Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them

The 12 Things Toxic People Do and How to Deal With Them

We have all had toxic people dust us with their poison. Sometimes it’s more like a drenching. Difficult people are drawn to the reasonable ones and all of us have likely had (or have) at least one person in our lives who have us bending around ourselves like barbed wire in endless attempts to please them – only to never really get there.

Their damage lies in their subtlety and the way they can engender that classic response, ‘It’s not them, it’s me.’ They can have you questioning your ‘over-reactiveness’, your ‘oversensitivity’, your ‘tendency to misinterpret’. If you’re the one who’s continually hurt, or the one who is constantly adjusting your own behaviour to avoid being hurt, then chances are that it’s not you and it’s very much them.

Being able to spot their harmful behaviour is the first step to minimising their impact. You might not be able to change what they do, but you can change what you do with it, and any idea that toxic somebody in your life might have that they can get away with it.

There are plenty of things toxic people do to manipulate people and situations to their advantage. Here are 12 of them. Knowing them will help you to avoid falling under the influence:

  1. They’ll keep you guessing about which version of them you’re getting.

    They’ll be completely lovely one day and the next you’ll be wondering what you’ve done to upset them. There often isn’t anything obvious that will explain the change of attitude – you just know something isn’t right. They might be prickly, sad, cold or cranky and when you ask if there’s something wrong, the answer will likely be ‘nothing’ – but they’ll give you just enough  to let you know that there’s something. The ‘just enough’ might be a heaving sigh, a raised eyebrow, a cold shoulder. When this happens, you might find yourself making excuses for them or doing everything you can to make them happy. See why it works for them?

    Stop trying to please them. Toxic people figured out a long time ago that decent people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep the people they care about happy. If your attempts to please aren’t working or aren’t lasting for very long, maybe it’s time to stop. Walk away and come back when the mood has shifted. You are not responsible for anybody else’s feelings. If you have done something unknowingly to hurt somebody, ask, talk about it and if need be, apologise. At any rate, you shouldn’t have to guess.

  1. They’ll manipulate.

    If you feel as though you’re the only one contributing to the relationship, you’re probably right. Toxic people have a way of sending out the vibe that you owe them something. They also have a way of taking from you or doing something that hurts you, then maintaining they were doing it all for you. This is particularly common in workplaces or relationships where the balance of power is out. ‘I’ve left that six months’ worth of filing for you. I thought you’d appreciate the experience and the opportunity to learn your way around the filing cabinets.’ Or, ‘I’m having a dinner party. Why don’t you bring dinner. For 10. It’ll give you a chance to show off those kitchen skills. K?’

    You don’t owe anybody anything. If it doesn’t feel like a favour, it’s not.

  1. They won’t own their feelings.

    Rather than owning their own feelings, they’ll act as though the feelings are yours. It’s called projection, as in projecting their feelings and thoughts onto you. For example, someone who is angry but won’t take responsibility for it might accuse you of being angry with them. It might be as subtle as, ‘Are you okay with me?’ or a bit more pointed, ‘Why are you angry at me,’ or, ‘You’ve been in a bad mood all day.’

    You’ll find yourself justifying and defending and often this will go around in circles – because it’s not about you. Be really clear on what’s yours and what’s theirs. If you feel as though you’re defending yourself too many times against accusations or questions that don’t fit, you might be being projected on to. You don’t have to explain, justify or defend yourself or deal with a misfired accusation. Remember that.

  1. They’ll make you prove yourself to them.

    They’ll regularly put you in a position where you have to choose between them and something else – and you’ll always feel obliged to choose them. Toxic people will wait until you have a commitment, then they’ll unfold the drama.  ‘If you really cared about me you’d skip your exercise class and spend time with me.’  The problem with this is that enough will never be enough. Few things are fatal – unless it’s life or death, chances are it can wait.

    [irp posts=”1195″ name=”Toxic People: 16 Practical, Powerful Ways to Deal With Them”]

  2. They never apologise. 

    They’ll lie before they ever apologise, so there’s no point arguing. They’ll twist the story, change the way it happened and retell it so convincingly that they’ll believe their own nonsense.

    People don’t have to apologise to be wrong. And you don’t need an apology to move forward. Just move forward – without them. Don’t surrender your truth but don’t keep the argument going. There’s just no point. Some people want to be right more than they want to be happy and you have better things to do than to provide fodder for the right-fighters.

  1. They’ll be there in a crisis but they’ll never ever share your joy.

    They’ll find reasons your good news isn’t great news. The classics: About a promotion – ‘The money isn’t that great for the amount of work you’ll be doing.’ About a holiday at the beach – ‘Well it’s going to be very hot. Are you sure you want to go?’ About being made Queen of the Universe – ‘Well the Universe isn’t that big you know and I’m pretty sure you won’t get tea breaks.’ Get the idea? Don’t let them dampen you or shrink you down to their size. You don’t need their approval anyway – or anyone else’s for that matter.

