.

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Shelly j

Okay, so I am just now dealing with someone toxic/problematic and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I have asked many others for advice on what to do but no one has given me very good advice so here I am. I have a girlfriend, we have been together for almost 3 years and I’m honestly so in love. The mother and I in the past did not get along because she was very rude to me. (As for saying or doing rude things) We have just now situated everything and have put our differences aside which finally led to us creating a new and better bond. Now comes in the soon to be step sister. So I noticed my girlfriends step sister talks about me A LOT and not in a very positive way either. She says things to her mom to make me look like a bad person when the mother and I have already talked everything out. I guess I have accepted the fact that she will continue to talk badly about me to my girlfriends mom but I’m not the happiest about it. I’m not sure what to do. She brings up old problems between the mom and I and I’m pretty sure she twist everything up to make it sound even worse. I noticed that she only looks on my socials when I am doing something as for having a good time with family, friends, etc. or even just posting pictures of myself. When I met her the first two times she didn’t talk to me and gave me weird looks as if she was intimidated by me. So my question is how do I deal with her? Is she just invested in my life just to try and target me? Could it be a way for her to try and get closer to my girlfriends mom? Does she feel intimidated by me? She’s very toxic/problematic and still continues to be. I’m worried she will ruin the relationship I’m finally building with the mother again. I have blocked the step sister on Instagram, unfriended on Facebook and Snapchat, as well as took her off everything I had her on. Is that childish as well, or do I allow her to look at my socials and seem unbothered by her presences? I usually am unbothered by others, I know my worth and where I stand as a strong independent individual but the fact that she causing problems between the mother and I has me tossing and turning. That’s my girlfriends mom. Please help.

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George

I have a very toxic brother who lives with my mother. My mother unfortunately wants to stay with him and help him change (even though she has to put up with emotional abuse every day), therefore he has a huge leverage over me.

I have cut my ties with my brother, however I continue to support them financially. If I stop, that will affect my mother (even though he gets 90% of whatever I give)

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MM

Amazing article . I am dealing with toxic sibling and narcissistic mother. Even I can see things in social life, it is still so difficult to deal with tricky, manipulative, guilt tripping sibling and mother. They suck up my energy. I believe, this article will help me a lot.Thank you

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Hana

This is exactly how my 18-year-old twin sister is! She’s always been degrading me since as long as I can remember and now even brings up old flaws I used to have and trying to fix just to push my buttons. She’s stolen from me, taken friends from me, and never leaves me alone whenever I have to vent about something. This morning she literally disrespected me by throwing dirty laundry in my face and never stopped yelling at me until she got the last word in! I want to cut her out of my life so bad but I can’t move out anywhere so she’s always there.

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Andrea

I have a very toxic sister who always plays victim. She munipulates everyone in the house and always wants to feel as thou she has a sense of power and control. You can’t tell her what to do, you can’t try to correct her. She will piss you off so much… Like I even Googled how to break off spiritual cords that bind people together. I am honestly fed up and now reading this article I feel like now I have a voice. We stay in the same house so I can’t completely cut her off from my like, but I want to end whatever relationship we have. She always brings back bad memories of events I had done in the past that I am obviously not proud of and then when we speak it through I think everything is fine then out of nowhere at all she mentions my past again. I am tired, I feel drained, your article helped me reconnect with myself, but I really want to completely cut off any ties binding us.

