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.


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.


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)


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


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.


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.


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!


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.

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

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 .????


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.

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


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.


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!

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

I shall briefly share my story, in the hope that others facing
similar crises shall gain the courage to CUT THE CANCER

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

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

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,

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!



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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


MY fiancé and I just got done fighting about what my sister in-law did to me a year ago. She was getting married and she didn’t want me to come to her wedding because she didn’t want a “stranger” to her wedding although her brother and I have been living together. She lied to me saying they were only inviting immediate families and no friends. My fiancé didn’t want to go but I forced him to go because he told me deep down he wanted to go hurt so he won’t be bombarded by guilt his sisters would throw at him in the future. So he went. When he got there, he saw lotsss of empty seats and children and friends of the groom. He was livid! He was grumpy the entire time and the sister made a comment about why show up if you’re going to be grumpy. Anyways, here we are 2020 and my fiancé still communicate with them knowing it hurts my feelings. It makes me angry because she never apologize because according to her she was not in the wrong. And everyone we ask, they always say that was the nastiest thing to do. And they won’t even do that to a co-worker or a stranger even. My question is, should I stop expecting an apology and move on, even when my fiancé is now going back to normalcy with his relationship with her? How can I ignore that fact that every time he does this, it’s an insult and a slap on my face? Please help.


Gigi, I hope I’m not to late to help. I’m 68 y.o. It took me until 4 years ago to figure out marriage and committed relationships are almost never going to last. Esp. when you have something going on like you do. You’re feeling disrespected and you’re becoming resentful because of it. In my experience, resentment is a destroyer of love.
I would move on and find someone who understands where you’re coming from.

Tracy R

I feel your pain, girl. Have been dealing with a similar situation with my sis in law. I have been married to my husband 38years this year. He has 3 sisters. 2 of which are loves. The 3rd however, has been hateful from the start. I have watched her (and been part of) her mistreatment of others for all of that time. And everyone else just wants to excuse her hurtful behavior (that’s just how she is) and because of this. She continues to behave badly, knowing she will face no retribution. Just gets her way. Bc no one wants to cause more drama. Finally after her latest “stunt”, we have cut them out of our lives deciding our relationship is more important than her own obvious issues, which are not going to change. It is difficult in our family setting as we do not want this issue to effect our relationships with the rest of the family. It’s sad, really. After almost 40 years its been like a death to me really and I’ve been grieving for the relationship I THOUGHT we had built with each other, albeit having been difficult and strained throughout the years. Think carefully about marrying into a family with this kind of relationship, because it will not change, and you may find yourself with little or no support from other family members. You will need to fortify yourself and protect your mental health, as your fiance seems to not want to “man up” and let his sister know, in no uncertain terms that her treatment of you is UNACCEPTABLE, and as your love partner, he will not tolerate it, now OR IN THE FUTURE. Nip it in the bud now, so it will not become an ongoing problem. Just know you are not alone and others really DO face these issues, as well. Good luck to you.

deborah d

Hi my son and his wife moved in with my hubby and i 5 years ago. his wife is bipoler and i think toxic to. we are supposed to keep her happy and not do anything to upset her. in the begining i could let it all go but i can,t anymore. My hubby has cancer i dealing with that right now there here to help but its one fight after another. my hubby is 82 years old he said i just want to live what time i have left. Daughter in law goes in to fits of rage wich i used to let roll off my shoulders but its getting hard to do that. there are things my hubby and i can,t do any more around the house so my son is here to do them. he used to do a lot around here even cook now he does not want to do anything she does nothing but home school my 16 teen year old granddaughter. she use to help a lot. i try to get through it day by day. this is very hard to get out. until i read this i thought it was me but its not all me. My son does not see it that way. its me never her. My granddaughter needs ink for printer and she told me she cancil it so i sign up for it and she and my son got mad at me. i did what i thought was right my granddaughter needs ink to print school work. My son came down on me wife can do know wrong i guess. when i read this paper my eyes opened. I printed it and i will read it againand again. Right now i have to be strong for my Hubby he needs me.