  2. They’ll leave a conversation unfinished – and then they’ll go offline.

    They won’t pick up their phone. They won’t answer texts or emails. And in between rounds of their voicemail message, you might find yourself playing the conversation or argument over and over in your head, guessing about the status of the relationship, wondering what you’ve done to upset them, or whether they’re dead, alive or just ignoring you – which can sometimes all feel the same. People who care about you won’t let you go on feeling rubbish without attempting to sort it out. That doesn’t mean you’ll sort it out of course, but at least they’ll try. Take it as a sign of their investment in the relationship if they leave you ‘out there’ for lengthy sessions.

  3. They’ll use non-toxic words with a toxic tone.

    The message might be innocent enough but the tone conveys so much more. Something like, ‘What did you do today?’ can mean different things depending on the way it’s said. It could mean anything from ‘So I bet you did nothing – as usual,’ to ‘I’m sure your day was better than mine. Mine was awful. Just awful. And you didn’t even notice enough to ask.’ When you question the tone, they’ll come back with, ‘All I said was what did you do today,’ which is true, kind of, not really.

  4. They’ll bring irrelevant detail into a conversation.

    When you’re trying to resolve something important to you, toxic people will bring in irrelevant detail from five arguments ago. The problem with this is that before you know it, you’re arguing about something you did six months ago, still defending yourself, rather than dealing with the issue at hand. Somehow, it just always seems to end up about what you’ve done to them.

  5. They’ll make it about the way you’re talking, rather than what you’re talking about.

    You might be trying to resolve an issue or get clarification and before you know it, the conversation/ argument has moved away from the issue that was important to you and on to the manner in which you talked about it – whether there is any issue with your manner or not. You’ll find yourself defending your tone, your gestures, your choice of words or the way your belly moves when you breathe – it doesn’t even need to make sense. Meanwhile, your initial need is well gone on the pile of unfinished conversations that seems to grow bigger by the day.

    [irp posts=”1762″ name=”When Someone You Love is Toxic: How to Let Go of Toxic People, Without Guilt”]

  6. They exaggerate.

    ‘You always …’ ‘You never …’ It’s hard to defend yourself against this form of manipulation. Toxic people have a way of drawing on the one time you didn’t or the one time you did as evidence of your shortcomings. Don’t buy into the argument. You won’t win. And you don’t need to.

  7. They are judgemental.

    We all get it wrong sometimes but toxic people will make sure you know it. They’ll judge you and take a swipe at your self-esteem suggesting that you’re less than because you made a mistake. We’re all allowed to get it wrong now and then, but unless we’ve done something that affects them nobody has the right to stand in judgement.

Knowing the favourite go-to’s for toxic people will sharpen your radar, making the manipulations easier to spot and easier to name. More importantly, if you know the characteristic signs of a toxic person, you’ll have a better chance of catching yourself before you tie yourself in double knots trying to please them.

Some people can’t be pleased and some people won’t be good for you – and many times that will have nothing to do with you. You can always say no to unnecessary crazy. Be confident and own your own faults, your quirks and the things that make you shine. You don’t need anyone’s approval but remember if someone is working hard to manipulate, it’s probably because they need yours. You don’t always have to give it but if you do, don’t let the cost be too high.



I had really hard times with some friends and my ex-boyfriend who unfortunately fall under this category.

Unfortunately, I have to say that some people are more susceptible to them than others, especially empaths.

Yes, I remember the situations when I questioned myself. Was I too selfish, and insensitive to them? Should I have listened to them more? They are the masters in convincing you that there is something wrong with you, and that’s how they function.

They need someone who’s easy to manipulate with.

They do not want to solve their problems like us, but only to get rid of their excessive negative energy to make them feel a bit easier.

The first step in this awakening process is to identify the toxic people around you and to understand how you found yourself surrounded by them.

Getting rid of them is not easy, but setting up firm boundaries and distancing yourself can work pretty well. However, it is important not to let them provoke you because they will not let you go that easily.


Thank you for this article. It’s so frustrating dealing with people like this.

In my experience, if you aren’t sure if someone like this is in your life, ask yourself: am I usually happy when I interact with this person? If the answer is no, then it’s pretty easy to spot. It can be very hard sometimes but being happy is more important than having a person like that in your life. Let them go even if it hurts. It’s much easier to deal with pain now instead of kicking yourself over and over when dealing with a person like this.