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Charlotte

Thank you! We are all here searching for this exact advice. We all know inside Something is very wrong but it’s so twisted when you think you are doing the “right thing” You end up wasting your time energy true self catering to these people. Usually family! It’s not worth it- but it’s so hard to come to terms or break free. I see this with the triangulation between my mother and younger sister.. my family ideal is not the family I had once imagined or wanted and that is a hard pill to swallow. As someone else commented when you repeat and grow you know in your soul that you cannot continue. For me, it’s the constant rewriting of my childhood (by 7 years younger sister??) saying I was bad or mean and I was not. Erasing all the good support and loyalty I gave her.. projecting All the away into adulthood until this idea becomes real. making fun of belittling… Making it sound like a joke being called overly sensitive. But in the end she is just mirroring who she really is onto me. Slander my name to anyone who likes me. Go ahead but I really had a problem when I became a mother. no one showed up for Me or my daughter (2years old now) I showed up was excited wanted to see my nieces! This time was not celebrated and felt extremely lonely and confusing For me. This Is when I said enough when I finally woke up- but I got angry and loud and that backfires! It will never go both ways. My sister is getting married again.. after lies and affair but spun it into her being a victim and erased And slandered her Now ex (He is a good man as well). so the question is after she accused me of not being there for her during her separation (unaware) and ruining her 1st wedding (what!!) and making it about me— Never who does that?! (Well these toxic people Do actually haha they need a LOT or ALL of the attention. I celebrate people especially family! After several hateful slanderous lies she couldn’t help scream at me..That really awakened what she thinks of me and for her whole life! I need to decide if I should go. It’s during Covid so her original wedding date postponed till next year. She is only allowed 10 people including bride and groom. Why even invite me if I ruin all happy occasions? But she loves to be center of attention and I Am damned if I do or if I don’t Go. Imagine me not going like a trap to take the blame..I always attend These things and they don’t show up for me. I take the high road and am depleted With this method. I do not want to go after the things I was accused of however I get punished By my mother and look bad (Which I admit I care about) if I don’t go. And I don’t want to ruin things for my daughter. Now I have to go as the woman Who she speaks ill of To her New husbands family and sit quietly in the corner So I don’t get accused of any attention seeking. Not who I am at all.. but this article says that It is actually powerful! A way to control the toxic behavior. So thank you!! These Toxic people know nice good people and target them because they are not naturally this way. They feel powerful And want to control you but we know where the power lies- inside. Good luck be free!

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Dru

So glad I came across this! I am currently dealing with a very toxic household. All three adults are alcoholics and act like children, very childish and ignorant they always talk about me behind my back or start whispering when I walk away but want to smile in my face or if I tell one person something about my day or just something silly they feel the need to discuss it in a group or hell even talk about each other to me which I find funny. I did good for about two weeks putting up with it and finally snapped which I somewhat regret but there’s things that needed to be said and I feel like the only way I can get my point across is through aggression because they don’t listen to anything I have to say. Once I move out none of them have any business contacting me at all not to say “hello” nothing. I’m all I got.

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syeda zahra

I have a bitch ass older sister she always accuses me of doing stuff I did not do and she always makes me feel bad all the time since she did a big accident of mines I have stopped caring about anyone and don’t even cry on the biggest things like deaths of a family member today she said I was two-faced and I kiss up my friend’s asses but I am not two-faced I am always rude at home and at school I talk to my mom siblings and friends like they are some pieces of shit since I stopped caring about anyone anymore I know my family doesn’t like me cause I am adopted my parents died in a plane crash when going to Russia and they had left me with my aunt when they left but my aunt did not like me so she put me in an orphanage when she heard that my parents died I was their only child and I was only 6 back then 2 years later my current family adopted me and I became their 3rd child I was 8 back then now I am 13 I don’t know what to do she got me in a severe truck crash when I was 11 I was in a coma after surgery for 3 and a half months in this family no one likes me my mom treats me like a servant and makes me work all the time while my sisters torment me I fell horrible that while I am writing this I want to cry and yell but I can’t I hope you will tell me some ways to live a good life even when they are here to destroy it

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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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EO

This describes my mother to a T. She uses control and manipulation and flat out lies to bring my self-worth down. Anything that goes wrong in the house she blames me. She turns my siblings and other relatives against me in the drop of a hat (they come back of course because I help them financially). I give her so much money and care and she will tell others that I do nothing for her. I got her out of foreclosure, helped her cousin with lawyer fees, helped manage my dad’s burial yet she will tell people that I do nothing for her. Since I got engaged it has heightened her sneakiness, her turning people against me, telling people my secrets, and trying to control every aspect of my life. I am using the Grey Rock method and although it is working I still need to heal from her trauma.

