It’s hard to avoid toxic people sometimes. They sometimes appear like something else, and they’re sometimes inextricably bound up with our work or family lives. However, there are smart practical steps you can take to preserve yourself from this sort of damage.
Let’s take a closer look at how to effectively and definitively remove toxic people from your life.
1. Don’t Expect Them To Change
Firstly, and most importantly, moving past toxic relationships requires true acceptance of the fact that you can’t force toxic people to change. They may imply that they can change, or you may yearn to be the one who can help them become better, but this is almost always a hopeless project.
Toxic people are not motivated by what’s good for them or for their relationship with you. They’re motivated by their own complex problems and needs. When you give up the desire to change them, it’s much easier to let them go.
2. Establish And Maintain Boundaries
Manipulative and toxic people drain your resources by constantly pushing you to work harder to please them, making you compromise more and more. This is exhausting and transgresses all acceptable relationship boundaries.
Give some serious thought to what you will tolerate and what you won’t from partners, family members, colleagues, and friends.
When you get a sense that something’s not right in your interactions with someone, run through your mental boundary checklist and enforce these boundaries deliberately and rigidly.
3. Don’t Be Pulled Into Crises
Toxic people often make it seem like they “need you” because they’re always in crisis. But the important thing to know is that these are crises of their own making.
Toxic people create drama deliberately in order to attract more attention and engage in manipulation, so remember this the next time you’re asked to run to their side. You might feel bad, but remember that you’re not dealing with a genuine person in distress.
4. Focus On The Solution
Toxic people give you a lot to be sad and angry about but if you focus on this, you’ll stay miserable and frustrated, even if you’re excising such a person from your social circle.
Instead, turn your attention to the fact you’re clearing up a psychological and emotional mess in your life. If you spend much of your time ruminating on (and trying to understand) a toxic person’s negative behavior, they’ll suck away all your resources even when they’re no longer in your life.
5. Own Your Difficulties And Weaknesses
When you’re in a toxic relationship of any kind, you’ll notice that the other person tends to exploit your flaws and find ways to use them against you. However, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of this happening by simply getting to know yourself and learning to accept your weaknesses.
Balance them against your strengths, believe that you are a good person, and commit to self-improvement. That way, it’ll be old news if a toxic person tries to highlight your perceived flaws, and you won’t be easily manipulated by such a tactic.
6. Understand Projection
Part of removing toxic people from your life involves reducing their power over your emotions and that requires recognizing that they’re not really seeing you when they’re hurting you.
In truth, they’re projecting onto you the parts of themselves they don’t want to acknowledge or accept so that they can pour all their suppressed self-hatred into attacking you. See their cruel behavior for what it is: a way of avoiding the truth about themselves.
7. Know They May Resist
Toxic people often throw tantrums when they feel ignored. This is usually because you’re stopping them from being able to control or manipulate you. They may increase their previous tactics tenfold, but eventually, they will back off and look elsewhere to meet their needs.
Don’t give in when their behavior escalates, and instead remind yourself that you’re teaching these people that their old behaviors will no longer work.
8. Choose Your Battles Carefully
On a related note, make sure you choose your battles wisely. Conflict with toxic people requires huge amounts of energy and time. Just remember you don’t need to engage in every fight that they might try to instigate. Instead, save that energy for looking after yourself, and for nourishing relationships that are genuinely healthy.
9. Surround Yourself With Healthy Relationships
Finally, removing toxic people from your life can be deeply painful, as you may deeply care for some of these people in spite of how difficult it is to have them in your life.
To maintain your resilience and cope with any sadness, stay in close contact with those who make you feel safe, cherished, and happy. These are the people who will model healthy friendships and relationships, reminding you exactly why you are choosing to sever toxic ones.
Clear Negativity From Your Life Today…
“Have you ever been overwhelmed or weighed down by a negative comment from a friend? This feeling can be triggered by a thought, another person, an event, or anything that triggers a negative association. This is the stimulus. Realize the problem is inside you, not in the other person.”