My husband is always name calling and sharing our arguments with our kids, ( who are now 29 & 31) He’s been involving my kids since they were young. I still ask him not to, that it’s wrong. He’s played good cop since I can remember. He will never admit when he’s wrong even if its clearly evident. If he takes some blame he’s sure to conjure up something for me to take the blame about. Just tonight he said something about me bitching, (I had just gotten out of the hospital, he made me 2 pieces of toast, I gave one to my granddaughter. She told her mother it was burnt) he said something to me about it being burnt and I said it was. Hence , he through in the bitching thing. I was sitting on my bed eating the toast and I never complained. But I was not going to be accused of something that just wasn’t true. This happens constantly. I have terrible relationships with my kids, I get verbally abused and accused and am consistently being told it’s not about me. (By all of them) my husband says it’s because I am a mother. My girls are in my house daily and I am always cleaning up after them. Yes. I do complain. My husband will agree with me however when we argue he’ll throw it up in my face, how even my kids know, blah, blah, blah.
I believe he is a narcissist. It’s always his way, he’s always right, (he’s even said how he has a superior mind) 33 years married & verbally abused. He feeds me beer and calls me an alcoholic, starts arguments with me and calls me the crazy one. Our friends even joke about him pushing my buttons. Wits end!

Laura E. Corbeth

Hi Colette. First. I want you to know you are not anything that your husband says you are. He is using projection. This is a toxic persons favourite thing to do. Also deflection. They will not take responsibility for anything that they do. It is the not-my-fault syndrome. Something I have written about in my book. I think people tend to think because they are psychologically abused, it’s not as bad as sexual or physical abuse. I am telling you that it is an outright lie and no wonder you are at your wits end. I am on a mission to bring awareness to psychological abuse and hidden abuse and how harmful they are. Most abusers will minimize it. I don’t know if you can get help with a good therapist. Psychologists are the best because they are very aware of Cluster B personalities. Not all abusers are sexual and physical predators. Hope you find some help for your ongoing challenges. I know them very well… Best,


You should buy a book about boundaries. Why they are important and how to set them. Then apply it to your husband and children. Family or not, don’t let them disturb your inner peace or bring toxicity to your life. Set the boundaries then remove yourself whether it be leaving the same room their in or not talking to them until you’ve had time to process your emotions and they talk and treat you with decency. As an outside reading your comment I will validate you that the way they are to you is not healthy or okay.


It sounds exactly like my ex, without exaggeration, unbelievable! Somehow I`ve just come across this article and after 9 months of separation, this really sums up who she really was.
I cant begin to tell you how happy i am for not having to spend another minute under the same roof with this woman!
Life is far to short and i have the right to live mine as who i am and not as someone wants me to be!


I am in a toxic relationship of sorts I live at home with my mom, I’m 27 and I have a medical condition which is expensive hence the living at home but she is a very toxic person, she is extremely critical, judgemental, and negative, nothing I do is ever right or good enough, there are some days when I just want to get in my car and drive and never come back but I have absolutely no where else to go, no friends no boyfriend, I don’t know what to do.

Laura E. Corbeth

I would reach out to some support groups Kellie. Also see if there are some therapists around to assist you with this type of abuse. You can heal from psychological and emotional abuse. I found a good psychologist that specializes in psychological disorders and abuse. I also did a few therapies that helped me too. I have written about all of this in my book, to help others. This type of abuse is sneaky and very covert. Don’t give up. You can get help. Promise.

Laura E. Corbeth

Hi Kellie. Don’t give up. This type of abuse is very sneaky and covert. You are right to feel hurt by it. I sought help from a good therapist that specialized in psychological and emotional abuse and psychological disorders. Don’t give up. I journaled everything and eventually I published my book to help others. There are few therapists that understand what people go through from this type of invisible abuse. Hang in there. I will get better. Promise.


Hi Kelly,
I am able to empathise with your situation. I have been in the same situation for most of my life with my mother. I am almost 30. I have recently moved further away but the problems have become alot worse. I am now considering a long distance move. What a shame for family to be this way but what will be will be, that I have come to accept.

Apple Pie

I actually found this article after exiting an argument about basically nothing with my own mother who has a victim mentality and is often very toxic towards the people she is supposed to love the most, so I empathize with you here. I am almost 30 myself, and have lived in and out of my parents home since I was 18. Recently things have become pretty unbearable. She often reminds me how sad and messed up it is that I’m still living at home (even though I pay rent), and when she gets mad she tells me I need to get out. My dad is in my corner and does his best to protect me from this, but he is also a victim of her abuse.

Sometimes reading that other people have similar experiences reminds me that I’m not alone in my struggle here.

I encourage anyone reading this to read the book “the body keeps the score” by Bessell A. Van Der Kolk.