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Meer A

Credits to the person who wrote this article because YOU made me realize that I can and should live my life in PEACE.

Answering to the quote: “Personal power is everything to do with what you believe and nothing to do with what they think”. After reading this, and all the other 16 points, everything started to make sense that we can never ever please or change a toxic person.

I am dealing with a very toxic Mama In-law who drains my brain every single time I think about her. Sometimes I ask myself if it is really worth trying to please her? She’s almost 60 and I’m guessing that’s the peak age to when they start the immaturity phase (again)

My husband and I are living a happy life together, but I noticed most of our arguments is about his Mum. As a wife, I always open up to him on how I feel towards her. Making him notice how I’m being ignored by her whenever we visit. How she favors her other daughter in-law in-front of me. What I don’t understand is, an incident happened once where my co-sis in law raised her voice at my mum-in law. From what I see, she always disrespects her and yet, she still seems to be the favorite one? This may sound like I’m trying to compare and compete with her, but I’m not. It just pricks my heart when I think about the good things I did to her, and this is how I’m being repaid.

I know my husband is sick and tired of hearing my repetitive complaints, and I just don’t know what to do anymore. He always tells me not to expect anything in return, but also tells me to continue being the “sweet woman” he married.

I just had to let it out here. To whoever reads this and relates, please feel free to suggest more things on what I should and should not do.

Thanks x

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Annette

Greetings, It’s Mother’s Day in the midst of COVID-19, and I “somehow” found myself reading your post. I want to thank you for a truly enlightening article. Sometimes due to our upbringing (unloving mother’s/parents, possibly along with other psychological traits), we unconsciously find ourselves drawn to certain mates or friendships that are either emotionally empty or toxic. Don’t want to relay my experiences here, but only thank you…your article no doubt has offered me a level of understandIng and comfort, as well as how to see ourselves and recognize behaviors to hopefully prevent it. I believe others will benefit from the insights provided.

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Nathan

Yes I have some uncles and auntie’s they are nuts they talk bad about everyone! I think they have too much spare times or stay idle. They really have bad behaviour and bad attitude I mean no respect for family members and friends. How to deal with it? I would say just ignore them as much as possible. If they have parties or dinner invitation best is to skip them not attending these stupid people ! It is just worst if you spoke to them because they are a total nuts or insanity! People sometimes don’t understand the important of humankind and they always make mistake and never change. This is call stubbornness!

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Angelique L

This year, I had to confront the fact that:

A. My deceased mother’s family was super-toxic and
emotionally abusive; and
B. It was time to divorce myself from them and permanently
cut them off.

I have decided that toxic family members should be viewed as CANCERS that should be surgically excised from the body. Just as cancers never stop growing until they kill the host, evil family members will continually damage others around them, overwhelming good people with their constant malice and spite, until they permanently DAMAGE them also! It is always best to KILL THE CANCER AT ITS EARLIEST STAGE, TO STOP
ITS SPREAD and LIMIT THE EXTENT OF DAMAGE.

I shall briefly share my story, in the hope that others facing
similar crises shall gain the courage to CUT THE CANCER
OF FAMILY TOXICITY OUT OF THEIR LIVES.

Some background to the story–

My deceased mother–the second of nine siblings–passed away
several years ago. (She was pre-deceased by one brother, and
another brother passed away the year after her death.) All of her
siblings–with the exception of one who had medical issues–attended her funeral in my hometown. Two first cousins attended
also. My mother’s youngest sister sang a song that my mother
had requested to be performed at her funeral.

1. This year, this same aunt called on a Monday to inform me that the oldest sibling, her sister, had been placed in hospice. She also gave me the daughter’s phone number; and further stated that I need not call her as she would “keep me informed.”

2. I called the daughter the same day, who relayed the same
information that her mother was in hospice.

3. I naively believed that my aunt would “keep me informed,”
so I assumed that the dying aunt was still alive. I heard nothing
else that week.