Get your free copy of our ‘Clearing Negativity From Your Life’ ebook and discover how to cut the negative energy cord in your life.
Learn how to identify and clear any limiting beliefs that you have which could be holding you back from living a positive life.
We all know how important it is to give our bodies a break from “toxic” food and alcohol, but what about giving ourselves a break from toxic attitudes? “Just like any toxic thing—like food or poison—toxic people are extremely dangerous,” Tara Mackey, author of Cured by Nature and founder of The Organic Life, tells mental_floss in an email. “They distract us from our positive or productive habits. They’ll be the people who discourage you from exercise or make fun of you for wanting to be a better person. They’ll come up with reasons for you to stay in other bad relationships. Toxic people get you stuck in the past and focused on the negative, and in that mentality, you can’t move forward and you can’t succeed. It is impossible for them to share in your joy.”
It’s worth noting that there is a difference between people who are truly toxic to your well-being and people who have a negative outlook because they struggle with depression. It’s important to let friends and family members who suffer from clinical depression know that you love and support them, not cut them out of your life. But interacting with toxic people who constantly cut you down or manipulate you to their own advantage can take a toll on your own mental health. And yet, it can be difficult to distance yourself from them.
“Toxic people can try to cling on—sometimes for years! They can make you feel guilty and because of that, are not always easy to remove from your life,” says Mackey. To help you detox your relationships once and for all, here are her tips for getting rid of harmful personalities.
1. IDENTIFY THE TOXICITY.
The first step of getting rid of something—or someone—toxic is actually recognizing the fact that it’s harming you. “Toxic people are manipulative and often selfish,” says Mackey. “They’re difficult to please and impossible to work with, even when you’re trying to help them. They have a hard time owning their feelings or apologizing, and they will consistently make you prove yourself to them.”
If a relationship is weighing on you constantly or bringing you down significantly more than it’s building you up, it’s time to let go. “Toxic people are a distraction from your true purpose,” says Mackey.
2. BE FIRM.
“Toxins have to be met with a powerful force,” says Mackey. “It’s likely that they won’t just respond to ‘Go away,’ and will perhaps even dig their claws in deeper if you try to create a separation. Don’t let this discourage you.” Be very, very clear with the person about your intentions, then keep the necessary distance to make sure your message isn’t misconstrued.
3. SET BOUNDARIES.
… and stick with them. “Stick with your boundaries long-term or [toxic people] will use any weakness over time to sneak back into your life,” says Mackey. “If you told yourself you wouldn’t respond to their texts, don’t. Block their number and block them on all social media. Don’t send them any e-mails and don’t check in six months from now.” Once you’ve made the decision to end a relationship, you’re responsible for keeping the guidelines clear after the fact.
4. DON’T BE TOO NICE.
It may sound harsh, but since toxic people tend to take advantage of any kindness that’s imparted on them, being overly nice can be detrimental. “Realize that they get their energy from draining your loving, good nature,” says Mackey. “They thrive on your trust and kindness.” It doesn’t mean you have to be cruel (to paraphrase Michelle Obama, when they go low, you want to go high), but you should stop going out of your way to be overly accommodating.
5. REALIZE IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO SAVE THEM.
Toxic people are great at showing up when they need something, particularly during crisis moments in their own lives. “They’ll ask for a shoulder to cry on or an ear for you to lend. They may disguise it as wanting advice,” says Mackey. “All of these are ploys for your time and attention. Do not give in to them, no matter the circumstance.”
If things are truly dire for your friend, you can direct him to resources that specialize in his particular issues. Solving his problems is not only not your responsibility, it’s likely beyond your capabilities.
6. KNOW THAT WHEN IT’S DONE, IT’S DONE.
Toxic people will keep coming back if you let them, so when you decide to say goodbye, make sure you’re ready to make it permanent. “They will always find a way to create a problem or drama in your life,” says Mackey. “When you’ve decided to move on, move on for good.”