Jaqueline d

Hey guys!sometimes being with some family members is really discouraging,am passing through psychological torture ,my family members are giving me a hard time.i lost my precious dad some few months ago and since then everything has changed ,my external family members,keeps on bringing up different stories up about me.i have an aunt who has been pretending that she loves me whereas she says terrible and annoying lies about me,am confuse right now I have thoughts of killing myself ,I hate my family members I feel like they hate me and I don’t like them either,I pray I make it in life and prove to them that am not worthless


The shift I think I has to change within you and how you view yourself. I know this because I have suffered and struggled with the exact same problem my whole life. I have been in the exact same shoes as you and I still deal with it, the only thing that changed is how I allow these people to make me feel now… I don’t. I couldn’t understand why I felt so worthless when all I do is kind and caring things. The problem was that I constantly seek validation from toxic selfish family members that benefited more from putting me down so I could feel low enough about myself to want to please them 24/7. That was the problem. As the kind logical person that you are, you simply can’t expect these toxic people to see how much you are worth .. because the truth is they most definitely already do. which is why they feel so threatened by you that they can’t ever compliment you, they have to put you down to feel better about their horrible selves and so you won’t think as horribly about THEM. YOU CAN’T LET THEM WIN. I have strived to prove to my family my entire life when all they have done is talk bad about me. Even with my many successes and accomplishments that far exceeded theirs, I never got the validation I desperately craved. I’m realizing that I never will and now I simply don’t care for it because they are toxic people and it’s just not in them. Please do not harm yourself in the hopes that they will finally care for you because then they win, when they shouldn’t. We can’t let toxic manipulative family members win, it’s simply not fair to you or society. PLEASE stay strong and find your worth from within. Seek good people in your life and surround yourself with people that don’t find you a threat and see your worth already, without you having to convince them.

John B

Dear Jacqueline d,
Never think that you are worthless. Also, you have absolutely nothing to prove to any of your family. I spent a decade dealing with two toxic “friends” who put me down and belittled me constantly. It is hard dealing with that. I finally came to realize that I don’t owe them anything. Don’t let your toxic family make you a victim. It will be hard because you have spent your entire life being involved with them but you need to remove them from your life. Focus on yourself. This is a rough time for you – you just lost your Dad. You need time to process this. If you aren’t living at home, don’t visit the relatives you don’t like. If you are living at home, try to avoid the ones who put you down.
Always remember, you are worthwhile. People are putting you down in order to make themselves feel better – they aren’t worth the time to worry about. You don’t have to fix their lives and you are responsible for your own mental health first.


This is a great article.Yes.I have found that truly toxic people,often engage in s vicious smear campaign.Whenever you see someone being viciously smeared,ask questions inside of yourself.Did the person being smeared stand up for themselves? Yes.That is why they’re being smeared.You can honestly say,”what are you going to do,to fix it? Be prepared for more wining about how they are the victim,that they are good and the person being smeared is bad,nasty,etc.Do your homework,maybe she left him,and went elsewhere, because he tried to kill her and is now trying to cover the tracks,by smearing her….
Also, the truly toxic person,will never ever take responsibility.The one who talks more ,with hate and bitterness,is the toxic one.They play victim.


Dear you are special. I hope you find inner peace and love and find a way to enjoy your life and not let those petty people get to you.

G man

I pray for you too, friend! Keep up the good work you are strong and completely whole just as you are

Angelique L

I am sorry you lost your beloved Dad and are dealing with toxic family members. My advice is:

1. Take all the time you need to mourn your dear father’s death.
Enjoy all the GOOD memories you have about him and your
time with him when he was alive.

You deserve time to mourn and express your grief.

3. Treat yourself to a “vacation” from your family.
DO NOT RESPOND to ANY communication from them–
by phone, text or email. Give yourself some needed SPACE
and QUIET TIME AWAY from toxic family members.
This gives you the opportunity to rebuild your self-esteem
and inner strength, without people tearing you down.

4. Remember that you are under NO OBLIGATION to be
around, or listen to, people who do not care about your feelings!
FAMILY, you re-affirm your own RIGHT TO BE TREATED
WITH KINDNESS, especially at a time of SORROW.

MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD. Do you have a favorite hobby
or a place to visit that you enjoy? Now is a good time to
return to a place you enjoyed with your Dad, or return to
an activity you enjoyed before his passing.

6. Consider taking a class or learning a new skill. Maybe you
always wanted to study a new language; learn how to play
an instrument you always wanted to play; or meeting some
goal of physical fitness, like learning how to swim the
backstroke or taking up fencing or archery. THE TIME YOU

7. Finally, remember that GOD LOVES YOU and He did not
intend for ANYONE to sit around to be battered by toxic
family! Your toxic family CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be
allowed to destroy your life! If you take the time to mourn
your Dad’s passing and relive the GOOD memories you have,
you can also ENJOY your new life and ENJOY all the good
things you can do NOW. Have a BLESSED LIFE!

DIANA Laster

After my mom died my half brother’s true feelings came out. We have same mom. I knew he did not like me, but he played it cool until my mom and dad died. He is needy and a coward too. He has tried to bully me in the past as well, Him and my aunt team up against me. I am 65. I blocked both their numbers and never see them. My aunt says cutting remarks to me. It is not you. Be positive About YOU. Do not need or want ANYTHING from them. Hold a position of power because they are toxic and you have to rid yourself of their poison or you will suffer from it, I tried getting their approval but it never worked. I now believe in me and do not need anyone’s approval. Cut those cancers out of your life, and see how you feel then. I feel great!! They are gone!!Don’t let others treat you that way either. Do whatever it takes to cut them out of your life. You will feel wonderful afterwards.


Dear Jacqueline.
Please do not harm yourself. I NEVER write on things like this, but I want you to know that the world is a beautiful place. Avoid cynicism. And realize that people build themselves up by running others down. Anyone is capable of doing a negative critique. Most people fall into doing that very easily. Give thanks and gratitude. Do all you can to find the good in nature, art (music and physical–paintings, architecture, dance, etc.), and other people. If it’s not there, move on to where you do find it. Do no harm- to others, or yourself. Love to you! And comfort for the loss of your father. I’m sure he thought you were precious!


My daughter is in a toxic relationship that has ruined our household as he is staying with us. She has gone from a loving happy well groomed girl to a fat uncepet person that is always tired and not willing to talk. I am a stranger in my own house due to him with no friends or family visiting because he has burned all form of decency and respect towards any one. He listens to my conversations then twists it around and jab my daughter to the point that I am told to please be in my room when they or he wants to be in the kitchen or bathroom so he does not have to face me, in the meantime I am footing all the bills in the house and I live of a pension and he works for himself and earns well. Cannot deal with this anymore.But thankyou I now understand him.


Oh my… both need to get evicted, immediately. As in yesterday. Things will only worsen. It is YOUR home… not theirs. What is with all the ungrateful, disrespectful people these days?


How do you deal with a man who always ‘run’ to his mother whenever you have misunderstandings? You warned him but he can’t change.whatever you say whether good or bad he must tell her.he’s over 40.

Shanno G

I am in a very toxic family right now since I was born. There’s not a day that my mother and father wouldn’t fight. I also think that my father has mental issues just because of the way he reasons out and ofcourse from his background his family was always war. In our country even if you’re 19 years old you can’t be fully independent if you don’t finish your studies. Even if I wanted to get away from them I can’t do anything. I have nowhere else to go. I feel like this family is slowly making me crazy I am very worried ABOUT my brother. I really hope someone will help me.

Julie C

My abuser has lived in my house with me for 13 yrs. I have told him to leave and he says “make me” . I am trauma bonded. I love and hate him. If i give him 30 days notice it will be a terrible 30 days. Yes, better than 30 years, but he will further damage my house. He might even harm my pets. I won’t be able to pay the bills alone on my small soc sec disability check. Is it possible to break this bond while he’s living here?? I have no family, friends, or m9ney. I need help.