4. On Saturday night of the same week, I saw a Facebook notification on my phone. I followed the link, and was startled
to find a tribute to the DECEASED AUNT! I immediately
did a Google search using my aunt’s name, only to discover
her OBITUARY; my aunt had died that Tuesday, the day
AFTER I had been informed she had entered hospice. The
obituary notice contained the day of death and all funeral
arrangements.

5. The funeral, interment and repast had ALREADY occurred
on the Saturday that I discovered the Facebook tribute.

6. I immediately called three relatives that Saturday night–no
one picked up the phone.

I concluded that, since NO RELATIVE had informed us of my
aunt’s passing–by phone, text or email–that ENTIRE WEEK, this was a DELIBERATE act, designed to keep all of us away from my aunt’s funeral.

I decided that Saturday night that I would NEVER contact
or communicate with any of my mother’s family again.Our family had been cut off, and discarded by my mother’s relatives as
yesterday’s trash. We had no opportunity to send any kind of
tribute or attend the funeral. NO SIBLING OR FIRST COUSIN, including the daughter of the deceased aunt, ever informed us
that week that my aunt had passed. However, I now had
CLOSURE. I knew when my aunt passed, and I knew the
last rites had been held.

7. Five days AFTER the funeral/burial, the aunt who had
called me the previous Monday called my cell phone. I was on the phone with another person, and so did not respond to this
call. No message was left in voicemail. I did not return the call.

8. A few days after that, one uncle called and left a message,
asking me what I thought of the coronavirus outbreak. No
mention was made of the deceased aunt. I did not return this
call.

8. He has since called several times, and has never mentioned the
passing of his sister. Another aunt called the house a MONTH
after the funeral, stating they were “reaching out.” Again, there was no mention of the deceased aunt’s passing. I did not respond
to these phone calls, or return them.

9. A full TWO MONTHS AFTER my aunt’s decease, her daughter sent me the funeral bulletin from the service. Inside the envelope was one of those “thank you for supporting our family at this difficult time” note cards. In this card, my cousin had written: “I’m sorry I did not inform you about Mom’s passing.”
No reason was given WHY we were not informed. The
funeral bulletin made NO MENTION of the pre-deceased
siblings of my aunt, including my deceased mother.

This confirmed to me that my original conclusion was correct.
All the siblings and cousins had:

A. Chosen NOT to inform any of us of my aunt’s decease;
B. Chosen NOT to inform us of the obituary;
C. Chosen NOT to inform us of the funeral;
D. Chosen NOT to communicate with us during that entire
week, after we were told the aunt was in hospice.

10. I realized that these behaviors were a harbinger of things to come; and will be repeated with the future decease of the other siblings.

If an entire family can and does CHOOSE NOT TO INFORM YOU of the death of the oldest sibling–your family has, in fact,
BEEN CUT OFF AND TREATED AS IF IT DID NOT EXIST.

Therefore, I concluded that further communication with my
mother’s family was pointless. There is no relationship to
salvage; therefore, the divorce from my mother’s family
is PERMANENT. If you do not show up to be abused,
you shall NEVER be abused again.

MORAL OF THE STORY–Cut the cancer OFF and OUT
of your family; enjoy the rest of your life!

Reply
Luchi

Hello…

This article was really insightful and I’ll really like to share my experience in my family…
My Mom is toxic and I’ll take that to be because she is in a very toxic marriage, my dad has little or no regards for her or for any of us in general… he’s apt to cursing on you and buttressing on your failures. Well, this is just a background story, my main issue is with my elder sister… she says the worst things about me, cling around people who have issues with me at the moment just so she can aggravate the whole situation, create problems out of nothing most likely to deter me from using something of hers that she knows could be of help to me…

She verbally tells me she doesn’t like me and doubts that I’m her sister… She threatens to beat me up so I can shut up whenever she is rude and trying to put me down… I’m not going to deny that I stand for myself whenever I’m being put down like that… this makes her believe I am rude and disrespectful.