If the toxic person is family, and it’s therefore impossible to make a clean break, you can still establish clear limits for your interactions (be it, we will only speak on the phone once a month or you will only visit during the holidays).
7. TREAT YOUR SEPARATION LIKE THE BREAKUP IT IS.
Yes, we need relationships, but we don’t need every relationship—especially ones that bring us more pain than support. “Energy flows where attention goes,” says Mackey. “The more selective you are about where your focus is, the more successful you’ll be. The more time you spend away from toxic people, the more time you have for yourself and the people that are positive, uplifting, and important to you.” Make time for people who bring you happiness, and let go of those who bring you anything less.
Have you reached the “Okay, that’s enough!” point in your life in terms of dealing with toxic people? If so, congratulations! You’re now headed to living a life where you don’t have to carry an unnecessary heavy weight on your shoulders. You’re done with the first step — deciding that there’s no more room for toxic people in your life. How will you actually make the end goal materialize?
Here are 10 ways to cut toxic people from your life:
1. Call their attention.
You can cut toxic people from your life by calling their attention. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, they don’t know you find them toxic or they don’t know they are toxic, so it’s best if you confront them. No, you shouldn’t start by saying “You are toxic”, but you need to specify what’s bothering you.
For example, you find them toxic because they did nothing but whine about their job. Tell them that their everyday rant negatively affects you and your zest for your job. You might want to end with a piece of advice that if they really find nothing right with their job, they might as well resign. By making this confrontation, you can possibly end their toxicity.
2. Drop the conversation.
Another way of cutting them from your life is by dropping the conversation when they start one. If they talk to you while you are working, tell them you are busy and show them you are busy. Respond with conversation enders or remarks that show disinterest like “Oh, okay” or “I already know that. You just told me a while ago”. In this way, you can prevent them from ruining your day with their toxicity.
3. Ignore them.
You can also prevent them from talking to you by wearing your headset. Remember that music is there to transport you to another world where toxic people do not exist. Wear those earphones. In this way, no matter what they say, you won’t hear them. Using your headset is also an effective way to say “I do not want to be disturbed, so please stay away” without uttering a word.
4. Don’t give them the opportunity to talk to you personally.
If you can refrain from talking to them in person completely, do so. Why should you talk to them in the first place? You need to trace the reason for the need to communicate first so you can devise ways on how you can avoid having conversations with the toxic people.
For example, if the toxic ones are your workmates, and your tasks are highly related to theirs, you can communicate via e-mail or you can just leave a note. By doing so, you can prevent them from opening unnecessary topics that are not related to the task at hand.
5. Disconnect with them in social media.
Cut your ties with them even virtually. If they keep on bugging you even online, block them from your accounts. Social media paved the way for people to communicate easily with each other. It’s a good thing they did the same with preventing people from contacting you. You can block their accounts and you can also avoid seeing their messages.
6. Don’t let them affect you emotionally.
Stop them from affecting you emotionally, too. If none of the blocking and ignoring tips work, you need to cut them emotionally. You need to learn not to care about what they say. Do they talk about false accusations that can ruin your reputation? Why are you bothered with that? Rest your mind with the thought that you can always disprove their words with your actions.
If they say that you don’t do your job, work hard to finish all your tasks with quality. In this way, even if you don’t say anything to rebut their accusations, you can prove them wrong with your actions. Shelter yourself from being hurt by always remembering that the words from the toxic people are of no value to you.
7. Strengthen your support group.
That is necessary to convince yourself that those toxic ones are of no value to you. Reinforce the idea that toxic people are not a loss in your life. Who are the ones who you consider as real friends? Who are the ones who you can deal with in a civil manner? Talk to them often. Eat lunch with them if you can. Find ways to establish a strong connection with those people.