I have struggled with learning how to set healthy boundaries in all my relationships. The last 2 years have been extremely challenging for me as I have had to let go of certain people in my life some who I have known for over 5 years. For the first time I feel like I am putting my foot down and standing up for whats best for me. I didn’t realize how this was affecting my mental health until recently. I have over extended myself for so long that I have aloud people to make me feel guilty for putting myself first. Unfortunately all the turmoil and the confrontation has caused me to develop anxiety. I now doubt myself constantly and have days where I feel terribly alone and question whether I am doing the right thing. I have always been the friend who was there for everybody, and who would bring everyone together. I wanted to have a big group of friends where everyone could get a long. It blew up in my face and I now have a fear of mixing my groups of friends. I get severe anxiety. I have tried to forget that past and move on but its really difficult.


My brother is a criminal and liar, and everything in this article fits him! He lies, abuses, manipulates, scams, schemes, then never takes responsibility for anything. In fact, he blames me! This is a great article, because many are like this.


i have had the pleasure of having some people with these specific traits close to me, but i think it made me aware of their “routine”. the #1 sign that comes out is common misunderstandings of conversations between you and the toxic person. when they are trying to correct you, on words or events that you remember very clearly(usually the main point of the “misunderstanding”), but they have a different memory, which seems to always be in their favor for positive things, or your fault for negative things. and, of course, nothing is their fault. so, what i believe is they know when they broke a commitment, used the rest of the toilet paper…whatever the instance is, and it begins a game with them(from this point foreward, you lost already). any arguement, overwhelming facts disregarded, does nothing. nothing makes sense, and you are questioning if your memory is correct(they succeeded). i have tried every way possible to get it back to reality…never works. it has a bigger effect then you realize, now you dont talk about anything related to that subject while other people are around because you know whats coming, and shouldnt be if they had any real respect for you.

when you arent sure if your words will be interpreted correctly by a person that knows you(the toxic person knows what you meant to say), its because they are changing them to whatever works for them. it doesnt change, they dont suddenly understand, and everything runs smooth afterwards. i have distanced myself, but still talk to some toxic people. i just make sure they are not involved in anything important, or rely on them for anything. keep the distance though, that is what keeps you safe – dont lend or borrow $1, or give or take a ride, stay 100% neutral. then listen to the stories they tell you – and you will only hear of how they helped people, and how people took advantage of them…but you will know the truth. only let people that dont leave room for doubts close to you. its not a negotiation for respect from real friends, and real friends will apologize if they did something wrong. nobody is perfect, but someone who cares about you will make sure you are ok too, without a price


Perhaps it is not all black or white. I noticed, toxic people aren’t happy because they are unable to experience happiness. That’s why they either ruin your day to be “on the same sad boat” or become very demanding and impossible to please, because they expect you to make them happy. But they will never be, no matter how hard you try to please them.

I cannot ignore their cry for help, but at the same time you have to protect yourself. It is quite possible that Kiara’s husband loves her, in spite of his inability to be happy and make others feel happy too.
Maybe counseling could be an avenue to explore.


Add Narrsasis to this, and you have nailed my son whom is 37 years old, he had done this to me since he was about 10, every year getting worse. Sometimes he hurts me so bad, I dread his calls, or any event I have to spend more than a hour with him. My husband feels the same. We would rather mow the lawn with scissors than deal with him! In his eyes its,a wonder he turned out at all, mostly raised himself you know! He tricked us into thinking he would take over his college loan when he graduated, so all these years later we are still paying it. When talked about, he says we owe it to him. We have 2 other children, that never got free college, not too fair. I could go on and on. Never ends. Signed miserable parents, every week!


This is fascinating and so helpful. I had what I thought was a jealous girlfriend for years. It was always my fault that she was jealous. I wasn’t forthcoming enough, I wasn’t open enough, I wasn’t available enough. If she wasn’t sitting on my knee, if she didn’t know where I was, then I was up to no good.
She was sometimes jealous because she “heard a tone” in my voice.
I aways knew in my heart that the jealousy was manipulation but I modified my behaviour in ways to make her happy.
I did it for years but, in hind site, it was the most insidious mental abuse. It made me feel I wan’t good enough.
But I am good enough. And strong enough, it turns out, to say to her, you can choose between your jealousy and me.
She choose the jealousy, and there is nothing I can do about that. Good riddance.
If I had read your excellent article and the blogs at that time, I might have tried to deal with it as
“psychotic malignant narcissist with histrionic tendencies.” or “narcissistic personality disorder”.
But I think any term we use must acknowledge that some people need to make you feel bad in order to feel good about themselves.
Those people are best left alone.
Thank you


I have a toxic sister in law. At the last family gathering she announced to the people sitting around us that when I came into the family I really was an in law but said I am not any longer. Now I am an outlaw just like she has always been in the family. Say what? I feel she has always been very jealous of me. These kind of remarks are not unusual yet I am always so shocked and surprised that I never know what to say. Any advice or is silence golden? Pretty sure the people around us were shocked also and she just told them who she is?