Two days ago we got physical. She tried to shut me up when I was saying something that had nothing to do with her and then started threatening to hit me… I then again stood up for myself and told her that the day she hits me I’ll stop considering her my sister… that triggered her she said “what will you do”? and then she kicked me very hard that I got bruised and help me on my neck and then pushed me thereafter. I got so furious that I smashed a vase… my brother stepped in and confronted her and then told me to leave the room.
I kept on looking at the vase I broke, and I couldn’t believe that I had done that. I am becoming just like her! I am nowhere close to being a violent person nobody ever gets me to that point… it never happens.

Well, I’m looking for help and I found this article and read about other people’s experiences…

I am not toxic and I don’t want to ever be! Whatever words you have to tell me will really help!
Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Dr. Gayathri

This article is so wonderful and the one who came with this must be more amazing. I had very toxic mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I got so much wounded because of them. It was all for 3 months and it did not last for long because I shifted away from them and stopped any contact though my husband would regularly visit them and take care of the things he need to. I made sure I would never go back to them. I was being so kind inspite of there cruel deeds I went so low to try to make my marriage work with my in laws and family, all I thought was about my husband’s family and future and when I learnt that they do not even love their son that is my husband they wish him negative things I decided there is nothing for me to deal with this family. I understood they will never change because nothing about them was true its complete drama and they are faking their full life. So I left the place for good though I am not completely healed I feed proud of myself for taking a strong decision about leaving that home and letting those toxic beings out of life.

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Joy

Good points. Just one more very important standalone point I would like to add as a last resort :

There would be situations when the wisest thing to do is to cut them (& all the toxicity they bring) off completely from your life – if after much attempts of making peace, you still find yourself so obsessed by their drama to a point that it affects your own mental and physical health. Stop the abuse.

Reply
penny g

Yes, this is one of the best articles I have read about toxic individuals and I have read a lot of them. I think the term “toxic” sounds better then narcissist or socio path, to begin with. I have always felt that labeling an individual or diagnosing their problem, no matter how close you are to them is not right. I dont believe it’s easy for a doctor to do so to hear people do that is a bit much and always makes me question their validity at best.
I realize theirs a list of behaviors that make someone toxic. Everyone is different though
I am very much love the man who made my life miserable. After 10 years however, I’m seeing that I’m not in love after all the crap I’ve been through. I guess enough is finally enough for all of us. You never know when that is until it just is.

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JJ

Great article…succinct and supportive. I’m over 65 dealing with a clingy older sister that’s really angry about life…and so am I (very dysfunctional childhood with a lot of loss, molestation and weekly abuses). My input here is to say that this junk can follow you straight to your deathbed unless you decide to proactively wrangle these ‘monsters’ (memories, toxic relationships that you think you can control, etc) to a place where you FEEL the separation from these individuals. Every little separation has a sensation of freedom that’s very is refreshing…and you won’t miss it. Also, every little step you take (per the suggestions in the article, as they happen for you) is a step toward that freedom. Family dysfunction runs very deep in emotions and over past decades, so give it time; it will NOT be something you can do in a short period of time.

Reply
carol

Hi JJ, your story sounds like mine. Grew up with childhood molestation, and lots of family dysfunction that has lingered for years. I’m dealing with a very damaged and toxic sister who also drinks more than she should; which triggers her toxic behavior. She’s 61. I’m trying to cut off the communication with her, hopefully to redraw boundaries, but I know now the only way to do this, is to cut off communication for months, if not a couple of years. It’s really hard to explain the behavior of a toxic personality, but sounds like you know it well. But I agree, all you can do is walk away from a toxic person. They don’t ever change.