8. Inform your support group.
You also need to inform your support group that you don’t want to hear anything about the people you consider toxic. Sometimes, the toxic people are connected to your support group because you are all workmates or you belong to the same circle of friends.
If your support group does not know the issue, they might share with you news about the ones you consider toxic, or worse, they may be used by the toxic ones to send you their message. To avoid that scenario, be clear with your support group that you don’t want to hear anything about the toxic ones.
9. Stop making excuses and go all out.
Sometimes, pride may get in the way. You want to hear and read the toxic people’s messages to you so you can respond to them as your way of getting even or defending your self. However, remember that for people who are toxic down to their core, they’ll find a way to turn the tables and make you the toxic one for responding and defending yourself. The next thing you’ll know, you’re trapped in the web were the toxic ones appear to be the helpless victims.
10. Refrain from repairing what got broken.
Especially for toxic people who are your family members and who were your friends, there might be a part of you that still wants to save the relationship even if it means you’ll have to absorb all the toxicity they are emitting. Do yourself a favor and let go. You came to the point in your life where you already want to cut your ties, which means, you’ve reached your limit. It’s time to let go to keep yourself healthy.
Allowing toxic people to stay in your life is unhealthy. They’ll extinguish your vibrancy or worse, they might make you toxic. They’re like viruses that are infectious, so treat them just like that, viruses. Find ways to end their connection to your life. You don’t want to get infected, do you?
Holding on to relationships that make you unhappy won’t be good for your well-being. Yes, you used to value that person in your life, but if that person is becoming a big burden, then the toxicity will slowly kill your sanity and even hinder positive thinking. Letting go of toxic people could be the best thing you can do. It might sound harsh, but you will be a better person for it. Some good things can happen when you get toxic people out of your life.
“There’s folks you just don’t need. You’re better off without em’. Your life is just a little better because they ain’t in it.” – William Gay
Here Are 10 Things That Will Change When You Get Toxic People Out of Your Life
1. Your life will not be over.
It’s hard to let go of someone with whom you’ve shared a long history and that’s understandable. It might even be hard to imagine your life without this person because of your shared moments, so how could you cut them out, right? While moving on from toxic people can be hard and painful, know that your life will go on. You’ll soon realize that without them, more doors of opportunity will actually open, and like a Phoenix, you can rebuild your life after this loss.
2. You’ll be rid of the drama.
Toxic people love drama and like to involve people in it, psychotherapist Jodie Gale says. You might have willingly offered sympathy and support to them before because of what they mean to you. You might have even dished out some advice because you care for their welfare. But they likely brushed your advice off. Toxic people, unfortunately, don’t want solutions to their problems, despite your intentions to help them. Once they are gone from your life, you’re no longer affected by their drama. You’re no longer fighting their never-ending battles with themselves and with other people. You’re free from the arguments, too.
3. You won’t feel stressed out.
Toxic people are also called emotional vampires because they can bleed you dry. They can be manipulative and bring you down with them, because of their pessimism, their criticisms, and their tendency to talking bad about other people. Being with a toxic person who always keeps you on the edge isn’t a healthy way to live. In fact, the stress of dealing with them can actually wreck your brain cells, according to experts from Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University. Without them, however, you’ll find your stress levels going down because you have controlled the chaos and blocked off the poison that’s draining you.
4. You’ll gain more energy.
After staying in a relationship with an emotional moocher, you’ll find that you will have more energy to pursue other interesting things. Stuff that you wanted to try out before but couldn’t because you had been convinced it was worthless. Because of your renewed optimism and regained positivity, your zest for life will return. You’ll have time to focus on and do other things.
5. You’ll enjoy life more.
When you’ve finally escaped the negativity, you’ll pursue life with hope. Even failures or disappointments can’t shake you because you’re living your life according to your rules as you always wanted. You’ll see the worth in what you’re doing, whether it’s a big or small project, and enjoy life more. You’ll find that there are plenty of things to be happy about and grateful for because no one is constantly showing you what’s bad about something good.