Wow Jennifer, ????
I didn’t know that anyone is going through similar events. It’s my sister, whom I love but now despise her presence in my space. Why, because she is very vulgar when speaking to me, do not help , playing the “ghosting” game of silence from sunrise to sunset. Just a 48 year old with her face buried towards social media screen, can’t ask anything, now I’m hiding in a closed room in my apartment, to get away from the stress. The pandemic has put me into a whirlwind of financial distress, but I have to share food, take the trash out alone, clean alone, and deal with eviction cause I’m still waiting on state funds. Dear God, help us in this decrepit life.


It’ll be over soon

Get yourself speakers – good speakers and listen to good music, like Stan Getz
and wireless headphones for when you make food. It’s helped me living with toxic housemate during Covid

Wishing everyone the best of luck


Evict him as soon as possible!!!! Tell her if she wants to go with him to go on. Don’t allow him to make her choose. If you have to get a protective order. Do not allow her to use you to help him. I will bet you do not have a strong man in your life. This guy is doing this b/cause he can. He is doing what is called triangularization. Take yourself out of that equasion and watch what happens, but do not allow him to contact you or come over to your house. Also you can still love your child but let her know he is not allowed in your presence. Same thing happened to me-now I am free.Go to a support group, church friends whatever it takes to help you.


So sorry these things happen to kind people but toxic people take advantage of easy trustful people and usually only care about themselves and what they need they don’t care if you have shoes or food and are getting smarter more better at it. L sometimes they appear as angels at first but are devils in sheep clothing! I found out listen to your BB heart something is wrong don’t wait till it happens say something and don’t ignore or put up with these lieing hurtful people to hurt you more , make up excuses like headache, feel sick and don’t go around th when you have a bad feeling. Sometimes other women who seeem to be nice are the toxic ones who make you seem CB like the vilivan and the are!! Even fooling their husbands and friends and in laws!! That is why I don’t believe what people say about others !! If they are c nice to me I will be nice but please tell me snyway I will be more careful and it could save me from being hurt!! Family can be the most cruel when it comes to inheritance, land money do not trust anyone!! Be sure and you will feel better listen to your wife husband !! If someone asks you to sign a paper something is not yours or never was Do not sign any paper about land oil leases it is a trick!! If you need to sign not yours to a lawyer that means it is yours!! A trick must people don’t realize the lawyer is working for their lieing greedy client not Youyou!! And when diving up property be ther when server diving up property land, etc they will do what a greedy person wants so be there to make sure is fair and never allow a sibling or relative to be only executor over will most when they become executor can steal all the money!! And get away with it!!
Need to have 2 or more to watch everything is fair when one siblings says I will handle the affairs don’t trust that greedy person most likely. And even after all that the family in-laws can still try to break up marriages tell lies to try and be nice to one party and turn husbands CB or CB wives against each other to get your land house. And the will usually be too nice to the one who they think they can turn against you! And give you gifts to encourage you to believe them.

Sharon o

I am working at this demons house she is so toxic it’s making me sick sick your articles have help me so much!!! I still want to do body damage but I won’t thank you. Sharon


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Anxiety can mean danger, but it can also mean there is something brave or important they need to do. 

The problem is that anxiety will feel the same for both - for brave, growthful, important things (scary-safe), and dangerous things (scary-dangerous). 

Of course if they are in danger, we need to protect them from that. But as long as they are safe, we have another very important job to do - to give them the experiences they need to recognise they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. 

If the brain hasn’t had enough experience of this brave, important thing, it’s going to be on guard - not because this is dangerous, but because it’s unfamiliar, hard, unpredictable.

Ask, ‘Is this scary-safe, or is this scary-dangerous?’ If they are safe, help them recognise their anxiety is there because they are about to do something brave, or important, or something that matters. The existence of anxiety is exactly what makes it brave. Then ask, ‘What’s one little step you can take towards that brave, important thing?’ 

It doesn’t matter how small or how long it takes. What matters is the experience of handling the discomfort of anxiety. Courage is not about outcome, but about handling that discomfort. If they’ve handled that discomfort this week for longer than they did last week, then they’ve been brave enough. These are the profound, important, necessary foundations for recognising they can feel anxious and do brave.♥️
Sometimes the hardest thing about talking to someone about our ‘stuff’ is starting the chat. Let them know that if they ever want to talk, it will be enough (and so brave) if they come to you with something, like, ‘I want to talk but I don’t know how to start,’ and you’ll help them from there. 