Norma Jean

I’m thinking he has every one of these traits, I’m sad , confused, only confused as to how to do what I need to do , I’m trapped financially right now ,trying very hard to keep my focus, I need to memorize every word , and identify each situation as they happen , there’s a lot of verbal abuse also , wears me down


My boyfriend has all of these traits. I have even asked him why if I make one mistake does he tell me that I always do……. I said to him have I ever repeated the mistake? He had to agree I hadn’t. These people have low self-esteem and when you listen to what they are accusing you of, you realise it is what they themselves are doing.


I have a friend of almost 20 years who I feel can’t understand when I say no I can’t go to a function or get together sometimes. She makes me feel guilty. I’m in the. Idle of planning my wedding and so busy with everything. Why can’t she just be supportive?

Ivan D

Beth let’s tell it as it is so you can fix this.
NOW,…..I worked for years with people that have social anxiety and parties make them anxious and avoidance behaviors happen.
If the wedding has you nervous and you don’t feel like going to social events that’s fine.
Figure out what it is I know lot’s of people that feel they want to avoid parties and social events.
A friend will understand this a jackass will try to make you feel stupid and plow over your boundaries.
Friends like that we do not need as life is too short.


When I met my mother-in-law last year, I thought she was the Mom I have been missing for 30 years (my lovely mom passed away)….then my husband and I had the process started to have my father-in-law’s driver’s license taken away (he has severe dementia and went missing for 24 hours with their car trying to find home)…we left it in the doctors hands and when they revoked it, Mom was furious with me – not talking to me, not looking at me, …I was devastated that she blamed me for having her freedom taken from her…. thankfully my husband witnessed these actions….When I tried to talk to her a few days later, she didn’t acknowledge what she did to me, said she was mad at everyone, etc…. Our relationship has not been the same since and I doubt it ever will again. I barely call her now and I’m very careful in what I say at any visits…
After reading your article, I now know she is selfish in just thinking of her own freedom and not the harm that his driving could have caused. I am moving forward.

Karen Young

It sounds as though your mother in law has been dealing with a lot, including your father in law’s dementia. The shock and grief around this can make people do things out of character. It doesn’t mean her behaviour was ok, but it sounds understandable. Be careful not to judge her on this one incident. We all get it wrong sometimes and dealing with dementia in someone you love is frightening and stressful, and can come with a lot of grief.


Thanks for your insight… helps to have an unbiased opinion and this is definitely food for thought. Agreed it was not ok for her behaviour but I think I can look past this one for the sake of our relationship… Much appreciated and thank you…


I had to let go of my toxic relationship with my husbands daughter. It was very difficult and heartbreaking. I felt it was a great failure for me. However, it was the best decision I made for myself and my health. I now feel really free from all that trouble for the first time in a long time.


I too am in a relationship with a toxic adult step daughter. She hates me and has no respect for her father. She twists everything around. It’s very frustrating and I’ve apologized to her for anything I’ve done to hurt her feelings. Her response was that it may never be ok. I just need to let her go and stop trying to repair a relationship she cares nothing about. I hope I can get to where you are.


I feel I should make it my life’s work to spread the article around, there will be others that need to know what I know now.


I am attempting to save my marriage, but in reading this now I really know what I am up against. He owns most of these, especially since he has found a girlfriend!


You are afraid….and you might have to look at the possibility you don”t love YOURSELF…I’m not trying to be mean…just trying to help you see. If he is all these things and has a new GF…How is that LOVE? and how can you say you love yourself if you allow it? I’m talking to both of us. I’m in a similar situation…but I am learning that by setting healthy boundaries against people who DO NOT LOVE US..because these are not action of a person who loves….These are not loving actions. We have to say No! We love ourselves, more than that! We deserve more! Much more! We have to demand it, we can’t go around wishing for someone to change to give us what we want. The love you feel maybe real…but you seriously have to ask yourself, “Are his actions loving?” being this way to you is NOT love


so glad I found these articles, my husband has all of the above trates; don’t know if he had a girlfriend we have been married 20 yrs, and he left recently; it has been extremely hard mentally for me because of the years we spent together, but if he is unhappy I rather him be gone, the love I had for him I don’t think he had the same, I asked him to go to counseling he said no, I asked him to go to church he said no, I have really tried. I am always the one through the entire relationship to break the ice but this time I decided not too and he didn’t speak to me for two days and finally left and is supposedly at his brothers. my reality now is I wasn’t worth it for him and he told me he was never coming back, I have always been the one to apologize, but not this time and I feel so broken but I am praying I get better, I am crying as I type this.. Thank you all for sharing your experiences