6. You’ll regain your self-esteem and self-worth.
The venom that comes from toxic people might have dampened your self-esteem, but once they’re no longer in your life, you regain what you lost. You’ll find your power again and grow more confident each day you pursue new things … because there’s no one is saying you can’t do it.
7. You’ll evolve as a person.
You’re not going to be the same person after you get toxic people out of your life. In fact, you’ll actually evolve into someone better, someone more positive. You’ll find that you’ve smartened up about dealing with people. You’ve likely also reaped a lot of patience, empathy, and understanding for every person’s journey because you know how hard it can be for them.
8. You get to reconnect with other people.
Your relationships with other people might suffered casualties when you were with a toxic person. You’ve probably distanced yourself from others so that they wouldn’t be involved in the drama, gossip, and meanness of a toxic individual. But now that this person is gone, you can reconnect with friends and family. Better yet, you’re going to have more room for new friends and acquaintance in your life – people with whom you can form new bonds.
9. You’ll surround yourself with more caring people.
When you’ve regained relationships or formed new ones then you’ll have more good people surrounding your life. Life will be happier when you’re with friends and family who genuinely care for your welfare and help you to be positive. You’ll have the social support you didn’t really have because of your relationship with that toxic person.
10. You’ll be happy with your life in general.
You’ll find that the pursuit of happiness is actually simple once you’ve cut out toxic people from your life. The secret is in having the freedom to enjoy the choices you’ve made, free from pressures and negativity.
Life’s too short to hold on to relationships that burden or hold you back. Letting go of toxic friends, family members, or intimate relationships is hard. You might feel various levels of guilt, experts say, but it’s still a choice you need to make. Take that first step into a better life. You’re going to be in a much better place with people and situations that let you fly and spread your wings.
A Prayer for the Toxic People in Your Life
By Jennifer O. White
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. – Luke 6:27-28
God offers healing and freedom to everyone.
God created those who hurt us. He has a good plan for their lives. He knows the “why” behind their destructive behaviors. He knows the lies they believe about themselves. He knows what stands in the way of their wholeness. He is a Shepherd who pursues every sheep that wanders away from all He offers.
What would delight our God more than for us to turn our minds away from the problems and focus on Him? He is our solution.
Praising God is a powerful first line of defense. We can worship and adore Him, our wonderful counselor and supreme relationship expert.
Holy God. You are full of mercy and compassion, slow to anger and full of love.
You love imperfect people extravagantly. Father, I may be blind to my own role in toxic relationships. Help me see the truth about myself. Apply the healing power of Your Word to my heart and mind. Deliver me from any stronghold that causes me to harm people with my words and actions. Save me from self-destructive patterns.
I struggle in my relationship with ______. I need You to give me wisdom on how to love them well. You are my shield and defender. Show me how, when and where to erect boundaries in our relationship. I believe You are my healer and I trust You to guard my heart and mind.
Help me to love ______ courageously. Fill me with Your truth and compel me to fearlessly tell the truth with love. Let Your perfect love cast out all of my fears related to our relationship.
I surrender what I think our relationship should be. Please transform it so that it honors You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Editor’s Note: This devotional first appeared as How to Pray for the Toxic People in Your Life by Jennifer O. White. You can read that piece in full here. All right reserved.
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“Losing will not always amount to a loss, sometimes you have to lose those toxic relationships and bad habits to create a space for better things.” – Gift Gugu Mona
Toxic relationships can be difficult to let go of. Many people get caught in a cycle of going back to relationships that are not good for them. This only creates a cycle of grief and hurt. There are ways to let go of toxic relationships. Psychologists have worked with people who have had this problem enough to be able to write an entire handbook on the subject. Here is some key advice to letting go and freeing yourself from the grip of a toxic relationship.