Even when they’re so small, they’re noticing how we handle the little things to gauge how we’ll handle the big things. 

Are we available? Are we warm? Are we safe? Do we try to hurry their words and feelings? Or are we patient and gentle? Do we jump too quickly to problem solving? Or can we listen even when the words don’t make sense? Can we handle the messy stuff? Or are we best when things are tidy. (And big feelings, big thoughts, and big questions are rarely ‘tidy’ - important and necessary - but rarely tidy.)

Let them know you can handle any of their feelings and any of their thoughts. Even if the words and feelings are messy, that’s okay - the important part is to get them out.♥️
Oh I’m so excited about this! I’m joining, @maggiedentauthor, and @drjustincoulson for the Resilient Kids Conference. We’ll be coming to Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Launceston. This is going to be so packed with information and strategies to support young people towards courage and resilience. We know our kids have everything inside them be brave, strong, and resilient. Now to make sure they know it too. We’d love you to join us.♥️

Tickets on sale now. (https://www.resilientkidsconference)


@resilientkidsconference We are in love with Karen Young - Hey Sigmund's blog Hey Sigmund... and I know so many of you have her children’s books in your home. Why not come and meet her in person? She’s equally as fabulous. 

Karen is going to talk about being stronger than anxiety. For many anxiety is an intrusive part of everyday life, with the effects often stealing into families, classrooms and friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Anxiety is very manageable when it is recognised and responded to. 

If you like to have a further look at what she will be speaking about, you can find it here:
It is so true thay anxiety can feel brutal for so many young people (and older ones). Sometimes we, the adults who love them, also get caught in the tailwhip of anxiety. We wonder if we should be protecting them from the distress of anxiety, while we look at them wishing so much that they could see how magnificent and powerful and amazing they truly are.

Anxiety has a way of hiding their magic under stories of disaster (‘What if something bad happens?’) and stories of deficiency (‘I’m not brave enough/ strong enough for this.’)

But we know they are enough. They are always enough. Brave/ new/ hard things (scary-safe) will often feel the same as truly unsafe things (scary-dangerous). Anxiety can’t tell the difference. It’s like a smoke alarm - it can’t tell the difference between smoke from burnt toast and smoke from a fire.

Just because a smoke alarm squeals at burnt toast, this doesn’t make it faulty. It’s doing exactly what we need it to do. The problem isn’t the alarm (or the anxiety) but the response.

Of course, sometimes getting safe is exactly the right response, and sometimes moving forward with the anxiety is. Their growth comes in knowing which response when.

Our job as their important adults isn’t to hush the noise or the discomfort that comes from their anxiety, but to give the experiences (when it’s safe) to recognise that they can feel anxious and do brave.

Anxiety is not about breakage. It is a strong, powerful, beautiful brain doing exactly what brains are meant to do: warn us of possible danger.

Danger isn’t about what is safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. ‘Danger’ can be physical or relational (any chance of humiliation, judgement, shame, exclusion, separation). Brave, new, hard things are full of relational threats - but they are safe. Scary, but safe.

Growth comes from having enough experiences with scary safe to recognise that they can feel anxious, and do brave. Having those experiences might feel too big sometimes, but as long as they aren’t alone in the distress of that, they are safe.

They can feel anxious and do brave. ‘Yes you are anxious, and yes, you are brave.’ ‘Yes you are anxious, and you are powerful.’♥️
Such a great night with over 100 parents at Gumdale State School, on how to strengthen young people against anxiety. I love this school. First, staff joined me for a workshop, then parents. 

This school is doing so much as part of their ‘everyday’ to support the wellbeing of students. When the staff and parent community are able to share the same language and the same ideas around anxiety and wellbeing, students will feel the wrap around of their important adults around them. This will help make sure young people in the very best position to learn, connect, and grow. These kids are in strong, capable hands.♥️

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