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How to Recognize and Avoid Toxic People in Your Life

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

A healthy relationship can bring you so much joy and happiness, but it's important that you know how to wholeheartedly love yourself. In the month of February, it's all about love, which means you're going to see it everywhere. You're going to see the flowers, the candy, and the commercials. This can either be a really blissful or a very painful time, depending on where you are in your relationship. There are many of us who are dealing with toxic relationships or you're single because you just got out of a toxic relationship, and it can be painful. I want to help you understand how to identify if you're in a toxic relationship, or if a person that you're around is toxic.

There are 7 signs that you're dealing with a toxic person.

I'm going to break it up into two areas that I find really valuable. When you're with a toxic person, they may gaslight you and tell you that what you're feeling and thinking is wrong because it does not align with what they want to get out of the relationship.

What does that do? It makes you second guess yourself.

Internal Signs Your Dealing Toxic People

Trust yourself, dear reader, it's easy to make excuses for others behavior (been there, done that). Remember that you're feelings matter.

Sign One | Walking Away Questioning Yourself

Do you away from an encounter with someone questioning yourself? We all have this experience where there is a misunderstanding. What I'm talking about is continuous miscommunications / questioning yourself:

Here are common phrases a toxic person will use

  • "I never said that."

  • "That is not what I meant"

  • "You are not listening"

  • "That never happened"

You question yourself so often that you have considered recording your conversations. This can feel a lot like gaslighting, and I know I personally spent years working on my communication, believing that it was truly my fault.

Sign Two | Feeling Unheard & Seen.

Toxic people are notorious for making you feel like the center of their world; they buy you expensive gifts, plan lavish trips and outings. But then something changes.

  • Phones calls stop getting returned

  • They come home later and later

  • They ignore you at parties

You may be questioning yourself, wondering if you said or did something wrong. It is painful and confusing when you feel ignored.

Sign Three | Feeling Drained

After spending time with a person, do walk away feeling drained or exhausted? This can be a sign that you are with a toxic person.

Sign Four | Feeling Like your Walking on Eggshells

You may be feeling drained when you spend time with a toxic person because you have to be careful of what you say or do. You don't know what type of mood are they going to be in that day. Are they going to need something from you? So they're going to be very happy and very engaged, or is it going to be the opposite where they're in a bad mood, so no matter what you say or how you say it, it's going to trigger their anger.

Five Characteristics That You Are Dealing With A Toxic Person

Sign Five | Better than Everyone else

  • No one lives up to their HIGH standards

  • Constantly gossiping about other people

  • Feel like they can do EVERYTHING better than others

  • Like to nitpick

  • Yell at customer service help

  • Need constant attention and validation

These are huge indicators that you are dealing with a toxic person.

Sign Six | The Victim

No matter what is going on in their life, people are out to get them. It's the woe is me sort of situation.

  • They are clingy

  • They blame others, instead of taking responsibility for their actions

  • They are unhappy in their life

  • They get defensive and start fights

In the beginning, we may want to help these people. We think this poor person is just having a hard time and we want to help them. However, it's a pattern, one that you can get sucked into, with little hope or a happy ending.

Sign Seven Signs | Going to the Extreme

It's always or never, and they're going to use it in their vocabulary. You're always late, you're never here to support me, it's always a fight with you.

I realized I would use this verbiage myself and it was a poor choice of words. It wasn't truly always or never. I now teach my kids the difference and ask: are you guys always fighting? Does your brother always get to pick the TV?

If we aren't taught that from a young age, I think it easily fits in our vocabulary. As you start recognizing it and pointing it out to those around you, a healthy relationship would say,

"Okay, you're right. It's not always, and it's not never. That was too extreme." They can admit that and then correct themselves. A toxic person, not so much.

Now you know the signs to look out for a toxic person. In the best-case scenario, you can start distancing yourself from these toxic people because it's February, it's a month of love. And you know what? The person that we have to hold true to is ourselves. First and foremost, you need to protect yourself so that you can be there healthy, willing, and able for other people in your life.

Sometimes you're not able to separate yourself from toxic people, and the worst advice I heard was just to cut and leave. Maybe it's a business partner, maybe it's a spouse, maybe it's a parent, maybe it's a sibling, maybe it's a child. Sometimes you just don't fully have the option, or you're not ready to cut and leave right now. Wherever you are, don't worry about it. I support you wherever you're at, but what I would love is to give you some tips on how to deal with these toxic people.

8 TIPS To Help You Deal With A Toxic Person

  1. Try to not take it personally. I know how hard this is because I still have a hard time with it. There are times where I still take it personally, but you have to remember that it is not about you. This toxic person is dealing with fear, anxiety, insecurities, and they're projecting it on you. So how do you get through this and not taking it personally? You find either a good friend that you can lean on, a therapist or a journal.

  2. Gray rocking. This is the idea where you just don't go into deep conversations or deep things that may trigger your toxic person. Keep the conversation casual. Find safe topics that you can talk about that aren't going to trigger a fight.

  3. Love yourself. The toxic people in your life are going to do everything that they can to pull you down. If you start to gain success or become happier they're going to quickly try and bring you down. Learning how to love yourself to the point where you can say, "Thank you for that input." and then you decide whether it is true or not.

  4. Getting clear on your values and your priorities. Why is this important? Because your values and your priorities are your northern star. That's what you are committing to. Once you have that clear path, that clear Northern star, it's a lot easier to say, "No thank you."

  5. Get informed on what healthy and unhealthy interactions look like. Here are two therapists on YouTube that I love their videos about dealing with toxic people.First, Is Dr. Ramani goes through all the different descriptions of what a toxic person is and the different types of toxic people. She talks a lot about gray rocking and how to implement it. Second Favorite YouTuber Therapist, he does role play videos where he has a conversation between a toxic person and then a conversation between a healthy person. If you have been surrounded by toxic people, this really helps you start to identify what a relationship should be looking like.

  6. Learning when to walk away and create space. I'm not saying to walk away and abandon the relationship. You may not be in that position to do so. But knowing how, when, and where you can walk away and take space for yourself to recenter and rejuvenate is important.

  7. Creating boundaries. This is extremely important, it goes right back to understanding your values and your priorities. You have to learn to say no and what healthy boundaries are. Here's a book I highly recommend about setting boundaries. Just know, that the toxic people are not going to like your boundaries, they're going to push back. They're not going to be used to them, which is also why it's so important that you love yourself and know that you and only you need to be okay with the direction that you're going in.

  8. Trust yourself. If something doesn't feel right, if something doesn't look right, trust your instincts. I know how hard this can be, but it is a very important step to being able to deal with toxic people.

Wherever you are in your life, whether you're dealing with a toxic co-worker, a family member, a spouse, or a child, I wish you well because I know how hard it is. Be brave, stay curious, and love yourself.

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