Hi Lisa, Just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone with your pain. I’m a little further down the road than you are but I still have bad days, they seem to take over your mind somehow and you never get any kind of closure from the whole ordeal. They just drive off into the sunset when they are ready to go and they don’t even look back. It’s the most painful thing I have even been through and I know one thing, until I can feel confident that I won’t find another one just like him, I am staying alone. They say we attract those kind of people because of our empathic personalities and in a way I tend to agree, but it’s more to do with being willing to give away so much of ourselves that we get trapped. They put on a good show to the world but treat us like we aren’t human and we allow it. And I’m finding out now it’s because we keep looking to them to finally realize what they are doing to us, and we somehow think we can “help” them. Like if for once we can just say the right thing, they will have this huge AHA moment and be so sorry and then finally maybe they can give us the love we have been waiting for. It’s extremely sad because finally after so long you realize, after you have time away from them, that you aren’t going to change them and they are never going to be the person you thought you fell in love with. It was all an act, but they couldn’t keep it up forever. And they will never go back to that. But we can heal, and we can learn and we can have a real life again without the eggshells and the broken pieces of your heart laying in a pile.
This is when it’s time to go inside yourself and figure out what it is that made you such a giver, so willing to overlook the hurts and the unfairness. We are taught this behavior as children, and we never learn to react in any other healthier ways. We never learned our own worth in this life and never felt we deserved to be treated any other way. As long as they tossed us a crumb every now and than, we were grateful. And when the silent treatment was over, we were so glad to have them talking to us, we didn’t even dare bring it up how badly it hurt. But they know that is how to train us, to make us bend to their will, and to take our power, we give it to them willingly.
Believe me, they know what they are doing to us, I know that now, it is how they survive too. The only difference is that we want to be better people, and they think they already are. They won’t fix themselves, they don’t see anything wrong, but we can. And we can find happiness and peace and joy and for once in my life I have decided that I deserve to have it all too.
Use this time to educate yourself about them, then after a while, start learning about yourself and start to let them go however you can. You are worth everything good in this life too. And we are not put on this earth to be miserable, we don’t have to make it our whole life. We are here to find joy and to learn to love who we are, warts and all and we can be a source of love to ourselves, that’s what healthy people already know. Okay, sorry I rambled so long, I hope something I said rings true for you. Peace.


Pam your words were so encouraging and beautiful… I am sitting here in tears because everything you said was so true… I am trying to get that courage to leave my relationship because I do deserve so much better and I want to be here on this earth to find joy in my life and love myself and find that someone to love me the way I deserve to be loved. Thank you for encouraging words! Take care!


My soon to be ex wife has every single one of these behaviors. I found a book titled “Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder” that describes these behaviors exactly. It seems that “toxic” persons may actually be the small percentage of the population who have BPD.


My husband of 17 years is the same your wife is. We can’t change them they try to change us and believe their fairytales.


Had a hard time letting go of my sister.TOXIC… these articles have helped me see clearly that is is her not me! I have gained validation that I am ok and it’s ok for me to distance myself from her. Painful, yes, do I miss her?, yes but happy times spent with her were less than the hard times..I reread these articles when I doubt myself. It’s getting easier. I suppose it’ll always be painful. How sad.

Laura Corbeth

Hi Michelle. Felt compelled to write. I have not spoken to my brother for a few years now. He was abusive in childhood and I realized he never changed. Had all these terrible personality traits. And unfortunately my mother got involved and no longer speaks to me…

You did the right thing. If you’re on Twitter, follow me @Laura_Corbeth I’m bringing awareness to sibling abuse.
Take care.

Ivan D

Hi Michelle,…..I guess the thing I want to say is that it doesn’t feel normal to remove a family member from our life.In my case my brother was mom’s favorite and he was very quiet in his early years so it was easy to project on him as the GOLDEN CHILD.
I was 2 years younger and if I had a gift he liked it was common to take my gift away and give it to him.
He lied and stole through his childhood because he was a Sociopath with all the TOXIC traits and I know from research that 12.4 million of these monsters are our brothers ,sister and parents.
8 months ago I gave my hurting brother another chance and he lived with my wife and I for 2 years as he went through a divorce.He ended up lying about needing a short term loan of 8 ,000 dollars and then ran off manipulating and laughing.
Funny thing is a Police Medium told me 10 years earlier that my brother didn’t care about me and I knew it deep inside but when our ___emotional need … for a relationship… greater then our need to embrace the truth ……then we will over-ride our intuition. Beware all they like to wait and come back to make you a victim again and I will have no part of it.


once we started to avoid toxic people and move forward they will pressurise us and make that as issue and twist the whole story according to their convenience .Then how to react?


