Today, we shall be looking at How to Deal with Toxic People in Your Life

Some people really can make you sick! People can make you sulk making life miserable and meaningless.

Is there anyone in your life-a relative, boss, friend, even a lover or spouse-who drives you crazy? Are there people who make you feel inadequate, unworthy, or just plain miserable? If there’s someone who is not supportive and does not wish you well, then you’ve got a “toxic” person in your life.

Who is a toxic person?

Let me illustrate this by a story of a young lady I met recently. A young man approached her and asked if she had work. She answered in the affirmative. Thereafter the young developed interest in her and asked her out. Relationship started.

On one occasion, he demanded for a N2000 airtime from her which she obliged. Next he demanded that the lady cook for him without giving her the food. She used her money and cook the food for him. Another time, he drove to the filling station and asked if the young lady could help him fuel the car for him.

Then it occurred to her that he was up to something funny. The next time he asked her to cook for him, she demanded he give her the money. The food was never cooked. Then he started withdrawing. About a month there was no call from her and he called to ask why. “I don’t have airtime to call or subscribe. Could you send me some airtime?” she asked him.

“Are you not working again” he asked her.

“I don’t work anymore”, she replied.

“Then go and look for another work”, he said and the line went dead and ever since, no more contact. Perhaps when she starts work again, he might re-establish the relationship.

This is toxic relationship.

  • The opportunistic user who likes to take advantage of you
  • The control freak who wishes to control your life
  • The meddler who wants to be know everything about you and doesn’t want you to know about him or her
  • The arrogant know-it-all, he is wiser than you in his own mind and therefore what he says stays, your opinions are not needed
  • The me, myself, and I narcissist who is only concerned about himself alone
  • The person who instigates crisis for you always
  • The emotional refrigerator who bottles up emotions and never forgives your errors and waits for the opportune moment to let out the steam
  • The liar who is never truthful with you
  • The wife beater or batterer who believes his wife is his practicing boxing bag is toxic

Surviving the ups, downs, and lightning storms of other people’s moodiness can be quite a challenge.  It’s important, though, to remember that some moody, negative people may be going through a difficult stage in their lives.  They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional support.  Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for (although whatever the cause of their moodiness and negativity, you may still need to protect yourself from their behavior at times).

But there’s another type of moody, negative behavior: that of the toxic bully, who will use his or her mood swings to intimidate and manipulate you.  It’s this aspect of moodiness that inflicts enduring abuse and misery.  If you observe these people closely, you will notice that their attitude is overly self-referential.  Their relationships are prioritized according to how each one can be used to meet their selfish needs.  This is the kind of toxic behavior I want us to look at today.

I’m a firm believer that toxic mood swings should not be inflicted on one person by another, under any circumstances.  So how can you best manage the fallout from other people’s relentless toxicity?

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  1. Move on without them.

If you know someone who insists on destructively dictating the emotional atmosphere, then be clear: they are toxic.  If you are suffering because of their attitude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn’t seem to help them, and they don’t seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, “Do I need this person in my life?”

When you delete toxic people from your life it becomes a lot easier to breathe.  If the circumstances warrant it, leave these people behind and move on when you must.  Seriously, be strong and know when to say “enough is enough”!  Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being.

A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking.  In some instances, you give your all and he will not only take and not give in return, he will not even appreciate your giving.

Learn to move on without some people in your life. While some come into your life to help you find your bearing and find fulfillment, others come to cause you pains and sorrows. As long as some people are in your life, you must keep hurting and feeling pains. Some come to complement you and make you feel like a super human being, others come to reduce you and make you feel less than human.

Until the wrong person is out of your life, the right person will never show up. Have the courage, the audacity, the boldness and the effrontery to delete the person out of your life and experience true healing.

If you must keep a truly toxic person in your life for whatever reason, then consider the remaining points…

  1. Stop pretending their toxic behavior is OK.

If you’re not careful, toxic people can use their moody behavior to get preferential treatment. I have talked to young people who were in toxic relationships and still went ahead to marriage, believing that they would change the man. How wrong they were!

Listen to me young people, the person you could not change in in a relationship or courtship, you can’t change that person in marriage. The person you could not change-be it smoking, drinking, womanizing or manising (excuse my English) in a relationship, prepare to live with it in marriage if you decide to forge ahead.

Don’t be fooled.  Short-term ease equals long-term pain for you in a situation like this.  Toxic people don’t change if they are being rewarded for not changing.  Decide this minute not to be influenced by their behavior.  Stop tiptoeing around them or making special pardons for their continued belligerence.

Constant drama and negativity is never worth putting up with.  If someone over the age 21 can’t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, it’s time to call it quit.

  1. Speak up!

Stand up for yourself.  Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others – cut in line, take money and property, bully and belittle, pass guilt, etc.  Do not accept this behavior.  Most of these people know they’re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted.  In most social settings people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up, so SPEAK UP.

Some toxic people may use anger as a way of influencing you, or they may not respond to you when you’re trying to communicate, or interrupt you and suddenly start speaking negatively about something dear to you.  If ever you dare to speak up and respond adversely to their moody behavior, they may be surprised, enraged or even outraged, that you’ve trespassed onto their behavioral territory.  But you must speak up anyway.