Reply
Sheyi A

Am passing through thesame situation,living with a toxic sister,transferinf her anger to me,making me feel as if am the cause of all her problem,am still living with her,i always live in fear because she can just tranfer her negative energy at anytime,she always make me feel less and without her my life is over,i overwork myself everyday just to please her but she always see it as if is her right,i always feel drained, am hoping that one day God will help me so that i can be far away to avoid her negativity,i wish i had the ability to see the future, i won’t have stayed with her,she was acting like an angel when i first visited her house, she started begging me to stay with her,the way she was begging me,i will feel wicked if i had said no to her,now that am staying she’s now showing me her true colour,i feel like my soul is being trapped,all the examples given in this article,says everything about her,gush you need to see what am saying.

Reply
Joy

Hi Jacqueline, I am sorry to hear your story, my situation has been similar for many years. I am only now understanding that my family may choose to judge me, but that is because they don’t know me and will never take the time to actually get to know me. It is ok to have your own life. It may take time for you to be strong enough for their judgement not to hurt you, but remind yourself of all your good qualities and spend less time in contact with them if communicating with them upsets you. Set good boundaries with them, its ok to say no, not to take their call, not to visit, or tell them you would rather not talk about whatever it is they bring up that upsets you. Keep reminding yourself you are good and meet people that have nothing to do with them so you can have new conversations and interests. You deserve a life and life to the full. You don’t have to prove anything to them – just be yourself, live your life, and distance yourself from them if they upset you. Hope this helps a little.

Reply
Carol

Well said. I’m practicing what you said about trying to set new boundaries and it’s ok to not take their calls, etc. In my case I’m not allowing text messages or emails to come thru.

Reply

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The point of any ‘discipline’ is to teach, not to punish. (‘Disciple’ means student, follower, learner.)

Children don’t learn through punishment. They comply through punishment, but the mechanism is control and fear. 

The problem with this, is that the goal becomes avoiding us when things go wrong, rather than seeking us out. We can’t influence them if we’ve taught them to keep their messes hidden from us. 

We can’t guide our kiddos if they aren’t open to us, and they won’t be open to us if they are scared of what we will do. 

We all have an instinctive need to stay relationally safe. This means feeling free from rejection, shame, humiliation. The problem with traditional discipline is that it rejects and judges the child, rather than the behaviour. 

Hold them close, reject their behaviour. 

This makes it more likely that they will turn toward us instead of away from us. It opens the way for us to guide, lead, teach. It makes it safe for them to turn and face what’s happened so they can learn what they might do differently in the future.

Rather than, ‘How do I scare them out of bad behaviour?’ try, ‘How do I help them to do better next time?’ 

Is the way you respond to their messy decisions or behaviour more likely to drive them away from you in critical times or towards you? Let it be towards you.

This doesn’t mean giving a free pass on big behaviour. It means rather than leading through fear and shame, we lead through connection, conversation and education. 

The ‘consequence’ for big behaviour shouldn’t be punishment to make them feel bad, but the repairing of any damage so they can feel the good in who they are. It’s the conversation with you where they turn and face their behaviour. This will always be easier when they feel you loving them, and embracing who they are, even when you reject what they do.♥️
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#parent #parents #mindfulparenting #gentleparenting
Kununurra I’m so excited to be with you tonight. I’ll be giving you super practical ways to strengthen your kiddos and teens against all sorts and all levels of anxiety - big anxiety, little anxiety, anxiety about school, separation, trying new things - all of it. You’ll walk away with things you can do tonight - and I can’t wait! Afterwards we’ll have time for a chat where we can dive into your questions (my favourite part). This is a free event organised by the Parenting Connection WA (I love this organisation so much!). The link for tickets is in my story♥️
Hello Broome! Can’t wait to see you tonight. Tickets still available. The link is in my story. 

Thank you Parenting Connection WA for bringing me here and for the incredible work you do to support and strengthen families.♥️
What a weekend! Thank you Sydney for your open hearts, minds and arms this weekend at @resilientkidsconference. Your energy and warmth were everything.♥️
I LOVE being able to work with early childhood centres and schools. The most meaningful, enduring moments of growth and healing happen on those everyday moments kids have with their everyday adults - parents, carers, teachers. It takes a village doesn’t it.♥️

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