Yup, that’s normal – they’ll twist the whole story so that they sound like the victim. Just ignore them, let them think/say what they want. Don’t expect any apologies from them and don’t let them manipulate you into feeling guilty. 🙂


like u said they believe thier own lies .. i think my sister is like that she does share a few of the obove but shes also loveing and careing im confused but i am sure my friend” is a toxic person


I’m 24 and my husband and I were just married after 2 years of dating. He shares almost everyone of these characteristics and it breaks my heart. I know he loves me, but at the same time never in my life would I treat and talk to anyone like that. I’m glad I found this article because it validates my thoughts and feelings exactly. Just wish he would read this and understand the impact of his words and actions.

Dr. Raymond

I am puzzled, Kiara.

You also say, “He shares almost everyone of these characteristics.” and also “I know he loves me.”

If he has these character-istics as his character, how can you know he loves you?


Or you get the type that blames you for everything. The mother of my children had a medical question. So instead of calling a doctor and setting up an appointment, they proceeded to ask “Dr Google!” I knew that would end badly and sure enough it did! Somehow I am the blame for them self diagnosing themselves with cancer. Like really???? Lets get real here! Welcome to cold shoulderville! It is pretty quiet and I am the only sane one in my little village.


Question if you told your daughters to call the paramedic and they said phones need to charge and you had to tell the neighbors what do t hat mean to you


Kiara, I completely understand. You are a hopeful person and want to believe you can fix him. I was married for 17 years to this same person. I know he loves me…as much as he knows how to love. I could never fix him. I’m reaching out to you because I can identify with you. I don’t want you to waste your precious life on trying to cahnge someone you can’t. Look up empath vs narcissistic personality. I wish you luck and will carry you in my heart.


My sister is a very disturbed and sadistic person. Several years ago I became disabled. I was devastated physically and financially. She suggested I move in with her until I could get my health and financial issues straightened out. I was going to pay her for her help. What followed was a nightmare that is too lengthy and unbelievable to be written here. I was starved, tortured and put through unimaginable hell.
When I tried to tell people what was going on, they didn’t believe me. I had suffered through a rough bout of depression in the past and she would tell everyone I was insane. I lost 45 pounds, and I was thin to begin with.
She succeeded in convincing me that I was at fault for everything. I began to think that it was appropriate for her to withhold food from me for an entire day because I had placed a napkin on the left side of my tray. And I really felt I was insane.
Long story short; I got out of there. It wasn’t easy but I did. I had to be hospitalized for a long time. I did not pursue criminal action, and did not tell anyone the full extent of what happened. Again, no one would believe it. (With the exception of some of the hospital staff who had to keep her from harming me in my hospital bed.)
Such people are called toxic for a reason. Poison is never safe to consume. Stay away from them!


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There are lots of reasons we love people or places, and a big reason is that we love who we are when we’re with those people or in those places. It’s the same for our children.

Do they feel seen, important, fun, funny, joyful? Or do they feel annoying, intrusive, unimportant, stupid? Do they feel like someone who is valued and wanted? Or do they feel tolerated? Do they feel interesting, independent, capable? Or do they feel managed?

It’s so easy to fall into a space - and this can happen with the most loving, most wonderful parents - where we spend too much time telling them what to do, noticing the things they don’t do, ‘managing’ them, and not enough time playing or experiencing joy with them, valuing their contribution (even if we’ve had to stoke that a little), seeking out their opinions and ideas. 

We won’t get this right all the time, and that’s okay. This isn’t about perfection. It’s about what we do most and being deliberate when we can. It’s about seeing who they are, through what they do. It’s about taking time to enjoy them, laugh with them, play with them, so they can feel their capacity to bring joy. It’s about creating the conditions that make it easy for them to love the people they are when they are with us.♥️
This week I had the absolute joy of working with the staff of Launceston College, presenting two half-day workshops on neuroscience and brain development for children and adolescents. 

The teachers and staff at this school care so much about their students. The everyday moments young people have with their important adults matter so much. It’s through these moment to moment interactions that young people start to learn that they are important, believed in, wanted, that they belong, and when this happens, learning will too. It just will. 

This is what teachers do. They open young people up to their potential, to their capacity for learning and doing hard things. They grow humans. The work of a teacher will always go so far beyond content and curriculum. 

Thank you @launceston_college for having me. Your students are in strong and wonderful hands.♥️

Posted @withrepost • @launceston_college
#LC2022 #
Building brave and moving through anxiety are like lifting weights. The growth happens little by little. Sometimes this will be slow and clumsy. Sometimes it will feel big bold, certain, and beautiful. Sometimes undone, unhappened, frustrating. It all matters. 

There will be so many days where they will see the brave thing in front of them, and everything in them will want to move towards it but they’ll feel stuck - between wanting to and scared to.