Not mentioning someone’s toxic behavior can become the principal reason for being sucked into their mind games.  Challenging this kind of behavior upfront, on the other hand, will sometimes get them to realize the negative impact of their behavior.  For instance, you might say:

  • “I’ve noticed you seem angry.  Is something upsetting you?”
  • “I think you look bored.  Do you think what I’m saying is unimportant?”
  • “Your attitude is upsetting me right now.  Is this what you want?”
  • “I have had enough of your verbal outbursts and emotional outbursts, enough is enough!”

Direct statements like these can be disarming if someone truly does use their moody attitude as a means of social manipulation, and these statements can also open a door of opportunity for you to try to help them if they are genuinely facing a serious problem.

Even if they say: “What do you mean?” and deny it, at least you’ve made them aware that their attitude has become a known issue to someone else, rather than just a personal tool they can use to manipulate others whenever they want.

And if they persist in denial, it might be time to…

  1. Put your foot down.

Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and shamefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it.  It’s all about finding the strength to define your limits of acceptance and tolerance as well as defend your boundaries.

Demonstrate that you won’t be insulted or belittled further.  Truly toxic people will pollute everyone around them, including you if you allow them.  If you’ve tried reasoning with them and they aren’t budging, don’t hesitate to vacate their space and ignore them until they do.

  1. Don’t take their toxic behavior personally.

Toxicity is all about them, not you.  KNOW this.

Toxic people will likely try to imply that somehow you’ve done something wrong.  And because the “feeling guilty” button is quite large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  Even when the situation seems personal – even if you feel directly insulted – it usually has nothing to do with you.  What they say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.

  1. Practice practical compassion.

Sometimes it makes sense to be sympathetic with toxic people whom you know are going through a difficult time, or those who are suffering from an illness.  There’s no question about it, some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, or even mentally and physically ill, but you still need to separate their legitimate issues from how they behave toward you.

If you let people get away with anything because they are distressed, facing a medical condition, or depressed, even, then you are making it too tempting for them to start unconsciously using their unfortunate circumstance as a means to unleash and offload their emotional burdens on you. You become their refuse dump and waste baskets.

The story below captures this explicitly…

“Several years ago, I volunteered at a psychiatric hospital for children.  I mentored a boy there named Dennis, a diagnosed Bipolar disorder patient.  Dennis was a handful sometimes, and would often shout obscenities at others when he experienced one of his episodes.  But no one ever challenged his outbursts, and neither had I up to this point.  After all, he’s clinically “crazy” and can’t help it, right?

“One day I took Dennis to a local park to play catch.  An hour into our little field trip, Dennis entered one of his episodes and began calling me profane names.  But instead of ignoring his remarks, I said, “Stop bullying me and calling me names.  I know you’re a nice person, and much better than that.”  His jaw literally dropped.  Dennis looked stunned, and then, in a matter of seconds, he collected himself and replied, “I’m sorry I was mean Mr. Marc.”

The lesson here is that you can’t “help” someone by making unwarranted and unjustifiable excuses for everything they do simply because they have problems.  There are plenty of people who are going through extreme hardships who are not toxic to everyone around them.  We can only act with genuine compassion when we set boundaries.  Making too many pardons and allowances is not healthy or practical for anyone in the long-term.

If you are forced to live or work with a toxic person, then make sure you get enough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate.  Having to play the role of a “focused, rational adult” in the face of toxic behavious can be exhausting, and if you’re not careful, the toxicity can infect you.  Again, understand that even people with legitimate problems and clinical illnesses can still comprehend that you have needs as well, which means you can politely excuse yourself when you need to.

You deserve this time away.  You deserve to think peacefully, free from external pressure and toxic behavior.  No problems to solve, boundaries to uphold, or personalities to please.  Sometimes you need to make time for yourself, away from the busy world you live in that doesn’t make time for you.

Let me conclude by saying please don’t let toxic people rent a space in your head. Raise the rent and get them out of there.

This is what I believe and this is what I preach!

If you are struggling with any of these, remember you are not alone. We are all in it together working hard to help you heal.

  • The world is turmoil;
  • The world is in crisis;
  • The world is sick;
  • The world is dis-eased
  • The world is in search of answers;
  • The world needs healing;
  • Together we can heal the world.

For me I will keep talking and I will keep writing. Friends:

  • I will keep encouraging you,
  • I will keep motivating you,
  • I will keep supporting you,
  • I will keep standing by you and
  • I will keep telling you the truth that:
  • you can make it,
  • you can become whatever you want to become in life,
  • you can achieve whatever you want to achieve,
  • you can have whatever you want to have and
  • you can go wherever you want to go.

All I ask of you is to keep dreaming the dreams, keep having the visions, keep believing in yourself and keep moving and keep acting on those visions and dreams.

This is why I wrote an internationally acclaimed book “Putting Your Talent to Work” published by Authorhouse, UK and available on kindle-ebooks, google, and The book is also in about seven international languages including English, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, French and Portuguese.

For counseling, appointment and invite or to order for “Putting You Talent to Work” call 07064334855, 08117848934 or email:, twitter: @odelord; Facebook: Ode Idoko and LinkedIn: Ode Idoko; skype: ode.idoko