This is the point of impasse. The desire and the resistance come face to face, locked in battle. On the outside this might look like frustration, big tears, big anger, the need to avoid or retreat (or in us, a need to retreat them), but inside the work to strengthen against anxiety is happening.

This isn’t the undoing of brave. It’s the building of it. In this precious space between the wanting and the fear, they’re doing battle. They’re doing the hard, imposing work of moving through anxiety. They’re experiencing the distress of anxiety, and the handling of it, all at once. They might not be handling it well, but as long as they’re in it, they’re handling it.

These moments matter so much. If this is all they do, then they’ve been brave today. They’ve had a necessary, important experience which has shown them that the discomfort of anxiety won’t hurt them. It will feel awful, but as long as they aren’t alone in it, it won’t break them. 

Next day, next week, next month they might handle that discomfort for a minute longer than last time. Next time, even longer. This isn’t the avoidance of brave. It’s the building of it. These are the weight lifting experiences that slowly and surely strengthen their resiliency muscles. These are the experiences that show them that the discomfort of anxiety is no reflection at all of how capable they are and how brave they can be. It’s discomfort. It’s not breakage.

These little steps are the necessary building blocks for the big ones. So, if they have handled the discomfort of anxiety today (it truly doesn’t matter how well), and if that discomfort happened as they were face to face with something important and meaningful and hard, let them know that they’ve built brave today.♥️
Anxiety is a valid, important, necessary way the brain recruits support in times of trouble. In actual times of danger, the support we give is vital. This might look like supporting avoidance, fighting for them, fleeing with them. BUT - when there is no danger, this ‘support’ can hold them back from brave, important, growthful things. It can get in the way of building resilience, self-belief, and the capacity for brave. All loving parents will do this sometimes. This isn’t the cause of anxiety. It’s the response to it. 

We love them so much, and as loving parents we all will, at some time or another,  find ourselves moving to protect them from dangers that aren’t there. These ‘dangers’ are the scary but safe things that trigger anxiety and the call for support, but which are safe. Often they are also growthful, brave, important. These include anything that’s safe but hard, unfamiliar, growthful, brave.

This is when the move towards brave might be in our hands. This might look like holding them lovingly in the discomfort of anxiety for a minute longer than last time, rather than supporting avoidance. It might look like trusting their capacity to cope with the discomfort of anxiety (and approaching hard, brave, growthful things) rather than protecting them from that discomfort. Knowing what to do when can be confusing and feel impossibly hard sometimes. When it does, ask:

‘Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?’
‘Am I aligning with their fear or their courage?’
‘What am I protecting them from - a real danger, or something brave and important?’

They don’t have to do the whole brave thing all at once. We can move them towards brave behaviour in tiny steps - by holding them in the discomfort of anxiety for a teeny bit longer each time. This will provide the the experience they need to recognise that they can handle the discomfort of anxiety.

This might bring big feelings or big behaviour, but you don’t need to fix their big feelings. They aren’t broken. Big feelings don’t hurt children. It’s being alone in big feelings that hurts. Let them feel you with them with statements of validation and confidence, ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle this.’♥️
We all do or say things we shouldn’t sometimes. This isn’t about breakage, it’s about being human. It’s about a brain that has registered ‘threat’, and a body that is getting ready to respond. 

‘Threat’ counts as anything that comes with any risk at all (real or perceived) of missing out on something important, separation from friends or you or their other important people, judgement, humiliation, failure, disappointment or disappointing their important people, unfairness or loss. It can also count as physical (sensory overload or underload, pain, exhaustion, hunger), or relational (not feeling seen or heard, not feeling valued, feeling replaced, not feeling welcome, feeling disconnected from you or someone important).

Young ones have the added force of nervous systems that haven’t got their full adult legs yet. When brains have a felt sense of threat, they will organise bodies for fight (this can look like tantrums, aggression, irritation, frustration), flight (can look like avoidance, ignoring, turning away) or freeze (can look like withdrawal, hiding, defiance, indifference, aloofness).

The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a brain that needs to be brought back to a felt sense of safety. We can do this most powerfully through relationship and connection. Breathe, be with, validate (with or without words - if the words are annoying for them just feel what they feel so they can feel you with them). 

When their brains and bodies are back to calm, then the transformational chats can happen: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can I do to help next time?’ ‘What can you do?’ ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. How can you put this right? Do you need my help with that?’

Of course, sometimes our boundaries will create a collision that also sets nervous systems on fire. You don’t need to fix their big feelings. They aren’t broken. Stand behind the boundary, flag the behaviour (‘It’s not ok to … I know you know that’) and then shift the focus to relationship - (‘I’m right here’ or, ‘Okay I can hear you want space. I’m going to stay right over here until you feel better. I’m here when you’re ready.’)♥️

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